Everest Spring Season Update for 2024

Today’s episode of the All About Everest podcast will be about all of the updates and things you should know so far about the Spring 2024 climbing season. There are so many updates including another book, 2 deaths in the Everest community a new sign that is taking the internet by storm, and changes to policies on the Nepali side, amongst other things.

This episode was initially supposed to be about the 1996 Everest disaster movies and documentaries, but I’ll save that for later. Before I get to that topic, I want to do another episode about Mallory and Irvine, I have several recorded interviews but I’ll put a pin in those. In the next episode, I want to talk about David Brashears, who contributed so much in so many ways to the whole Mt. Everest and mountaineering culture.

There’s a little bit to get through this episode because I have been working on changing how I record and edit the episodes. I want to created better episodes and also Spotify has changed the recording and editing process for podcasters so I am going through a little bit of a learning curve. I also know that I speak a little slow when I record so I am hoping to speed it up, I talk slow when I record because I think it has to do with what I do for my day job and also partly because of having many languages jumbled in my head. Shoot me a message or email to pauline@mamabearoutdoors.com if you like the changes I have made to this episode, including the new intro.

I am also trying to find a process for the old episodes to revamp them and make them better as well, it’s just time-consuming. Before I get to the rest of the episode, a huge shout out to my mom. The podcast is really the only way I can connect with her because she has dementia and she rarely recognizes that it’s me when I call, but she is an avid listener of the pod every week.

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I have added a store. I like outdoorsy t-shirts and it’s been hard to find any quality ones since my favorite store went bankrupt. So I have created a store for the podcast with swag and some really soft t-shirts, currently its US only but by the end of next month many of the items and shirts will be available through ilovemountaineering.com and the All About Everest merch store.

I love everyone’s emails and messages. Anna sent a beautiful email. Alex sent me an update about David Brashears and Gabi will be listening to us during her mountaineering adventures this year. If you are following along for the 52 mountaineering book challenge, this week’s mountaineering book is  “Lou Whittaker: Memoirs of a Mountain Guide”

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3 New Books About Mt. Everest: “Everest Mountain Guide – The Remarkable True Story of a Kiwi Mountaineer” by Guy Cotter, “EVerest Inc. – The Renegades and Rogues Who Built an Industry at the Top of the World” by Will Cockrell, and “

I wanted to bring up the 3 newest Everest books. The first one, I have talked about it since I interviewed Guy Cotter last year, the owner of Adventure Consultants. It is not just about Mt. Everest, it’s about Guy’s whole mountaineering journey from being a weekend dirtbag kid to becoming one of the most well-known and accomplished mountaineers. It’s only available in New Zealand. My sister Fey who is currently living in China, went to New Zealand around Christmas. I told her the day before she left if she was near a book store to look for it. She said it was at the first store she looked right up front. She bought and took it home to China, and then schlepped it to Guam and then Tinian which is in the South Pacific, found a US Post office and sent it to me. The package was torn and battered, but she was thoughtful enough to put it in a ziplock and it’s in perfect condition. This book is in my top ten mountaineering books and the top five for Everest.

The other book, which I don’t think I have mentioned yet, is “Fallen: George Mallory and the Tragic 1924 Everest Expedition” by Mick Conefrey. If you are familiar with books about Mt. Everest and mountaineering, then you are likely familiar with Mick Conefrey  He has written many books, including “Everest 1922”, “Everest 1953” and “The Ghost of K2”. I have not read this book yet though I have a request in for a pre-copy but I did go ahead and pre-order it. This year is 100 years since Mallory and Irvine died on Mt. Everest and that is what this book is about. I’m sure that the century anniversary of their expedition will be a common theme this year during the spring season and through December. This book will be released May 1 and is available for preorder wherever you get books including Amazon US and Amazon UK, Amazon Canada, and Amazon Australia

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And book number 3, is “Everest Inc: The Renegades and Rogues Who Built an Industry at the Top of the World” by Will Cockrell. I have brought it up already and I have 2 chapters left. I got sidetracked so it’s not 100% done, but I have loved this book. It’s extremely well written, has some humor and there is not another Everest book like it. Most Everest books are about one particular person or event or season. This is a journey of multiple characters and multiple expeditions woven together to tell the story of Mt Everest from a completely different point of view and the changes in the culture of the mountain. AS there are pros and cons to everything, there are pros and cons to the changes on Everest. The people in this book are unique humans with such diverse backgrounds and yet have this common thread. Get this book!!! Easily in my top three Everset, preorder it and its release date is April 16, and is available for preorder wherever you get books including Amazon US and Amazon UK, Amazon Canada and Amazon Australia.

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Mountaineers David Brashears and Lou Whittaker Have Passed Away

David Brashears passed away on March 14, at the age of 68. He is most well-known in the Everest community as the person who guided Richard “Dick” Bass to the summit of Everest and as the IMAX movie producer/ director. He was a mountaineer, adventurer, and documentary maker and because of him, the world was about to really experience Mt. Everest in 1998. His documentary inspired so many to get into climbing and mountaineering. Next week’s episode will be about David Brashears and which climbers to watch this season.

Lou Whittaker, the twin brother of James “Jim” Wjittiger passed away on 3/24/24 aty the age of 95. His brother Jim was the first American to summit Mt. Everest and Lou led the first American ascent from the North Col in 1984. He was co-founder of RMI Expeditions and had many great mountaineering achievements including his part in the rescue of   “Lou Whittaker – memoirs of a Mountian GUide ”. And Jim’s book “A Life on The Edge – Memoirs of Everest and Beyond”. 

Ski Mountaineer Caroline Gleich is Running for the US Senate in Utah

Caroline Gleich who submitted Mt. Everest with her husband in 2019, is running for the US Senate in the State of Utah. There has never been a female senator in Utah. And Caroline is using her experience as a ski mountaineer to stand out among the Republican candidates.

New Sign on the Trek to Everest Base Camp

For those of you going to Everest and EBC this year from the Nepali side, you will encounter a new landmark. The very recognizable rock with the EBC elevation on it with all of the graffiti is now hidden behind a sign. The rock tipped over the last few years and has almost toppled over. A sign was put up last week showing the elevation, Tenzing Norgay, and Edmund Hillary. The consensus appears to be though the rock was ugly, it’s a landmark and should be treated as such. The sign blocks the rock and the view behind it, and many have agreed it is not tasteful or it should have been placed next to the rock.

The Ice Doctors Have Headed out, Everest Permits are Being Issued and Other Season Updates

The ice doctors have headed out to Mt. Everest and left on March 5. These are the crew that every year prepare the way through the Kumbu icefall and are often part of the rope fixing team. This is probably the most dangerous job in the world and yet these brave men every year do this job so that it’s easier ot circumvent the icefall and give climbers the opportunity to reach Mt. Everest.

Expedition permits started to be issued on the 25th for the Nepali side. This year is expected to be crowded, but with climbers being allowed on both sides hopefully it will even out. Last year was the deadliest year on Everest, with 18 total deaths. There are still climbers who are determined as missing and presumed dead. Last year was a bit of a debacle with climbers being abandoned by their leaders. I have said it before and I have said it again, the main cause of death on Mt. Everest is irresponsible guides and expedition companies. 

We should see climbers heading out in the next two weeks. 

There will be expeditions on both sides this year, both from Nepal and Tibet. Tibet has been closed since 2020 to foreign climbers. Tibet has often been considered safer because it is less crowded and there is no icefall.  It is less crowded because the regulations are stricter than the Nepali side. Some companies will only climb from Tibet like ALpenglow whereas some will do both like Furtenbach.

Everest Base Camp Policy Changes for 2024

There have been huge policy changes this year on the Nepali side. A document came out on  February 8th from the Khumbu Pasang Lhamu Rural Municipality, they oversee the policies and rules of Nepal’s EBC,  with many new changes regarding policies and procedures on the Nepali side. This was right after the SPCC released a new regulation on the use of wag bags. It’s been a well-known issue on Mt. Everest that human waste is a big problem and that something that needs to be done. Alan Arnette has mentioned it many times and even suggested the wag bags.

This year they are requiring anyone climbing to use a wag bag and dispose of their human waste appropriately, including someone who will be checking these bags when climbers come down. I wouldn’t want to have that inspection job. If you’re not sure what a wag bag is, it’s a special bag that has chemicals in it for storing waste and you can properly dispose of it. It’s becoming a more popular tool in the outdoor community. Some of the wag bags even come with a little kit that includes TP and sanitary wipes.

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This document that was released on February 8th was not well written and contradicted itself. A revision was released on February 29, and then another revision was released on March  8. It’s even more confusing because now there are 3 documents floating around. It does not appear that any of the Western operators were updated on this policy and they had to glean the information from online. The goal of these changes appears to be to make the mountain safer, reduce crowding, and minimize human impact. 

  1. GPS tracking – each climber must have a GPS tracking device that must be sewn into their jacket and once they are back down to EBC must return the device. It’s unclear what this actual device is, though Alan Arnette thinks it could be a RECCO chip that works with radar. I’m not technical but Alan has a very good article out this month regarding the  GPS tracking requirements and multiple ways to track someone on the mountain.

2. Party size – They are trying to limit the expedition groups to 15 people at a time. I don’t really think this is much of a problem because based on previous expeditions and years, the expeditions are usually split into small groups.

3. Businesses- No spas, bars, or other businesses are allowed. Last year there was even a tattoo parlor at EBC. 

4. Helicopters – Initially it appeared that helicopters would be banned from Mt Everest completely. There are several expedition companies that have used helicopters to ferry equipment to the higher camps. This helps reduce the traffic of porters in the icefall which is the most dangerous part of the mountain. But now it appears the policy has changes and “some exceptions” will be made with a special committee supervising this.  It was also emphasized that operators should utilize yaks and porters first and foremost.

5. Waste brought down – 8 kg is required to be brought down by each climber of waste. I thought I had seen somewhere that each company is required to provide a list of equipment they will take the above base camp and this list will be checked when they are done to ensure everything was brought down but I can’t find it anymore. 

6. Visitors  – At first visitors like friends and family were prohibited but now it is allowed. 

7. Tent size – This is not clear at all. The large dome tents may or not be allowed, and tents are required to be smaller. The first document indicated 10 square feet per person, and now it’s 60 square feet for dining tents and 80 square feet for sleeping. I’m not sure what was behind this policy, but it may have been to reduce luxury and only allow the basics. But, if you reduce the size of what you need, what is going to stop them from putting up more tents that are just smaller?

Honestly, I think that these policys are a good start, but should not be implemented yet. They really should get a group of expedition leaders from Westerners and locals, and really nail down some practical policies that will be enforced.

Next week’s episode is about David Breashers. 

Thank you for listening to today’s episode of the All About Everest Podcast. Please support this podcast by following, rating, commenting and sharing. I appreciate your feedback and you can find me on social media @mamabearoutdoors and @allabouteverest. Thank you for following and listening since 2022.

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