Everest 2013 | No No2Limits, Pakistanis and Russians are Ready for Summit Push

The spring climbing season on Everest is quickly approaching it's final stage i-e summit pushes and ascents. Majority of the climbers have acclimatized and are resting before the rough climb to summit. Russian duo attempting a new route on SW Face in alpine style wants to be 'extra-acclimatized' before the assault. Hence they are still on Lhotse Face. Last week's dispute has been settled with a 'peace' agreement between two parties but unfortunately the intensity of events thwarted the No2Limits expedition.

The Fight
Details are pouring in about last week's fight incident on Everest from various sources with different point of views. Roughly speaking there are two versions of the whole incident. The Simone Moro's version is largely accepted by hardcore climbers, alpinists and mainstream media. Although sherpas haven't directly communicated their point of view but through some commercial expedition leaders' reports we also have a sherpa version of the incident. The two narrations mostly agree on sequence of events, but intensity and responsibility of different incidents vary significantly. There would be support for both versions but logically speaking several gaps in sherpa version make it less credible.

One agreed fact is that American lady Melissa Arnot, only female with 4 Everest summits, was the key person in saving the three alpinists' from sherpa-anger at C2. Although she has decide to remain silent about the incident but her words surely give a feeling of intense situation up there. Some other eye witnesses, however, decided to let the world know about what happened there. Speed climber Chad Kellogg's report fortifies Simone Moro's stance. The details are absolutely harrowing.

Moro and Steck Training for Expedition | Image Source
To summarize and put together what I have understood (which might be wrong) from different inputs is that there were mistakes and misunderstanding on both sides.

1. Restricting Lhotse Face isn't acceptable.
The mutual understanding between commercial expeditions (that none of their clients would climb while ropes are being fixed) made sherpas believe that Lhotse Face is all theirs during rope fixing period. Earlier that day, Russian trio attempting Lhotse were not allowed to go up. Simone's team started climbing the route with the condition that they wouldn't touch the ropes. Sherpas were irritated by cross over near C3 and this resulted in a heated conversation. The blame of sherpa getting hurt due to ice slackened by Ueli seems incorrect. Probably, some ice did fall but no damage was done.
2. Swearing Sherpas was a BIG offense.
During the verbal fight, Simone Moro used swearwords that from sherpa perspective were worse than a punch in the face. It's a culture thing. Verbal abuse translates differently in west and east, particularly in far off places like Khumbu valley. Simone too realized this mistake and apologized for the same at C2 and during peace agreement signing. Seriously offended by Simone's words the sherpas left rope-fixing work and descended to C2.
3. Nothing can justify C2 attack. Period.
Once the 17 rope-fixing sherpas reached C2 and narrated the story to their fellows, there was anger and feelings of hatred against the three climbers. So upon Simone, Ueli and Jon's  arrival at C2, some sherpas with trouble-making nature thought to 'teach them a lesson'. Many others joined the trouble-making group simply because they too had a feeling of hatred. The wise decision at this point would have been to take the matter to 'elders' at BC. Simone was already apologizing for his words.
It's also to be noted that some sensible sherpas joined westerns to protect Simone & Co. The C2 attack on Simone Moro and Ueli Steck was terrible. Rocks were thrown, a knife was pulled, punches were hit and there were a lot of pushing. It was a horrific scene and climber had to run & hide to save themselves. There isn't any exaggeration in Simone thanking Melissa & others for saving his life or Ueli Steck deciding never to return to Khumbu region.

On papers, the fiasco is settled after 'peace' agreement signing between two parties in the presence of elders and authorities at EBC. But factually speaking the damage has been done and scars of the incident would last long.

No No2Limits
Ueli Steck and Simone Moro said that they were 99% ready for their 'different' route attempt on Everest but shock from the brawl is too deep-seated and they can't continue the climb. One of the finest expeditions of this spring ending at such a note is unfortunate and sad, particularly for those who adore alpinism and fair means of climbing. Simone Moro, Jonathan Griffith and Ueli Steck have left the BC. Ueli and Jon would probably fly back home while Simone would resume his heli-pilot job at EBC.

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Pakistanis Ready for Summit Push
Mirza Ali and Samina Baig of Gender Equality expedition are done with acclimatization and would rest for a while before the summit push. In their first rotation, Ali tagged C1 while Samina had to turn back midway because of bad weather. During second trip they spent three nights in C2 and climbed to lower C3 (7000m) on Lhotse face. As rope-fixing to South Col was in progress, Mirza Ali couldn't go beyond C3. Samina has developed a good friendship with Indian sisters in her team and the three are climbing as a single unit.
Samina achieved the altitude reached by a Pakistani female, when she reached 7000m on Lhotse face. She is the first Pakistani to attempt an 8000er and is feeling strong to make it to the summit of Everest. Recent updates from Everest suggest that route has been fixed to South Col, while the weather has deteriorated. Summit pushes can be expected in a week's time now.

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Samina and Ali on second acclimatization trip; Source

Russians' SW Face
Russian duo Denis Urubko and Alexey Bolotov are attempting a new route on SW Face in alpine style. They are back to Everest after few days rest in green-zone, Deboche. Today they were supposed to climb to C3 on Lhotse face and sleep a night there for more acclimatization. It's their third and last trip to this location. Depending on a weather, they would go for their intended route soon.
Denis and Alex getting extra-acclimatized is understandable since they would be all alone on a technically challenging route. They can't be rescued and there is a point of no return. They have to climb and return at solely at their own strength.

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The line proper of the new route (in red with the different sections) was drawn by Denis on the photograph of Everest’s South-West Wall made by Simone Moro from approximate altitude of 8200 during his solo flight by helicopter along Nuptse ridge in Spring 2012.

For updates on remaining Everest expeditions, there will be another blog post later.

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