Spring in the Himalayas doesn’t just mean Everest, there are 13 other 8000ers in the mix and each Spring a few see significant traffic. Let’s take a look.
Starting off on the world’s deadliest mountain are Pakistani climbers Sirbaz Khan, Abdul Josh, photographer Kamran Ali with expedition manager Saad Munawar. They are attempting to be the first Pakistani’s to summit. Of course, Annapurna was the first 8000ers ever summited on June 3, 1950, by French alpinists Maurice Herzogand Louis Lachenal. Sirbaz has set a goal of being the first Pakistani to summit all 14 of the 8000er. He already has five: K2, Nanga Parbat, Broad Peak, Lhoste, and Manaslu. In addition, he wants to honor Muhammad Ali Sadpara who was lost on K2 this winter. They are already at base camp.
Then there is the 34-year-old French climber Yorick Vion who wants to climb the North Face of Annapurna in alpine style and ski down. Legendary climber Marc Batard, who wants to summit Everest on his 70th birthday in 2022, will join the young climber along with cinematographer Bertrand Delapierre. The ambitious Vion says on his site:
The Annapurna is nonetheless a very technical summit which I like and attracts me because I do not see the point of walking in line behind an army of pseudo climbers under oxygen pulling on a handrail fixed by an army of overexploited sherpas.
Record-setting female Nepali climber, Maya Sherpa, is also planning on Annapurna then off to Dhaulagiri. Maya has a Sherpani record of five 8,000-meter summits already. See my video interview with Maya completed just before she left for Annapurna.
Seven Summits Treks, fresh off their winter K2 adventure, has advertised expeditions to all the 8000ers this year but will definitely be on Annapurna with 15 clients, some of the same people from winter K2. Look for Greek Antonios Sykaris, and Pole Waldemar Kowaleski to be there.
The Nepal Ministry of Tourism has already issued 30 Annapurna permits for foreigners, of which 13 are female!
Let’s begin with the Swiss alpinist, Sophie Lavaud who is leading a nine-person, all-female team to Dhaulagiri. Some are already in Nepal trekking to EBC as part of their acclimatization. The international team includes fellow Swiss climbers Caroline Fink, Lisa Roosli and Sandra Leal, Mexican Viridiana Alvarez, Czech Republic climber Klara Kolouchova, Balkan’s mountaineer Uta Ibrahimi, famous Japanese alpinist Naoko Watanabe and record holder, Nepali Maya Sherpa. This impressive team has over 50 8000-meter summits amongst them.
Also on the seventh-highest (8167-meters) will be two teams (at least) attempting the previously uncompleted climb of the Northwest Ridge.
Cory Richards and Ecuadorian Esteban “Topo” Mena along with Carla Perez and Tommy Joyce will attempt the Ridge. Richard and Topo wanted to return to Everest this spring to continue their 2019 ill-fated effort to establish a new route on Everest from the Tibet side. But with the Chinese keeping all the peaks for themselves again, the pair have switched to Dhaulagiri.
Familiar names to anyone following mountaineering will be on a Slovak-Romanian team lead by Peter Hamor with Marius Gane and Horia Colibășanu who wants to attempt the North-West ridge and then descend along the North-East ridge.
Also on Dhaulagiri will be Andorran Stefi Troguet with Jonatan García. Troguet has made a name for herself with no O’s summits of Nanga and Manaslu but her image of a fresh, young smiling face with bright red lipstick is made for marketing. They will trek in the Khumbu for acclimatization before trekking to base camp in early April. Similar to almost every person listed on this post, they will not use supplemental oxygen.
Last and the oldest but not one to give up will be 82-year-old Carlos Soria on his 12th (yes TWELFTH) attempt of Dhaulagiri. He only has it and Shishapangma to complete his dream of all 14 8000ers. Climbing with Carols is Sito Carcavilla and cameraman Luis Miguel Soriano.
Carlos’s sorted affair with the dazzling, white, beautiful mountain began at age 59 in 1998:
|1||1998 (autumn)||59||6600||Weather – high winds and storms|
|2||2001 (autumn)||62||7700||Avalanches, Rock/Icefall, Deep snow|
|3||2006 (spring)||67||7780||Deep Snow, Avalanches|
|4||2011 (autumn)||72||6385||Avalanches, Rock/Icefall, Deep snow|
|5||2012 (autumn)||73||7580||Avalanches, Rock/Icefall, Deep snow|
|6||2015 (spring)||76||No attempt|
|7||2017 (spring)||78||7800||Exhaustion, Fatigue|
|8||2017 (autumn)||78||8050||Route Difficulty, Intimidation or insufficient ability|
|9||2018 (spring)||79||7300||Weather – high winds and storms|
|11||2019 (autumn)||80||7250||Weather – high winds and storms|
Look for the closest 8000er to Everest to be popular this year with more than 50 people. 7 Summits Club has a team of eight climbers with three guides. Most of the attempts will be the Everest/Lhotse combination. They will attempt Everest and push on attempting Lhotse within 24 hours of Everest. They descend from the South Col and go to Lhotse High Camp and make an attempt from there. Purists will return to Base Camp and make a proper climb of the world’s fourth-highest mountain.
Thus far the Ministry permit records are showing four people going, identify unknown at this time.
There are no current permits for Makalu but it’s been mentioned that Marc Batard may climb it instead of Everest. We’ll see.
Tibet: Cho Oyu, Shishapangma and Everest
For the second year, the two 8000er on the border marking China and Nepal, Cho Oyu, and Everest remain closed to foreign climbers on the Tibet side. This suggest only Chinese nationals will make attempts, if at all, on Everest, Cho Oyo, and Shishapngma. They usually climb in secrecy and if we find out any results, it will be months later.
Pakistan: K2, Broad Peak, Gasherbrum I & II, Nanga Parbart
These 8000ers are usually climbed in June and July, and occasionally in winter as we’ve seen recently so no spring activity but there are always surprises.
Of course, Nepal, Pakistan, and the other Himalayan countries have plenty of 5,000, 6,000, and 7,000 peaks that will se activity along with a busy trekking season on the Annapurna, Manaslu circuits and in the Khumbu.
I have begun to create my annual Everest team location table and tracking climber’s blogs (see sidebar). If you have a team not listed, please let me know and I will add them if I can track them. If you prefer not to be mentioned, please contact me.
I am now posting background articles and interviews between now and early April when the teams arrive at the base camps. If you would like to see anything special this year, post a comment or drop me an email.
Here’s to a safe season for everyone on the Big Hill!
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