If it is early September, it must mean a migration to the big mountains of Tibet and Nepal. Today, multiple teams are reported en-route or arriving at their Base Camps of Cho Oyu, Dhaulagiri, Manaslu, Ama Dablam and even Everest.
The world’s sixth highest peak at 26,907’/8201m is always popular attracting hundreds of climbers each autumn season. It is the most summited, after Everest, of all the 8000 meter mountains with 3,331 summits thru 2014 according to the Himalayan Database.
It is generally regarded as one of the most “attainable” 8000 meter peaks with a straight forward climb to a huge flat summit and a dramatic view of Everest.
However, in recent years, the success rate has dropped dramatically due to avalanche danger and generally poor snow conditions. Also the Chinese government has made getting to Cho Oyu a gamble with random border closures and unannounced bans on climbing due to fears of protests involving Tibet. There were zero summits on Cho Oyu last year after China closed all of Tibet to climbing after the spring earthquake.
For 2016 everything seems back to a more normal environment. Cho Oyu is a popular expedition run by the major commercial guide companies like Adventure Consultants, Alpine Ascents (AAI), Asian Trekking, IMG and Seven Summits Treks. AAI reports in:
We arrived at Chinese Basecamp today to a new elevation of 16,100ft. The drive from Tingri only took about an hour and a half and they are working hard to pave the whole road to CBC! We were greeted by our great Sherpa and Nepali staff here and had a great second breakfast cooked by Gopal. The rest of the day we ate and hydrated, and took a walk down the road towards the mountains. It was a little windy today with a few sprinkles of rain but overall a pretty nice day. Tomorrow we will go on another hike, gaining some elevation to further acclimatize.
Similar to Cho Oyu, Manaslu is regarded as attainable and in recent years has seen a dramatic increase in traffic. Seven Summits Treks, the now dominate Nepali owned and based guide service, posted they have 130 members and Sherpas for the 2016 season. This is astounding in that in the year ever, 2011, Manaslu saw 140 total summits. Since 1956, Manaslu has had 980 total summits.
Himalayan Experience is also running a trip there along with several other western companies. Himex has been guiding Manaslu since 2008.
Due to the crowds however, long time operator, Altitude Junkies will not be on Manaslu for the first time since 2008. They have shifted their autumn climb to Dhaulagiri and even more telling is that Phil Crampton, owner of the Junkies, has left Everest all together due to the crowds.
From early repots Altitude Junkies appears to be the only team on this 8000er this autumn season. At 26,794’/8167m, Dhaulagiri was considered to be a hard peak to climb but nowadays is considered as in the lower half of the 8000er list. The normal route has some short technical sections and some avalanche danger, but overall it’s a quite straight forward climb. 469 climbers have reached the summit thru 2014.
Phil Crampton reports the team is on their way having to navigate some logistics challenges including landslides, rains and flight delays.
We had hoped to reach Marpha tonight but with the flight delay and another landside between Beni and Marpha, we have decided to spend the night at Beni and make an early morning start. We will have to change vehicles en-route and we expect to have to walk for around three hours from the drop off to the pick up area. Hopefully we will be with our Sherpa staff tomorrow evening.
There are no reported teams attempting Everest from Nepal this second half of 2016 but two climbers are on the north side.
As I previously reported, Spanish speed climber Kilian Jornet will attempt to set a speed record by climbing from the Rongbuk Monastery (Tibet) to the summit in a single push. He expects to take around 20 hours to summit and about 35 hours to descend. Kilian and his three partners are already in Tibet.
He has been in the base camp area now for a couple of weeks continuing to acclimatize before his attempt.
This is his sixth autumn (post-monsoon), no O’s, climbing alone, attempt on Everest. His previous try have been met with drama and injury. He has lost nine fingers on Everest in 2012 during a thwarted attempt on the West Ridge of Everest. In 2015, he reached a bit above the South Col before deep snow forced him to stop.
Climbing alone is his “style” of climbing. He has climbs of McKinley (2004), Aconcagua, Elbrus, Kilimanjaro all in 2005 and Carstensz Pyramid in 2006. Plus these 8000m climbs: Cho Oyu (2007), Manaslu (2008), and Dhaulagiri (2009). He attempted Annapurna last spring without a summit due to weather.
In sad news over the weekend, the search was called off for US climbers Kyle Dempster and Scott Adamson who were attempting the very difficult and technical Ogre II in Pakistan. They had not been seen for over 12 days when their headlamps were sighted half way up the 22,900’/6980m peak. My condolences to their family and friends.
Best of luck to all this autumn season.
Memories are Everything