Mount Everest climbers celebrate after more than a week of successful summit expeditions made possible by an unusually long stretch of good weather. A spokesman for Nepal’s Ministry of Tourism said Outside that approximately 450 mountaineers reached the highest point in the world between Saturday May 7 and Sunday May 15.
According to Krishna Manandhar, a Kathmandu-based senior meteorologist who specializes in forecasting expeditions across the Himalayas, the rare clear conditions could last a few more days. “This season has been extraordinary in terms of weather and wind speed,” he said. “In ten years of forecasting for shipments, this year has been by far the best.”
There were a number of notable climbs among the estimated 450 climbers to reach the highest point on the planet. British mountaineer Kenton Cool stood on top of the world on Sunday May 16 for the sixteenth time – the most of any non-Nepali mountaineer. On the same day, Austrian expedition leader Lucas Furtenbach managed to place 17 clients and 27 Sherpa guides on the summit just 16 days after the group’s departure from Kathmandu, a remarkably short window of time from the city to the summit. Furtenbach and his team used hypoxic tents for pre-acclimatization before arriving in Nepal. On Instagram, Furtenbach wrote: “I am convinced this is the future of Everest climbing.”
This season also saw its share of more obscure records, including the first person to play the bass trumpet at the top. 56-year-old South African paraglider Pierre Carter, who hopes to fly from the Seven Summits, became the first person to take off legally from the mountain when he took off from the South Col (26,000ft) on Sunday . On three occasions, paragliders have illegally flown from Everest, including Lhakpa Chhiri Sherpa and Sanu Babu Sunwar in 2011. The duo continued to hike and kayak on their own to sea level in the Bay of Bengal, earning them recognition as National Geographic’s Adventurers of the Year in 2012.
But what could define the 2022 Himalayan climbing season more than anything else is a deep field of strong female climbers setting multiple records.
Lhakpa Sherpa, a Connecticut resident of Nepalese descent, broke her own record for the most summits of Everest by a woman earlier this week when she landed her tenth successful ascent. Lhakpa is currently the subject of a feature documentary about his life and career as a mountaineer.
Norwegian mountaineer Kristin Harila took advantage of the favorable weather window to climb three peaks above 8,000 meters above sea level. She climbed Annapurna on April 28 then made consecutive trips to Dhaulagiri and Kanchenjunga over the next 17 days. The Norwegian mountaineer is trying to break the record for ascents of 14 8,000-meter peaks set in 2019 by Nirmal ‘Nims’ Purja. His plan now is to climb Everest, Lhotse and Makalu before the current weather window closes.
Taiwan’s Tseng “Grace” Ko-Erh, 29, is also on her way to climbing the 14 highest peaks after completing ascents of Annapurna and Makalu this season. She climbed Annapurna without using supplemental oxygen, setting the record for the youngest woman to do so.
Kasturi Savekar, 20, from India, became the youngest person to ever climb Annapurna and then claimed a summit of Everest in two weeks. She said Outside that she also hopes to climb Lhotse this season.
British mountaineer Adriana Brownlee, 21, has an ambitious goal of climbing seven peaks over 8,000 meters to become the youngest of 14. She entered the season with ascents of Everest, Dhaulagiri and Manaslu, and has already added Annapurna and Kanchenjunga to the list.
On May 12, 18-year-old Lucy Westlake became the youngest American to climb Everest. “My experience has been that [as a woman] you are judged immediately,” Westlake said Outside. “You are seen as if you are going to be the weakest member of the team. I hope seeing me in the mountains and seeing other women doing amazing things in the mountains will really change that perception and that stereotype,” she continued.
While the skies are clear at the summit of Everest, heavy cloud cover in the lower Khumbu valley has created an obstacle for the climbing teams. Once back at base camp, weary climbers were unable to board flights back to Kathmandu from the small Lukla airstrip. Several expeditions were delayed to return to the Nepalese capital by clover clouds. Groups are expected to arrive in town this week.