Autumn Himalayan Climbing: First Summits and Heavy Snow Ahead

The rope fixers reached the summit of Manaslu while other teams across the Himalayan continue to establish high camps enjoying good weather with one exception, those on Dhaulagiri saw their summit bid stopped cold.

Dhaulagiri – summit stopped

78-year-old Spanish climber Carlos Soria Fontan on Dhaulagiri saw his first summit attempt stalled after they went up the wrong gully to reach the summit. By the time they had discovered their mistake, the conditions turned cold, windy and snowy so they have returned to base camp to regroup and will hopefully give it one more try.

Carlos is trying to complete his quest to summit all 14 of the 8000 meter peaks. He has Dhaulagiri and Shishapangma remaining. On this climb he is teaming with Luis Carcavilla (Spain), Luis Mifuel Lopez (Spain) & Boyan Petrov (Bulgaria).

Carlos’s team posted on Facebook:

One of the keys to the dhaulagiri is to choose the corridor correctly, about 100 m, which gives access to the Royal Summit. In this season we were the first group to go to the top, so we did not have any reference to previous ascents. We also found the conditions of the final part of the mountain very changed, with regard to last spring.

We decided to start ascension by a first runner, who finally did not turn out to be the right one. We walked at the foot of the final stripe looking for the right route, but the fog, which was increasingly present, made it difficult for us to work. We went to the foot of what could be the path that gives access to the top, but the great cornices that were at the end of the corridor, and that we had not appreciated on other occasions, did not make this option very clear. We had only a hundred feet of fixed rope for the final attempt, without having a clear enough choice. Time went on, and we didn’t want to get too late. Despite finding us so close to the top, the most coherent decision was to descend and try again in a few days with everything much clearer. The descent was long and hard to Field III. We decided to rest one more night in field I, to hydrate and recover a little more before we get to base camp.

We can only rest for a few more days in the base camp, to recover from these days on the mountain which, more than an attempt, has been even harder than ascension to a summit of eight meters, making it all clearer. We need to look for another opportunity for the next few days and try for the second time the top of this mountain that every day we know more.

8,156m (26,670'), Manaslu
8,156m (26,670′), Manaslu

Manaslu – crowded at all camps

The route is fixed to the summit by Sherpas from Seven Summits treks and Phurba Tashi Sherpa from Himex who is tied for the most Everest summits at 21. It is significant that he was on the rope team as he has fixed this route many times and does it well. I followed him to the summit on 2013.

Conditions are reported fairly normal thus far. The mountain is crowded with over 500 climbers, including Sherpas.

Seven Summits posted on 18 September:

Rope fixing team made first Summit of Manaslu – 2017. Local time (9:57am) : The team of rope fixing from Seven Summit Treks has made the first successful summit of Mt. Manalsu (8,163m). Karma Gyalzen Sherpa informed to basecamp by walkie talkie communication that they fixed the rope to the summit of world’s 8th highest peak. The team was followed and assist by two sherpas including Phurba Tashi Sherpa and two climbing members of Himex. The members of fixing team from SST Nga Tashi Sherpa, Damai Sarki and Dawa Chiring also made the summit of Manalsu.

Phurba Tashi Sherpa, Himex, fixing route to Manaslu summit in 2013
Phurba Tashi Sherpa, Himex, fixing route to Manaslu summit in 2013

It is unclear if they fixed to the true summit or the fore summit this year, 2017, as reaching the true summit is often dangerous and difficult as it’s a corniced edge that can easily give way. Many climbers have reached the fore summit, much lower, and claimed the true summit.

The Adventure Peaks team is depending on others to set the route, fix the ropes and mark the path. This strategy has left them wanting as they were forced to return to base camp after losing the trail:

The followed day we decided to head up to Camp 3.  To explain, as soon as we had reached the edge of the glacier en route to Camp 1, there have been fixed rope to clip into and follow. So, in reality, it is impossible to ‘get lost’. However, above Camp 2, the rope stops and you have to follow bamboo wands, and where the fixing team of Sherpa’s deem necessary they put in rope.  So we left Camp 2 with the cloud rolling in and out just enough to see the 200m spaced bamboo until we got to another steepening and then we were back on the fixed rope.  At the top of this, the rope stopped and we are back on the bamboo wands. This in reality is quite unnerving since when the cloud rolls in and you enter the white room, think about walking in a white out on the Cairngorm plateau with huge, and we are speaking about huge, crevasses that are just waiting for you to plop into to never be seen again.  Having stretched our legs for the morning, we decided to return to camp 2 and wait for the fixing team to continue marking the route.

Adventure Consultants reports good weather but has only made it to Camp 1:

The team has all made it to Camp 1 for the night. The weather has been perfect, there are lots of people but fortunately plenty of room at this camp. The great thing about acclimatising is it generally gets easier each time you go up, so we got to Camp 1 just before lunch in under 4 hrs this time.

Tendi Sherpa continues to post some nice pictures on his Facebook page.

Lhotse – No News

No news from South Korean, Sung Taek Hong who 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. 

Weather – Snow Coming

The conditions on Manaslu continue to be good but the weather forecast is calling for several days of big snow this week. Look for teams to return to base camp and settle in for the weather. Summits for the members may occur in late September, fairly normal.

Best of luck to all this autumn season.

Climb On!
Memories are Everything

Share this post:

One thought on “Autumn Himalayan Climbing: First Summits and Heavy Snow Ahead

Comments are closed.