Why Pumori ?
The Khumbu icefall, located on the Southern side of Everest, is one of the most notoriously dangerous and nerve-wracking sections of the Everest ascent. Although located just above Base Camp at 5,486m) on the Nepali side of the slopes of Everest, this icefall at the head of the Khumbu Glacier is a giant shifting ice field of plummeting crevasses and towering seracs - huge blocks of ice precariously placed and easily unbalanced with fluctuating temperatures and avalanches.
It was the unseasonably warm temperatures in 2012 which resulted in an even more unstable icefall than usual, and as avalanches carved apartment block sized towers of ice across the path of climbers, Russell called a halt to any further summit bids and Martin returned to the UK.
The ‘Everest Icefall doctors’ – a team of Sherpas responsible for finding and maintaining the route through the Khumbu Icefall each year, installing and constantly adjusting the precarious ladders which cross the cavernous crevasses - also repair the ladder crossings when seracs collapse onto the route and are based at Base Camp for the duration of the Everest season. This tireless work entails installing a series of ropes and ladders which are placed over crevasses, allowing climbers to move freely up and down, but also walk on them horizontally too.
For Martin, with one paralysed arm which acts as a dead weight and unbalances him when crossing crevasses, and for Terry - with one prosthetic leg, leading to decreased stability, especially when wearing crampons - the icefall presents a significant and unnerving challenge but one which is integral to their summit approach and safe return to Base Camp.
In previous years Russell’s Himex team have made the frequent and treacherous journeys through the icefall during their acclimatisation training for Everest – passing through numerous times as they ascend the mountain to gain in altitude, descending again to return to Base Camp, as many other climbing teams will be doing currently as they prepare for the Everest summit window.
Due to Russell’s experience with mitigating as many risks as possible for his climbing clients as well as his trusty Sherpas, he has shifted his training to other suitable peaks nearby which present less continuous risk. Avoiding numerous trips up and down the icefall ensures that his clients are in less danger before even attempting the summit, and also crucially ensures that his Sherpa aren’t exposed to this perilous journey on numerous occasions.
Whilst ensuring that his clients have adequate training in the icefall to ensure their proficiency before the climbing season gets underway (another reason why Russell and his Himex team are the first to Base Camp), Russell chooses instead to allow his clients to acclimatise fully on other surrounding mountains which present similar challenges to Everest. As usual – Russell’s clients are always kept as safe as possible whilst undertaking more than adequate training to put them in the best position for Everest summit success. This year – Pumori has presented itself as the perfect training and acclimatisation peak with favourable conditions.
Pumori, standing at 7,161m, will be the biggest challenge faced yet since Martin and Terry arrived in the Himalayas ahead of their Everest summit attempt this Spring. Martin and Terry have already had 3 trips up to Camp 2 on Pumori to acclimatise – stashing kit there for their return trip which will hopefully allow them to summit, weather dependent.
The last news we received was from Martin on Monday who let us know that they were approaching Camp 3.
We hope to be able to share news of their climb as well as more photos in the next 48 hours or so…