While many people focus on Everest, which is proceeding with a no-drama, normal season, there is significant activity on many of the other 8000 meter mountains across the Himalaya. However, like Everest, high winds is really the headline thus far this season.
Let’s do a quick run down of the activity. Keep in mind that many of the climbs are private and do not provide much information during the climb so information is sketchy at best.
The plans for a new Cho Oyu route by Louis Rousseau, Adam Bielecki, Rick Allen and Felix Berg was stopped by Chinese politics so they switched to Annapurna. Louis Rousseau explains that having previously visited Pakistan was a show stopper for the Chinese:
Everybody agrees that our adventure started badly … a bit disastrous as a start: finalizing luggage in a whirlwind of professional and family commitments, missed flights for two of the Four guys, misplaced luggage that contained a lot of essential materials to climb and, to make matters worse, the ban by the Chinese authorities to let us enter Tibet because of the Pakistan visas in one of the passports.
Our dream expedition to the highest country in the world ended before we even started. Our goal for Spring 2017 was to open a new lane on the almost unexplored north face of Cho Oyu, but a few days before we arrived in Kathmandu, Chinese authorities adopted new rules prohibiting entry to Tibet for travelers with visas Pakistanis in their passports. As climbers, we have the four already traveled to Pakistan before. Louis had even 5 Pakistani visas in his old passport but fortunately had recently renewed his passport. Rick also had a Pakistan visa for his legendary ascent of the Mazeno Ridge of Nanga Parbat in 2012, but this was apparently not new enough to cause trouble. Felix also obtained a Pakistani visa recently following his attempts in 2016 on The Mustagh Tower.
However, all is not lost at Cho Oyu, Adventure Peaks’ commercial team reports being the only team currently at Chinese Base Camp.
Plans to climb the South Face on Shishapangma by David Gottler and Herve Barmasse had been stalled by Chinese politics but they are finally on their way to base camp. They might not have a problem with timing since they have spent a lot of time in Nepal acclimating on 7000 meter peaks.
KangchenjungaThe world’s third highest peak has been hit by high winds, stalling a lot of progress including that by Simone Moro and Tamara Lunger who want to try a new route following the ridge lines on Kangchenjunga. But they have reached camp 1,about 6100 meters, and on to Camp 2, close enough, at 6300 meters
My small group (Chris, Chris, Lakpa, Tsering and I) made a short rotation up to camp 2-ish a few days ago. We carried a bunch of rope and pickets to the temporary C2 but are hoping to move that camp up a bit higher to avoid having a 1000m climbing day from C2 to C3 at 7,100m. One thousand vertical meters may not seem like a big climb if you were in our local Rockies or Sierra Nevada but at 7000m we’re breathing half the oxygen you’d get and with enough gear on our backs, this turns in to an 8-9 hour slog.
We’re primed to go to and set up C3 on our next rotation when the winds allow, though. The winding route through the icefalls looks fairly straight forward from below at C2 but if conditions allow it, we’ll try to put up a drone to get a bird’s eye view and spot potential snow bridge and crevasse hazards. Famed Italian climber and heli pilot Simone Morro tried to fly a B3 up near camp 2 to take pictures to plan a route by but couldn’t safely get high enough above the possible route. Not all of us are wealthy enough to have our own helicopters (yet). It is a treat to share coffee and stories with such a famous climber and someone who was close to Anatoli B.
Seven Summits Treks has a large team on Kang including the three Sherpani who summited K2 together in 2014. Maya Sherpa, Dawa Yangzum Sherpa and Pasang Lhamu Sherpa Akita posted this great picture of them at Kanchenjunga base camp.
Dhaulagiri has the most climbers outside of Everest/Lhotse this spring. There are over 60 people there. Dreamer’s Destination has a small team there.
Adventure Consultant’s Guy Cotter is leading a climb on Dhaulagiri and notes they just had their Puja and are ready to begin climbing.
78 year-old Carlos Soria attempting his 13th 8000er. He reports a night at Camp 1 and tagged 6200 meters.
Annapurna is playing tough this year with avalanches and large crevasses. Spaniards Alberto Zerain and Jonatan Garcia gave up on the Dutch route and joined other teams on the French route. Italian couple Nives Meroi and Romano Benet are still acclimatizing on nearby peaks to looking to Annapurna. Looking for a swift alpine climb in May.
Returning to Louis Rousseau on why they ended up on Annapurna, he explains it quite well:
The next night we sat in the hotel garden with our laptops looking for a new line that would inspire us. Dhaulagiri? Rick had already climbed a new path in 1993 with a Russian team; Makalu? Adam had climbed it in 2011; Lhotse or Everest? too much people; Manaslu? Possibly a potential for a new path; Annapurna? There were known statistics on the rates of death and accidents on this mountain. The Annapurna remains the most dangerous of the 8000 m. But what about the northwest face of this mountain: a steep slope, a mix of ice, snow and rocks, but a relatively safe slope. It was she; This famous mountain, the first 8000m climbed that inspired a new generation of climbers to explore. The evening s’ Is finished with big smiles. The dream of Cho Oyu was behind us, the Annapurna was the new goal.
Another mountain was necessary for acclimatization if we wanted to achieve an alpine ascent on the Annapurna. So we searched a map for a 7,000-meter peak near our main objective, a mountain where we could use crampons and ice axes to acclimatize. Mount Tilicho, 7134m, has been chosen, with its ridge which rises to 6200m.
On Manaslu, Spanish Basque climber Madariaga Abaitua Juan Ramon is leading a six member team.
No updates. Thanks to Laszlo Pinter, this is an update:
A Hungarian extreme skier, ski instructor and mountaineer, Peter Wetzl is trying to summit and ski Manaslu. He is not using supplementary oxygen. He just reported that there are very few climbers on the mountain: 2 Spanish, 1 Canadian, 1 Swiss + 2 Nepali Sherpas. And him. That’s all. They are dealing with a lot of fresh snow and are trying to make their way to camp 2 under dangerous looking séracs.
Peter is 57 years old and previously skied Denali, Elbrus, Muztagh Ata and gave a shot to ski Cho Oyu in 2010, but had to abort because of loose snow and dangerous avy conditions at around 7100.
Over on Makalu, Phil Crampton’s Altitude Junkies is the largest team there. Phil posted he expects 50 foreigners and 25 Sherpas on the peak. A Polish and German team are also there. Reports have climbers tagging 7000 meters but like other peaks, high winds are stalling progress.
Finishing the 8000ers
Several climbers are trying to complete their quest to summit all 14 of the 8000ers this spring. Peter Hamor will try to finish on Dhaulagiri but high winds are a problem. His team posted: “The boys are back in the BC due to the wind conditions. They are currently waiting for a better weather.”Ferran Lattore’s will be on Everest for his last 8000er. He reports reaching 7400 meters on his last rotation. Also Ralf Dujmovits who has completed all 14 but wants to summit Everest without Os. He is on the Tibet side and has already done a night at ABC. He posted on on his site:
After @nancyjhansen ‘s and my return from Cholatse to Kathmandu, the last days I spent travelling to the Tibetan side of Mt. Everest. Especially the hike from the Chinese basecamp (CBC, 5,200 m) to the Advanced basecamp (ABC, 6,300 m) I enjoyed a lot. Walking up the East Rongbuk Glaciar behind some yaks which bells are constantly ringing is a kind of meditative walk. I spent an extra night at the so-called intermediate camp (5,500 m) – half way betweeen CBC and ABC, allowing my body to acclimatize more quietly. Despite Nancy and I had already reached the height of 6,440 m on the summit of Cholatse on the 13th of April I felt it would be good to take out some pace on the way to altitude. In this picture you see Kari Kobler an hour after intermediate camp with still a lot of wind high on Everest.
With 100 permits issued for Lhotse, that narrow rock filled gully to the summit could create a lot of damara once the summit pushes begin. It has become popular to combine Everest and Lhotse – sounds romantic and ambitious to knock off two 8000ers in one push, but few actually pull it off.
Atanas Skatov is attempting to climb Lhotse first, then Everest in a bit of a switch.
Lhotse shares the route to the Yellow Band with Everest so the LHotse climbers are following same same acclimatization program as most Everest climbers.
In addition to the expected 1,000 total climbers (foreigners and Sherpas) just on the Southeast Ridge route (aka normal), There are a few unique efforts on Everest this spring. I have been covering these as part of my regular coverage but here is a summary:
Min Bahadur at age 86 is hoping to set a new age record. He is at base camp. He already summited Everest in 2010 at age 78. He is attempting from the south side this year. Japanese Yuichiro Miura is the oldest person to have summited Everest at age 80.Ueli Steck‘s Everest – Lhotse traverse: He reached the West Ridge from Camp2 in the Western Cwm. Ueli has been doing one day climbs from EBC to C2 for acclimatization instead of spending nights at altitude.
Kilian Jornet‘s preparation for a speed climb on the north side appears to be going well. He is in Tibet and decided to go to CHo Oyu, another of the 8000ers, to run to the summit for further acclimatization before attempting his speed run in May.
Nobukazu Kuriki who is attempting Everest for the 6th straight year is at base camp in Tibet doing his acclimatized rotations. He will go alone, with no supplemental oxygen,. I am not clear on his selected route but last Autumn attempted the Great Couloir.
Vladimir Strba attempting Everest’s Southwest Face aka the British route is there and acclimatizing.
There is talk that paraglider Joby Ogwyn might be attempting a flight this year off Everest.
Best of luck to all teams throughout the Himalaya. I will update all the Everest activity tomorrow on the Weekend Update.
Memories are Everything