autumn Himalayan Climbing Update 5 – Summits and Deaths

Since my last update there have been a large number of summits on both Manaslu and Cho Oyu but stalled attempts on the other peaks. Japanese Nobukazu Kuriki continues his effort on Everest but has been stopped for the moment by bad weather and deep snow. This is what caused Kilian Jornet to abandon his attempts a couple of weeks ago.

But before I do an update on the various mountains,  another presumed climbing death (or two) in the Nepal mountain.  On September 27, an avalanche struck Camp II on Himlung Himal (7126m) in Nepal. A Sherpa with Active Holiday Treks was swept away and has not been found. There are unconfirmed reports of another Sherpa being killed on Shishapangma by an avalanche near Camp 3. My condolences to the family, friends and teammates of all involved.

The monsoon has been hanging around Nepal and Southern Tibet later than usual this autumn creating massive snow on some peaks, thus the risk of avalanches is critical at the moment.

Cho Oyu routeCho Oyu

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: The tough conditions on Cho Oyu finally calmed enough for summit bids. Multiple teams are reporting success including Adventure Consultants, Alpine Ascents with 3 members and support, 7 Summits Club with 5 members and 4 Sherpas.  Summit Climb also said they summited. Other teams including IMG are looking at a Sunday, October 2 summit.

Mike Roberts of Adventure Consultants posted on the conditions at the South Col on Everest which can be clearly seen from the summit of Cho Oyu:

At noon Kai, Da Jangbu and Ringin were back at C2 after an almost windless cloudless summit. Superb views of Everest and surrounding peaks. Da Jangbu said there was no rock on the South Col of Everest, just snow, a sure testimony to the heavy monsoon. Understandably, they’re stoked.

Alpenglow is rushing up the peak with their expeditions designed to minimize time away from home. Adrian Ballinger posted about the crowds and a picture of the “conga line” on their summit push.

The 30th (today) was our ideal summit day on ChoOyu. But when temperamental weather the past 2 days pushed a hundred climbers today (can you see the Conga Line nearing the shoulder?), all planning on following a rope-fixing team that would break trail the final 2000 feet of the route, we passed on the weather day in hopes of solace and being able to move at our own speed tomorrow. This is the 8000-meter game. Logistics balance with weather balance with strength and resolve to stand on top. Congrats to the phenomenal effort of the 6 rope-fixing Sherpa (who volunteered for the final summit push and a big payday) and to all who summit today. 24 hours from now we hope to be on top with our skis!

Cho Oyu 2016 crowds. Courtesy Adrian Ballinger
Cho Oyu 2016 crowds. Courtesy Adrian Ballinger
8,156m (26,670'), Manaslu
8,156m (26,670′), Manaslu


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 including a 60 member Chinese team. This is astounding in that in the year ever, 2011, Manaslu saw 140 total summits. Since 1956, Manaslu has had 980 total summits.

 UPDATE:  A good period of weather, albeit windy, has allowed many summits on Manaslu.  Russell Brice noted “In 2008 our first year on Manaslu we had more than 5m of snow fall, so really this last weather is a mild reminder of what it used to be like.”

There were a reported 60 summits on Manaslu this week and another wave is heading up. It is almost certain that a new summit record will be set this season. Seven Summits Treks with the largest team of over 100, reported 80 summits attempts from their team. Nepali based guide services Ascent Himalayas and Dreamers Destination Treks reported success for their teams.

The Himalayan Times reported:

According to the Department of Tourism (DoT), there are 18 teams comprising 151 climbers on Mt Manaslu in the autumn season. “Among 360 persons – climbers, high altitude Sherpas and support staff – have headed for Manaslu base camp,” DoT official Gyanendra Shrestha said, adding that 58 were Chinese climbers.

Meanwhile, Russell Brice said his team would target an October 1 summit; Benegas Brothers were at C3 headed for the summit.

New Route on Manaslu

Alberto Zerain & Mariano Galván split up as they made their attempt. It is reported that Galvan continued alone on the new route and Zerain will attempt via the normal route according to the blog Altitude Pakistan.


From early reports 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’s team remains the only one on Dhaulagiri and is looking at a summit date of October 1:

There has been 4 days of pretty bad weather, but we are letting the snow consolidate and will continue on with our summit plans. Normally, most teams are pretty clandestine about summit pushes, but since we are the only ones on the peak, here are the tentative plans…. weather dependent. Right now, we are looking at going to Camp 1 on the 28th, Camp 2 on the 29th, Camp 3 on the 30th and October 1st for the summit. We are not sure how well the sat phone will work, so we will keep you posted as per our technology allows..


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‘s team continues to battle tough weather on this peak. Shish is notorious for bad weather as the season progresses. This from RMI:

And the heavy winds kept us bounded at Camp 1 today, folks. We woke up to clear skies that soon turned cloudy, but the if we had some hopes to move up early on, the everlasting winds killed it for today. We did what what we had to, and was rest, re-hydrate, eat, and fortify the wall we made around camp. Our forecast gives us hopes to move to Camp 2 tomorrow, so we’re ultra motivated for that. In the meantime, we know that the extra night here will be beneficial for overcoming the thin air that awaits above. We’re armed with plenty of food and desire to continue this fight, so stay toned for more. Everyone is healthy and eager to climb!

There are unconfirmed reports of a Sherpa being killed on Shishapangma by an avalanche at Camp 2. This is a picture I took in 2007 of one of our tents at C2 with Camp 3 in the distance. As you can see, camp is situated below the face of Shish but is usually far enough away to avoid avi, but with heavy snow, it is always a possibility. 

Camp 2 on Shishapangma in 2007. By Alan Arnette
Camp 2 with Camp 3 in distance on Shishapangma in 2007. By Alan Arnette


UPDATE on DEATH: RMI just posted the details and confirmed the death:

We received very sad news earlier today. One of the Sherpa team members was caught in an avalanche this morning and has died. The rest of the team are safe. All team members are spending the night at Camp 2 and will be descending in the morning. The accident occurred below Camp 3 as a Sherpa team was moving up. This is all the information we have at this time. We will provide updates as we get information from the team.


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.

Nobukazu Kuriki
Nobukazu Kuriki

Nobukazu Kuriki

As I posted a few weeks ago, Japanese climber, Nobukazu Kuriki, is climbing from the north side. He is now at base camp but notes deep snow on the north side of Everest.

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 reached Camp 2 on the North side but was met with a large storm and lots of snow:

I came to camp 2 today. But it had been sunny the morning becomes a storm snow in the afternoon, is the battle of the snow by the monsoon every day. There is a large amount of snow to camp 2, but this on further deep snow, you have piled up still happening likely unstable snow avalanche. Now, consider what happens to your friends with this snow.

First Ascent Attempts

Burke Khang

Bill Burke, the oldest American to summit Everest and live, announced this past week that he is returning to attempt a first ascent of a peak named after hm by the Nepal Government. Burke Khang is in the Gokyo Valley at 6,942 meters (22,775 feet). He attempted it last year but found the summit blocked by opposing cornices. I wrote an long article about their attempt last year.

Update: They are enroute to Nepal.

Tenzing and Hillary Peaks

Tenzing and Hillary Peak from Gokyo Ri.
Tenzing and Hillary Peak from Gokyo Ri. Courtesy of Elia Saikaly

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 made an attempt to reach their Camp 1 but turned back due to difficult conditions. Saikaly is filming the attempt for an 5 part series that is showing online. He posted on Facebook:

It’s been nearly 8 weeks of miserable monsoon weather. We’re constantly wet, pounded on by rain and snow, the route we forge is continually buried by fresh precipitation, we were nearly shut down, we lost our expedition leader and yet we carry on. With smiles. Resilient. Passionate. Grateful. We’re here living a dream and have no idea of the outcome. The odds of succeeding are incredibly slim and yet we see this as fuel for the fire that burns deep within.

Hopefully the monsoon with truly end allowing all the remaining teams to make their summit bids. Best of luck to all this autumn season.

Climb On!
Memories are Everything

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