Finally the legendary excellent autumn weather has arrived on the world’s highest peaks. Team and climbers alike are reporting “bluebird” days with clear skies and no wind. This makes even the hardest acclimatization day a joy.
Most commercial teams focus on Everest in the spring because it is usually a two month event and takes advantage of ever increasing longer days and little to no precip as the calendar advance towards summer. But autumn is a different scenario with ever shorting days and the potential for heavy snow always a possibility. However, just like the last two weeks of May, the last week of September and early October usually see fantastic conditions in the Himalaya.
The Himalayan Times‘s Rajan Pokhrel reported that the Nepal Ministry of Tourism issued 277 climbing permits for 19 Nepali mountains this autumn with Manaslu dwarfing the others with more than 148 climbers representing 16 expeditions.
I suspect this portends that Everest will be overwhelmed next spring (2017) as many use Manaslu and Cho Oyu as training for Everest.
So with that, lets do a run down on who is where in Nepal and Tibet.
Tenzing and Hillary Peaks
Canadian Elia Saikaly and Pasang Kaji Sherpa are attempting a first ascent on two recently opened points along the ridge between Cho Oyu and Gyachung Kang. They were previously called Ngozumba I and III but renamed Tenzing Peak (7,916 m) and Hillary Peak (7,681 m) and opened for climbing.
Update: They are moving towards their base camp now. Saikaly is filming the attempt for an 5 part series that is showing online.
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.
UPDATE: Cho Oyu is enjoying a period of great weather. I see that teams are now putting in a Camp 1.5 – that is a camp between the traditional C1 and C2. Have not heard the reason for this as the distance is not that far for an 8000er.
Adventure Consultants comments on the two sections of Cho that give some people problems:
There are two technical cruxes to the standard route on Cho Oyu; The Ice Cliff at about 6800m and the Yellow Band, a prominent rock layer that bisects the Himalaya at about 7500m. In 1951 Edmund Hillary tried an (illegal) ascent of Cho Oyu that was stopped by the Ice Cliff.
One of our Italian friends described the ice cliff “as ten minutes of terror”. Our arrival at the ice cliff coincided with a member of another team losing control on rappel and going upside down. Another member of the same team then got stuck descending on the yellow rope, which is the up line. I tried to instruct a Frenchman on how to rappel – while his Sherpa was without question the most amicable and friendly guy on the hill. Fun and games and all the while we progressively climbed up looking for the daunting crux that never came. Of course we had the advantage of a top rope. The steep terrain sure is hard work on what was another record breaking altitude day for Kai and Roxane.
Ben Jones made this outstanding video introducing his Alpine Ascents (AAI) team. Simply put, I love this. Well done Ben!! II cannot show it on my site but visit this link
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.
UPDATE: The Seven Summits Treks team is looking at summiting the first week of October – right on schedule. Arnold Coster notes they had some snow at C1 a couple of days ago and held tight to let it settle.
This a picture I took in 2013 of the Himalayas as we made our summit push – it is stunningly beautiful up there.
From early repots Altitude Junkies reamins 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.
UPDATE: Phil Crampton reports in that conditions continue to be excellent:
The weather has been fantastic and insane. Yesterday, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky and absolutely no wind. It was one of the weather days I have ever had in 20 or so years in the Himalayas. It felt however about 125 degrees F on the glacier.
On the 17th, we went up to Camp 1. On the 18th, we went up to Camp 2. Some of the group stayed overnight, others came back down. Our Sherpas are still fixing rope on higher camps and trying to finish before any bad weather sets in. We are now still doing load carries on the hill. Our goal will be to try to summit sometime between the 25th and 30th of September.
Shish is the world’s lowest 8000 meter peak at 8027 meters or 26,335 feet. It is also the only 8000er totally within Tibet. It is one of the 8000ers with a checkered history of people claiming the summit but only reaching the fore-summit. The last bit is across a sharp ridge that is avi prone so some people call it good at the fore-summit.
RMI has a team on Shisha this season and is putting in the work now:
Our second rotation begins tomorrow with a move to Depot Camp, followed by a return to Camp 1 at 20,000’, and finally up to Camp 2 near 22,000’ by the end of the work week. We’re all feeling great, looking good, and ready for the upcoming challenge here on the 14th highest mountain in the world. We’ll check in tomorrow from Depot Camp.
There are no reported teams attempting Everest from Nepal this second half of 2016 but there is one climber on the north side. As previously reported, Kilian Jornet, attempting a speed climb via the Horton or Hornbein Couloir ended his effort citing deep snow on the North Face.
This is his sixth autumn (post-monsoon), no O’s, climbing alone, attempt on Everest. His previous efforts 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.
Update: He has gone to Advanced Base Camp at 5800 meters now is looking to go higher.
From today, and again said to Mount Everest. Advanced Base (ABC) left, 5800 meters above sea level in the camp of 1 arrived from earlier, and it began to snow. Everything here is too climb, but not from here, but if the destination. Tomorrow, weather permitting ?ri?ki on the wall, 6800 meters above sea level rising to. Think so. However, it was snowing now, and also tomorrow nearly 10 cm as it was forecast, so avalanche occurred and you have to carefully. Think so. Look up from here. Everest is, indeed, a huge wall. Everyone with the support from, here I go!
Best of luck to all this autumn season.
Memories are Everything