With all the 8000er climbs over, the autumn Himalayan climbing season shifts to the lower 7,000 meter peaks including Ama Dablam. Also, the first Ascent of Burke Khang is still on as other first ascent attempts have ended.
Everest – over
But first some house cleaning on the Everest attempts. Both Everest teams of Kilian Jornet and Nobukazu Kuriki have ended their attempts from Tibet due to deep snow on the North Face. Jornet never started his summit push and Kurki stopped at 7400 meters on his. There is a small chance that Kurki will try again, but unlikely. I’ll keep you updated.
UPDATE: 13 OCt ’16: It appears Nobukazu Kuriki has ended his Everest attempt from Tibet via the Hornbein Couloir or the normal route. He posted on Facebook he spent 11 days at Camp1 (normal route) and also experienced waist deep snow on the North Face. Also high winds were buffeting Everest creating concern for safety and success. He was climbing alone and without supplemental oxygen.
Cho Oyu, Manaslu, Shishapangma, Dhaulagiri – over
These 8000ers are popular in the autumn season. Both Cho Oyu and Manaslu saw a large number of summits with Manaslu setting a single season record of over 150 summits.
Shishapangma, with notoriously difficult weather stopped the only team attempting it, RMI, after one of their Sherpas was killed in an avalanche. Dhaulagiri also had only one team, Altitude Junkies, and they were stopped by deep snow.
The late monsoon has made it difficult for all teams on all of the peaks.
First Ascent Attempts
Tenzing and Hillary Peaks – over
Canadian Elia Saikaly and Pasang Kaji Sherpa have ended their first ascent attempt on two recently opened points along the ridge between Cho Oyu and Gyachung Kang of Tenzing Peak (7,916 m) and Hillary Peak (7,681 m). They ended their effort due to difficult conditions.
Burke Khang – just starting
Bill Burke, the oldest American to summit Everest and live, announced he is returning 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 on their way to Nepal.
7000 meter Peaks
Nepal is extremely popular for climbs of the so called “Trekking Peaks” of Island and Meru plus the more difficult climbs of Ama Dablam (6,812m/22,349 ft) and Cholatse (6,440m/21,130ft). The usual suspects are guiding on these this season.
Ama Dablam is often called the most beautiful peak in the world, but Alpa Mayo also claims that title. I have climbed both and would call it a draw!
Ama Dablam has experienced dramatic changes in the last ten years not only in topology but also by attracting crowds. When I summited it in 2000, we were the only team on the mountain. Today there can be 300 people on the peak at one time.
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.
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.
Today, teams continue to climb but many choose to bypass Camp 3 and have a very, very long day from Camp 2 to the summit but some guides have stopped climbing Ama Dablam all together due to the danger.
Cholatse located between the Khumbu and Gokyo Valleys, has emerged as an alternative to Ama with less danger. Phil Crampton, Altitude Junkies, calls it his favorite Himalayan climb. The Nepal based guides are there with sufficient demand. Adventure Consultants also runs trips there seasonally.
Mark Horrell has an excellent report on his summit in 2014. This quote may sum it all up:
Despite being officially classed as a trekking peak by the Nepal Mountaineering Association, Cholatse is likely to be the hardest technical climb I have ever done.
Best of luck to all.
Memories are Everything