Click for site home
The Blog on alanarnette.com
Climbing the World to End Alzheimer's

Opinion: An Open Letter to Mountaineering Policy Decision Makers

 Comments Off on Opinion: An Open Letter to Mountaineering Policy Decision Makers
Sep 232022
 
Opinion: An Open Letter to Mountaineering Policy Decision Makers

An open letter to Mountaineering Policy Decision Makers,

After each season, pictures emerge showing trash left by climbers and long queues of climbers seeking their time on the summit. The public demands changes to protect the mountains. The operators announce clean-up campaigns and ask for donations. Countries respond with new rules. However, history shows these new rules are ghosts and are often ignored. There is time before the 2023 season to make significant changes. Please use this time to save your mountains and the tourism industry.

Aug 232022
 
Going for 8000er Record: Kristin Harila all 14 in Six Months

A new trend in 8000-meter climbing is how many you can get in one trip and how fast. Norweigan Kristin Harila is on track to smash long-time records this year. Thus far, she has eleven of the fourteen, all with climbing Sherpas, Pasdawa Sherpa, and Dawa Ongju Sherpa, of 8K Expeditions. I had the opportunity to record this interview with her during a short respite back home in Norway.

The current record is 189 days between April 23 and October 29, 2019, by Nirmal Purja Pun Magar 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.

She is no stranger to mountaineering. In 2019, she became the fastest woman to climb Everest and Lhotse in a record 12 hours. The 36-year-old is from Vadso/Norway and is a former cross-country skier. Today, she claims her profession is as a mountaineer, runner, and skier.

Next up for the trio are Nepal’s Manaslu true summit, before trying Cho Oyu and Shishapangma. She prefers climbing both from the Tibet side, but as we know, the Chinese have closed Tibet for climbing due to COVID since 2000. They will have to get an exception to enter the country for their attempt. She tells me she will attempt Cho from Nepal if she cannot enter Tibet.

Aug 122022
 
K2 2022: No O's, Unsupported Summits on Broad Peak and K2 -  Interview with Andreas Frydensberg and Eric Gilbertson

K2 had a record year this 2022 summer. Most of the summits were by Sherpas or Pakistani climbers helping their paying clients, but a handful were the rare type: no supplemental oxygen, no Sherpa support, and no commercial team.

Danish climber Andreas Ritzau Frydensberg with American Eric Gilbertson summited Broad Peak on July 18th and K2 on July 28th. On his website, Country Highpoints, Eric describes their Broad Peak, and K2 climbs in detail. They climbed unsupported, using Pakastani Alpine Adventure Guides for base camp services. So they climbed with no on-mountain support – no Sherpas to set up tents, cook food, or break trail. They also didn’t use supplemental oxygen.

Before getting to their story, I admit that 2022 caused me to lose some hope in the sport I admire. Too many inexperienced climbers, too much talk of records, most important only to the individual seeking it, and teams with too many clients supported but too many Sherpas. It just felt out of control. I’m thankful we had a relatively small number of deaths, but as I learn more, I see many rescues and near misses, so this was a season of luck.

In looking at what Eric and Andreas did, they gave me hope. I am excited to see younger climbers demonstrate creativity, excellent judgment, and impressive results, all in good style. It gave me hope for our sport, and I’m proud of them and several others who climbed similarly. Now, onto the interview.

This relaxed-paced interview with Eric and Andreas only days after they returned home to Seattle and Denmark, respectively.

Climb On!
Alan
Memories are Everything

Jul 242022
 
K2 Summer 2022: Weekend Update July 24, 2022 - Summiting Like Never Before

Well, the K2 climbers pulled it off. Congratulations to the 150++ who summited and especially to the Sherpas who fixed the lines to the summit. The weather cooperated, and there were limited problems, albeit with one death and one K2 climber is currently missing. We are approaching 200 K2 summits.

Big Picture Summits Continue, Missing K2 Climber

Several media outlets report that Canadian Richard Cartier, 61, is missing while descending from a rotation to lower Camp 4. He was last seen between C2 and C1 by teammates. A search is underway. They had mentioned using the Cesen route but were on the Abruzzi when he disappeared.

At least 10 more K2 summits brought the total ever closer to 200. Summit Karakorum reports that Abid Asad Sadpara, the nephew of the late Ali Sadpara, who died on K2 last year, made the top with no O’s. Also, Paul Etherdge, Peter ? and Muhammad Hussain Pakista. Makalu Extreme team reports summits from French alpinists Pascal Claude France and Christophe Jean France with Pasang Lama and Pasang Dorjee Sherpa.

This has been a great year across all the 8000ers for female climbers. Adding to the K2 list is Spanish (Andalusian) climber Lina Quesada. She is joined by these female summiteers this season: Andorian Stefi Troguet, Taiwanese Grace Tseng, Chinese He Jing, Pakistanis Naila Kiani and Samina Baig, plus Iranian Afsaneh Hesamifard and UAE’s Saeed Almemari. Also, American Sarah Stratton made the top.

Jul 232022
 
Video Interview Adventure Consultants Guy Cotter

If you follow mountaineering, Adventure Consultants is one of the names that evoke almost three decades of memories. Guy Cotter, who began running the company in the mid-1990s, has deftly led his team through years of climbs worldwide. But in 2010, COVID was too much, and Guy made the difficult decision to put AC into ‘hibernation.’ Now, in 2022, he is ready to resume operations, smaller, leaner, and with an increased focus on running high-quality expeditions with discerning clients.

In this interview, I talk with Guy about his decisions with AC over the past few years and where he wants to take the company. We also delve into this new world of climbers’ linking multiple 8000-meter peaks in a single season, the record crowds on K2, and the discussion in the mountaineering community around the validity of claiming summits, especially on the fourteen 8000-meter peaks.

Guy is uniquely qualified to discuss these topics. I hope you enjoy our chat.

Jun 192022
 
Should Everest Base Camp Be Moved?

The Nepal Ministry of Tourism is back to its old games of playing the mainstream press to make themselves look like credible custodians of Mount Everest. In this year’s spin, they floated, not announced, but said they were considering moving the current location of Everest Base Camp, EBC, a bit lower to be off the foot of the current Khumbu Icefall. They cited environmental reasons.

May 312022
 
Video Interview Wilco Van Rooijen: No O's Kanchenjunga 2022 Tough Decisions

We sometimes hear about a climber who has to make a tough decision as we follow mountaineering each season. Usually, it involves weather moving in that might jeopardize the team’s safety or rescuing a teammate. Well, this spring, my long-time friend, Wilco van Rooijen, 55, faced a difficult decision, but it involved staying true to his style.

The Dutch mountaineer cheated death in 2008 on K2, but we both lost a dear friend, Ger McDonnell, that year. Wilco, who always climbs without supplemental oxygen or Sherpa support, had summited K2, Everest, plus many technical climbs in the Alps. He had a sold attempt in 2018 on Kanchenjunga, the 3rd highest mountain at 8,586 m (28,169 ft), with his best friend and climbing partner, Cas van de Gevel.

This 2022 spring, they returned to Kanch for another try in their style. They had perfect weather day after day and had acclimatized on Meru Peak before arriving at Kanch’s base camp. They made one attempt but were going too slow behind a large group, and it was getting late in the day, so they returned to base camp. It was then that their expedition began to experience problems. The operator they had paid to provide base camp logistics told them they only had three days left as they were going. Cas developed health problems. Soon Wilco found himself high on Kanch with a climber he didn’t know and a very young and inexperienced Sherpa. Wilco faced a decision that would test his character and test his commitment to the style head sworn to honor.

It’s a fascinating interview where we talk about our Broad Peak experience, Wilco and Ger on K2 in 2008, and Wilco and Cas this year on Kanch. I take the opportunity to ask Wiclo his views on the changes we are seeing in the world of mountaineering of excessive use of oxygen, inexperienced clients with unqualified guides, helicopters, and more.

Climb On!

Alan

Memories are Everything

May 282022
 
Everest 2022 Season Summary: The Year of the Missing Jetstream

2022 brought even more stable weather windows than during the great Everest 2018. This May, a stalled high-pressure system made for horrendous temperatures in Northern India while paradoxically creating nearly ideal climbing conditions across much, but not all,  of the Himalayas. The net result was nearly 650 people summiting from Everest’s Nepal side and another 50 on the Tibet side.

Unlike previous seasons, this spring saw more experienced climbers resulting in fewer deaths, rescues, and an overall low drama environment. Despite this good news, there were periods of brutal weather and climbing conditions, and yes, there were rescues, close-calls, and, sadly, deaths.

This season, we saw the continued trend of a very high member to support ratio. A milestone reached with more Sherpas summiting than foreigners in total since Everest climbing began in the 1920s. We’ll dig into this later. All in all, it was a year like we saw a decade ago. But, unfortunately, it was not without deaths, three deaths on Everest and three more on the other 8000ers.

In the good news department, for the first time in many years, the Nepal Ministry of Tourism seemed content to stay out of the way and the headlines. But, this spring, significant changes appeared in the world of mountaineering. These changes will disrupt decades of climbing norms on the 8000-meter peaks.

May 282022
 
Everest 2022: Team Locations and Headlines

Welcome to the 2022 edition of Alan Arnette’s annual coverage of the Everest climbing season. I try to provide insight and interpretation of the activities ranging from routes to weather to the challenge and reward of climbing Everest. It’s based on my three Everest attempts and my 2011 summit plus my climbing experiences of a K2 summit in 2014, Manaslu in 2013, and 30+ more peaks around the world. My reporting uses my own research, sources, and public information.

Everest 2022: Summit Wave 12 – Recap

 Comments Off on Everest 2022: Summit Wave 12 – Recap
May 272022
 
Everest 2022: Summit Wave 12 - Recap

The big news is not from Everest but on Makalu where Norweigan Kristin Harila along with her Sherpa support got her sixth 8000er in just 29-days, setting a new record. There were 20 summits on Everest, perhaps the last of this season as the Icefall Doctors will begin removing the ladders on Sunday, May 29, 2022. EverestER has already left base camp.