With the advent of Covid-19 only a single Chinese climbing team is on Everest right now.
On Wednesday their climbing and scientific team left Tibetan Base Camp for the higher reaches of the mountain. With good weather they may well be on their way to the summit soon.
Right now on the South Col of Everest it is -25c (-12.8f), so not too bad for this time of year. If you want to see what it is like on Everest, thanks to National Geographic we can access their Everest web cam, technology allowing, for the South Side. From these we get live weather from Base Camp all the way up to the Balcony.
While the North Side is often a bit windier and consequently summits happen a bit later, these weather stations are a good indication of the overall weather in the area and at different altitudes.
As the Chinese are the only team on the mountain, their mix of stories – re-measuring the height of the peak, launching 5G, and utilizing the Chinese Satellite network for communications – will give them an otherwise rare and quiet Everest media environment to spread their news. Anything Everest this year will be all about them.
Coincidentally, it is also the 60th anniversary of the Chinese’s first reported climb of the North Ridge, completed in 1960.
Photographs and video footage this year also indicates they have a good drone driver, which with any luck will be following them along to the top.
The Chinese have a history of large, public expeditions, from their first ascent in 1960, an event that was considered suspect for many years. After his climb of the North Ridge, Mark Horrell posted his take on their claims, pointing out it would have been very hard to fake the route description they described without having actually climbed to the top.
In 1975 the Chinese again climbed Everest, but again had no good summit photos. It wasn’t until Doug Scott and Dougal Haston arrived later in the year that the tripod the Chinese had lugged up to the top verified their ascent.
Hopefully this year the combination of technology, putting together their 5G, satellite systems, drones and a go-pro or two should hopefully result in some rather improved coverage.
Certainly in the quietness of this years climbing season, it would be welcome break from another run around the garden.
China Daily covers the details and over on Xinhuanet you can see more of the photos of them in Base Camp and headed up the hill.