With the 2021 Autumn climbing season winding down, questions are re-emerging as to the future classification of summit. This is not new, but with Manaslu taking center stage, it has gained momentum. Meanwhile, we should see a summit push soon on Kangchenjunga.
As we get near the end of the Manaslu season, there are more summits piling up, well over 150 now, and sadly one death, but controversy abounds over who really summited. The weather took a turn for the worse holding some teams at C3 or C4 but they are pushing back up now. Also the push is on at Dhaulagiri and soon on Kangchenjunga.
I recently turned 65. Yeah, I know! But before you stop reading, this is a tale for the young and, well, the not-so-young. The question is, “When do you stop climbing?”
Does age even matter in climbing? Yuichiro Miura and Tamae Watanabe hold the Everest age records at 80 and 78 for males and females, respectively. Bill Burke began his quest of the Seven Summits at age 60 and got his second summit of Everest at age 72. And Art Muri recently made Everest at 75. Then there are the 13-year-old Everest summiteers Jordan Romero and Malavath Poorna. And let’s not leave out eight-year-old Roxy Getter on Kilimanjaro, not that I think that’s a great idea. By the way, the sweet spot to summit Everest, and most 8000ers, is age 35.
I started climbing at age 38, kind of a late bloomer in the climbing world. I never lived out of my car, was never in the “dirt-bagger,” club or did anything other than work. But then I discovered climbing. Mont Blanc was my first respectable climb. Much to the disgust of my French guide, I didn’t even know how to attach the strap-on Camp crampons that I had just bought in Chamonix. He scoffed, sighed, said something I didn’t understand in French that I’m pretty sure wasn’t a compliment as he strapped them onto my new climbing boots. So yea, I was a novice who didn’t know what I didn’t know and didn’t even know what to ask. But I loved the day, fell in love with climbing, and got my first of several summits on this historic Hill.
The autumn climbing and trekking season has begun in Nepal. It remains to been seen if it’s business as usual or a rerun of the spring debacle on Everest, Dhaulagiri, and Annapurna. Early signs suggest the latter.
Guests of Nepal have been encouraged to return and be generous with their money to give aid to an impoverished tourism sector, especially in the rural areas such as the Lamjung District for the Annapurna Circuit or the Solukhumbu for the famous trek to Everest Base Camp or for the so-called trekking peaks of Island, Mera, Lobuche East and more serious efforts on Ama Dablam, Cholatse and of course the 8000ers Manaslu, Dhaulagiri and perhaps a couple more.
The summer Karakorum season is over, well, I think so. There are always a few surprises. The 48 summits on K2 were close but not a record. 2018 saw a record with 62 total summits, followed by 2004 with an estimated 51. This season saw two deaths, one on a new route on K2 and one on Broad Peak. Overall there were around 100 summits in the Karakorum