“Even if bottled oxygen is being used, spending such a long time at a constant altitude of more than 8,000 metres can have fatal results for mountain climbers.”
— Luis Stitzinger | LOWA PRO Team
People continue to be fascinated by the world’s tallest mountain, Mount Everest, which juts 8,848 metres into sky in the Mahalangur Himal. The giant mountain is located right on the border between Nepal in the south and China in the north. Seven climbers from the expedition organiser Furtenbach Adventures of Innsbruck decided to take on the world’s highest mountain this year – in a climb led by professional athlete Luis Stitzinger.
A total of 389 mountain climbers from the south, 142 from the north and the same number of climbing sherpas and mountain guides set off for the summit during a two-day time window (May 23 and 24). Most of them gave it a try on the first day, 23 May, and ran directly into rush hour. But a traffic jam of climbers developed on the key sections of the routes – the “three steps” on the North Route and the “Hillary step” and the summit ridge of the South Route.
Unlike the Alps, you need something more than just good weather to successfully reach the summit of Mount Everest. You also need for the jet stream to go on holiday. This atmospheric compensation current is located at an altitude of 8,000 metres to 12,000 metres and can whip up winds of more than 150 km/h. During the spring season of 2019. this band of high velocity winds refused for a long time to take this holiday. As a result, climbers could not begin to think about making their ascent until the end of May – shortly before the end of the season and the beginning of monsoon (beginning of June). As a result, climbers faced gridlocks on 23 and 24 May, a development that ultimately had serious consequences. The number of fatalities rose to 11 at the end of May.
LOWA-PRO Team athlete Luis Stitzinger and seven climbers from an expedition organiser in Innsbruck were also at Mount Everest. “The summit stage takes about eight to 10 hours to climb under normal conditions, ” Stitzinger said. “This year, you faced monster stages of 14 hours or more. It was crazy."
To avoid the jams, he decided against climbing on 23 May and against taking the South Route. “We made a conscious decision to climb to the summit on the 24th to avoid the crowd, even if the weather was predicted to be worse on this day, ” Stitzinger said. “The decision paid off. By the time we got there as the sun rose at 5:30, there were perhaps 30 of us on the summit – about 30 people came later. We did not run into a single traffic jam.”
Things looked quite different on the South Route on both days: The crush of climbers produced some spectacular photographs in the media that set off another round of debate about extreme tourism on the world’s highest mountain. Why do so many people risk their lives over and over again each year on this mountain? “Mount Everest is a legend, ” Stitzinger mused. “For many people, it is a dream of a lifetime. The carnival on Everest had always turned me off in the past. But after going there, I cannot escape the fascination with the mountain. There is something magical about standing on the summit as the sun comes up and you have the whole world at your feet. But the entire adventure is still a dangerous undertaking even though we had lots of oxygen, climbing sherpas and safety technology. Is it worth it? That’s up to each person to decide.”
“The perfect shoe for Everest et al! Perfect fit, robust, extremely warm and light, the perfect companion for the world’s tallest mountains.”