The autumn Himalayan climbing season is well underway with Manaslu, located entirely in Nepal, dominating the numbers but not the challenge. Let’s look at the more interesting climbs first.
Lhotse – South Korea back for 5th time
South Korean, Sung Taek Hong at age 51 is back for the 5th time to attempt Lhotse’s South Face. The only time this route has been climbed was in October 1990 by Russian climbers Serguey Bershov and Vladimir Karataev according to the Himalayan Database.
Sung Taek has attempted this route in each of the previous four years. This year he has Spanish climber Jorge Egocheaga at age 49 with him. Jorge has summited all 14 of the 8000ers but has some controvesery in his past.
The pair had wanted to attempt Lhotse this past Spring but the Chinese refused to give the permits due to a political clash between China and South Korea.
Dhaulagiri – 7 Climbers
78-year-old Spanish climber Carlos Soria Fontan is back on Dhaulagiri trying to complete his quest to summit all 14 of the 8000 meter peaks. He has spent several nights above base camp as he acclimatizing.
He posted on Facebook:
In the morning we had an early breakfast, at 5:30 a.m. and started the descent towards the base camp. The weather improves and we only have to be careful with the numerous cracks that are in this route and that have been covered with the last snowfall. The final part of the road, composed mainly of stone and mud, makes the descent a bit heavier. “
He attempted Dhaulagiri in the spring of this year but was turned back by weather. If he summits Dhaulagiri, he will only have Shishapangma, the only 8000er fully located in Tibet, to summit.
Carlos has set the age record for many of the 8000ers: K 2 (aged 65), Broad Peak (68), Makalu (69), Gasherbrum I (70), Manaslu (71), Lhotse (72), Kangchendzönga (75) and Annapurna (77).
He is joined on this climb organized by Seven Summits Treks by Luis Carcavilla (Spain), Luis Mifuel Lopez (Spain) & Boyan Petrov (Bulgaria). Boyan is after his 10th 8000ers.
According to my friend Laszlo Pinter, an Italian-Swiss duo is trying to climb and ski/snowboard Dhaulagiri. Davide Gerlero, Carlo Alberto Cimenti and the Swiss Matthias Koenig have already arrived in Nepal. They want to dedicate the descent to their late friend Luca Borgoni, 22, who fell off the Matterhorn this July and died.
He was presumably training/skyrunnig and slipped. He was the one who initiated the expedition, and got money for it by winning the Mountopia video contest. The oney was passed on to Gerlero. This would be the first full descent of the mountain from summit to BC. The Czech David Fojtik skied it in 2009, but missed the top 20 metres, plus another 500 metres between C3 and C2.
Manaslu – 270 climbers!
The route is fixed to Camp 3 and conditions are reported fairly normal thus far. The mountain is crowded to be sure.
Manaslu is advertised as “easy” by guides trying to lure climbers into attempting the world’s 8th highest peak. They fail to mention that it has a death to summit ratio higher than Everest and Cho Oyu at 82 deaths with 1,134 summits or 7.2%. Cho Oyu is 1.4% (the safest of the 8000ers) and Everest is 3.7%.
According to the Himalayan Times, there are 135 foreigners with permits this year from 11 teams including Adventure Peaks, Adventure Consultants, 7 Summits Club, Seven Summit Treks, Summit Climb, Satori Adventures, Mountain Experience, Climbalaya Treks, Ascent Himalaya, Himalayan Guides and Snowy Horizon Treks.
Seven Summits Treks with a huge 60 members posted about their Sherpas fixing the route to Camp 2. They cater to the low cost members from India and China and provide basic support. This formula has been very successful for them thus far.
Nga Tashi, Ngima Dorchi, Damai Sarki, Lakpa Temba, Vinayak Jung Malla & Tenje Chumbi Sherpa successful fixed the rope up to an altitude of 6,800m approx. (Camp 3) via standard NE Route and planning to go higher in fews days as all climbers will soon arrive to the basecamp. This year Seven Summit Treks have 60 individual climbers who will be attempting to the summit among them 22 climbers (Chinese, Iranian, Indian and South Korean) reached to the Sama Gaon today by Heli flight. #dhaulagiri The team of Carlos Soria has descend down to Basecamp of Mt. Dhalulagiri I after acclimatizing for couple of days between CI and CII. (Ming Temba Updated) Stay connected for further updates.
Himalayan Experience is also running a trip in 2017 along with several other western companies. Himex has been guiding Manaslu since 2008. They have combined their base camp with Adventure Consultants but are climbing separately on the the mountain.
In spite of Brice saying he was no longer going to base camp for his Himex’s climbs, he is at Manaslu this Autumn. Brice comments on crowds and conditions:
But around us, there are many new camps that we do not normally see here, so hundreds of Sherpas have been busy building tent platforms in new locations. So it would appear that it is indeed going to be a busy season. It is rumoured that there is at least 300 western climbers and about the same number of Sherpas here this season, although there are only a few of these climbers here at BC at the moment. I am sure there will be a big influx of climbers in the coming days. Looking at conditions I see less avalanche activity than normal, and what headwalls that are visible are only about 1m deep, which would indicate that there was not much snow up high on the hill during the monsoon season. But there are many more runnels in the snow up to about C2 (6,300m) which would tend to indicate that it has been raining a lot up to this altitude. The small glacier just behind the BC is even smaller and is now about ¼ the size that it was when I first came here 9 years ago. Yes we see that it is warmer than it used to be.
Tendi Sherpa with a small team posted some good pictures of Manaslu and reported the expedition is progressing without issues.
A Revolt on Manalsu
In a sign of protest against the commercial expeditions, the Himalayan Times reports that at least 27 Russian climbers with Makalu Extreme Treks & Expedition will attempt to climb Mt Manaslu in an alpine style meaning without interim camps starting from base camp and going to the summit without returning to base camp.
Managing Director Chatur Tamang at Makalu Extreme Treks & Expedition informed that some of the climbers would head to Mt Manaslu region on Friday to attempt to scale the world’s eighth highest peak. “At least 27 climbers plan to ascend the peak in an alpine style without obtaining support from high altitude workers,” he said.
Cho Oyu – Closed the Chinese
As I reported earlier, the world’s sixth highest peak at 26,907’/8201m, closed for 2017 by the Chinese fearing protest as a meeting is being held in Lhasa – the Chinese Communist Party Congress, which takes place only every five years, in mid-October. Cho the second most popular 8000er after Everest with over 3,500 summits. Everest now has over 8,000 summits.
Weather – Good Now ….
Thus far the teams on Manalsu have had decent weather – don’t expect that to last. Manaslu is well known for having a sudden change and closing the climbing season entirely with little notice so the teams need to take advantage of the current good conditions.
Best of luck to all this autumn season.
Memories are Everything