Showing posts with label Cho Oyu. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Cho Oyu. Show all posts

Himalaya Spring 2017: Kilian Jornet Reveals Plans, Sherpa Injured on the Everest

It has been a very busy couple of days since I last shared any updates from the Himalaya. The spring climbing season is proceeding pretty much according to plan, with teams now settled in their respective base camps across the region and now diligently working away at becoming acclimatized. This particularly true on Everest, where the squads are stretched out from BC to Camp 2, and everywhere in between. This is all part of the process of course, and later in the week I'll provide a more detailed update on where some of the bigger teams currently stand, but in the meantime we have some other news that is of particular interest.

I know a lot of people have been waiting to hear what Kilian Jornet is up to this spring. We know that he intends to go for a speed record on Everest, and that due to permit issues on the North Side he was forced to move his expedition up from late summer as he had originally planned. But other than that, we haven't heard a lot of details. Over the weekend, that changed some.

In an email sent out to members of the media yesterday, the Spanish mountain runner indicated that he would first travel to Cho Oyu with partner Emelie Forsberg where the pair will attempt a summit on that 8201 meter (26,906 ft) mountain. This will serve as acclimatization and training for Kilian, who now intends to head to the North Side of Everest in mid-May to attempt his speed record. The benefits of doing it from that side of the mountain being smaller crowds and a more direct route that doesn't include the Khumbu Icefall.

Jornet just left for Kathmandu yesterday after competing in one last race before setting out to the Himalaya. He and Forsberg will likely spend a few days in the Nepali capital before heading out to the mountains.

Meanwhile, The Himalayan Times is reporting that Sherpas working on the South Side of Everest have now fixed the ropes all the way up to the South Col. That means teams are now free to goal high as Camp 4 once their bodies are prepared to handle the altitude. It also means that everything is on schedule to complete rope fixing up to the summit ahead of the final push that will begin in a few weeks time.

The Times is also indicating the a Sherpa was injured in an avalanche on the South Side as well. Climbing guide Furba Rita Sherpa was struck by ice when a serac collapsed near Camp 1 as he and several other porters were making their way up to C2 to drop gear and supplies. He reportedly suffered a broken hand and multiple injuries to his head and wrists as well. Fortunately, others were there to immediately lend a hand and Furba was quickly evacuated back to Kathmandu for treatment. He is reportedly doing well and already recovering nicely. 

That's it for today. More detailed info to come once I've caught my breath from returning from Oregon. 

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: New Routes on Cho Oyu and Shishapangma

Not all of the action will take place on Everest this spring. While the tallest peak on the planet always takes center stage at this time of the year, there are plenty of expeditions to other mountains to keep our eyes on in the days ahead as well, including two attempts to open new routes on Cho You and Shishapangma.

ExWeb is reporting that the four man team of Louis Rousseau, Adam Bielecki, Rick Allen, and Felix Berg have announced that they will attempt a new line along the North Face of Cho Oyu. Their plan is to start at the base of the North Wall and climb directly up to a completely untouched section of the mountain. Much of this route is reportedly unexplored and the team isn't sure what to expect when they get there, other than that it will be extremely technical.

The 8201 meter (26,906 ft) mountain is the sixth highest mountain in the world and is often described as the "easiest" of the 8000-meter peaks. But this team will be attacking its most difficult section, as the big wall they hope to ascend is roughly 2000 meters (6561 ft) in height and requires excellent rock climbing skills to go along with the demands of high altitude mountaineering. They'll likely have to climb in alpine style and it could potentially be quite cold there. The North Face sees very little sunshine and even in the spring it can see temperatures well below freezing.

Meanwhile, Stefan Nestler has the scoop on another major expedition that has just left for the Himalaya. David Goettler is joining forces with Hervé Barmasse to attempt a new route along the South Face of Shishapangma in Tibet. Goettler attempted this same route last year with Ueli Steck, but the two were turned back in their attempt. This season, he is feeling much more confident about their chances.

The two climbers joined Steck in the Khumbu Valley for acclimatization training in February and will return to that region to tune up for the expedition again. They'll spend another two weeks there prior to crossing over to Tibet to begin the climb. They'll trek throughout the area and even warm up on Island Peak (6180 m/20,275 ft) before jumping across the border to begin.

Last year, Goettler and Steck were turned back on the 8027 meter (26,335 ft) Shishpangma due to bad weather. This year, the team is hoping for improved fortunes with better all around conditions. They should have already arrived in Kathmandu as I write this, and will be preparing to head out on their acclimatization treks soon.

Add both of these expeditions to your lists of ones to follow this spring. It is shaping up to be an interesting time in the Himalaya for sure.

Video: Base Jumper Sets New World Record by Leaping Off Cho Oyu

Standing 8188 meters (26,684 ft) in height, Cho Oyu is the 6th highest peak in the world, and a popular climbing destination during the fall season in the Himalaya. A few weeks back, climber/BASE jumper Valery Rozov went up the mountain in an attempt to fly off the summit. He didn't quite make it to the top, but he did manage to don his wingsuit and leap from 7700 meters (25,262 ft), setting a new world record in the process. You can learn about his expedition, and see his flight in the video below.

Himalaya Fall 2016: Climbers Make Controversial Speed Ascent of Cho Oyu

Amidst all of the other summits of the big mountains in Nepal this past week, there is one interesting story that has captured the attention of the mountaineering community and created a bit of a rift at the same time. This controversial expedition has caused some to reconsider how to train for their high altitude endeavors, while others find it to be unconventional enough to label it as "unfair means." Either way, it could be part of the future of climbing as others pick up on the approach.

Last Sunday, Adrian Ballinger – of Alpenglow Expeditions – and his partner Emily Harrington completed a successful summit of Cho Oyu, the sixth highest mountain on the planet at 8188 meters (26,884 ft). That in and of itself wasn't too unusual, as a number of teams topped out during a great summit window last weekend. But, Adrian and Emily did it just ten days after leaving their home in California, something that has been unheard of until now.

Typically on a big Himalayan peak it takes weeks to acclimatize to the altitude. Most climbers arrive in Kathmandu two months prior to their projected summit date. They then travel to their respective base camps, follow a set process for acclimatization by going up and down the mountain several times, and wait for good weather to make a summit bid after their bodies have acclimated to the thin air. That can sometimes take 4-6 weeks, depending on conditions and the climbing schedule.

But Adrian and Emily trained back home using altitude tents to simulate the conditions they would find on the mountain. These tents were able to create an environment that closely approximates the thin air of a big Himalayan peak, but it allows them to stay home, sleep in their own beds, and have the comforts that they are typically accustomed too. Meanwhile, a support team established a Base Camp for them on Cho Oyu, making it ready for their arrival.

Two weeks ago, Ballinger and Harrington left the U.S. to fly to Nepal and then traveled to Tibet to reach the mountain. By the time they reached BC, they were fit, acclimated, and pretty much ready to go. Once the weather window opened last week, they were able to safely climb to the top, taking two clients who had prepared in a similar fashion along with them.

This approach to acclimatizing at home and shortening the length of an expedition isn't new. In fact, it is something that Ballinger and Alpenglow have been working on for some time. The company's Everest expeditions are just a month in length thanks to this novel program, and now he has proven that he can shorten the time considerably on shorter peaks too. This allows clients to spend less time on a potentially dangerous mountain, while having to be away from home for fewer days too. That makes it vacation friendly as well. The downside? An Alpenglow expedition is considerably more expensive than the competition.

This new approach has rankled some in the mountaineering community in the past, but this new Cho Oyu speed ascent has many talking once again. For some, it is an innovative new way to climb in the Himalaya, while others feel like it is still a bit unproven and could be potentially risky. There are those who see it as a bit of "cheating" – for lack of a better word – as well. Those detractors tend to be old school climbers who often consider the use of bottled oxygen as a performance enhancing drug too.

Either way, this could be the future of mountaineering. Alpenglow will of course continue to pursue this novel training technique with the idea of attracting more clients who want to climb on the big peaks, but don't necessarily have two months to dedicate to that proposition. As Ballinger and his team continue to refine their methods, I'm sure more than a few other climbers and guides will be looking to employ similar techniques to aid their expeditions as well.

Himalaya Fall 2016: More Summits on Cho Oyu and Manaslu, a Double Summit, and Death on Shisha

As expected, there was a lot of news out of the Himalaya this past weekend, where good weather allowed a number of teams to summit their respective mountains. It now appears as if most of the commercial teams are winding down their activities, and it has been a very successful couple of days.

We'll start on Manaslu, where The Himalayan Times now reports that 150 climbers summited over a two day period. 100 of those topped out last Friday, while another 50 completed their climbs on Saturday. Amongst them were the Seven Summit Treks team, which has the largest squad on the mountain this autumn. No small feat considered there were 17 total teams there this year. By all accounts, it was a well scheduled and orderly ascent and descent, with most of the teams now back in Base Camp and preparing to head back to Kathmandu.

Over on Cho Oyu we already knew that the Adventure Consultants had topped out at the end of last week, and the IMG team wasn't far behind. They summited yesterday, putting another 19 climbers on top, and bringing the total close to 40 on the Tibetan side of the mountain. The Adventure Consultants are packed and heading out for KTM today, but the IMG squad will likely rest a bit in BC and begin heading for home later this week.

Speaking of Cho Oyu, one climber performed an impressive feat on that mountain this weekend. Australian Rolfe Oostra managed to summit last Friday, then return to the top again the following day, pulling off a rare double-summit of the 6th highest peak on the planet. An experienced mountain guide, Oostra first went up the peak with two of his staff members, then guided two clients up the following day. That is quite a display of strength and fortitude to say the least.

The news wasn't quite so good on Dhaulagiri. After a few days of radio silence, the Altitude Junkies checked in over the weekend to report that they had aborted their summit bid. The plan was to top out on October 1, but once they reached Camp 1 they discovered very deep snow along the route. In fact, it was roughly a meter (3 ft) deep in parts, making it very tough going. The team has now returned to BC and is discussing what to do next. With more snow in the forecast, the expedition could be over without an opportunity to summit. We'll learn more soon.

Finally, some sad news from Shishapangma, where the Times is reporting that a Sherpa named Pemba who was climbing with the RMI team was struck and killed by an avalanche. The accident took place just below Camp 3 on the mountain as the Sherpa team was moving up with gear and supplies. No one else was injured, and all are safely back in BC at the moment. Our condolences to Pemba's friends and family.

That's all for today. More news as it warranted.

Himalaya Fall 2016: Summits Cho Oyu and Manaslu, Himex Cancels Expedition

As expected, the end of the week has brought a flurry of activity to the Himalaya, where the fall climbing season continues to unfold at a busy pace. A few days back poor weather conditions had stalled out most summit attempts, but just a few days later a number of teams are now finding success, with more to follow suit soon.

We'll start with news from Manaslu, where The Himalayan Times reports that at least 60 people topped out today. Of those, 25 are said to be foreign climbers while the remaining 35 are Sherpas and guides. The Seven Summit Treks squad is one of the teams that is operating on that mountain at the moment, and their latest update indicates that more than 80 climbers from their group alone have topped out today amidst good weather. With more than 151 climbers issued permits for Manaslu this fall, others are sure to follow.

Sadly, the Himex team will not be amongst them. Expedition leader Russel Brice made the move to cancel the entire expedition two days back after the team was turned around between Camp 3 and 4 due to very deep snow along the route. With a narrow weather window only open today and tomorrow, he felt that it was too risky to go for the summit, especially since there were several avalanches taking place over the course of the past few days. The entire squad will depart for Kathmandu tomorrow.

Over on Cho Oyu the Adventure Consultants report a successful summit bid as well. Heavy snow on that mountain caused several teams to turn back from C3 yesterday, but three members of the AC team – including two Sherpas – waited in Camp 2, then went directly for the summit from there. They report absolute calm and quiet on top of the mountain, which has emboldened several other members of the group to make a second summit bid later today.

Other teams on Cho Oyu have been waiting out the weather. For instance, the IMG squad says that they "pumped the breaks" on a summit bid with their clients waiting at Camp 1. Reports of sketchy conditions between C2 and C3 have slowed progress for now, but with the news that things are improving, they'll likely be back on the move today as well. Look for more summits over the weekend.

It has been a few days since the Altitude Junkies posted any news from Dhaulagiri, but that might be a good thing. The last we heard, the weather was dicey but a summit window was expected to open at the end of the week, giving them safe access to the top. If all goes according to plan, the team should summit tomorrow. Look for an update after that.

That's all for now. More news soon.

Himalaya Fall 2016: Summit Pushes Begin, No Liaison Officers on Manaslu, Climber Missing After Avalanche

As the fall climbing season continues to unfold in the Himalaya, there isn't a lot of new news to report today, although what we do have is certainly interesting. As the weather improves, teams are about to go back on the move with summits in sight, while we also learn that the more things change in Nepal, the more they stay the same.

First off, now that the weather forecast has begun to improve teams on both Cho Oyu and Dhaulagiri are gearing up for their summit bids. Earlier today, the Adventure Consultants launched their push to the top of Cho Oyu and safely arrived at Camp 1 where they were enjoying a break and airing out their gear in preparation for heading to C2 tomorrow. Meanwhile, the Altitude Junkies – the only team on Dhaulagiri – has announced their schedule as well. The team will leave Base Camp for C1 tomorrow with an eye on topping out on Saturday, October 1 weather permitting.

Other teams are no doubt getting ready to do the same on Manaslu and Shishapangma too. I'll be keeping a close eye on their progress to see how things unfold.

Meanwhile, we have another story from The Himalayan Times that remind us once again just how inept the Nepali government truly is. As you may or may not know, all climbing expeditions that take place in that country are assigned a liaison officer with them that serves as a regulatory advisor and a communications conduit to the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation. This is a role that should be taken very seriously, as the "LO" is expected to play a part in organizing rescue operations and coordinating with medical and search and rescue staff back in Kathmandu. Unfortunately, in the past most LO's never bother to go to Base Camp with their expeditions, who are charged a fee that pays for his services.

Historically speaking, most expeditions to the big mountains never even see their liaison officer at all. This became a major issue on Everest in 2014 and 2015 when massive avalanches claimed the lives of 16 and 22 people respectively. The lack of LO's in BC made it more challenging to coordinate search and rescue operations, and helped to expose this problem, which had been a well-known secret in mountaineering circles for a very long time.

You would think that in the wake of those two disasters on Everest that things would change, but apparently that hasn't been the case. In the Times article linked to above, it is reported that none of the 18 liaison officers assigned to Manaslu this year have reported to Base Camp. Yep, that's right. There are currently 18 teams on the mountain with 151 clients and an additional 209 guides, porters, and BC staff. But there are zero liaison officers there.

It should be noted that each of those teams was charged $2000 to pay for an LO to be in camp, and yet they still aren't there. Nepal has a lot of work to do in terms of cleaning up its reputation and promoting mountaineering within its borders, but just getting its assigned staff to report for duty, and enforcing the regulations that it has set in place would be a good start. God forbid another accident would occur on Manaslu this year and there wouldn't be a single LO there to help lend a hand. Lets hope it doesn't come to that, and lets hope that the Ministry of Tourism gets its act together soon.

Finally, there is sad news from Himlung Himal, a 7126 meter (23,379 ft) mountain in western Nepal. Earlier today it was announced that a climber is missing following an avalanche on that peak. Mingmar Sherpa was working with a small team that is attempting to climb the mountain when he group was hit by a small, but powerful avalanche that caused minor injuries to the others, and left him missing.

At this time, Mingmar Sherpa's fate is unknown, but it is likely that he was knocked down the mountain and lost his life in the process. Search efforts are still underway however, with teams concentrating on the area between Camp 1 and 2, as that is were the expedition was when the avalanche hit. Hopefully this will have a happy ending, but it seldom does in these cases.

That's all for today. More soon.

Himalaya Fall 2016: Bad Weather Delays Summit Bids, Sad News From Manaslu

When last we checked in with the big commercial teams in the Himalaya this fall most were in the process of wrapping up their acclimatization efforts and had started planning their summit bids. Some were even expected to top out on their respective mountains by the end of last week. But as usual, mother nature had other plans, with bad weather hitting the region and delaying any attempts to reach summit on several of the big peaks. But, the forecast calls for improved conditions in the days ahead, and details are starting to emerge on a new schedule.

Over on Cho Oyu, the Adventure Consultants report heavy snow over the past few days. But yesterday, the storm finally broke, and it now appears that they will have five solid days of good weather ahead which should serve as summit window. No word on exactly when they'll depart Base Camp, but it would seem that the team is ready to go and may leave as early as today. That means they should reach the summit over the next few days provided the forecast is accurate and the weather holds. The entire squad is rested, acclimatized and ready to go.

On Manaslu, the teams have pretty much wrapped up their acclimatization rotations and are now preparing to summit as well. That includes the Seven Summits Trek squad and the contingent of Himex climbers too. Interestingly enough, it appears that the teams haven't finished fixing ropes to Camp 4 yet, and there is some dispute over how that process is being handled. Typically, the Himex team – which is amongst the most experienced on the mountain – takes the lead, but with Seven Summits becoming more prominent, their Sherpas have played a role too. Unfortunately, they apparently got lost in whiteout conditions last week and installed ropes to the wrong location – something that has annoyed Himex boss Russel Brice. You can read about that here. Otherwise, the teams seem to be well acclimated and ready to go once the weather improves.

There was some sad news from the Manaslu region last week when it was reported that a landslide claimed the lives of three Nepali citizens and a Spanish traveler trekking in that part of Nepal. Amongst the dead was Dorjee Lama Sherpa, who was a mountain guide that had summited Everest eight times. He also served last the president of the Nepal National Mountain Guide Association as well. My condolences to the friends and family of those who were killed.

The Altitude Junkies have checked in from Dhaulagiri, where they report mostly dry conditions. This has caused some problems of their own, including cracked and melting glaciers and challenges with fixing ropes. The team ordered six ladders to be delivered from Kathmandu, which will allow them to safely cross over large crevasses that have opened up along the route, but until those ladders are put into place, the team can't move forward with any summit plans. Hopefully that will happen soon.

Shishapangma is seeing its usual share of visitors this fall, and progress is being made there as well. High winds forced the RMI team to retreat back to BC a day early however, but otherwise everything is going about as smoothly as possible. No summit bids in sight at the moment though.

Finally,  Japanese climber Nobukazu Kuriki continues his solo Everest expedition, although there have been few updates. He has been acclimatizing as expected, but heavy snows on Everest are making things difficult. This is his sixth attempt at a solo summit in the fall. Hopefully things will go his way this year.

That's it for now. Expect more news later in the week once summit bids truly get underway. Both Cho Oyu and Manaslu should see teams on top in a few days time.

Himalaya Fall 2016: Manaslu the Most Popular Peak of the Season

The numbers are in for the fall climbing season in Nepal, and Manaslu is far and away the most popular peak in the country. Over the weekend, the Nepali Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation released some statistics for the number of permits issued to foreign climbers, and as usual those numbers share some interesting insights.

According to The Himalayan Times, Nepal has issued 277 climbing permits for the fall. Those permits are spread out over 19 different peaks within the country. Of those 277 climbers, 151 have are attempting Manaslu, the 8th highest mountain in the world at 8163 meters (26,781 ft). For some, it will be a testing ground before moving on to Everest in the future, while others are there to add an 8000-meter peak to their resume. In all, there are 16 teams heading to the mountain this fall.

Sherpa teams have finished installed the fixed ropes up to Camp 3 on Manaslu over the past few days, which means the teams on that mountain – including Seven Summit Treks and Himex – will be wrapping up their acclimatization efforts there soon and will begin thinking about summit bids. That could happen as early as next week. Traditionally, the summit push comes in the final week of September or early October, depending on weather conditions.

The Himalayan Times also reports that Amadablam, Saribung and the Putha Hiuchuli are some of the other peaks that have been issued permits this year as climbers look for other challenges in the region that aren't 8000-meters or taller in height. For instance, 39 climbers have obtained permits for Himlung Himal as well, a peak that is 7126 meters (23,379 ft) in height, and a good introduction to Himalayan climbing.

All told, it seems that Nepali officials are happy and impressed with the number of expeditions that have come to the region this year. In addition to the all of the climbers in Nepal, more than a dozen teams have also traveled to Tibet, most to take on Shishapangma or Cho Oyu. While Everest is seeing very little traffic – just a single climber at the moment – business is good elsewhere.

Speaking of Cho Oyu, the weather has been good over the past couple of days, allowing the Adventure Consultants to climb up to Camp 2 as they continue to acclimate as well. They will return to ABC tomorrow for a brief rest before starting another rotation later in the week. That's where the IMG is currently residing as they prepare to head back up the slopes as well.

Over on Dhaulagiri, the Altitude Junkies also report good weather, with nary a cloud in the sky. That made for warm conditions while scaling the glacier, but it allows them to climb up to Camp 2 over the weekend as well. Their Sherpa teams are hurriedly attempting to fix the ropes, while high altitude porters shuttle gear up to the higher camps. If everything goes as scheduled, and the weather continues to cooperate, they'll make their summit push between September 25-30, wrapping up the season on that mountain.

That's all for today. More news as it comes in. The season is proceeding along as expected, with few major issues so far. There are lot of expeditions that are just getting underway though, so there should be a lot to share int he days ahead.

Himalaya Fall 2016: Commercial Teams Planning Summit Attempts, Nobu Alone on Everest

With Kilian Jornet announcing his departure from Everest yesterday, I felt it was time to take a look around at the other expeditions currently going on in the Himalaya to check the status of their progress. In some cases, teams are already starting to look ahead to summit bids, which could come as early as late next week in some cases.

First off, now that Jornet has left Everest, Japanese climber Nobukazu Kuriki is the only one on that mountain this fall. He reports that he has now climbed up to 7000 meters (22,965 ft) and his acclimatization process is moving along about as well as can be expected. From the reports we've heard from the mountain, that won't be the challenge for him this year. Instead, it will be the deep snow that seems to be piling up on Tibet's North Side. Kilian mentioned the heavy snows as the main reason for his departure from the mountain, but for Nobu it is just another challenge to overcome as he attempts to climb solo, unsupported, and in alpine style without oxygen. For now, he'll just have to continue acclimating and waiting for his opportunity to push higher.

Alan Arnette is reporting that two climbers are taking an interesting approach to attempting a summit on Cho Oyu. Adrian Ballinger, who owns Alpenglow Expeditions, and his partner Emily Harrington are currently training in Tahoe, and are sleeping in altitude tents as they acclimatize as much as possible before they head to the Himalaya. Once they've wrapped up their preparation, they'll head to Tibet and try to climb the mountain in just two weeks total time. This holds true with the company's philosophy for climbing faster by preparing more ahead of time, which is used on other peaks too. A strategy that has come under fire from mountaineering purists from time to time.

Speaking of Cho Oyu, that continue to be a popular mountain this fall. There are currently no less than six commercial teams there, Base Camp has been a bit crowded this season. Most of those squads have now wrapped up their first round of rotations, with the next coming in a few days when they'll move up the slope to Camp 2.

On Manaslu, the Seven Summits Treks Team is proceeding on a quick schedule. The team is currently in the process of wrapping up its final acclimatization rotation after spending the night at C3. Sherpas from that team are working on fixing ropes to the top, and the large group of clients they brought with them are now preparing for a summit push. It has been rainy on the mountain, but there hasn't been a lot of snow. That bodes well for a potential weather window in another week or so.

Over on Dhaulagiri, the Altitude Junkies have started their acclimatization with a move up to Camp 1. They report several days of rain, but good weather moving into the picture now. Their Sherpa teams are now fixing ropes between C2 and C3, which they hope to wrap up in the next day or two. The team is feeling good, and are now eyeing a summit push on Sept. 25 or 26 depending on weather and wind conditions.

An RMI-led expedition reported to BC on Shishpangma a few days back, after driving to the mountain. They have already moved up to Camp 1, where they are finding conditions on the mountain to be quite good at this stage. It is early in the acclimatization process, but everything looks good so far.

As you can see, it is getting to be quite a busy season in the Himalaya. While not much is happening on Everest, there is a lot going on around the rest of the region. Of course, none of the big commercial teams are trying anything new this year, there are some smaller squads who will be pushing the envelope on some unclimbed peaks. We'll be keeping an eye on those expeditions moving forward too, and bring updates on the entire season as it unfolds. Stay tuned.

Himalaya Fall 2016: Kilian Jornet Updates His Progress on Everest

There is no doubt that the expedition that most people are following closely in the Himalaya this fall is Kilian Jornet's attempt to set a new speed record on Mt. Everest. The Spanish ultra-runner left his home for the North Side of the mountain a few weeks back, and while we know that he has been busy working on his acclimatization process in preparation for an eventual crack at the summit, there has been very little word on his progress. But late last week we finally got an update, and while it is brief, it does provide some insight into what is happening at the moment.

Last Thursday, Kilian posted the following message to his Summits of My Life Facebook page. It appears to be a screenshot of a text message sent by phone to his support team that is keeping all of us updated on his current progress. The message reads in Spanish: 
"Bones!! Info Everest: Estem sqguint amb l'aclimatacio. Esta tot molt carregat de neu, xo tot ok!"
Which roughly translates to:
"Good !! Everest Info: We are continuing with acclimatization. This all heavily loaded with snow, x all ok!" 
This small dispatch tells us quite a bit surprisingly enough. For instance, it reaffirms what we already knew that Kilian is proceeding with his acclimatization, which could potentially take another couple of weeks to complete. But, it also tells us a bit about the conditions on the mountain, as it sounds like there is quite a bit of snow there already this fall. That could have a dramatic impact on his eventual attempt at the speed record, although weather conditions can change rapidly, potentially clearing some of that snow out of his way.

While that isn't a lot to go on, it is about the only update we've had over the past couple of weeks, so it is nice to hear something. Hopefully we'll learn more about Kilian's progress and potential schedule soon.

Meanwhile, over on Cho Oyu the Adventure Consultants report that they held their puja ceremony today. This is a ritual during which a Buddhist Lama visits Base Camp and performs a ritual that not only asks permission from the mountain to allow the climbers to go up its slopes, but blesses those climbers and their gear to help keep them safe. Himalayan tradition states that the puja be performed prior to the start of actual climbing operations, so with this detail out of the way, the team will make its first foray up the slopes towards Camp 1 tomorrow.

The Altitude Junkies have checked in from Dhaulagiri, where they arrived in BC last Thursday. If everything has gone according to plan, they should have held their puja today as well, and will now begin fixing the ropes up the slopes. The most recent dispatch from the team says that they will be attempting a different route for that part of the climb due to the dry conditions there. Reportedly, the weather has been very good so far, with just light rain in the evenings. The AJ squad is the only one on the mountain so far, and they report that their BGAN Internet station is not working properly, so updates may be short and sporadic for the length of the expedition.

Finally, the Seven Summits Trek team departed Kathmandu and began their trek to BC on Manaslu yesterday. The expedition's dispatches indicate that the group of Sherpas charged with fixing ropes to the summit are already on the mountain, and should have the route set up to Camp 3 before the climbers arrive.

Himalaya Fall 2016: Season in Full Swing as Teams Move to Manaslu, Cho Oyu, and Lhotse

The fall climbing season in the Himalaya is now full steam ahead as teams continue to gather in Kathmandu and make their way out to their respective mountains. We have already discussed Kilian Jornet's speed record attempt on Everest multiple times and checked in with Japanese climber Nobukazu Kuriki a couple of times as well. Both of those men should now be in Base Camp on the North Side of the mountain, and have started their acclimatization process as well. But elsewhere in the region other teams are getting settled too, and now it appears that it should be quite an interesting few months in Nepal and Tibet.

On Lhotse, South Korean climber Sung-Taek Hong is back on the mountain for the fourth time in as many years, and his fifth attempt overall. He'll be having a go at Everest's neighbor in the coming weeks as he attempts to go solo and in alpine style to the summit. Last year he made four individual summit pushes, reaching as high as 8200 meters (26,902 ft) but couldn't top out due to poor weather and deep snow on the route. He's hoping to have more luck this year.

Meanwhile, the Base Camp on Cho Oyu is starting to get crowded as commercial teams have arrived there in the past few days. Most of the squads, which include the Adventure Consultants and IMG, are still getting settled as they begin to get acclimatized. Soon, they'll start their first rotations up the mountain as they start to get accustomed to the altitude.

Interestingly enough, climber/journalist Billi Bierling is on Cho Oyu this fall and she reports that the road leading to BC has been extended further into the region. So now, what was once a quiet and peaceful place, has trucks rolling through all night long, causing the setting in camp to be very different. It is likely something the climbers will get use to in time, but for now it is a bit different.

Another popular climbing destination this fall is Manaslu, where the commercial teams started to arrive more than a week ago. It is a very crowded Base Camp as Alan Arnette reports that the Seven Summits Treks squad is more than 130 people, while large western guide company Himex is also there as well. Alan says that the most successful year on the mountain came back in 2011, when there were 140 total summits. This year, one company nearly has that many clients alone.

Cho Oyu and Manaslu are both very popular warm-up climbs for Everest. They are both fairly straight forward climbs for an 8000 meter peak, and are considered good places to get experience before going higher. Some of the climbers that are on these two peaks right now will almost certainly return to the Himalaya in the spring to have a go at Everest too.

The Altitude Junkies are now en route to Dhaulagiri, where it appears they'll be the only team on the mountain this fall. Flight delays and logistical challenges have caused a bit of a later start, but all is good and everyone has started the acclimatization process while driving to BC. They should get there in another couple of days.

That's it for today. We'll have more updates as the teams continue to get settled and the climbing operations begin.

Men's Journal Gives Us a Three-Year Plan for Climbing Everest

For a lot of people, climbing Mt. Everest is the dream of a lifetime. But thinking about everything that goes into preparing and planning for such an expedition can be overwhelming. Fortunately, Men's Journal is here to help, giving us a three-year plan to making Everest not just a dream, but a reality.

MJ's article was actually written back in 2014, with the plan of reaching the summit of Everest in the spring of 2017. But, if you ignore the precise dates, and focus just on the plan itself, the schedule can remain the same. And fortunately for all of us, the training starts in May.

The first stage of the Everest prep plan is to start getting into shape. The article says that you should start getting ready by building a strong fitness base of cardio, strength, and balance. Over the course of the three year program, that will be the focus of getting your body ready for the challenges of the Himalaya.

Next up, you'll also need to start seeing how your body does at altitude, so the plan is to bag a 14er, or a fourteen-thousand foot peak. This will not only allow you to put your fitness gains to the test, it'll let you build leg strength and lung capacity. With its 53 different 14ers, Colorado is a natural destination to bag one of these mountains, but there are plenty of others around as well.

The rest of the plan includes pushing your physical boundaries even higher by attempting more challenging peaks (Mt. Rainier for instance) and adding altitude. The Men's Journal schedule recommends traveling to Ecuador to climb Cotopaxi to get a taste for altitudes above 19,000 feet, although Tanzania's Kilimanjaro will do too. From there, it's on to Denali in Alaska – described as a "mini-Everest" – before attempting an easier 8000-meter peak like Cho Oyu. After that, Everest will be in reach.

In terms of creating a strategy for getting yourself ready to climb the Big Hill, this is about as good of a plan as any. You could literally go from zero mountaineering experience, to Everest in just three years if you stick to the schedule closely. What it doesn't offer is advice on how to pay for it all. Mountaineering expeditions aren't cheap, and even travel to and from these locations can be pricey. For most of us, that would turn this three year plan into one that would probably take a decade or more to wrap up.

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. 

Summer Climbs 2015: 6 Summit Challenge Continues in Pakistan

Earlier this year I told you about Nick Cienski and his 6 Summits Challenge. At the time, Nick was just about to embark on a massive undertaking that would see him attempt to climb six different 8000-meter peaks in a single year. He had hoped to knock off Everest, Lhotse, and Makalu this spring, but unfortunately the Nepal earthquake put an end to those ambitions. Now, Nick has shifted gears some, and identified three other mountains that he will attempt instead. With that goal in mind, he is now ramping up for an ambitious summer in Pakistan.

Following the April 25 earthquake that devastated Nepal, Nick and his team went to work lending support and aid to the country. As with many other climbers, their efforts have helped to rebuild the country that still has a very long road to navigate before any sense of normalcy returns.

In July, Nick will travel to Pakistan to relaunch the 6 Summits Challenge. He will now focus on climbing Broad Peak (8051 meters/26,414 ft), and both Gasherbrum I (8080 meters/26,444 ft) and II (8035 meters/26,362 ft). Together, these three mountains are the 11th, 12th, and 13th highest mountains in the world, and will make for a significant undertaking in the weeks ahead.

This isn't Nick's first time climbing in the region. In fact, he has climbed on Broad Peak twice in the past, reaching the summit back in 1990. He is likely to find that things are a bit different on the mountain now, with more teams visiting on an annual basis. The two Gasherbrum peaks will be a new challenge for Cienski, although after acclimatizing on BP, he'll probably go for a traverse that links the two summits in one long climb.

Following his Pakistani climbs, Nick will travel to Tibet in the fall, where he'll than attempt to summit Shishapangma (8027 meters/26,335 ft) and Cho Oyu (8201 meters/26,906 ft). After that, the plan is to travel back to Nepal to complete the challenge by summiting Manaslu (8163 meters/26,781 ft). Those expeditions are expected to take place immediately after he wraps up the summer triple-header, beginning sometime in late-August.

One thing that hasn't changed with the 6 Summit Challenge is that Nick is using it to raise funds for his Mission 14 organization. This nonprofit is dedicated to stamping out human trafficking, which continues to be a major issue in just about every corner of the globe.

I said it before, and I'll say it again. Summiting six 8000-meter peaks in a single year is going to be tough. Now however, it'll be even more challenging as Nick needs to complete the climbs in a smaller window of opportunity. We'll soon see if he is up to the task. You can follow his progress on Facebook and Twitter as he pushes forward in the weeks ahead.

Himalaya Spring 2015: Puja Ceremonies and a Collapse in the Icefall

There as been another setback on Everest that is keeping the climbers in Base Camp today, despite the need to start their acclimatization rotations soon. Earlier in the week it was bad weather that prevented them from getting on the move, but now it is a collapse in the Khumbu Icefall that has delayed the start of the first rotations up the mountain.

Alan Arnette reports that more than 80 Sherpas were in the Icefall this morning as they continued their work to shuttle gear up to Camps 1 and 2. But the collapse of the ice along the route caused all of them to turn back. Apparently there was a traverse over a large crevasse that required four ladders to complete, and the entire thing came crumbling down. The Khumbu Ice Doctors will now have to search for an alternate route through the dangerous Icefall. Fortunately, no one was hurt in the collapse.

This is not uncommon, and is large part of why crossing through the Icefall is so dangerous. This portion of the mountain is incredibly unsteady, and the Ice Docs work all season long to keep the route safe and open. This sounds like it was a major collapse however, so it could take a day or two for them to find a new path. You may recall that this route was described as safer and shorter than the ones used in the past, and hopefully that won't change following this incident.

Alan also says that his team had its Puja ceremony a few days back. The Puja is an important step for any climbing expedition, as no one can start up the mountain until it is finished. During the Puja, a Buddhist monk brings the climbers and Sherpas together to ask permission from the mountain gods to safely pass up Everest, or what ever other mountain they are climbing. Traditionally, the monk will also bless their gear and ask the gods to keep the climbers safe. While it is taken very seriously by everyone, it is also a time to celebrate and have too.

With the Puja over, the teams are then ready to start the climb, but the unusually heavy snowfall continued on Everest over the past couple of days, preventing anyone from going higher than Base Camp. None of the commercial teams have passed through the Icefall as of yet, and no one other than the Sherpas have been up to Camp 1 or 2. Hopefully that will change shortly, as it is now time to begin acclimatizing for sure. In fact, some of the squads have actually gone off to other mountains to begin their acclimatization process. For instance, American climber Jim Davidson has moved over to Lobuche East where he'll go as high as 6118 meters (20,075 ft) on the summit. He hopes to wrap up that climb today, and head back to Everest BC.

Over on Annapurna, the teams continue to play the waiting game. The weather has remained bad there too, not allowing teams to make their summit pushes. Heavy snows have blanketed the upper slopes of the mountain in powder, making it extremely unsafe. Avalanches are common on Annapurna even in the best of conditions, but with so much snow falling on the mountain, breaking trail is incredibly difficult, and the risks of avalanche too high. For now, everyone must bide their time, and wait for things to improve.

ExWeb has posted a round-up of news from other 8000 meter peaks, and much of the news is the same. Poor weather continues across the Himalaya, including on Manaslu where Simone Moro and Tamara Lunger had hoped to make a spring attempt after their winter climb was thwarted. According to reports, the duo returned to the mountain in early April only to discover that more snow had fallen in their absence and they couldn't even locate their cached gear under all of the powder. They elected to pull the plug on the expedition altogether, and have now returned home.

The same story is being reported on Shishapangma, Cho Oyu, and Dhaulagiri, where ExWeb says a team of trekkers ran into serious trouble a few days back. Heavy snows caught the unprepared team off guard, and they were forced to take shelter in Base Camp where a climbing team offered them assistance. Apparently, whiteout conditions continue there now, making it very difficult for anyone to go anywhere.

Finally, tomorrow marks the one year anniversary since the massive avalanche claimed the lives of 16 porters on Everest. I'm sure it will be a solemn occasion on the mountain as the Sherpas and western climbers all think about that day. Many of the people on the mountain this spring were there last year too, so I expect there will be some memorial services and ceremonies held. I have no doubt that those who lost their lives will be on the minds of the climbers the next few days.

Climber to Attempt Six 8000 Meters Peaks in a Single Year

We've seen climbers set ambitious goals for the Himalaya before, but Canadian Nick Cienski has set the bar high for 2015. Nick is preparing to launch the 6 Summit Challenge, during which he will attempt to summit six 8000-meter peaks in a single year, a feat that has never been accomplished before.

The challenge will begin in Nepal this spring, where Nick will first attempt to summit Lhotse, the 8516 meter (27,940 ft) neighbor to Mt. Everest. His current plan to top out on that mountain in early May, then descend to Camp 2 where he'll rest before going back up to attempt to summit Everest (8848 m/29,029 ft) sometime around mid-May. After that, he'll descend once again, take a brief rest, and then fly to Base Camp on Makalu (8481 m/27,825 ft) where he'll go for his third 8000-meter peak in as many weeks.

With those three mountains out of the way, and with the summer Monsoon arriving in the Himalaya, Nick will take a much deserved break before returning in the fall for his second set of mountains. He'll use a similar approach as in the spring, first attempting Cho Oyu (8201 m/26,906 ft) before moving on to Shishapangma (8013 m/26,289 ft) and Manaslu (8156 m/26,759 ft). The exact timeline for those climbs hasn't been set just yet, but they should all take place during the stable weather conditions that return to the Himalaya post-Monsoon in the autumn.

Nick is undertaking the 6 Summit Challenge in an effort to raise funds and awareness of Mission 14, a nonprofit dedicated to battling human trafficking around the globe. The 6 Summit Challenge will be used as way to draw attention to this troubling practice, and to help Mission 14 and its partners to work to stamp out the illegal trade of human beings that is all too common in certain parts of the world.

As you can imagine, climbing three 8000-meter peaks back-to-back-to-back in the spring and the fall will be a logistical challenge unlike any other. During both of those time frames there will be three independent teams working on each mountain. Those teams will establish each of the camps, fix the ropes to the summit, and prepare for Nick's climbs. Meanwhile, he'll first focus on acclimatizing on one of those peaks before he launches his summit bids. He will be climbing with bottled oxygen above 8000 meters on each of these mountains, and the logistical support for the expeditions is being handled by the very experienced team from Himalayan Experience.

With the spring climbing season in the Himalaya just a few weeks away at this point, Nick is just one of many climbers getting ready to depart for Nepal. By the first of April, Kathmandu will be crawling with new arrivals as the new season begins to get underway. I'll be keeping a close eye on his progress, and posting regular updates as the season unfolds. Stay tuned for what promises to be a very interesting couple of months once again.

Himalaya Fall 2014: Progress on Lhotse and Makalu

The fall climbing season in the Himalaya is starting to draw to a close. Most of the commercial teams have wrapped up operations for the year, and have now started for home. It has been a successful autumn on Cho Oyu and Manaslu, while Shishapangma has shut out all attempts thus far. But there are still a few teams still in the mountains, and they are continuing to make progress on their intended routes.

We'll start today with the Korean squad that is attempting the South Face of Lhotse. The team has faced poor weather almost from the time they touched down in Kathmandu, but they continue to press ahead with their efforts none the less. Progress has been slow this season, but they are making the best of the situation. According to their most recent dispatch, they have now established Camp 2 at 6800 meters (22,309 ft), and they are working on constructing Camp 3 at 7500 meters (24,606 ft), although that has been a real struggle so far. The team is said to be in good spirits however, and the forecast is for improved conditions in the future. Hopefully this will allow them to push towards the summit in the days ahead.

Meanwhile, over on Makalu, the British tri-service team is back in BC for a much needed rest. They've been working the route along the Southeast Ridge for several weeks now, and have Camp 2 firmly in place at 6700 meters (21,981 ft). The squad spend several days there earlier in the week, and have now descended to recuperate and gain their strength. The plan is to begin shuttling more gear up the mountain over the next few days, and they are now eyeing a summit bid sometime after October 15.

Yesterday, a helicopter delivered some fresh supplies, including a new generator. Their previous model had been giving them problems, so they requested another one. This should provide the power they need to post dispatches more regularly.

The Madison Mountaineering team is also on Makalu, and have been making good progress since they switched routes over to the Northwest Ridge. Earlier in the week, they established C2 on that side of the mountain at 6464 meters (21,210 ft). According to their most recent dispatch, the weather has been good over the past few days. They expected to go up to Camp 3 yesterday, and then descend back to BC tomorrow for a rest. After that, they'll be looking for a good weather window to go for the summit as well.

Chris Jensen Burke has wrapped up her Cho Oyu expedition with a successful summit last weekend. She's now on her way home, but has started to post her thoughts on the climb. You can read the first part of her recap by clicking here. As usual, she provides good insights into what it is like to climb an 8000-meter peak, sharing her own personal experiences quite nicely. Definitely a good read for those who want to know more about these big peaks.

Finally, Bo Belvedere Christensen is pulled the plug on his attempt of Shishapangma. He had hoped to bag a second 8000-meter peak this fall, after successfully summiting Cho Oyu last week. But, as we've heard from a number of teams throughout the course of the season, the snow on Shisha is incredibly deep this year, and it has created unstable conditions, ripe for avalanches, near the summit. He'll now return home as well.

That's all for now. I'll continue to post updates as they are warranted.

Himalaya Fall 2014: More Summits on Cho Oyu, Ueli Talks Shishapangma Tragedy

The fall climbing season in the Himalaya is starting to wind down now, with just a few major expeditions still taking place. Over the weekend, there were more successful summits on Cho Oyu, and while those climbers struggled against high winds, back in Kathmandu, Ueli Steck talked about the tragedy on Shishapangma two weeks back that claimed two lives.

We'll start on Cho Oyu, where Chris Jensen Burke has claimed another 8000 meter peak, expanding her already impressive resume even further. She reports that topped out on Saturday of this week, along with her always-present Sherpa guide Lakpa, at 8:45 AM, and was joined at the top by a few other teammates a short time later. While details of the ascent remain sketchy at this time, Chris did indicate that they set out for the summit late that morning due to high winds, and they continued to battle sustained 50km (31 mph) gusts all the way up. She described it as the hardest climb she has made so far, and mentioned that she wore more clothes than ever before in order to stay warm. The Aussie climber promises more details of the climb soon, and should be resting back in BC now.

Meanwhile, Germany mountaineering reporter Stefan Nestler has posted an interview with Ueli Steck in which the Swiss climber talks about the avalanche that took place on Shishapangma two weeks back that claimed the lives of Italian climber Andrea Zambaldi, as well as German Sebastian Haag. Ueli described the scene as "eerie" saying that he and Benedikt Bohm were climbing a bit ahead of their teammates, as well as a third climber by the name Martin Maier. Steck said that a large ice slab simply gave way on the mountain, sweeping over Zambaldi, Haag, and Maier, almost without making any sound at all. The entire incident happened fast, and without warning, catching all five of the men off guard.

Ueli says that he and Bohm immediately tried to assist their friends, but the danger was too great. Climbing out to the area where they had fallen would have create an even greater chance of more avalanches, and although they searched for signs of their friends, they were forced to descend back to Camp 3. He also indicated that Maier was able to dig himself out of the avalanche and descend later as well, with just minimal injuries.

Steck is also quick to defend the Double8 expedition, as the team was known. The original plan was for Bohm, Haag, and Zambaldi to climb both Shishapangma and Cho Oyu, while traveling between the two peaks on mountain bikes. Steck described the idea as "an attractive, inspiring project" that wasn't taking undue risks. They just happened to get caught in the wrong place at the wrong time, and as a result, two of the team members lost their lives. The Swiss climber says that it could have easily been him caught in that avalanche, and it was just pure luck that he and Bohm were able to avoid it.

Elsewhere, the British Tri-Service team continues to acclimatize and get ready for their attempt along the tough Southeast Ridge of Makalu. They have now firmly established Camp 2 at 6800 meters (22,309 ft) and hope to install Camp 3 at 7200 meters (23,662 ft) later this week. They report that knee-deep snow on the mountain is making it difficult to progress, and a recent electrical storm put a scare into the squad, but otherwise things are progressing as expected so far.

That's all from the High Himalaya today. More news as it is warranted.