Showing posts with label Annapurna. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Annapurna. Show all posts

Himalaya Spring 2017: Season Progressing On Schedule

So far, the spring climbing season in the Himalaya has been a textbook one, with schedules and plans unfolding exactly as expected. That's good news for all of the expedition teams, which are now spread out at various points along their respective mountains working on their acclimatization process. For the most part, things are going about as smoothly as one could expect with some squads already eyeing summit bids in the days ahead.

We'll start with an update on Ueli Steck and Tenji Sherpa, who are preparing to make an attempt at an Everest-Lhotse Traverse. Ueli has been in Nepal for several weeks now, and has been focused on training for the upcoming climb. According to reports, he and Tenji climbed as high as Camp 2 on Everest and spent two nights there before April 12, which is two weeks ago at this point. We're still awaiting a new dispatch to give us an indication of what they've been up to since then, but it is safe to say that the duo have now spent more nights at altitude and may have even touched Camp 4 at this point. It is believed that Ueli will want to begin the traverse ahead of the massive summit push that will come around mid-May so that he can avoid the traffic jams, although the weather will ultimately decide when that happens.

Also on Everest, the big commercial squads are spread out across the mountain. International Mountain Guides has three different teams moving on the mountain with the first descending from C2, while another moves up to that point, and the third treks up to Camp 1. Likewise, the Adventure Consultants team went up to C2 this past weekend and touched the Lhotse Face, while RMI's climbers are currently safe and sound in Camp 1.

On the North Side of Everest, Japanese climber Nobukazu Kuriki is getting settled in and will be making his sixth attempt on the mountain. Previously he has climbed solo in the fall, but due to shifting politics on permits he's back for a go in the spring. The #EverestNoFilter team of Corey Richards and Adrian Ballinger are also climbing from that side of the mountain and have now been as high as 7010 meters (23,000 ft).

Over on Annapurna, the mountain is being as stubborn as ever. ExWeb is reporting tough conditions for climbing so far, including a series of Avalanches that struck C2 last week. That forced some of the teams to retreat to BC to regroup and wait for some stability to set in. The mountain is well known for being extremely dangerous with avalanches occurring frequently, but over the past few years teams have attempted early summits while the slopes were still frozen. That doesn't seem to be the case this time out however.

Simone Moro and Tamara Lunger are in BC on Kangchenjunga have begun fixing rope up the mountain. They report high winds on the mountain so far, with one gust even picking up Simone's tent and depositing it down the mountain with the climber still in it. Still, the duo seem to be in good spirits and are plugging away at getting acclimated while establishing the first of their high camps. Their plan is to traverse the entire Kangchenjunga massif this season, which is an incredible 5.5 km (3.4 miles) in length.

Finally, David Göttler and Herve Barmasse are no enroute to Shishapangam Base Camp after completing all of the paperwork needed to make their climb. The two men hope to open a new route along the South Face of the mountain and are now trekking to the start of their climb. Previously they've been climbing in the Khumbu region and topped out on Island Peak to help with acclimatization.

That's all for now. More updates soon.

Himalaya Spring 2017: Kilian Jornet Moves Up Speed Record Attempt as Chinese Play Politics with Permits

As expected, the spring 2017 Himalayan climbing season is delivering all kinds of interesting stories and plot lines to follow. In addition to a record number of climbers on Everest, there are plenty of other expeditions to follow throughout the region. But just as many teams are getting settled into their respective base camps in the mountains, the Chinese have begun imposing permit restrictions that are causing some climbers to rethink their plans and make last minute adjustments to their schedules.

ExWeb has posted more details on the latest move by the Chinese government to impose restrictions on climbing permits in Tibet. In a nutshell, the authorities on that side of the Himalaya have announced that there will be no post-monsoon permits issued for Everest or Shishpangma this year, and only a limited number for Cho Oyu. In addition, the government is also refusing permits to any climber who has visited Pakistan in the past three years as well, causing a number of teams to alter their intended plans for this spring.

We already knew that Kilian Jornet has moved his speed record attempt to this spring, where he'll have to contend with more crowds, and now we know why. Last year, Jornet went to Everest in the late-summer/early-fall, but ended up being turned back due to poor weather conditions. It was expected that he would probably do the same this year, as the mountain is all but deserted during those months. But, since the Chinese won't be issuing permits for that timeframe, the mountain runner is now forced to attempt his speed record in the spring instead.

ExWeb is reporting that the change in permitting has also had an impact on climbers Adam Bielecki and Felix Berg, who were planning to attempt a new route on Cho Oyu. Both men visited Pakistan last year however, so neither is allowed to enter Tibet. Instead, they'll now go to Annapurna in Nepal and attempt a seldom climbed route on that mountain with partners Louis Rousseau and Rick Allen.

All across the Himalaya other teams are now arriving in BC. In addition to large numbers trickling into Base Camp on Everest, others are now getting settled on Annapurna, Makalu, Dhaulagiri, and Kangchenjunga. Most have been acclimatizing in the Khumbu Valley or on smaller peaks already, and thus are arriving in good shape to start their first rotations. It won't be long now and we'll start to receive word of teams moving up as they begin building their high camps, fixing ropes, and generally becoming accustomed to the altitude.

Weather is already playing a part early in the season. Reports indicate that high winds have been common so far, particularly on Everest, Lhotse, and Annapurna. But, that is not unusual for this time of year, and things tend to calm down a lot as the season progresses. Right now, we're about a month away from major summit bids, give or take a week. The plan moving forward will be to slowly acclimate to the conditions and begin preparing for the challenges ahead.

More to report soon.

Himalaya Spring 2017: ExWeb Provides Yet More Expeditions of Note

Yesterday I posted an article sharing some of the more interesting expeditions that will be taking place in the Himalaya this season, most notably on Cho Oyu and Shishapangma. Later in the day I also shared the reveal of the Kangchenjunga Skyline Expedition that will send Simone Moro and Tamara Lunger on an epic high-altidue odyssey unlike anything that has ever been done before. Today, we have another list of interesting climbs set for this spring courtesy of Explorer's Web.

ExWeb's round up includes some of the expeditions that I've already posted about, including Ueli Steck's ambitious Everest-Lhotse Traverse. But, it also includes brief looks at a lot more projects that I haven't mentioned yet. For instance, the article has an overview of everyone who is attempting Everest without bottled oxygen this year, including names like Ralf Dujmovits, Ferran Latore, Adrian Ballinger and Cory Richards. Ballinger and Richards are back once again to share their antics on social media, which was closely followed last season as well. The article also mentions that Nobukazu Kuriki will be back on Everest this spring as well, this time making an attempt on the North Side without O's. Kuriki is famous for his solo attempts on Everest in the fall where he has sometimes run into trouble in the past.

The story also mentions that Min Bahadur will be back on Everest this spring as well as he looks to set a new record for the oldest person to summit the mountain. If successful, he'll have reached the top at the ripe-young age of 85.

Elsewhere, Peter Hamor is looking for his 14th – and final – 8000 meter peak without supplemental oxygen as he takes on Dhaulagiri this spring. Carlos Soria will also be on that mountain searching for his 13th eight-thousander at the age of 78. They'll be joined by several other teams as well. Italian climbers Nives Meroi and Romano Benet are returning to the Himalaya too. They're already Base Camp on Annapurna and looking to nab their final 8000-meter mountain as well.

Finally, a four-person team made of Polish climbers is already in pace on Makalu and making steady progress. According to ExWeb they reached Camp 1 at 6400 meters (20,997 ft) on April 4. The plan is to acclimatize and summit that mountain first before moving over to Lhotse later in the season.

As you can see, we'll have plenty of action to follow all spring long. There are probably even a few big expeditions that have yet to be revealed. One thing is for sure, it'll certainly be an interesting season as usual.

Video: The 10 Deadliest Mountains in the World

Lets face it, mountaineering comes with some inherent risks, no matter when and where you're climbing. But, thanks to technical difficulties, unpredictable weather, and unique terrain, some mountains are obviously more dangerous than others. In this video we explore the 10 deadliest mountains in the world, giving us a look at some truly scary places, but ones that are also incredibly alluring too. If you've ever wondered which peaks make even the best alpinists in the world take pause, these are the ones. Make sure you know what you're doing before setting out to an expedition to one of these peaks.

Video: Ed Viesturs - The Will to Climb

This video is part of the Nat Geo Live program, and even though it is a couple of years old, it is still worth sharing. It features alpinist Ed Viesturs – the only American to climb all 14 8000-meter peaks – sharing his philosophy on climbing, risk, and life in the mountains. There is a lot of wisdom and knowledge to be gained here, from a man who has pushed himself to the limit in the high places of our planet. If you want to truly know what it is like to climb the highest peaks in the world, Ed can tell you.

Video: Stunning Footage of Climbers on Annapurna III

In terms of stunningly beautiful and incredibly scary climbing footage, it doesn't come much better than this video. In the clip we follow alpinist David Lama, Hansjörg Auer and Alex Blümel as they attempt the unclimbed southeast ridge on Annapurna III in Nepal. Along the way they encounter knife-edge ridges, deep snow, and spectacular views of the Himalayan peaks around them. A feature-length documentary of this expedition is now making the rounds at adventure film festivals as well.

Video: Climbing the South Face of Annapurna

In terms of pure altitude, Annapurna ranks 10th amongst the 8000 meter peaks, topping out at 8091 meters (26,545 ft). But when it comes to level of difficulty to climb, it ranks second to perhaps only K2. In fact, it is considered the most dangerous mountain on the planet by many thanks to its frequent avalanches and technical challenges, and yet it continues to hold an allure over many climbers who travel to its flanks each spring to have a go at the summit.

This video a short documentary about such a climb. In it, we join famed Swiss mountaineer Jean Troillet as he attempts Annapurna back in 2012. The clips gives us some impressive shots of the mountain, and provides plenty of insights into what it takes to take on such a difficult and dangerous climb. If you're a fan of Himalayan expeditions to the big peaks, you'll definitely want to watch this short-film, which takes us along on one of the toughest climbs of all.

Himalaya Spring 2016: Hillary Step Intact After All? A Game of Chess on Annapurna Summit?

There isn't a lot of new news to report from the Himalaya today, where a lot of teams are moving up on Everest to get in position to take advantage of a looming weather window. It has already been a busy season on the world's highest peak, with more to come in the days ahead. But, one of the stories that has been coming off the mountain may not be true after all, despite widespread reports.

Yesterday, I posted the news that the iconic Hillary Step on the South Side of Everest had collapsed during last year's earthquake, making it easier to approach the summit from the Nepali side of the mountain. But, late last night Alan Arnette posted a comment on that story saying that it isn't a foregone conclusion that the Hillary Step has indeed been altered.

Alan indicated that he spoke with Sherpas on the mountain – as well as Himex boss  Russell Brice – and the feeling is that the Step may just look very different thanks to a meter of snow that has accumulated on it. It won't be clear if the route has indeed been changed until that snow is cleared away and climbers can get a good look at the terrain.

The Hillary Step is so named because it was the final piece of the puzzle that Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgayhad to overcome on their way to the first successful summit back in 1953. The route has been used by hundreds of other climbers ever since, and it has been a cause of some traffic jams in the past because it requires some actual technical climbing to overcome. If the Step has been altered and made easier, it could eliminate those jams and make approaching the summit safer. Whether or not that happens remains to be seen.

Meanwhile, Stefan Nestler reports on what has to be the highest chess game ever played. Apparently, climbers Jost Kobusch and Nadav Ben-Yehudi had played at least two games a chess each day in Base Camp on Annapurna while they waited for the summit push. When they finally were able to go to the top a few weeks back, they decided to play a spontaneous game at the 8091 meter (26,545 ft). Actually, they dropped 20 meters below the summit, and played a quick game on Jost's smartphone. The entire game took just seven minutes to complete, and the winner has not been revealed. As you can imagine, they were in a bit of a hurry to finish up and head back down.

That's all for today. More news soon as the season continues to move ahead.

Himalaya Spring 2016: Summit Bid Launched on Manaslu, Fixed Ropes Update on Everest

The news from the Himalaya just keeps coming this spring as more teams continue to acclimatize on Everest and two climbers prepare for a difficult summit bid on Manaslu. Others are now waiting and watching the weather, hoping for a chance to launch attempts of their own.

We'll start with an update from Manaslu, where Peter Hamor and Horia Colibasanu have reportedly announced that they are leaving Base Camp today to start their summit bid on the 8163 meter (26,781 ft) mountain. The two men will now attempt to reach the top using the standard route, but will help complete their acclimatization prior to attempting a new route without the use of supplemental oxygen. The weather is said to be calm at the moment, and if everything goes according to plan, they should top out this weekend. After that, they'll drop back to BC for a rest before starting their second attempt later in the month.

Over on Everest, more teams, including the Adventure Consultants, have now reached Camp 3 as they continue to acclimatize ahead of eventual summit bids in just a couple of weeks time. Most of the climbers are now descending back to BC for a rest as they wait for Camp 4 to be full established and the fixed ropes to be installed. That process is proceeding, and reports indicate that the lines now reach above the Yellow Band, but bad weather higher on the mountain have stalled due to strong winds at higher altitudes.

Ueli Steck and David Göttler continue to wait for a proper weather window on Shishapangma. The two men have announced that their acclimatization process is done and they are simply waiting for the right time to start the climb. That could happen this weekend as well, although the two talented climbers are prepared to wait as long as necessary before starting their alpine style ascent along a new route.

Finally, there is news from Annapurna as well, were all of the 30 summiteers from this past weekend are now safely back in Base Camp, with most preparing to go home. While they were wrapping up their expeditions over the past few days, a group of 75 local villagers paid a visit to BC. They had just completed construction of a new trail that will cut down the time it takes to trek to the mountain, allowing climbers to get there in as little as three days. That should open up the region to more visitors and bring down the costs for trekking and climbing on Annapurna as well.

Himalaya Spring 2016: Summits on Annapurna, Avalanches on Everest, and More

On top of the big news of the discovery of the remains of Alex Lowe and David Bridges on Shishapangma that broke this past weekend, there is quite a few other updates to share from the Himalaya today too. And with May now upon us, the season is rapidly slipping by with potential summit bids now just a few weeks away.

Over on Annapurna this weekend it was already summit day for a number of climbers. The first teams topped out on Saturday, with others following suit on Sunday. The weather was reportedly quite good, with low winds and great conditions on the summit. This followed days of less than ideal weather which had kept the climbers stuck in Base Camp, but once the forecast improved, they were on the move quickly, going from BC to Camp 4 over the course of two or three days. That put them in a position to top out over the weekend, with a good weather window holding long enough for everyone to get up and down safely.

All told, 30 climbers managed to reach the summit of Annapurna this past weekend, with 16 of those mountaineers being Nepali Sherpas. Amongst the foreign climbers were Aussie Chris Jensen Burke and Spaniard Carlos Soria, whom we've been following on expeditions for several years. For Soria, this was his 12th 8000-meter peak, and at the age of 77 he is now the oldest to ever summit the mountain.

Elsewhere on Everest the teams are back on schedule following the avalanche that took place last week, temporarily closing the Lhotse Face. Late last week there was also an ice collapse in the Khumbu Icefall which shut down operations through that crucial part of the ascent as well, but the Ice Doctors quickly fixed the route and had teams back on track once again. In fact, a number of teams have now spent time in Camp 3 and are back in BC following their rotation at altitude.

If the weather holds – and the forecasts look good at the moment – the Sherpa team that is charged with fixing ropes to the summit hopes to complete their work by the end of the week. If that happens, we should be on track to begin summit bids by May 15, weather permitting of course.

Alan Arnette has updated readers on his progress on Lhotse, and sadly his expedition has come to an end. You may recall that last week Alan shared the news that he was forced to turn back while climbing in the Khumbu Icefall due to a cough that was a sign of an upper respiratory infection. That cough turned into something worse a few days later when he made an acclimatization rotation up to Camp 2. In fact, the infection became dangerous and debilitating to the point that he had to be flown off the mountain from C2 by helicopter. He's now back in Kathmandu, starting his recovery, and preparing to head home.

Finally, over on Shishpangma, Ueli Steck and David Göttler are now preparing to make their summit push along a new route. The duo announced that their acclimatization process is complete, they've scouted the route thoroughly, and they are now ready to get going. They're simply waiting for the proper weather window to launch their bid, which could come as early as this week.

As you can see, things are really heating up at the moment with lots of activity taking place. We'll probably see it quiet down briefly as teams return to their Base Camps, rest up, and start watching the weather. The season is moving along at a steady pace, and things are going about as well as can be expected. So far, it has been a nice change of pace over the past couple of years, as it looks like things are getting back to "normal" on Everest.

Himalaya Spring 2016: Annapurna Summit Push is On, Progress Elsewhere

It is safe to say that the spring climbing season in the Himalaya is now in full swing, with teams now focused on acclimatization and preparation for eventual summit bids. For the most part, it has been a relatively quiet season so far, which is a welcome change from the past few years when we've seen everything from brawls on Everest to tragic deaths to serious disagreements between climbers. But so far this year, there has been a sense of calm pervading the entire region, which could lead to a very successful return to form. 

We'll start today's update with news from Annapurna, where several teams are now on the move with the hope of topping out over the next few days. The plan is to reach Camp 4 tomorrow, spend a brief time resting there, and then launching the final push to the top. At the moment, the weather looks like it will be good, with winds dying off as they climb higher. If everything goes according to plan, they should complete the ascent on Sunday, May 1, most likely ending the season on Annapurna for the year. 

Over on Everest, a ladder was expected to be installed along the route up the Lhotse Face that was closed yesterday due to an ice collapse. That ladder will help the teams overcome this new obstacle in a safe fashion and allow them to continue on to Camp 3 as part of their acclimatization efforts. We're also told that the Sherpa team that is fixing ropes up the mountain is progressing nicely, and should finish their work all the way to the summit in the first week of May. After that, it'll just be a matter of when the teams are properly prepared for the altitude and a weather window opens to the summit. Most likely that will occur around the middle of May. 

On the Northside of Everest things are progressing as well, although at a bit slower pace. The Chinese-Tibetan team has started installing the ropes there and have now reached 7000 meters (22,965 ft), and by all accounts Base Camp is quiet, well maintained, and orderly. Teams are acclimatizing there as well, with the process continuing on schedule. 

Meanwhile, progress is being made on other mountains in the Himalaya as well. ExWeb is reporting that Sherpas have now established C1 on Dhaulagiri and are pressing forward with installing the ropes up to C2 as well. On Shishapangma, Ueli Steck and David Göttler are waiting out some high winds before proceeding upwards, but everything looks good at there at the moment. On Cho Oyu, teams are still arriving and getting settled, but one group has already reached Camp 2 at 7000 meters (22,965 ft), while on Makalu, the route up Makalu La has been installed up to C2 as well. 

Things aren't going quite as smoothly on Manaslu, where heavy snows are keeping teams grounded for now. Above Camp 1 – located at 5800 meters (19,028 ft) – the snow is said to be more than a meter and a half deep, and still falling. That has kept all climbers from going much higher than C1, which has hampered their efforts to acclimatize. As you can imagine, all of the teams are watching the forecasts closely, and working out plans to break trail to C2 and higher. 

We're in the part of the climbing season that is a bit of a grind for the teams. They still have lots of work to do before any eventual summit pushes, and there are lots of challenges to overcome before that happens. Still, things are going according to the plan for the most part, with progress being made across the region. In a few weeks time, we'll be reporting on serious summit pushes during a season that needs to come off safely and without controversy. 

Himalaya Spring 2016: Lhotse Face Closed on Everest, Annapurna Summit Push Begins

More news from the Himalaya today where the spring climbing season continues to unfold at a quick pace. But today we learn that acclimatization efforts are at a standstill on Everest, while teams on Annapurna are once again on the move.

The big news of the day is that the Lhotse Face on Everest is closed due to the collapse of an ice ledge on the mountain. The collapse occurred along the route from Camp 2 to Camp 3, where some teams were already moving up as part of their latest round of acclimatization rotations. All teams have reportedly retreated to C2, where everyone seems to be safe. Thankfully, there doesn't appear to be any casualties.

The collapse occurred this morning local time in Nepal. The teams there are now examining their options for climbing higher, which could involve using ladders to climb over the chunks of ice or a longer route that goes around the area where the collapse occurred. It will probably take a couple of days to sort things out, as ladders would need to be carried up the mountain to be put into place or any potential detours will need to be scouted before teams attempt to go around.

In other Everest news, it has also been reported that a Sherpa collapsed in Camp 1 today. He was immediately treated for altitude sickness, placed on oxygen, and evacuated to Lukla. Now that he is at lower altitude, he is expected to recover completely.

Elsewhere, over on Annapurna a new summit bid is now under way. Teams have started to move up this morning with the hope of topping out on Sunday, May 1. About 30 climbers, including 10 Sherpas, have begun to move up, with Aussie Chris Jensen Burke and Spaniard Carlos Soria amongst the group. If all goes according to plan, they should reach C4 by Saturday and launch their bid that evening with the plan of summiting on Sunday morning. Hopefully the weather will hold, allowing them to safely get up and down.

That's all for now. More news as it comes in.

Himalaya Spring 2016: News From Everest, Another Summit Window Opens on Annapurna

Yesterday was a busy – if solemn – one on Everest, as the climbing teams are now in the thick of their acclimatization process. Elsewhere, a similar story is unfolding on a number of other Himalayan peaks, while over on Annapurna the climbers are now eyeing another weather window that approaches in the next few days.

We've reached the mid-way point of the climbing season on Everest, where we get an excellent report on what is happening there via to Alan Arnette. He says that in some ways it is a very normal season on Everest this year, which is a relief considering the challenges of the past few seasons. But it is a quieter time in the Khumbu Valley as well, with about 15% fewer climbers on Everest, and about a 40% drop off in trekking across the region too. That means its fairly quiet there compared to years past.

Alan says that another major change on Everest this season is that the route through the Khumbu Icefall has been altered as well. In the past, climbers spent a lot of time in the Icefall, crossing upwards of 20 ladders as they made their way through this dangerous section of the mountain. But this year, there are just 7 ladders, as the route is shorter while avoiding some of the more dangerous overhanging seracs. The route might be more direct, but it is also more challenging too. Alan indicates that there is actually more climbing involved with passing through the Icefall this season, which is a departure from previous years as well.

As for Alan himself, he's in Nepal to climb Lhotse this season, but his acclimatization process has been slowed by an upper respiratory infection. He tells readers that his team is now on a mid-season rotation up to Camp 2 right now, but he was forced to return to Base Camp after developing a nasty cough. He's hoping to knock the illness out quickly and get back on track soon. With five weeks to go, he still has plenty of time to acclimatize ahead of an eventual summit bid.

Over on Shishapangma, Ueli Steck and David Göttler have now arrived in BC. They finished their trek to the mountain on Sunday and have spent the past couple of days getting settled and rested. The duo have traveled to the Himalaya to attempt a new route on this peak, which they hope to complete in a light and fast, alpine style ascent. They acclimatized in the Khumbu Valley before crossing the border into Tibet, and are now ready to start scouting the line that they intend to climb. It is likely that they'll spend a bit for time acclimatizing and watching the weather before they actually start their ascent.

Finally, the remaining teams on Annapurna are now gearing up for what looks like the next – and possibly final – summit bid of the season. Forecasts now indicate that the jet stream is now starting to move away from Nepal, and as a result winds are beginning to die down to a degree. It now appears that conditions could permit climbers to go for the summit this coming weekend or early next week, although the exact schedule is still in flux.

Time could be running out on Annapurna, where teams have been on the mountain for weeks already. The current strategy for this mountain – which is prone to avalanches – is to climb earlier in the season before it gets too warm there. We're approaching the point in the season when things will start to warm up, making it riskier to climb. With that in mind, most of the climbers are hoping to take advantage of the next weather window to nab the summit while they can. On top of that, a number of the alpinists are also planning on moving on to other peaks in the region, so they're eager to wrap-up their expeditions on Annapurna as well.

Things are really starting to ramp up now across the Himalaya. We're still several weeks away from summit attempts on Everest of course, but it is easy to see how things are unfolding at the moment. It's all about the acclimatization rotations and the weather right now, but things are proceeding about as well as expected at this point.

Himalaya Spring 2016: Ueli Steck and David Goettler on Their Way to Shishapangma

It has been a busy week in the Himalaya, where teams have been on the move all week in preparation for the season ahead. That includes some well known figures in the mountaineering world who are on their way to Shishapangma, and the first climbers reaching the North Side of Everest as well.

One of the expeditions that we'll be watching very closely this spring is the attempt by Ueli Steck and David Göttler on Shishapangma. The duo plan on making a fast and light, alpine style ascent of the 8046 meter (26.397 ft) peak along an entirely new route. As is usual with these two men, the climb will likely be ground breaking and interesting to watch unfold.

Ueli and David spent a couple of weeks acclimatizing in the Khumbu Valley of Nepal before returning to Kathmandu last weekend. From there, they flew to Lhasa in Tibet and started the trek to Shishapangma a couple of days ago. They've now spotted the mountain, but are still a few days from reaching BC, where they'll briefly rest before they start scouting their new route. Once fully acclimatized and ready to go, they'll start looking for a weather window to launch their summit bid.

With the Tibetan border now open, and Chinese officials issuing climbing permits, teams have now started crossing over from Nepal to make their way to their respective summits. The first teams have started to arrive in Base Camp on the North Side of Everest, where they are now getting settled. More climbers are expected in BC over the weekend as that side of the mountain starts to ramp up operations. Unlike on the South Side in Nepal, teams can drive to EBC, although it still takes a couple of days to get there as they try to acclimatize along the way.

Over on Annapurna, the remaining teams are watching the weather forecasts closely. High winds kept them from reaching the summit last weekend, but a weather window is expected to open in the next few days. That means that climbers could be on the move as early as this weekend. We'll keep an eye on how things shake out over the next few days.

That's all for now. More next week I'm sure.

Himalaya Spring 2016: Use of Helicopters Approved on Everest

With most of the climbing teams now in place in the Himalaya, the spring climbing season has started to resemble the traditional schedule we've come to know from years past. Acclimatization rotations have begun on Everest and Lhotse for instance, while elsewhere Base Camps are very busy with climbers getting settled and preparing for the challenges ahead. But the Nepali government has announced a major change in operations that could dramatically improve safety on the world's highest peak.

Climber and mountaineering blogger Alan Arnette is reporting today that government agencies in Nepal have approved the use of helicopters to shuttle gear up to Camp 1, bypassing the dangerous Khumbu Icefall altogether. Alan says that using the helicopters will eliminate the need to carry 87 loads from Base Camp to C1, thus preventing the need for porters to cross through the Icefall numerous times, which is where 16 lives were lost back in 2014 while shuttling equipment up the mountain.

Reportedly, the weather has been warmer than usual on Everest this spring, which has brought concerns about avalanches and collapsing ice in the Icefall. This move will help to reduce fears of too many people spending too much time on this dangerous section of the climb. As Alan reports, most foreign climbers pass through the Icefall an average of 6 times, while the Sherpas are far more exposed, often climbing up more than 18 times. For them, the decision to use helicopters is an important one and a matter of life and death.

Meanwhile, the first acclimatization rotations are proceeding on schedule, with Everest and Lhotse teams now spending time in both Camp 1 and Camp 2 as they allow their bodies to become accustomed to the thin air at altitude. Most will spend a night or two at those camps before dropping back to BC to rest and recover. Than, they'll start the process over again, possibly moving higher as the fixed ropes are installed.

Over on Annapurna, the remaining teams are now gearing up for a another potential summit bid. The weather is expected to start improving over the next few days, which means the climbers will likely be on the move once again. Those summit pushes could start as early as this weekend, with an eye on topping out early next week. The forecasts are still shaping up however, so any attempts on the summit could be pushed by a day or two.

More news to come.

Himalaya Spring 2016: Weather Window Slams Shut on Annapurna, No Summits

It was a tough weekend on Annapurna, where a number of teams had hoped to make a summit push amidst a narrow weather window. But that window proved to be shorter than expected and as a result no one managed to top out as planned.

On Friday, several climbers managed to reach Camp 4 at 7000 meters (22,965 ft) right on schedule.  After a brief rest in C4, they then set off for the summit that evening reaching as high as 7800 meters (25,590 ft) before high winds prevented them from going higher. This winds reportedly approached 60-70 km (37-43 mph), which is simply too strong and dangerous to allow anyone to press on to the top. All of the climbers turned back, and the majority of them have now safely returned to Base Camp while a few squads have rotated up to Camp 1 and 2 as they acclimatize.

According to Chris Jensen Burke, her team moved up to Camp 3 on this most recent summit push, but heavy snows at C2 slowed progress, and by the time they got to C3 it was becoming clear that the weather window was closing. Things were quiet at that point on the mountain, but higher up the winds were swirling dangerously. So, she and her group elected to abort their push and head back down.

Several teams are preparing to leave Annapurna today. Their resources and tie have run out, and now they must depart. But others remain, with Burke herself saying she has everything she needs to make one more attempt. That won't come until after April 22 though, as the weather forecasts now indicate that the high winds and snows will blow through than. After that, they hope to make another summit push. That would start late this week or next weekend.

Elsewhere in the Himalaya, teams are getting settled in their Base Camps and starting their acclimatization rotations. On the South Side of Everest and Lhotse, the first teams have now moved through the Khumbu Icefall and climbed up to Camp 1. On the North Side of Everest in Tibet, teams are just arriving and getting settled as well. Rope fixing is underway, but acclimatization efforts haven't fully launched just yet. That will change soon however as climbers go on the move.

That's it for today. More to come soon.

Video: The View From the Summit of Annapurna

As I write this, teams of climbers are preparing to go for the summit of Annapurna, the 10th highest mountain in the world, but one of the most challenging and deadly. Ever wondered what it would look like at the top? Take a look at this brief clip, which was shot last season. It'll give you a sense of what it is like to stand on the summit of this iconic mountain and take in the Himalaya as it spreads out below.

Himalaya Fall 2016: Everest Permit Denied to 12-Year Old

The age debate on Everest reared its ugly head again this week when 12-year old Tyler Armstrong of California was denied a permit to climb the mountain. Tyler had hoped to attempt the North Side of Everest in Tibet, but the Chinese government turned down his application that would have allowed him to try to become the youngest person to scale the world's highest peak.

China has recently imposed age limits on Everest, requiring mountaineers to be older than 18 and younger than 75 to attempt the climb. Tyler had hoped to get an exception to the rule based on his climbing experience. The young man has already summited Kilimanjaro, Aconcagua, Elbrus. Of course, none of them compares to Everest, which is thousands of feet higher than even Aconcagua, the highest mountain outside of the Himalaya.

Tyler continues to focus on bagging each of the Seven Summits however, and says that he'll travel to Australia in August to climb Kosciusko, shortest and easiest of those mountains. For now, he'll continue to bide his time and wait for an opportunity to attempt Everest. Whether or not that will happen before his 18th birthday remains to be seen, but considering the current climate there, he may have to wait a few years to get his chance.

Meanwhile, teams have been filing into Base Camp on the South Side of Everest all week long. Mountaineering blogger Alan Arnette arrived a few days back as he prepares to summit Lhotse, as did the Adventure Consultant who were joined by Ed Viesturs for a visit. The Altitude Junkies are also in BC and held their Puja Ceremony today in preparation for the start of the climb.

By most reports, BC is quiet so far this year. More teams are arriving, so I'm sure it'll start to pick-up a bit over the next week or so. But since the number of climbers is down over previous years, it'll probably remain somewhat sedate throughout the season.

Over on Annapurna, the ropes are fixed and the teams are in place for a weekend summit push. The weather looks like it'll hold off for another day or two, so the time is right for an early season attempt on the top. I'll be keeping a close eye on those attempts, and hopefully we'll have news of successful summits over the next few days.

Himalaya Spring 2016: Summit Push Begins on Annapurna

While teams of climbers continue to make their way to their base camps on Everest, Lhotse, and other 8000-meter peaks throughout the Himalaya, those on Annapurna are now preparing to make a summit push. The weather there remains a bit dicey at the moment, but high winds that have buffeted the upper slopes of the mountain should die down over the next few days, possibly granting access to the summit by this coming weekend.

According to a report from ExWeb the Sherpas charged with fixing ropes up the mountain will climb directly from BC to Camp 2 today to prepare for finishing the installation of the lines from C3 to the summit. They'll move just ahead of the main group of climbers, with the plan of finishing their work and reaching the top on Friday of this week.

Meanwhile, the other climbers will move from Base Camp up to Camp 1 today, then proceed from there based on the weather and how quickly the ropes can be installed. According to Australian climber Chris Jensen Burke, she and her teammates will reach C1 today on schedule, and move up one camp each successive day until they are in Camp 4 on Friday. They'll then rest briefly in C4 before setting out for the summit on Friday evening with the hope of topping out on Saturday morning, before descending back to Camp 2 on the same day. If all goes according to plan, they should be back in Base Camp by Sunday.

This weather window is a bit of a tight one. There are essentially two days open on the weekend for teams to summit. The weather is expected to clear on Friday, then heavy snow is in the forecast starting on Sunday. With such a narrow window, everything has to fall into place in order for the teams to have success, but the plan is sound and the climbers are doing everything they can to get themselves into place in order to take advantage of the calm weather that is expected at the end of the week.

We'll be keeping a close eye on the progress of the teams and the weather forecast of course. I'll share any updates on this early season summit bid as it comes in. Good luck to everyone who is moving up the mountain today.

Himalaya Spring 2016: Icefall Route Now Complete on Everest

It was a busy weekend in Nepal, where scores of climbers are continuing to make their way to various base camps throughout the Himalaya. Many of those alpinists are currently trekking in the Khumbu region, where they are slowly acclimatizing as they inch ever closer to Everest, Lhotse, and other high peaks. Soon, they'll reach their destination and the real work will begin as they get ready to finally start their climbs. 

Expect some of those teams to begin arriving in Everest Base Camp starting this week, where they'll find the route up to Camp 2 now prepared for them. It was revealed over the weekend that the Ice Doctors – the team of Sherpas tasked with building and maintaining the route through the Khumbu Icefall – have completed their preliminary work, fixing ropes and setting ladders from BC to C2. That means that early arrivals will able to start their acclimatization rotations within a matter of days. 

In addition to fixing the ropes up to Camp 2 we've also started to get a clearer picture of the season ahead on Everest. Last week we had a preliminary rundown of the number of teams that would be climbing the world's tallest peak this season, and the count was much lower than it has been in the past. But now, as the official start of the season draws closer, those numbers are climbing higher. According to recent reports 385 climbers will use the Khumbu Icefall route this year, with 72 of those dedicated to climbing Lhotse and 34 on Nuptse. That means that 279 climbers are scheduled for Everest itself. That's up considerably from what we first thought, but it is also still down from the traditionally higher numbers of climbers that visit Everest on an annual basis. 

Of those, about 40 percent of the climbers are returning from 2015, when the massive earthquake on April 25 put an abrupt halt to climbing operations. The Nepali government has ruled that permits issued last year would be extended for 2016 and 2017, and obviously a number of climbers are taking advantage of that opportunity. 

Meanwhile, over on Annapurna things remain at a standstill. The weather forecasts are unpredictable at this point, with high winds expected over the next few days. The teams there are waiting to make another acclimatization rotation, or possibly even a summit attempt. But for now they have to wait for conditions to improve. There first chance could come later this week, but it is unclear if the winds will drop enough to allow them to make a move towards the top.

Things are now lining up for the season to truly get underway. Stay tuned for more updates in the days ahead.