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Jan 102022
 
2008 Everest Icefall Avalanche

Heavy snow has stalled most progress across the Himalayas. Meanwhile, good conditions in Antarctica are allowing multiple Vinson summits. Teams start out on Aconcagua. COVID hits Nepal, again.

Nepal – Winter Everest – Down for R&R

German climber Jost Kobusch is taking a rest after making progress for his no O solo attempt on Everest’s West Ridge. Using data from his tracker, it appears he reached about 6464 meters above the Lho La pass on January 6 before returning to to Lobuche a bit below his base at Gorak Shep, where I assume he will return.

He gave this brief update: “The conditions this year are very icy! 🥶 A lot of hard, blue ice and little snow supply make climbing challenging.” When asked about the Hornbein Couloir, all he would say was .”ask me again in 6 weeks .”

Jost Kobusch at his C1 in January 2022

Jost Kobusch at his C1 in January 2022

Everest has seen only 13 winter summits for 371 attempts out of the total 10,656 summits. The last winter summit, defined by Nepal and the Himalayan Database as December through February was in 1993 by a very strong Japanese team led by Hikaru Hoshino on the SW Face (Bonnington Route). Polish climbers Leszek Cichy and Krzysztof Wielicki were the first on February 17th 1980 via the South Col route with oxygen.

Please see this video interview I did with him a few months ago, where we discussed his plans in detail. He says his goal is to reach 8,000-meters and not the summit. You can follow him on InstagramFacebook, and an excellent 3D view of his current location on his website.

Manaslu – Heavy Snow

Bottom line is that most if not all the Manaslu climbers have retreated to Samagaun or even Kathmandu (Mor and Txikon)to wait for better snow conditions. Recent snows have covered previous boot paths, made avi danger all too real (remember 2012?) so over all Manaslu is just too dangerous right now.

Txikon posted:

Since yesterday, including the night, we have been shoveling snow in turns. It doesn’t stop falling. It would be impossible to try to get out of BC now, neither up nor down. The situation is critical. We dug pits at the entrances to our tents to allow us to get in and out… The roar of avalanches is continuous and the temperature does not exceed -10. Luckily we arrived prepared: shovels, snowshoes and iceboxes ( to build retaining walls around the tents. Long and above all a lot of motivation and patience…

Pakistan

Nanga Parbat – Snow Stalls Climbers, Low Chance of Success

German climber David Göttler posted on Facebook that, “Our chances of success are very, very slim” They are experiencing difficult snow and weather condition.

His team includes Italian Hervé Barmasse, American Mike Arnold, and the Pakistani Qudrat Ali . Thye reached 5600-meters on their first rotation. They want to complete the first winter climb of Nanga Parbat by the Rupal route. It’s a 4,500-meters tall wall that terminates at the 8,126-meter summit.

Italian Hervé Barmasse gave this update on the plans:

The main characteristic of an expedition is the expectation of good weather. In winter sometimes things get complicated. Since we arrived at base camp, we’ve only had two days of sunshine without wind. And in those two days we went up to take a look at Schell Route. Then only snow except yesterday (today it started snowing again). Seeing the blue sky and receiving some ray of sunshine brought joy and desire to stretch our legs. Thinking of going up the Shell in a single day, both for the weather and for the danger of avalanches, was unthinkable. So we took a walk on the mountain in front of it in the hope that the clouds would show us the majestic Rupal in all its beauty. Unfortunately, nothing happened… Nanga still hides but sooner or later the sun will shine for days and so, we will have the opportunity to introduce ourselves and get to know each other better.

Everest Spring

Nepal banned public gatherings for 25 or more, closed all schools through the end of January citing the spike in COVID cases while India reports a spike in Omicron. For those planning to go this spring, check with your operator frequently for updates. While it’s still two months away from when climbers arrive in Kathmandu, other countries may enact a lockout for travel to and from Nepal like in 2020. A shortage of syringes is hampering vaccination progress. There is no booster program yet due to a slow rollout of the initial shots.

The good news is the Omicron variant is less deadly than Delta as it impacts the upper respiratory tract and does not multiply in lung tissue, but the bad news is it is more contagious. Not sure about you, but the last thing I want to fight at 23,000-feet/7000-meters is an upper respiratory infection.

Elswhere

Aconcagua is seeing teams are making good progress reaching the high camps for the winter climbing season. Argentina has closed access via the Guanacos Valley route, leaving the “normal” as the only access. They limited the climbing season to around 5-6 weeks ending in early March. This is the official site with the details.

In Antarctica, good weather, albeit mighty cold, is allowing team after team to tag Vinson. I say ‘good weather’, that is by Antarctica standards. There are the usual day or two delays but nothing like weeks in years gone past. Thus far everything seems to be going well this winter.

And in Ecuador, one of my favorite places to climb 20,000ers these days, all is well with summits of the volcanoes daily. There have been a few delays with tough snow conditions, but these are mountains after all!

Climb On!
Alan
Memories are Everything

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  2 Responses to “Heavy Snow Stalls Himalayan Climbs”

  1.  

    Thanks for the updates, Alan.

    (Question: Isn’t Nepal’s winter definition December to February, not December to January?)

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