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Jul 302022
 
K2 Summit View into Pakistan. © www.alanarnette.com

And the summits keep going with many firsts, records, and races to the top thanks to this summer’s, and for that fact, this spring’s, unusually stable weather across the Himalayas. It’s not uncommon for climbers to have three, four, or even five, or more 8000er summits this year. Let’s run a few down with more to come before it’s all over.

Big Picture

The season is winding down. I think the action is over on Nanga Parbat. The snow conditions were getting too dangerous a couple of weeks ago, and several highly skilled and experienced climbers abandoned their efforts. On Gasherbrum II, there are a few climbers, mostly the record seekers, still to make attempts, the same for Gasherbrum I.

Several K2 climbers are moving to Broad Peak to attempt their double. And on K2, you never know for sure, but I think it will be quiet until winter when someone will try. Well over 90% of the K2 summits occur in July. Still, some seep into mid-August, and there have been a couple in October, but that was decades ago when the weather was much different.

Note, expect the same for Everest – a winter, no O’s, perhaps with a “solo” label even though attached to a commercial team for logistics. Life has become interesting, and I’m not sure in a good way.

This year, 2022, the weather has been good overall. Occasionally, heavy snow storms have offered challenges to teams, but on the whole, most people will not claim they didn’t summit because of bad weather. As of July 30, I estimate 190 K2 summits and three deaths or 1.6%. I have reached out to Pakistani Officials for an official count.

Record Update

This year feels like more people are chasing more records than ever. I’ve given up trying to track every single claim as I have no way to validate many of them. So, let’s do a rundown of who says what here at the end of July.

8000er Race

We have several people, mostly females, trying to set or break records involving all 14 of the 8,000-meter peaks. Here is a recap of the current results:

  • Norwegian Kristin Harila, 36, is trying for the shortest time to climb all 14. She has nine with GI &II, Cho Oyu, and Shishapangma remaining. She is supported by 8K Expeditions’ Dawa Ongju and Pasdawa Sherpa. The current record is 189 days between April 23 and October 29, 2019, by Nepali (Magar) Nirmal Purja and is recognized by Guinness World Records. However, a study posted online notes it took Nirmal five years, four months, and 25 days to complete all 14, primarily due to their conclusion that he didn’t reach Manaslu’s true summit during his 2019 campaign and only did in the autumn of 2021. Kristin’s first summit of the project was Annapurna on April 28, 2022. She will need to finish by November 3, 2022, to get the speed record.
  • Britain Adriana Brownlee, 21, wants to be the youngest to climb all 14. She has 10 with GI &II, Cho Oyu, and Shishapangma remaining. She is supported by Seven Summits Treks’ Gelje Sherpa. Mingma Gyabu “David” Sherpa is the current youngest person to climb all the 8000ers, at age 30 years 166 days.
  • Pakistan’s Shehroze Kashif, 20, also is trying to be the youngest to climb all 14. He has nine with GI &II, Dhaulagiri, Cho Oyu, and Shishapangma remaining. He mostly climbs without Sherpa support but uses logistics from commercial teams.
  • Taiwanese Tseng Ko-erh, aka Grace Tseng, 28 (29?), is vying to be the first Taiwanese woman to summit all 14 and before age 30. She has nine with GI &II, Dhaulagiri, Cho Oyu, and Shishapangma left to summit.  She is supported by Dolma Outdoor’s Nima Gyalzen Sherpa and Ningma Dorje Tamang.
  • Russian-Polish Denis Urubko, 49, is the most experienced amongst this group and climbs in an entirely different, might I say, “pure” style. He is on track to have the most 8000ers summited without using supplemental oxygen. He climbs mostly alone with no support or O’s. Currently, he is tied with Juanito Oiarzabal at 26.

Collecting 8000ers

Japanese Naoko Watanabe climbing with Sanu Sherpa got her ninth 8000er with on Nanga this season. Dawa Yangzum Sherpa became the first Nepali female climber to summit Broad Peak, her eighth 8000er. Pasang Lhamu Sherpa Akita, another strong female Nepali climber, is the first Nepali woman to summit Nanga Parbat, her eight 8000er. Asma Al Thani has six 8000ers, all supported by Elite Expeditions.

“Firsts”

As I’ve noted throughout this season, there are a number of firsts claimed by the climbers themselves. Most of these claims are for the first of their nationality on K2: Spanish (Andalusian) climber Lina Quesada, Norwegian Kristin Harila, Andorran Stefi Troguet, Taiwanese Grace Tseng, Canada/Quebecer Marie-Pier Desharnais, Chinese He Jing, Pakistanis Naila Kiani, and Samina Baig, Omani Nadhira al Harthy, Iranian Afsaneh Hesamifard and UAE’s Saeed Almemari.

And not leave some of the men out, South Africans, John Black, and Warren Eva summited – the first on K2 from SA. And brothers Eid Mohammed and Waqar Ali got K2, a sibling, first.

On Nanga, Italians François Cazzanelli and Pietro Picco did what is considered a new variation on NP’s Diamir Face to 6,000-meters (C2) on the Kinshofer route. They called it Valle d’Aosta Express and summited Nanga.

Speed

This has been a summer for the speedy. Denis Urubko and French alpinist Benjamin Vedrines made speed climbs on Broad Peak, 14 hours and a shocking seven, respectively. Neither used supplemental oxygen. Then on K2, Imagine Nepal said that Tsering (Chhiring) climbed from base camp to the summit in 12:20:23 and made the full roundtrip in 20:18. Meanwhile, Elite Expeditions’ Mingma David Sherpa made the BC to summit climb in 14:22. Both are presumed to have used supplemental oxygen.

No O’s and Old School

With so many people led by strong Sherpas, it’s important to note the multiple lightly to no support and no supplemental oxygen summits this season, starting with Andorran Stefi Troguet, Ngima Nuru Sherpa, Abid Asad Sadpara, and Nirmal Purja. And then there were Italian Alpinists: Francois Cazzanelli, Picco Pietro, and Jerome Perruquet. Three from the Polish Beskid Expedition Team, Mariusz Hatala, Piotr Krzyżowski, and Radosław Woźniak got K2 with no Os. On commercial teams with no Os was He Jing. There are others, to be sure.

On Broad Peak, several people summited without using Os: Italians Giuseppe Vidoni,  Nico Jean, plus French climber Benjamin Védrines.

Sherpas

And the Sherpas are having a nice year for their records. Sanu Sherpa made his 28th summit for the 14 8000ers. Pasdawa Sherpa is said to set a multiple summit speed record with five 8000ers: Kanchenjunga (14th May 2022), Everest (22nd May 2022), Lhotse (22nd May 2022), Makalu (27th May 2022), and K2 (21st July 2022.) Mingma G got his fourth K2 summit.

Deaths

The death toll remains relatively low, given the number of summits this summer. Thus far, there are six: three on K2, two on Broad Peak, and one near G II.

On K2, Canadian Richard Cartier, 60, and Australian Matt Eakin of Australia. They were part of a small team using Adventure Pakistan Treks and Expedition logistics. Also on K2 was Afghanistan climber Ali Akber Sakhim, 34, who died from altitude sickness near C3 on K2 on July 20, 2022. On Broad Peak, Pakistani climber Sharif Sadpara died after falling through a soft spot on the summit ridge cornice. And Scottish climber Gordon Henderson is reported missing, but his home team now presumes he’s dead, according to a report from the RAF. He was part of the British Services Mountaineering Expedition. Finally, Pakastani High Altitude Worker, Iram Karim, died after falling into the raging stream near GII Base Camp.

Summits Continue

K2

Denis Urubko said he stood alone on K2’s summit at 7:30, July 30, his 49th birthday. By his reckoning, he has summited 26 8000ers without supplemental O’s. He did Broad Peak and GII within this month. He climbs with no O’s or support and alone. Apparently, he’s after a record, just like so many others these days. This one is for the most 8000ers summited without O’s. Urubko has now matched the record of 26, held by Juanito Oiarzabal. However, with the recent summit tribunal questioning 8000er summits, it remains to be ruled if these two legends have achieved what they claimed.

Broad Peak

Imagine Nepal reported they had five clients supported by eight Sherpas summit BP on July 29:

1. Mr. Ngima Dorjee Sherpa 🇳🇵
2. Mr. Pemba Tenzing sherpa 🇳🇵
3. Mr. Lakpa Tamang 🇳🇵
5. Mr. Tamting Sherpa 🇳🇵
6. Mr. Dawa Gyalje Sherpa 🇳🇵
7. Mr. Angdu sherpa 🇳🇵
8. Me. Pemba Chhiri sherpa 🇳🇵
9. Mr. 高立 Gao li 🇨🇳
10. Ms Gina Marie RZucidlo 🇺🇸
11. Ms Jill Wheatley 🇨🇦
12. Mr Sashko Kedev- 🇲🇰
13.Mr Naoki Ishikhawa

Gasherbrum I and II

Sajid Ali Sadpara, Shehroze Kashif, Kristin Harila, Adriana Brownlee, and Grace Tseng will be climbing GI & II before the season ends. Also, look for Denis Urubko to break the record with a summit on GI.
Climb On!
Alan
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