Expedition succeeds on Everest from Nepal

Posted by Lindsay Griffin on 25/05/2014
Everest massif from the west. The lower Khumbu Icefall is visible, though the Western Cwm is hidden behind Nuptse. Jacques Belge

On the evening of the 23rd May, 41-year old Chinese female Jing Wang and her five Sherpa companions became almost certainly the only climbers to summit Everest from Nepal this spring season.

In the aftermath of the 18th April serac avalanche, which killed 16 Sherpas in the Khumbu icefall, all Everest expeditions departed from the mountain, and it appeared that no one would summit from Nepal this spring.

The Nepal Ministry of Tourism had announced that it had "strongly requested all expedition teams to continue, because they had made all required arrangements for completion of their expedition".

However, they also stated that if an expedition did not want to proceed, rather than give it a refund, they would extend its permit for five years.

By early May, only one team remained at Everest base camp, a very small, primarily Hungarian expedition attempting the standard route on Lhotse. It quickly diminished to one member, the American Cleo Weidlich.

One of the departing Everest teams was led by the highly experienced Himalayan operator, Russell Brice, who had been organizing logistics for Jing Wang to climb the Seven Summits, plus reach the two Poles, in record time.

The Chinese climber asked Brice if he and his company Himex could continue with arrangements for a south side attempt, but he declined.

Brice (and his expedition liaison officer) also officially informed the Ministry that he had cancelled his expedition and that Jing Wang was no longer his responsibility.

Wang, who one report suggests had almost unlimited financial backing for this venture, then attempted to gain a permit from the Chinese Mountaineering Association for an ascent from Tibet. This was also declined.

Eventually, the Chinese and Weidlich were able to obtain authorized flights from Fishtail Air, which used to helicopter to transport them into the Western Cwm above the Icefall.

The pilot was the highly experienced Maurizio Folini, who is also an Italian mountain guide.

Folini did his job by making many flights with light loads into the Western Cwm, eventually transporting Jing Wang and her team of eight Sherpas, Weidlich and her two Sherpas, food, fuel and equipment to Camp 2.

However, he openly stated that he did not agree with the ethic, and had spent time trying to convince the teams not to continue in this fashion.

Reports suggest Wang left the South Col surprisingly late, around 9am, and summited at 6:20pm, after her five climbing Sherpas (Da Gelje, Tashi, Pasang Dawa, Lhakpa Nuru, and Lhapka Gelje) had fixed the Hillary Step.

Her ascent was also - by a day - the first of Everest this year. The following morning many climbers would reach the top from Tibet.

Unfortunately, the official press release from the Ministry still erroneously credits Wang as being a member of the Himex Everest expedition.

Wang and her Sherpas returned to the Col that night and at the time of writing it is not clear whether they will fly out from Camp 2 in the Western Cwm.

Meanwhile Weidlich is reported to have reached Camp 3 in her effort to climb Lhotse.



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