Today, we received both good and bad news. The good – there appears to be a plan in place to fix ropes to the summit and we have been asked to start making our way up to base camp from the relative comforts of Namche where we have been on vacation for the last couple of days. The bad – Russell Brice, one of the most experienced operators on the mountain (and a Kiwi), has cancelled his entire expedition (representing almost 100 climbers, including Sherpas). Russell has been guiding on Everest since the 70s and has one of the largest teams here this year. Apparently, never in his life as an operator on Everest has he seen conditions as dangerous as they are this year. This view was backed up by his Sherpas who are “scared to death” of the ice fall. see his press release for more detail.
Such a decision, given the impact on all his climbers and potentially Russell himself, cannot have been an easy one and must be respected. I came pretty close to signing up with Russell (given his unmatched experience and the Kiwi connection) but in the end went with Gabriele due to the small team size and the fact that I’d climbed with Pierre before. For now, therefore, I will follow the guidance of our expedition leader and start making our way slowly back to base camp in the hope the mountain will allow us to crawl up her side in due course.