Dispatches from the roof of the world
Dispatch #37 May 16, 2012
Conrad Calls In
Andy Bardon
Large seracs dubbed the "Fingers of Fate" collapsed onto the Icefall about 30 minutes before Conrad Anker traveled through this section on May 16.

“Greetings, Conrad here. It’s the 16th of May 2012, Everest Base Camp.

On the 12th of May, Simone Moro and David Breashears flew up over the West Ridge in a helicopter and were able to take high-resolution images of the route, especially the Hornbein Couloir.

In looking at the pictures we see a very dry and windswept set of conditions, similar to what we were experiencing on the south side, complicated by the fact that the Hornbein is a large funnel for loose rock. So the loose rock that might traditionally have been covered with snow or held in place by neve (which is a firm type of snow) is now blue ice and it’s far more laborious to climb and time-consuming. Given the fact that these two conditions play into our decision on whether or not to go up, we’ve found it best that the West Ridge is just not in shape this year and for whatever reason—dry conditions and a lack of snow coming in, we are—It’s a far cry from the conditions that, nearly 50 years ago, Thomas Hornbein and Willi Unsoeld experienced.”

Expedition leader Conrad Anker mapped out this season’s treacherous trail through the Icefall.
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