Everest 2024 – Irish Season Outlook

The Everest Spring season is in full swing with teams now a month or so into their 50-60 day expedition and rotating through various camps on the high mountain to adapt and prepare for a possible summit push in the next few weeks. Since 2020 the Tibet side of Everest has been restricted to foreign traffic by the Chinese authorities (Covid-19 related), but this year both sides of the mountain are open for business. However the Chinese authorities have been playing games with issuing permits which has severely delayed teams in their preparation on the North side, to the extent that many have abandoned their mission entirely or switched sides to Nepal.

According to the Himalayan Database, Everest has been successfully climbed 11,997 times since the first ascent by Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay in 1953. The route split is 8351 South (70% via Nepal) and 3646 North (30% via Tibet). The average summit age is 35 while the average Irish age is slightly older at 41. The gender summit split is 11,112 Male (93%) and 885 Female (7%). Of the 11,997 summits to date, 225 (1.9%) were achieved without bottled oxygen, 11,772 (98.1%) were achieved with bottled oxygen. There are 332 deaths recorded on Everest to date, including 4 Irish fatalities over the years. From an Irish perspective (Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland), Everest has been climbed 76 times by 59 Irish climbers (9 women, 50 men), with a total of 147 Irish attempts to date by 101 different climbers.

Up to 24th April 2024, the Department of Tourism in Nepal had recorded 388 permits for Everest, which generated a revenue of $4.19m USD and is a reduction from last years number (perhaps a reflection of the Tibet side re-opening?). These permits have been issued to 36 teams and to 318 Males and 70 Females. Here is a summary of permits issued by the Tourism Ministry in Nepal since 2013.

  • 2013: 315
  • 2014: 341
  • 2015: 357
  • 2016: 289
  • 2017: 375
  • 2018: 347
  • 2019: 381
  • 2020: Closed
  • 2021: 408
  • 2022: 325
  • 2023: 478
  • 2024: 388 (so far)

In terms of summits, here is a summary of Everest summits since 2013:

  • 2013: 684
  • 2014: 134 (Nepal side closed – Avalanche) 
  • 2015: 0 (All sides closed – Earthquake)
  • 2016: 679
  • 2017: 692
  • 2018: 819
  • 2019: 877
  • 2020: 28 (Nepal closed, Tibet – Chinese only)
  • 2021: 472
  • 2022: 683
  • 2023: 656

The story of the first half of the season this year is undoubtedly the dogs dinner the Chinese authorities have made of the permits for Everest and other 8000m peaks on the Tibet/China side of the border. They have now unilaterally closed two of the 8000m peaks and according to Everest blogger Alan Arnette are not going to issue Everest permits until 7th May, which means teams on the North side will be significantly behind their counterparts on the South side in terms of high mountain adaptation. To offset the delay, the Chinese authorities have extended the date when the mountain will be closed on the North side. Some teams have packed up and gone home on the North side, while others have transferred to the South (Nepal) side instead. An authoritarian omnishambles, as they say!

The other main headline is the delay in establishing a route through the icefall from Base Camp to Camp 1 on the Nepal side. Every year a new route is established through this most dangerous section of the climb by a specialist Sherpa team known as the Icefall Doctors. This years route has proven especially difficult to establish. It is apparently longer, more arduous and more precarious than in previous years. Adventure Consultants reported a ‘circuitous route with very few ladders‘. The downside is the clear and present danger of a more precarious route which requires climbers to move fast and cautiously through it, while the upside is that a harder and longer route to Camp 1 has a way of weeding out those who are out of their depth and could cause bigger problems higher up. All of this has delayed fixed ropes being established further up the mountain and to the summit, which has slowed the overall progress and adaptation plans of some teams. Nepalese authorities have approved the use of helicopters to drop gear above Camp 2 which will be used to establish fixed ropes to the summit in an effort to offset the delays experienced thus far. Teams are now on the move, so it shouldn’t cause major problems in the overall scheme of things.

From an Irish perspective (ROI and NI), Everest has been climbed 76 times by 59 Irish climbers (9 women, 50 men), with a total of 147 Irish attempts to date by 101 different climbers (including a couple of attempts by yours truly). Full details on all Irish summits and attempts here.

This season there are two Irish climbers that I know of attempting Everest.

– James McManus (41) from Tipperary
– Robert Smith (53) from Tyrone

The Nepalese authorities released a breakdown of Everest permits by Country which indicated that there were six Irish males with permits to climb Everest this year. So there are at least four others out there who we have yet to identify. Efforts are ongoing!

James McManus
Robert Smith

James McManus (41) is originally from Roscrea in Tipperary, now living and working in Dublin. This is his second attempt on Everest having reached 7800m without supplementary oxygen back in 2022. James runs the Dublin-based adventure travel company Earths Edge. James has a degree in Sports Science and has been involved in the outdoors since an early age. He represented Ireland as a kayaker in 1999 and has climbed a number of peaks up to 7500m, including Kilimanjaro, Elbrus, Aconcagua, Peak Lenin and Muztagh Ata. This season James had planned on climbing Everest via the North (Tibet) route using camps and logistics of the Seven Summits Treks team, however his plans fell foul of the delayed permits by the Chinese authorities. James stated online that he was attempting Everest from the Tibet side ‘without supplementary oxygen’, however climbers on the Tibet side are strictly prohibited from climbing without the use of supplementary oxygen this season, so it is not clear if that was a misspeak on his part. On 23rd April James announced that the permit delay (which would be a 4-week delay in total) meant that he had to cancel his Everest attempt from the Tibet side. He has now switched to the Nepal side and decided to climb Lhotse instead (4th highest mountain in the world). He will be climbing with Sherpa Tsering Lama (likely using the camps & logistics of Seven Summits Treks) and will be attempting to become the first Irish climber to summit Lhotse without supplementary oxygen. James arrived at Everest Base Camp today (Tuesday 30th) having completed an adaptation climb on Loboche East (20,075ft/6119m). The straw plan (which he admits is fluid) is to head up on his first rotation this weekend, going straight to Camp 2 (21,000ft/6400m) in one day, then up to touch Camp 3 (23,500ft/7162m) the following day, back to Camp 2 for the night and then back to Base Camp. Second rotation on 9th May to Camp 2, then Camp 3 and up to Camp 4 before returning to Camp 2 and then to Base Camp to wait for the summit window. Certainly not a pace for the faint hearted, but this isn’t his first rodeo, so he will know what works best at this stage.

Robert Smith (53) is originally from Omagh in Co. Tyrone, now living in Fort William in Scotland. He is a professional mountain guide and is lead guide for the Adventure Consultants expedition team this season on the Nepal side of Everest. Robert has climbed Everest 7 times, and completed 12 summits of 8000m peak (7x Everest, 2x K2, 1x Lhotse, 1x Cho Oyo, 1x Manaslu). He has been lead guide on Everest, Lhotse, Cho Oyo, Vinson and Elbrus expeditions to name a few, and in 2021 became the first Irish climber to successfully summit K2 twice! His Antarctic resume includes 20 summits of Vinson, as well as climbs of Sidley (x2), Sporli (1st ascent), Shinn (5x), Tyree, Sublime Peak (x2), Branscomb Peak and other smaller peaks in Antarctica. He has also completed an impressive seven ‘Last Degree’ expeditions to the South Pole! Robert is now 30 days into his Everest expedition and arrived back at Everest Base Camp today having completed the teams first rotation through the icefall to Camp 1 (19,500ft/5943m), then on to Camp 2 (21,000ft/6400m) and after an extra day of rest at Camp 2, back through the icefall to Base Camp to rest and prepare for the next rotation. The teams next rotation will bypass Camp 1 and go straight to Camp 2 and then on to Camp 3 (23,500ft/7162m) and the teams first experience of using supplementary oxygen before returning to Everest Base Camp to prepare for the summit push.

We wish James and Robert the best of luck with their respective climbs.

Away from Everest, it is worth noting that since last season, one of the 8000m peaks which had previously been unclimbed by an Irish climber, has now been climbed. Josh Morrison (aged 26) from Templepatrick in Co. Antrim reached the summit of Gasherbrum II at 9:55am on 18th June 2023, becoming the first climber from the Island of Ireland and the first from Northern Ireland to reach the summit of this 8000m peak. Congrats to Josh who is currently working his way through the Seven Summits peaks.

Finally, it wouldn’t be an Everest season without mentioning and remembering the legendary Noel Hanna who died last year. He would probably have been on the mountain or on one of the neighbouring peaks this season, and is forever a part of the history of the great peak. We also remember Seamus Lawless (Wicklow), Kevin Hynes (Galway/London), John Delaney (Laois) and Seán Egan (Clare/Canada) all of whom died on Everest in past years. They and their families in our thoughts every time the Everest season comes around. Ar dheist Dé go raibh a anam dílis.

Everest – Latest Numbers

(Click to view next slide, hover on graphs to see data)

Thanks to Himalayan Database team for data assistance. 

Note: Stats for Irish climbers of Everest from Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland are combined on this website. That is not a political statement, it is a reflection that climbing and trekking on the Island of Ireland from the mighty Mournes to the MacGillycuddy’s Reeks and stretching out into the world beyond, has a long and proud cross-community and cross-border makeup which transcends political and religious backgrounds. Some Everest climbers from Northern Ireland have climbed on their British passports and are proud of their identity as Northern Irish and British, while others from both North and South have climbed on their Irish passport and are equally proud of their Irish identity. Live, let live, and climb!

The author: Paul Devaney is a native of Longford, is co-founder of the Irish Seven Summits project and an aerospace freelancer based in London. Paul is an amateur mountaineer and has completed six of the Seven Summits and attempted Everest in 2014 and 2015. In both seasons his expedition was halted due to major incidents (Avalanche in 2014, Earthquake in 2015). Paul has climbed and trained in the Alps and completed climbs from Alaska to Antarctica and from Jordan to Ecuador. He lives in London with his wife Rima and twin daughters, and has been documenting Irish climbers on Everest & 8000m peaks since 2014.

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