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

May 272022
 
Video Interview Adrian Ballinger, Alpenglow, on his Makalu Record Ski Descent

The world’s fifth-highest at 27,765 feet (8,463 meters), Makalu saw multiple successes this season. Still, on Monday, May 9, 2022, Adrian Ballinger, co-founder of Alpenglow, texted me, “I summited today with Dorji Sonam and Pasang Sona (Alpenglow Sherpa). We fixed to the summit from where rope fixing ended by French couloir. And….I skied Makalu!!!!!! I just got back to ABC. First on top for the season. Alpenglow pride”

He walks through the climb, discussing how the Sherpas fixed the summit ropes, poor weather at times, or narrow windows of opportunity. I asked him to discuss his “ski technique” for those listeners who are avid skiers. As he was making his way down 8,000 feet of snow and ice, plus a rock gulley or two, he passed climbers going up—what fun.

Finally, we wrap up with a short discussion about how high-altitude mountaineering is changing, especially on those ‘other’ 8000ers like Kanchnugua, Dhaulagiri, Makalu, and Annapurna.

Climb On!

Alan

Memories are Everything

May 222022
 
Everest 2022: Weekend Update May 22 - The Season That Won't End

This Everest season is like a runny nose that won’t stop. You blow hard, wipe it clean, and all of a sudden, there it goes again. Just as I thought base camp was empty, as well as the other 8000ers, people keep showing up at the South Col and summiting. I guess with winds so calm (relatively – there are still those moments) that leaders are demonstrating great patience and trust in the weather forecasters to let the route clear out before taking their peeps higher. And that’s how it’s supposed to be done. 

More Summits!

We have a few more summits to report as it seems the wind has picked back up but was still manageable last night. We’ll see how the week develops.

Pemba Sherpa of 8K Expeditions texted me that Norweigan Kristin Harila made the fastest link ever for males or females between Everest and Lhotse along with Dawa Ongju Sherpa. They summited Everest on May 22 at 8:45 am and then Lhotse at 5:50 pm – that’s 9:05 apart. Now she’s on to Makalu base camp by helicopter. She is trying to set a record for summiting all 14 of the 8000-meter peaks in the fastest time. Pemba tells me they will ask for an entry exception to climb Shishapangma in China. And they will climb Cho Oyu from Nepal. Thus far this season, she has summited Kanchenjunga on May 14, Dhaulagiri on May 8, and Annapurna I on April 28.

Another one we have been waiting for is German David Göttler, who summited Everest this morning. He climbed about as clean as possible these days with no O’s and no other human support other than using the fixed lines and ladders installed by the Sherpas. He summited on May 21.

May 202022
 
Everest 2022: Summit Wave 10 - Recap

This rare month of almost no winds on the summit of Everest has made for one of the calmest, smoothest, quietest seasons in history. Compared to the 2019 mess, this year is how it should be. But of course, the guides and climbers had nothing to do with it; all gratitude goes to Mother Nature. More summits Saturday morning.

But it has come at a cost. Northern India stills suffer from the unbearable heat, all brought on by climate change. We can expect to see this highly variable weather across all the world’s mountains, Time to adjust to a new normal.