After Nepal’s tragic earthquake in April and May this past spring, teams are returning to trek and climb this autumn. One of Nepal’s 8000m mountains may see record crowds.
The China Tibet Mountaineering Association (CTMA) told guides a few months ago that due to road construction after the earthquake, all climbing would be closed this autumn.
However, not everyone bought their explanation as shown on International Mountain Guide‘s (IMG) website:
While the road from Nepal to Tibet remains closed since the earthquakes, for the autumn 2015 IMG Cho Oyu Expedition, we were planning to instead fly to Lhasa and go to Cho Oyu from that side, as we have done many times before. Now, however, our contacts in China have informed us that Tibet will be closed for all mountaineering this autumn 2015 season. The reason given now is that in addition to the road condition (still closed) there are events planned for the 50th anniversary of the Tibetan Autonomous Region (founded 1965). So for that reason, the Cho Oyu expedition is cancelled for autumn 2015.
This means Cho Oyu (26,907’/8601m), Shishapangma (26,289’/8027m) and Everest (29,035/8848m) will see no attempts this autumn. It also means, no trekking or tourism to Lhasa. A similar situation occurred in 2012, furthering the unpredictability in climbing in Tibet, anytime.
Cho Oyu is one of the most popular 8000 meter climbs and has 3,171 summits, second only to Everest in popularity of the 8000m Hills. With “only” 49 deaths or 1.55%, it is statistically the least deadly of the world’s highest peaks. The most dangerous is Annapurna at 35.08%.
Manaslu Moves Up
Operators not wanting to lose their autumn business, have shifted in mass to Nepal’s Manaslu. This is the world’s eighth highest peak at 26,781′ or 8163 m. I summited Manaslu in 2013.
In spite of what operators are advertising, Manaslu has a deadly reputation with 67 deaths and 672 summits. An avalanche in 2012 took 12 lives in a single instance on September 23.
While the impact of the 2015 earthquakes are unknown on the highest peaks, the route is sure to be changed so Sherpas and independent climbers will most certainly need to do some route finding instead of assuming last year’s route is still the choice.
Even without major earthquakes, the route between Camp 1 and Camp 2, the crux, is steep, difficult and dangerous requiring maneuvering under high ice blocks and walls.
Two of Manalsu’s most experienced operators will return this year: Phil Crampton’s Altitude Junkies and Russell Brice’s Himalayan Experience. Joining them will be all the usual operators including IMG, Kari Kobler, Dan Mazur, Adventure Consultants, Asian Trekking, Arnold Coster, and more.
Manaslu’s summit is tiny allowing only two climbers at at time to celebrate success. With so many teams jostling for space at Camp 2 and out of potential avai blow at Camp 3, patience will be tested. Usually Junkies and Himex work together to fix the ropes to the summit, asking all climbers to pay a $100 each, but this also brings controversy as some use the ropes but don’t pay.
Then others draft off the leader’s weather forecast and movements as another way to save money. In the end, Manaslu, while a great climb, can be a symbol of how we are loving our mountains to death. Perhaps climbing in the spring when others are occupied on Everest might be a wiser alternative.
Everest will see a return from a small team of Japanese climbers according to this article in the Himalyan by solid reporter Rajan Pokhrel.
Everest is rarely climbed in the autumn due to ever shorter and colder days with winter snows just around the corner. Over the decades, commercial teams have selected spring for the increased potential of summiting then focusing on other 8000 m peaks in the autumn.
Most independents draft behind commercial teams these days, but there are true independents that climb on their own. In any event. autumn is a quiet time on Everest for the most part. There has only been three successfully summit teams in the last 15 years from Nepal in the autumn season.
This year’s attempt by Japanese team, Nobukazu Kuriki and Masaru Kadotani, will be Sherpa supported and the Icefall fixed and supported by the Icefall Doctors. Kuriki will attempt to climb solo above Camp 2 via the normal route.
The Japanese have a strong attraction to climbing Everest in the autumn, In 2012, Nobukazu Kuriki who was climbing Everest’s West Ridge alone, no supplemental O’s, was evacuated from Camp 2 in the Western Cwm with severe frostbite nearly dying in his attempt. 2015 will be his fifth attempt. He had tried twice from Tibet side and twice from Nepal’s side.
Lhotse, Makalu and Trekking Peaks
A South Korean team has applied for a permit to climb Lhotse. In 2014, a South Korean team attempted to summit from the very avalanche prone South Face without success. It’s unclear what route they will attempt this year.
Makalu, at 27,838’/8485 m, will see several teams as will all the usual trekking peaks including Island, Mera, and Lobuche.
Trekking brings in more revenue to Nepal than mountaineering and the government has been relentlessly promoting that trekking is safe after the earthquake. They have commissioned independent analysis of the popular routes including the Khumbu and Annapurna and declared it safe. Many of the teahouses have been repaired but a lack of raw materials and skilled labor have stalled the rebuilding in many remote villages.
Aftershocks continue to this day. After the initial 7.8 quake on April 25 there have been over 100 aftershocks registering over 4.0 in magnitude including the 7.3 aftershock on May 12 that caused significant damage.
Best of luck to all this season and safe trekking and climbing.
Memories are Everything