We are well into the autumn climbing around the world including the Himalayan as well as the traditional shoulder season climbs around the world including Carstensz Pyramid (4, 884 m) in Indonesia and the Mexican volcanoes.
So far all looks good with no serious incidents reported. There are no current attempts on any of the world’s 14 8000 meter mountains. The first Ascent of Burke Khang in Nepal is now underway.
First Ascent Attempts
Nuptse South Face – over
French alpinist Frederic Degoulet Frederic Degoulet and team have ended their attempt to open a new route on the South Face of Nuptse II, at 7742m. The summit is on the same ridge as the Lhotse next to Everest. They posted an excellent report (translated by Google):
We probably made a bad decision up there trying the all out on day five in one push mode, no backpack, no back up if we butions on too long time to overcome difficulties. 700m over 7000m to swallow, too cocky, too confident.Especially as the route was uncertain, we all thought that it would not be obvious, but surmountable. It did not happen, we climbed steep slopes and extremely steep flutes ices, improtégeables 300m in 8 hours … We had not done half the way we had left to do and we were still not in easy terrain. The altitude was beginning our confidence, our facility, our mind, our capabilities simply. And all still take more time the more you go up. A final length leading to a finished bag ass finish us and we realized at once it was over, it was too long, too hard to reach the summit that day. Bivouac without us it was impossible to stay here and try again the next day, our highest point, reaching the summit. gross strategic error but that this time we seemed obvious.
Burke Khang – just starting
Bill Burke, the oldest American to summit Everest and live, is well on his way to attempt a first ascent of a peak named after him by the Nepal Government. He attempted it last year but found the summit blocked by opposing cornices. I wrote an long article about their attempt last year. He and David Liano are posting updates on their Facebook pages and websites. They are currently in Namche Bazaar, on their trek to base camp.
UPDATE Nov 12, 2016 – Effort abandoned. Burke posted on his site:
The trip is over. The mountain is a beast! Small but mighty. Kicked our butt big time-especially mine. I plan to leave Burke-Khang alone. This mountain is for the ages. Even David and the experienced Sherpas were blown away! I am choppering out of here tomorrow. I’ll never cross those glaciers again. Once I am back in Kathmandu and physically and mentally recovered, I’ll file a complete report. I have some great photos and videos to share.
7000 meter Peaks
Nepal is extremely popular for climbs of the so called “Trekking Peaks” of Island, Baruntse and Meru. Multiple teams are reported to have safely summited these peaks this month. Adventure Consultants is doing a nice job of posting dispatches on their Island Peak climb.
Ama Dablam (6,812m/22,349 ft)
Ama Dablam is often called the most beautiful peak in the world and it is attracting record crowds this 2016 autumn season.
Ama has emerged as a dangerous climb. Six climbers were killed in November 2006 when part of the Dablam collapsed hitting Camp 3. Parts of the Dablam also collapsed in late 2008 but didn’t take any lives. In 2014, three climbers were killed when the Dablam released but some say they were depending on old ropes and that contributed to their deaths.
When I summited it in 2000, we were the only team on the mountain. The Himalayan Times excellent climbing journalist Rajan Pokhrel reported more than 400 climbers are on the mountain split evenly between foreigners and local Sherpa support.
A team of Sherpas including Pemba Wongdi, Pasang Tenji, Nima, Lhakpa Wongchhu, Temba and Thuktan fixed the route to the summit via the Southeast ridge route a few days ago opening the flood gates. There have been several attempts in the past three years to summit via the North Ridge instead of the standard South East Ridge, but there has been no success.
Cholatse located between the Khumbu and Gokyo Valleys, has emerged as an alternative to Ama with less danger.
Other Climbing News
Carstensz Pyramid (4,884 m)
CP is one of the strangest climbs I’ve ever done. Nestled deep in the rain forests on West Papua (irian Jaya) in Indonesia’s New Guinea, I cant imagine going there unless you wanted to complete the Messner list of the 7 Summits.
International Mountain Guides (IMG) posted updates from their successful summit last week. The old Tyrollean traverse rig has been replaced by what is touted as a safer system. Judging by this picture by Ranveer Jamwal, I’m not sure!
This is a video of me on the old system in 2011:
Everest climber Nobukazu Kuriki posted yet another disturbing picture on Facebook regarding his health. You may remember he already lost nine fingers to frostbite on Everest, now he is reporting from back in Kathmandu that he has “bleeding and swollen eyelids of the left eye”. He continues to tease his followers about another Everest attempt in 2017. If he does, it would be his 7th solo with no Os in autumn. Stay tuned!
I will be updating my annual “How much does it cost to climb Everest” post soon. Look for a slight increase in prices overall but serious increase by the Nepali companies – but they are still doing deals to gain market share.
Meanwhile, no solid updates on the multiple changes (see this post) the Nepali Government suggested a few months ago to make Everest safer. Nothing new with that statement!
The Himalyan Times (THT) is reporting that while over 150 people were reported to have summited Manaslu last month, no one reached the true summit!
Russell Brice of Himex, was there and agrees with the report in his last newsletter plus defends himself from an accusation that he order a camp removed of independent climbers. He also makes some strong comments on the performance of Seven Summits Treks’ performance on rope fixing on the world’s 8th highest peak this season. Here is the money quote from Brice:
And before our teams left C4 to go to the summit we asked if they had fixed rope to the main summit and they told us that they had…so we never took any extra rope. But in fact they had not fixed to the main summit. They fixed to the final ridge…but not the main summit.
So in fact for a second year in a row…. nobody actually reached the true summit of Manaslu Despite Seven Summits making big claims that so many of their members and Sherpas reached the summit of Manaslu… they told lies and none of their members reached the summit. Nor did anyone else.
For extra credit, Mark Horrell has a nice write up on the challenges of reaching the true summit of Manaslu. But the bottom line is that when dangerous cornices block on the summit, safety dictates declaring victory a few meters lower than the true summit. It rare for the true rocky summit of Manaslu to be climbable. This year, 2016, a Japanese climber died as he fell thru the soft cornice trying to make the true summit. Brice posted on Hirotaka Onodera (24):
… one of the Japanese members from the East Ridge trip actually tried to continue the last 20m or so from where the fixed ropes finished to the real main summit and fell to his death through the cornice. That is why we have been so careful fixing this very last 20m in the years that we have fixed rope on Manaslu, we know that this section is very dangerous. Now a man has needlessly died because those in charge of fixing this year never completed the job. Why does this team continue to try and drag us operators down to their low level of Nepal safety standards rather than try to aspire to raise these standards to an internationally recognised level.
You will see many references to the tiny summit on Manaslu and it is true. This is a picture I took in 2013 of Pasang Ongcho Sherpa on the summit. Note the cornice behind him, unsafe to climb.
On a lighter note from Manslu, a team of Nepali Sherpas took pride in skiing from the ‘summit’ as reported in the THT.
There is a new contest from Grit&Rock designed to recognize female climbers. A $6,000 price i available to the winner. See the details at their site.
Speaking of contest, please click on this link to vote for my dear friend, Ellen Miller as a “bas ass” in a competition run by Elevation Outdoors. Ellen is the first And only American woman to summit Everest from both sides. Also she raises tons of money and helps kids with the Literacy Project in Colorado. I’ve known her since 2002 and can certify her as a true “Badass”Please consider taking 2 minutes and voting for her in this competition! Only 2 clicks makes it happen
A few deaths to report from within the climbing community. My condolences to their family, friends and teammates.
Junko Tabei, first woman to summit Everest had died at age 77. The Japanese climber summited in 1975. See more on this post
Michael Powell,36, a climber just starting his passion, died while descending Mt. Whitney, in California. I knew Mike and his mother. See more on this post
Here in Colorado, long time climbing Ranger, Jim Detterline, 60, has passed away. He was was found lying between two large rock formations wearing climbing gear near his home. He was a legend in Colorado helping over 1,200 people on Longs Peak and summiting the highest peak in the park over 420 times. RIP – a huge loss.
And Ang Chhongba Sherpa (24) of Juving VDC, Solukhumbu, was killed after he slipped while collecting the ropes on the Lobuche East.
Memories are Everything