Climbers are making good progress on Mount Everest and the first group could reach the summit as early as Thursday, in the first attempts in three years to make the final ascent to the world’s tallest peak after disasters cut short the 2014 and 2015 campaigns.
At least 289 foreign climbers and their guides are attempting to reach the 8,850-meter (29,035-foot) summit, Nepal Mountaineering Department official Gyanendra Shrestha said Tuesday.
Shrestha, who is stationed at the base camp, said the last camp at South Col has been set up and the route to the summit was being fixed on Tuesday.
The South Col, or Camp 4, is located at about 8,000 meters (26,240 feet) altitude and is the last place for climbers to pause before they try to reach the summit. Tents there have basic gear, supplies and oxygen cylinders.
He said weather was favorable for climbing with only light snow falling Tuesday.
Unpredictable weather remains a challenge though this year’s campaign has been free of incident.
Nepal is hoping for a safe 2016 season, after an earthquake that killed 9,000 people across Nepal sent a massive snowslide crashing into Base Camp, killing at least 18 climbers and guides, and putting an end to that year’s campaign.
In 2014, 16 Sherpa guides were killed by an avalanche in the treacherous Khumbu Icefall above the base camp.
Climbers from around the world spend tens of thousands of dollars to try to climb Everest every year though none reached the summit in last year’s spring campaign.