This story has been updated (including a new record from ultrarunner Kilian Jornet!)
Mount Everest’s summit is officially open. On May 11, on the North side (Tibet), a team of nine elite Sherpa climbers from Kathmandu-based Arun Treks fixed the final set of ropes through the death zone, from approximately 27,000 feet to the summit at 29,029 feet. They reached the peak around 4:30 p.m. local time.
Two days later, the first team of international climbers made the summit: Six Indian teenagers from the ambitious Transcend Adventures Everest Expedition team and 10 of their Sherpa. Later that day, Lhakpa Sherpa, 44, broke her own record for most Everest ascents by a female, raising the bar to eight. On May 16, Mollie Hughes, 25, also made it up the North side, becoming the youngest person to climb Everest from both sides, and the first English woman to do so. That same day, four more Indian teens from Transcend Adventures, along with six Sherpas reached the summit.
Meanwhile, climbers on the South side (Nepal), where the bulk of ascents usually come from, were forced to wait out frigid temperatures and high winds (a recipe for frostbite). They got a break on May 15 with a good (but short) weather window that allowed a team of Sherpa climbers to fix the final set of ropes around 1:25 p.m. local time. The Himalayan Times reported that 14 climbers were then able to summit later that afternoon. More followed on May 16, when 19 international climbers and 16 Sherpas, including members of the Brigade of Gurkhas Everest Expedition, a British Army unit comprised of Nepalese Gurkha soldiers, stood on top of the world.
Teams then went back into a holding pattern, as unfavorable weather conditions swept both sides of the mountain. Meteorologist and Everest Forecaster Chris Tomer predicted the next windows to be May 20 and 21 and May 23–25.
In the first window, more than 100 international climbers and Sherpas successfully summited, including two female firsts: Uta Ibrahimi, who became the first Albanian woman to stand atop Everest, and Tsang Yin Hung, who became the first woman from Hong Kong to do the same. Andy Holzer, a blind climber from Austria, summited on May 21, becoming the first blind climber to scale Everest from the North side. He and American Erik Weihenmayer, who summited from the South side in 2001, are the only blind persons to have climbed Everest.
Perhaps the biggest news came at midnight on May 22, when ultrarunner Kilian Jornet reached the summit via the North side, without using fixed lines or supplemental oxygen, setting a new fastest known time in 26 hours.
All remaining teams — including veteran Everest guide Adrian Ballinger, who will attempt to summit without oxygen after aborting his attempt last season a mere 800 feet from the top — are expected to make a summit push in the next day or so, otherwise they’ll be bumping up too close to the monsoon season, which shuts the mountain down.
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