Asia, Nepal, Mahalangur Himal—Khumbu Section, Everest, an Uncommon Post-Monsoon Ascent and Partial Ski Descent

Publication Year: 2007.

Everest, an uncommon post-monsoon ascent and partial ski descent. Only a handful of climbers go to Everest in the autumn season because everyone knows that very few succeed in the short climbing period between the end of the monsoon rains in September and the onset of the fierce jet stream wind in October. The last ascent of Everest in the post-monsoon season was made in 2000 by a team of Slovenians led by Davo Karnicar. They needed the mountain in very snowy condition, and in early October Karnicar became the first person to descend on skis in one continuous run from the very top of Mt. Everest to base camp.

However, veteran Himalayan climber Wally Berg, owner of a business that organizes and conducts climbing expeditions, and four times Everest summiter, felt he knew how to succeed: for a seven-member team, take plenty of supplies (88 oxygen cylinders) and Sherpas (13 climbing Sherpas plus cooks and bottle-washers), go relatively early, get the camps set up, and wait for favorable weather in which to make the summit attempt. His plan worked: five members with nine Sherpas reached the summit on October 18, after having sat through continuous snowfall over several days. Three of the summiters skied major parts of their descent but broke the journey to sleep in their highest camp at the South Col. The expedition members and Sherpas consumed the contents of 84 oxygen bottles during their six-week effort, and the Sherpas fixed a total of 3,800m of rope.

Elizabeth Hawley, AAC Honorary Member, Nepal