The spring season on Mount Everest and the other eight-thousanders in Nepal is starting. On Everest, the Icefall Doctors, a team of eight specialized Sherpas, have begun to set the route through the Khumbu Icefall and secure it with ladders and ropes. Some operators of commercial expeditions have already sent staff to base camp to prepare for the arrival of their clients in April.
As in previous years, a large number of Chinese Everest summit aspirants are expected this spring. The China market is booming: Among the wealthy Chinese, mountaineering is in. Mingma Gyalje Sherpa, head of the Nepalese expedition operator “Imagine Nepal”, recognized this potential early on. For years he has been leading Chinese climbers to the top of the highest mountains on earth. In 2018, his company achieved summit successes on five eight-thousanders: Everest, Lhotse, Kangchenjunga, Manaslu and Broad Peak. Among his team’s Everest summiteers was Xia Boyu, a double amputee from China.
Mingma himself has already scaled twelve of the 14 eight-thousanders, eleven of them without bottled oxygen. Only Gasherbrum II in Pakistan and Shishapangma in Tibet are still missing in his collection. He has reached the 8,850-meter-high summit of Everest five times. I asked him about his assessments of the Chinese boom on the eight-thousanders.
Mingma, you will lead once again an expedition to Mount Everest this spring. Will Chinese mountaineers also be part of your team this time?
“Spirits that I’ve cited, my commands ignore”, wrote Johann Wolfgang von Goethe in his ballad “Der Zauberlehrling” (The Sorcerer’s Apprentice) in 1797. In German-speaking countries this became a dictum – which also describes quite well the current situation in the so-called “Chinese Base Camp” (CBC), at 5,200 meters, on the Tibetan north side of Mount Everest. Several tens of thousands of tourists have visited the camp year after year – and left a lot of rubbish behind.
I don’t give a damn. According to this maxim many mountaineers seem to be en route on the highest mountains in the world. Instead of removing their fixed ropes, they leave them hanging, instead of taking their garbage with them, they leave it lying there. Vassily Pivtsov, leader of the K2 winter expedition from Kazakhstan, Russia and Kyrgyzstan, reported that he and his team mates had found a lot of used and full oxygen bottles below House’s Chimney, one of the key points of the route via the Southeast Ridge, as well as further rubbish like old tents.
She does not fit into the clichés that many people in the West have of Arab
women. Fatima, called Tima,
Deryan does not stand in the shadow of a man. She is
cosmopolitan, self-confident and independent. She has founded a company in
Dubai where she lives – and she is a mountaineer: Tima has already scaled five
of the “Seven Summits”, the highest mountains of all continents. Mount Everest
and Mount Vinson in the Antarctica are still missing from her collection.
On 23 March, the 26-year-old will fly to Nepal to climb the highest
mountain on earth. On the trek to Everest Base Camp, Tima will certainly pay
special attention to the yaks. In October 2017 on her way to Island Peak, she was attacked by a yak when she had just crossed a bridge over the
Dudh Kosi between Phakding and Namche Bazaar. She was flipped over by the yak.
The horns hit her at the thigh, Deryan was slightly injured.
Mount Everest has long been
an event venue. Thus in 2009, the Nepalese government moved a cabinet meeting to the base camp at the foot of
Mount Everest to attract media attention. Also there the British DJ Paul Oakenfold
gave a benefit concert in 2017. Last year a British star chef organized the “world’s
highest dinner party”
on the Tibetan north side of Everest: exclusive dining on the North Col at
about 7,000 meters, with a white tablecloth, candlestick and champagne. And it
goes on. Next spring, Everest will probably host the highest rugby match of all time.
Mount Everest took their husbands. And the fathers of their children.
Nevertheless, Nima Doma Sherpa and Furdiki Sherpa want to climb the highest mountain on earth this spring. “We are doing our
expedition for the respect of our late husbands because they were mountaineers
too,” Nima Doma replies to my question about the purpose of their project. “And
we want to motivate all the widows.” Everest has left a lot of single mothers
behind. According to the mountaineering chronicle “Himalayan
Database”, 37 Sherpas have died there in the past 20
years alone. Furdiki’s husband, Mingma Sherpa, belonged to the so-called
“Icefall Doctors” who set up and secure the route through the Khumbu Icefall
every year. The 44-year-old died in a fall into a crevasse on 7 April 2013. One
year later, on 18 April 2014, Nima Doma Sherpa’s husband, Tshering Wangchu
Sherpa, was one of the 16 Nepalese victims of the major avalanche
accident in the Icefall.