Autumn 2019 Himalayan Season: Last Cho Oyu Summits as China Closes Tibet to Foreigners


With the autumn Himalaya climbing season winding down many are following 80-year-old Carlos Soria Fontán on Dhaulagiri, and Kilian Jornet on Everest and of course, the giant hanging serac over the Khumbu Icefall. Teams are arriving for the popular 6,000-meter peak Ama Dablam now.

Chinese Fear

China has said all foreigners must be out of Tibet no later than October 1 fearing protests around China’s National Day which commemorates the founding of People’s Republic of China in 1949. This put pressure on the Cho Oyu climbers this season to accelerate their schedules. Cho has been regularly summited into October and occasionally early November. The sweet spot is from September 18th through October 6th.

Additionally, China had said no climbing on Shishapangma a few months ago after a string of deaths and accidents on the lowest of the fourteen 8000ers. They officially have stated they believe the mountain had become too dangerous to climb but most likely that is just an excuse to keep people out of Tibet right now.

Cho Oyu – Final Summits for Season

Alpenglow squeezed under the October 1st deadline with summits in what guide Chad Peele called “difficult conditions”:

Yesterday our amazing team summited #Chooyu with warm but overcast skies. With all the recent snowfall we had a hell of a time breaking trail and kicking steps but with the help of our support team swapping leads we plowed to the summit! Go team Phortse Sherpa ! Although we had a really long summit day, we were able to descend to camp 1 where we continued our hydration and promptly passed TF out. The following morning brought much needed sunshine & warmth and we continued our descent to ABC where we will spend one additional day of rest and organization before trekking to BC and starting our drive back to Lhasa

16-year-old girl Australian female, Gabrielle Jane Kanizay, summited with 3 other members and 4 Sherpas with IMG last week to become the youngest female to summit Cho.

Everest – Serac Watch

Madison Mountaineering‘s team is down to Garret and one client. They are at base camp and plan to wait a few more days to see if anything happens with the serac. I checked in with Garrett his Monday evening and he reported the serac had not fallen.  Kilian Jornet and his friend Carlos are using Gorak Shep as their base camp but are at Camp 1 today, Monday, September 30, 2019. Jornet had planned to make a speed climb reportedly via a new route from Camp 2. At this point, if he continues with his plan, it may be a solo effort in difficult conditions.

Thus far the CEO of Mountain Hardwear and his film team plus one of their athletes, the Polish National team and Andrzej Bargiel have all abandoned their hopes of an autumn summit after Bargiel‘s team using their drone spotted the hanging serac. The serac was estimated to be 200-feet/60-meters high and is about 3,000-feet/1,000-meters above the midpoint of the Khumbu Icefall. When it falls it, the debris is expected to span the entire Icefall all the way to Nuptse destroying any ladders or ropes previously there for the climbing route. In 2014, a similar event took place taking 16 lives as it landed directly on climbers in the  Icefall.

Hanging Serac Icefall in autumn 2019 Courtesy of Andrzej Bargiel


Dhaulagiri – Summit Push Now

Sergi Mingote, Carlos Soria Fontán at age 80, Chris Jensen Burke and Expedition Base are all on their summit push hoping to beat incoming weather later this week.

Carlos Soria Fontan on Dhaulagiri in 2017
Carlos Soria Fontan on Dhaulagiri in 2017

Manaslu: Last of the Summit Pushes

The Climbing the Seven Summits team is now at Camp 3 on their summit push. They are in one of the last waves this season.

Project Possible: China Remains Quiet on Nirmal Purja Purja Purja’ Permit

Nirmal Purja Purja Purja is on hold waiting for a thumbs up or down on China issuing him a permit to climb Shishapangma the only 8000er solely located within Tibet. Of course, we all know his project is to summit all 14 of the 8000ers in seven months. Now he has 13 in a mere 157 days: Annapurna (April 23), Dhaulagiri, Kangchenjunga, Makalu, Everest, Lhotse, Nanga Parbat, Gasherbrum I, Gasherbrum II, K2, Broad Peak and Cho Oyu and, Manaslu (Sept 27). He needs to complete Shish by November 23 to meet his goal of seven months.

Climb On!
Memories are Everything

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