Each year on Everest, a few climbers try to stand out from the crowd. Their motivations range from deeply personal to seeking fame and fortune. Regardless, they offer something different for followers than the usual climb, which is sad on some level.
I’ve always felt that if you are qualified and have earned the right to be on Everest, you should be applauded, regardless of your result. No matter what you read, Everest is not a walk-up; it hard, and people die. With that, let’s look at a few climbers with unique stories.
Teams are arriving in Kathmandu and some like IMG are already on the trek to EBC. Other teams are en route to Kathmandu to get their permits. Thus far no reports of any issues, including any health restrictions.
Most of the climbing action is on the other 8000-meters peaks. Imagine Nepal reports they have established Camp 2and made a drop to 3 on Dhaulagiri.
Climbers to Watch
Carlos Soria Fontán, leads my list. The 83-year-old, yes 83!!! is back for his 13th attempt on the 8,167-meter Dhaulagiri. His goal is to summit all 14 of the 8000ers and has Dhaula and Shishapangma left. He says he will stay in Asia after Dhaul to attempt Shis if he succeeds. 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||Earthquake|
|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|
|12||2021 (spring)||82||5600||Poor Snow Conditions|
You can follow Carlos on his IG page.
Continuing with the 8000er quest is Marco Confortola hoping to get Kangchenjunga and then Nanga Parbat leaving Gasherbrum I for his final of the fourteen. He is on IG, of course.
Back to Kangchenjunga is Dutch explorer, and my friend,Wilco van Rooijen with his friend,Cas van de Gevel. We were on Broad Peak together in 2006. Wilco was on K2 in 2008 when 11 climbers died after ice serac released and cut the fixed ropes. Wilco was stranded above 8000 meters for three days and two nights. He was eventually rescued by Cas and Pemba Gyalje, who was named one of the National Geographic Adventurers of the Year in 2008. Wilco has completed the Explorers Grand Slam which is reaching the North and South Poles and the Seven Summits. He has two 8000er summits, Everest and Cho Oyu, both sans O’s.
Adrian Ballinger, co-founder of Alpenglow has a team on Makalu, the highly technical 8485-meter peak. Please see this Podcast I did with Adrian who wants to climb with no O’s and ski down. Should be fun to follow since Adrian is always entertaining, and impressive!
Sophie Lavaud, Swiss/French/Candian is on a mission to complete the 8000ers. She is on Lhotse this year, only needs Nanga Parbat to complete her dream. She would be the first French National to summit all 14. You can see more information on her website.
Jon Gupta is taking a break from 8000ers after guiding on Kangchenjunga this Spring. He told me, “Almost certainly my last big 8000er for the next 4 years as I’m starting the IFMGA guides scheme in June.” Last year, he guided British climber Rebecca ‘Becks’ Ferry on six climbs of 8000-meter mountains in one year.
The South Korean Hong Sun-Taek returns for another attempt on the very dangerous and difficult South Face of Lhotse. He previously tried in 1999, 2007, 2014, 2015, 2017, and 2019. This route is impressive as it’s reported to be the highest face of any mountain rising 3,200-meters/10,500-feet vertically.
Ken Hutt, Australian, is not content to summit Everest at age 62, he wants to fly down! There have been other flights from the summit using a paraglider. In 2013 Sanobabu Sunuwar and Lakpa Tshiri Sherpa flew from the summit to Namche Bazzar in just 42 minutes covering 15 miles. But their trip had just started in many ways as they continued with a 500-mile kayaking trip on the Ganges River to the Indian Ocean. They were named National Geographic Adventurers of the Year award. It’s was an amazing feat!
Update: Amazingly, there is another flyer on Everest this year, Pierre Carter who has only Everest and Vision left to complete his project to paraglide of the top of all Seven Summits. The 56-year-old from South Africa summited Denali, but NPS regulations prohibited him from flying off the summit. He says he has a 10% chance of having the proper conditions to make the flight. We’ll be following!
See this article in Cross Country for a nice overview of 60 years of paragliding from mountain summits.
Adrianna Brownlee at 21 wants to do multiple peaks this spring starting with Annapurna then Kangchenjunga, Lhotse, and Makalu. The Himalayan Database shows she summited Everest and attempted Lhotse last year but turned back on Lhotse due to dangerous conditions. However, on her website, she claims summits of Manaslu (fore summit pic on IG), Dhaulagiri (summit pic on IG) also in 2021. She was on the 2021/22 Winter K2 climb but left without a summit attempt. She says, “My aim is to become the youngest person to complete all 14 8000m peaks. The current record is 30 years 166 days, held by Mingma “David” Gyabu Sherpa, an absolute legend with whom I got to climb on both K2 and Everest. My plan would be to summit all 14 in 3-4 years meaning I would be 23 years old when I complete my mission.”
Similar to Adrianna, Tawainese Grace Tseng, 28, also on Annapurna, is supported by very large and strong Sherpa teams.
This style of climbing 8000ers is attracting many critics due to the lack of experience, independence, and use of massive Sherpa support on commercial routes. Brownlee is with Nepali outfit Elite Expeditions and Tseng with Nepali guide Dolma Outdoor Expedition.
Another young 8000er aspirant is Pakistani Shehroze Kashif targeting to become the youngest of all 14. He has a good start with Broad Peak at 17 and Everest at 19. This spring he has Kangchenjunga, Lhotse, and Makalu in his sights. He climbs relatively independently and is with Seven Summits Treks this year. He updates his IG page often.
A team I’m excited to follow is the Full Circle Everest team. They hope to make history as the first Black climbing team to attempt to summit Everest. As of late 2021, there have been 10,184 summits but only eight Black climbers have stood on the top. I did a Podcast with the team where we talk about their dreams and challenges and their ‘why.’ You can follow their progress on their site at Full Circle Everest and on Instagram.
Andrea Lanfri, 35, from Lucca, Italy, wants to make a point. In 2015, he contracted fulminant meningococcal septicemia that resulted in the amputation of both legs and seven fingers. Planet Mountain has a nice interview with Andrea.
Another climber with a disability is Canadian mountaineer, Jill Wheatley, who hopes to summit all fourteen of the 8000ers to break down the stigma associated with traumatic brain injury, vision loss, and eating disorders. She is on Dhaulagiri with the Nepali company Imagine Nepal.
From Nepal is a vision-impaired climber Amit KC for Everest. He reached the South Col in 2017 before poor weather forced him back. He is back this year. He has climbed three 6,000ers Island Peak (6,160 m), Mera Peak (6,476 m), and Lobuche Peak (6,119 m). You may remember that the Ministry of Tourism banned all people with disabilities from climbing Everest, but Nepal’s Supreme Court later overturned the ban in June 2018. I wrote about it then in this post.
Maya Sherpa is on track to set a female Everest record with ten if/when she summits this spring. Her first summit was in 2000 at age 26, now she is 48.
And then we have Kami Rita Sherpa, 52, looking to get his staggering 26th Everest summit, clearly a record. He will be on the rope fixing team and potentially guide clients for his 27th. At one point he said he was content to end his career but now he says as long as his body lets him, he will climb. He is an impressive person. I was honored to be with him on K2 in 2014, where he and Kami Sherpa (Ang Chhiring Sherpa – Pangboche) were instrumental in our summit. He works for Seven Summits Treks.
Brit, Kenton Cool is out to set a non-Sherpa Everest summit record of 16 passing American Dave Hahn who has held it for what seems like forever. He completed the so-called Triple Crown in 2013 with Everest, Lhotse, and Nuptse. I wrote about it in Outside.
There seem to be more people than usual attempting Everest without supplemental oxygen. An interesting profile is of Marina Cortes who uses these words to describe herself as an “Astrophysicist, ballet dancer, Himalayan mountaineer (eight-thousander).” She has a summit of Cho Oyu in 2014. She is with the Nepali company Imagine Nepal.
Ireland is always proud, rightfully so, of its climbers. This year James Mcmanus from County Tipperary located between Cork and Dublin is making a no O’s attempt and if successful would be the first Irish on top without using supplementary oxygen.
Update: Marc Batard, at age 70 is not only making a no O’s attempt but also trying to prove his alternate route from the Khumbu Icefall along the flanks of Nuptse. I’ve written quite a bit about this.
Finally, in the ‘interesting’ category is Omnika Dangol who is seeking notoriety and influence by being the first crew member from Himalayan Airlines to summit Everest. Her preparation included climbs on Mera, Island, and Lobuche. She is with the Nepali guide company Thamserku Trekking.
Nepal Permit Update
The permits for Everest are coming extremely slow as expected. I’m looking for 300 total, but at this rate, I may reduce it even more. 2021 was a record year with 408 permits issued to foreigners. The Nepal Ministry of Tourism posted these foreign permit tally as of March 31, 2022
- Everest: 23 on 4 teams (20+ expected)
- Lhotse: 5 on 1 team
- Nuptse: 17 on 2 teams
- Manaslu: 0 on 0 team
- Annapurna: 25 on 3 teams
- Dhaulagiri: 11 on 1 team
- Pumori: 0 on 0 team
- Makalu: 0 on 0 team
- Ama Dablam: 15 on 1 team
- Gangapurna: 2 on 1 team
- Himlung: 16 on 2 teams
- Thapa (Dhampus): 4 on 1 team
- Bhemdang: 8 on 1 team
The Podcast on alanarnette.com
If you dream of climbing mountains but are not sure how to start or reach your next level from a Colorado 14er to Rainier, Everest, or even K2, we can help. Summit Coach is a consulting service that helps aspiring climbers throughout the world achieve their goals through a personalized set of consulting services based on Alan Arnette’s 25 years of high altitude mountain experience, including summits of Everest, K2, and Manaslu, and 30 years as a business executive.