Showing posts with label Makalu. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Makalu. Show all posts

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: Meet Denis Urubko – One of the Strongest Mountaineers of All Time

If you've been reading this blog for any length of time, you've probably seen me mention alpinist Denis Urubko on more than one occasions. That's because I'm often covering is unique – and usually very difficult – expeditions to some of the world's toughest peaks. Denis has climbed all 14 of the 8000-meter mountains, each without supplemental oxygen. He has made winter ascents on Makalu and Gasherbrum II, and has been planning some alternate expeditions on K2 as well. In short, he is one of the top mountaineers of all time, and yet he is also off the radar for many people who follow the high altitude climbing scene.

In the two videos we get to know Denis much better. He shares his own personal story. What it was like for him growing up in Russia, how he got started in climbing, and what drives him to push new boundaries in the mountains. The two clips help us to get to know him better, and learn what spurs him on to continually return to the high places of our planet to try new things. If you are intrigued by the men and women who go on these demanding expeditions, I think you'll find his story a fascinating one.

Tip of the hat to Adventure Journal for sharing these videos. They are excellent.

How Ski Mountaineer Kit Deslauriers Came to Support the Himalayan Stove Project

Last fall, ski mountaineer Kit Deslauriers was in Nepal to climb the 8485-meter (27,838 feet) Makalu when she became ill with High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE). Seeking some relief, she descended to Yangri Kharka, a village located at 3657 meters (12,000 feet). While there, a local family took her into their home, allowing her to recover before returning to the mountain. While there, the family shared their food, making several meals a day inside their cramped house. While watching them in the kitchen, Kit noticed that dangerous levels of smoke were created, choking the small space with unhealthy fumes. That left her wondering what could be done to combat this serious issue. 

Recently, Deslauriers shared the details of her story at The North Face Never Stop Exploring blog. In that article she talks about the generosity of the family she came to know so well in Nepal, and how their daily exposure to dangerous smoke moved her to seek an alternate method for preparing their meals. This led her to the Himalayan Stove Project, a nonprofit organization that has been working to achieve that same goal for a number of years now.

As Kit points out in her story, a new clean cook stove and chimney, delivered and installed, costs just $150. In the greater scheme of things, that isn't a lot of money, and she has personally pledged to pay that amount for the five homes in Yangri Kharka that she interacted with directly. She is also calling on friends, fans, and others to help fund the HSP to install 135 more stoves in the Makalu Valley, bringing safe and clean cooking to all of the homes in that region. 

The Himalayan Stove Project is an organization I've written about several times here on The Adventure Blog. That's because I think it is an important foundation that is doing important things for the people of Nepal. The HSP has a proven track record of success in that country, and it is great to see such a high profile athlete as Kit Deslauriers getting behind their efforts. 

Himalaya Spring 2016: Next Round of Summits Ready on Everest South Side, North Side Waits

After six straight days of summits from the South Side of Everest, high winds prevented anyone from going to the top yesterday. But now, those winds have quieted once again, and it looks like things could be very busy over the next few days once again. In fact, it is now believed that more than 200 climbers from the commercial teams, along with 250 Sherpas, are now expected to go to the summit over the next few days from the South Side alone. That will be in addition to the 88 climbers who have already topped out this season.

If things stay on course, and there are no major issues over the next few days, 2016 is shaping up to be one of the most successful seasons in recent memory. Things seem to be running like clockwork on the Nepali side of the mountain, with no major traffic jams or other issues reported. There does continue to be instability in the Khumbu Icefall, where Alan Arnette reports another collapse occurred yesterday, but the Icefall Doctors seem to be on top of those issues, and are fixing them quickly. But other than that, things are proceeding about as smoothly as possible.

Meanwhile, on the North Side of Everest in Tibet, there have been no summits as of yet. The rope fixing team has not completed the route to the top, and as a result the teams are in a holding pattern. Some have gone up to the higher camps in anticipation of the route being completed today or tomorrow, and as the weather improves there should be a dash to the summit from the North as well. We'll just have to wait to see when that will happen, but with the arrival of the monsoon already looming, the best weather window will probably occur over the next four or five days.

Over on Manaslu, after completing a successful summit last week along the standard route, ExWeb is reporting that Peter Hámor and Horia Colibasanu have moved to the North Side of the mountain to begin work on an entirely new route. On Makalu, a weather window seems to be opening for the end of the week, with possible summits on Friday, while the teams on Dhaulagiri high winds are keeping teams in place in Camp 3 as they prepare to go for the summit on that mountain as well.

Finally, yesterday Ueli Steck and David Göttler came up just short on Shishapangma. According to their dispatch today they reached 7800 meters (25,590 ft) but were forced back by the winds too. The descent was a bit harrowing thanks to thick fog, but they made it back to BC where they are resting and preparing for another go. To put things in perspective, their round trip was just 21 hours, so you know that these two are looking forward to having another go at the mountain.

Stay tuned for more soon.

Himalaya Spring 2016: Rescue and Summits on Everest, Deaths on Makalu, and Turned Back on Shishapangma

There is lots of news to report from the Himalaya today, where the season is unfolding at a rapid clip. The end isn't quite in sight just yet, but the stage is certainly being set, with summit bids underway throughout the region and weather forecasts predicting good opportunities to come. But there is still a lot of work to do before we're through, and the hard work is yet to come.

Our first story from the Himalaya today is an update on the two Slovak climbers who were stranded above Camp 2. Vladimír Štrba and Zoltán Pál were caught in an avalanche yesterday, with Pál suffering an injury to his eye that prevented them from being able to descend safely. Yesterday we reported that rescue operations were underway, but a team of Sherpas that had been sent to lend aid were stalled out in C2, while evac helicopters failed to be able to reach the two men either. But today we get good news that both men have been rescued, as a team of four Sherpas – Mingma Gabu, Lakpa Thinduk, Ngima Dorchi and Nima Wangdi – reached them earlier today and helped them to safely descend.

Details of what exactly happened are still coming out, but it seems that the two Slovak climbers were hit by an avalanche at 7200 meters (23,622 ft) on the Southwest Face. The two men reportedly clung to a safety screw and a couple of carabiners for several hours before they were able to get themselves to safety. Now, they are headed back to BC to recover.

In other news from Everest, rope fixing efforts are now complete on the South Side of the mountain, with 11 Sherpas from various teams reaching the summit earlier today. Those are the first summits on the mountain in the past two years, an unprecedented streak for the world's highest peak. This now clears the way for the commercial teams to follow, with the first squads hoping to top out tomorrow or Friday. Meanwhile, back in Base Camp, other teams are now preparing to set out for the summit as well, with the weather dictating when they'll be able to move up.

The good news of the rescue on Everest was tempered reports of two Sherpa guides perishing on Makalu, apparently of altitude sickness. Da Tenji Sherpa and Lakpa Wangel Sherpa died in Camp 2 on that mountain after both complained of symptoms of HACE and HAPE. They were part of an 11-person Amical Alpin team. According to The Himalayan Times, the two men join two other Sherpas who have died of altitude sickness on Shishapangma, as well as two foreign trekkers in the Khumbu region near Everest.

In other news, Ueli Steck and David Göttler have returned to Base Camp on Shishapangma after being turned back due to poor weather conditions. Forecasts had called for a good weather window, but conditions changed quickly, forcing them back down. The two men are attempting a new route on the mountain, and say that they are far from done yet. They'll rest in BC and wait for better weather before attempting the summit once again.

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: Notable Climbs for the Season Ahead

The 2016 climbing season in the Himalaya is inching ever closer, and by the end of the month scores of mountaineers will begin descending on Kathmandu in anticipation to the start of their expeditions. Many of those climbers will be headed to Everest of course, while others will visit Annapurna, Shishapangma, Makalu, and a variety of other peaks. Most of those climbs will be along well established routes on those mountains, but some will be attempting unique ascents that could be groundbreaking. Here's a rundown of some of the more notable attempts for the season ahead.

One of the more interesting expeditions to keep an eye on this spring will be Ueli Steck and David Göttler's attempt of a new route on Shishapangma. According to ExWeb, they'll be trying a new direct route that Ueli spotted while in Nepal last year. They'll set off at the end of the month.

ExWeb is also reporting that Slovakian climber Peter Hamor, along with Horia Colibasanu, will be attempting an alpine style ascent of Manaslu along a new route after they've finished acclimatizing along the traditional route.

Yesterday on Facebook, popular Everest blogger and accomplished climber Alan Arnette announced that he'll be returning to Lhotse again this spring. Alan's climb on that mountain was cut short last year when the earthquake struck Nepal on April 25. As usual, he'll be climbing in support of the Cure Alzheimer's Fund.

Kilian Jornet is going back to Everest this spring to have another go at the speed record. He'll be climbing from the North Side, and will most likely make a late season attempt, letting all of the traffic get out of the way. Adrian Ballinger and Cory Richards will also be on that side of the mountain, with the hopes of potentially making a ski descent as well.

My friend Don Mann will be attempting to summit Everest from the South Side this spring. He'll be climbing to help several charities that support U.S. Navy SEALs and their families, as well as raise awareness of veterans. You can follow his climb with daily updates on Don will leave for Kathmandu in two weeks.

It looks like a number of climbers are already en route to Annapurna to attempt an early season summit on that mountain. This helps to lessen the threat of avalanches on that peak, which is notorious for such problems. The strategy worked well last year, with 13 people reaching the top early in April, more than a month ahead of the schedule for summits on Everest. This year, Carlos Soria, Chris Jensen Burke, Alex Gavan, and Tunç Findik all hope to take advantage of this approach and top out on Annapurna. Soria and Jensen Burke are already in Base Camp on the mountain, while others are still trekking there now. And after he is done here, Carlos plans to head to Dhaulagiri next.

Other interesting climbs include teams returning to Makalu after being shutdown due to the earthquake last year, as well as Spanish climber Juanito Oiarzabel attempting Dhaulagiri. As ExWeb indicates, he became the 6th person to climb all 14 8000-meter peaks back in 1999, but now he's hoping to do them all again. We'll be watching that expedition closely.

This is just a taste of what is to come. Stay tuned for more as we learn about other expeditions taking place in the Himalaya this spring.

Outside's Top 10 Adventures of 2015

Our end of the year review and wrap-up continues today, this time with a list from Outside magazine of the 10 most badass adventures of 2015. As you can tell from the title, the list is made up of some of the most daring and audacious expeditions from the past 12 months, some of which you may have forgotten about, or slipped under your radar altogether.

The first entry should come as no surprise to anyone. It is Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson's ascent of the Dawn Wall, which tops my list of the best adventures of 2015 for a number of reasons. First and foremost, it was an incredible climb up one of the hardest routes on the planet, but going beyond that it also managed to captivate an audience that went well beyond the normal climbing crowd. It will be difficult for anyone to match this climb in 2016, or for years to come.

Other expeditions that got the nod from Outside include an attempt at the first ski descent of Makalu, Lonnie Dupre's solo summit of Denali in January, and Will Gadd's climb of the frozen Niagara Falls, which was also a first.

I won't spoil the entire list, as obviously part of the fun is finding out what Outside deemed worthy of sharing, as well as being reminded of the interesting adventures from the year that has passed. But it is safe to say however, that each of the entries in the article are certainly deserving of the "badass" label, and will inspire you to think about some of your own adventures for 2016.

Start the slideshow by clicking here.

Himalaya Fall 2015: The Season is Far From Over

Contrary to popular belief, the fall climbing season in Nepal is far from over, despite the fact that most of the commercial teams have picked up and left for home, and summit bids on Everest, Dhaulagiri, Makalu, and Annapurna have been cancelled. There are still several teams that are gearing up for their climbs, and even though the weather continues to be a challenge, there is optimism throughout the region.

One of the climbs that we have been following in recent days is the attempt by Ueli Steck and Colin Hayley to climb Nuptse along the Babanov Route on Nuptse. That climb hasn't been repeated since it was first opened back in 2003, and Ueli and Colin hope to do it in Alpine style. But so far they've only been able to acclimatize a bit, and not work the route at all. Colin has battled illness, while Ueli has kept himself busy scaling Cholatse three times in recent days. But, it seems the boys are now ready to go, provided the weather cooperates.

Ueli has told German adventure sports writer Stefan Nestler that Colin is now healthy and acclimatized to the altitude. He also says that the wall that they will climb on Nuptse had been dry and accessible up until last week, but now precipitation has brought snow and ice to the mountain. Conditions are now unstable, but they will be patient and wait for an opportunity to go up.

When asked about conditions in the Khumbu Valley following the April 25 earthquake, Ueli says that the region is completely rebuilt, safe, and ready for visitors. In fact, he says there are very few signs that the earthquake even occurred, although it remains very quiet there right now.

Meanwhile, another climbing team is now starting to ramp up its efforts. Luke Smithwick from Himalaya Alpine Guides has checked in from Kathmandu where his squad is departing today for Saldim Ri, an unclimbed peak that stands 6343 meters (20,810 ft) in height. He and Brian Beatty will fly out to Tumlingtar today, and begin the trek to Base Camp. He says the forecast calls for plenty of snow over the next ten days, but they will use that time to establish camp, begin acclimatizing, and plotting their route.

Finally, the South Korean team on Lhotse continues to wait for their opportunity. Poor weather has kept them from climbing thus far, but there is hope that things will improve. For now though, they sit and wait, and do the best they can to prepare.

It should also be noted that Polar explorer and mountaineer Lonnie Dupre is also in the Khumbu Valley at the moment. He and his team aren't there just to climb mountains, although they may bag a peak or two along the way. Lonnie is leading a group of volunteers who have come to the area to help with the rebuilding process, and so far they have been making their way through a series of remote villages, lending assistance where they can. They've passed through Namche Bazaar and Gokyo for instance, and have been trekking in the shadow of Tenzing Peak in recent days. You can find out more about their efforts here.

That's it for today. I'll continue to keep an eye on things as the season progresses. Hopefully these three expeditions will get the chance to start climbing soon.

Himalaya Fall 2015: More Summits on Manaslu, Progress on Everest, and Makalu Ski Expedition Ends

There was lots of news from the Himalaya this weekend where the climbing season continues to unfold. It is October now, so most of the major commercial teams will be wrapping up operations, but the good climbing opportunities should continue to exist for another month or so. But for the most part we should start to see most of the groups start heading for home.

A week ago it seemed that things were looking grim on Manaslu. That was where the bulk of the climbers had convened this fall, and after three major commercial squads (Himex, Adventure Consultants, and Altitude Junkies) left the mountain, it appeared that there might not be any successful summits. But last week the climbers finally broke saw some good weather and improved conditions, and as a result ExWeb now reports that there have been more than 80 people who have reached the top between September 30 and October 2. Than means that thanks to a little patience and perseverance, the bulk of the Manaslu expeditions were successful this fall.

There was a bit of sad news on the mountain however. According to reports, a member of the Summit Climb team died in Camp 4 last Thursday. The diseased as been identified as Zoltan Benedek of Australia, who apparently took ill after descending from the summit. Benedek's climbing partner also had to be helped down from C4 to C3 before being flown off the mountain. Apparently, both men were climbing without support above Base Camp.

Over on Makalu, the Alpenglow Expeditions climb and ski squad has officially pulled the plug on their attempt on the mountain. The talented group of athletes had hoped to become the first to make a full ski descent of the mountain, but unstable conditions high on the slopes prevented them from topping out last week. Now, they're all off the mountain safely and preparing to head home.

The team did have one very scary moment while on their summit push. While up above 8000 meters (26,246 ft) one of their guides – Mingma Chhiring Sherpa – was caught in an avalanche and fell quite a distance. Luckily he didn't suffer any major injuries and was ultimately okay, but that was the fifth avalanche the team encountered, which convinced them it was time to go home.

Over on Everest there hasn't been much word from Japanese climber Nobukazu Kuriki over the past few days, although his website has been updated with the word that he reached Camp 3 on Saturday, and spent the day there yesterday while acclimatizing. That means he should move up to C4 today, which would put him in position to potentially summit tomorrow or Wednesday depending on conditions. His last proposed plan indicated that he might try to break trail above Camp 4, than return to that point for a rest, before setting off for the summit. Either way, we should know the result of his efforts within the next few days.

Finally, Ueli Steck is fully acclimatized and ready to climb on Nuptse, but unfortunately his climbing partner Colin Haley is having a more difficult time of it. Haley apparently got sick, so he made the decision to descend down to Deboche in the Khumbu Valley. Hopefully this will allow him to rest and regain his strength before heading back to Nuptse Base Camp so that the expedition can truly get underway.

That's it for now. I'll keep an eye on Everest over the next few days. Hopefully we'll have good news there soon.

Himalaya Fall 2015: Summits on Manaslu, Kuriki Launches Second Summit Push on Everest

It has been a tough fall season in the Himalaya so far. Poor weather has stymied numerous climbs, and even sent a number of commercial teams home without success. But we finally have our first summits of the season, as teams topped out on Manaslu yesterday, with potentially more reach the top today.

According to ExWeb, 15 climbers from the Seven Summits Treks team were successful in their bid on Manaslu yesterday. The group got up and down, and were safely back to Camp 4 when they shared the news. The squad consisted of 9 clients from France, Italy, Bulgaria, China, Peru, Australia, and Ecuador, as well as 6 Sherpa guides. They should be descending back to Base Camp today. Congratulations to the everyone!

Hoping to repeat that success today, the Summit Climb team set off this morning amidst good weather and trail conditions as well. With any luck, we'll have a successful update from them later today as well.

The Alpenglow Expeditions team that had been hoping to summit Makalu and make the first full ski descent of that mountain was turned back on their final push yesterday. They reportedly climbed above 8000 meters (26,246 ft), but found unsafe snow conditions and regular avalanches, so decided to pull the plug. Team leader Adrian Ballinger wrote the following on Twitter:
"Push is over and no summit reached. We did ski from a new high point. And everyone safe after some very real avys above 8k. #skimakalu2015"
It is unclear if the team will descend and rest for another attempt, or if they'll decide to go home instead. They may be weighing their options and the moment, and haven't quite decided themselves.

Japanese solo climber Nobukazu Kuriki is expected to set out on a second summit push on Everest today. After being turned back last weekend, Kuriki returned to Base Camp earlier in the week where he rested, regained his strength, and prepared for another go at the mountain. If he proceeds according to plan, he could be in a position to go for the summit as early as this weekend. We'll just have to wait to see if his luck is better this time around, and hope that the current weather conditions hold.

Finally, Ueli Steck has checked in from Nuptse where he says that he has already acclimatized on the 6145 meter (20,075 ft) Lobuche Peak and is now ready to begin his attempt of the very difficult Babanov route. The Swiss Machine may be ready to go, but his partner Colin Haley requires a bit more time, so they'll wait a bit longer before starting their ascent.

Stay tuned for more updates soon. It appears that we'll have another busy couple of days ahead in the Himalaya.

Himalaya Fall 2015: Kuriki Preparing for Another Attempt on Everest

Yesterday I – and a number of other outlets –  posted the news that Japanese climber Nobukazu Kuriki had abandoned his attempt to summit Everest over the weekend, and was now preparing to leave the mountain altogether. That seems to have been a bit premature however, as we have news today that he has not left Base Camp at all, and is preparing to launch another summit push later this week.

At the moment, Kuriki is said to be in good physical condition, and is resting in BC. His most recent summit attempt was thwarted by deep snows, which caused him to have to turn back due to slow going while breaking trail. The hope is that conditions will be better this time around, allowing the solo climber, who is going up without supplemental oxygen, to move faster and gain access to the summit.

According to Kuriki's expedition manager he is now preparing to leave Base Camp on Thursday, October 1. That means that if he can hold to the schedule, Nobukazu will be looking to top out on Sunday or Monday of next week. Hopefully the conditions won't be quite so dangerous on this ascent, and he'll have the weather window he needs to finish the climb safely. I will of course be following very closely.

Elsewhere, the Alpenglow team on Makalu is still on the move, and climbing up the mountain. The weather is said to be quite good there at the moment, and they hope to top out tomorrow, and then make the first full ski descent of the mountain. There hasn't been a lot of updates from the team since they left BC on Sunday, but we should expect to get an update tomorrow or Thursday. Hopefully it brings good news of their success.

Finally, Ueli Steck and Colin Haley are somewhere in the Khumbu Valley. The duo last checked in from Namche Bazaar, and should be continuing on the trail to Nuptse, the 7861 meters (25,791 ft) peak that will be their target for the fall climbing season. The plan is to attempt the very difficult Babanov route, which was pioneered by Russian climbers Valeri Babanov and Yuri Koshelenko back in 2003, and hasn't been repeated since. Ueli and Colin hope to follow that route to the summit once again.

With most of the major commercial teams now departing Manaslu, the Himalaya are about to get a lot quieter. Still, there should be some interesting climbs to follow in the days ahead, so I'll keep you posted on all of the action.

Himalaya Fall 2016: Kuriki Ends Everest Expedition, Teams Turned Back on Manaslu

As expected, it was a busy weekend in the Himalaya, where a number of teams had hoped to make summit bids on their respective mountains. But weather conditions there continue to be unpredictable, and success has remained elusive.

We'll start todays update with news from Everest. Last week, Japanese climber Nobukazu Kuriki moved up the Lhotse Face in an attempt to get himself into position for a summit push this past weekend. But Kuriki was forced to abandon that attempt at an altitude of around 7700 meters (25,262 feet), turning back due to deep snow on the route up the mountain. He said that the snow slowed his progress greatly, and would not have allowed him time to safely get up and down from the summit. So, he wisely chose to turn around.

You may recall that Kuriki has attempted Everest in the past, and his last expedition in 2012 ended in disaster. The young Japanese climber became stranded at altitude and had to be assisted down by a team of Sherpas. This resulted in him losing parts of nine of his fingers due to frostbite. I'm sure memories of that difficult climb still remain, and he didn't want to chance another dangerous push to higher altitudes.

It now appears that the first attempt to summit Everest following the April 25 earthquake has come to an end. All indications are that Kuriki, who was climbing without supplemental oxygen, has decided to go home. We'll now have to wait until the spring of 2016 for regular climbing operations to resume.

Meanwhile, a number of teams climbing Manaslu had set this weekend for their summit bids too, but once again poor weather put a halt to those efforts. Heavy snow fell on the mountain over the past few days, making it difficult to make any kind of progress above Camp 4. The Altitude Junkies and Himex teams were leading the way, with their Sherpas fixing lines for everyone else to follow. But the conditions were so poor higher up on the mountain that they were forced to abandon those efforts, and in the process ending any chance of reaching the top – at least for now.

Both of those squads have now decided to call it quits and head home for the season. The danger of avalanches has grown quite high, and deep snow is making it a challenge to break trail. With both Himex and the Altitude Junkies departing the mountain, the remaining teams will have to find a way to install the ropes. There aren't many teams left with the resources to pull that off, so we will likely see other teams leaving too. For instance, the Adventure Consultants said they will pull out and head home, as have the Amical Alpin team.

While the summit push was underway this weekend, one of the Sherpas from Himex fell into a crevasse after a snow bridge he was crossing collapsed. He was rescued and flown back to Kathamdnu, where he is now resting comfortably. His injuries are not life threatening, and he should be back on his feet soon.

Over on Makalu things are starting to look up. The Alpenglow team has received the green light for a go at the summit, as a weather window is expected to open over the next few days. They set off for Camp 2 yesterday, are expected to move up to C3 today, and go higher tomorrow. If everything unfolds as expected, they could make a summit push as early as Wednesday. After that, they hope to make the first full ski descent of the mountain. Stand by for updates on their progress.

Finally, Alan Arnette has posted that a small team of climbers is on the move on Dhaulagiri. The squad has gone as high as 7000 meters as part of their acclimatization rotations, but it looks like they're heading back to Base Camp for now. The team appears to be the only one on the mountain this fall. We'll watch for future updates on their progress as well.

Himalaya Fall 2015: Kuriki Moves Up on Everest, Manaslu Summit Bids Begin

There is more news to share from the Himalaya today, as the weekend ahead starts to shape up as a very busy one. The weather still remains a major concern, but several teams are now putting themselves in a position to make their final push to the summit on their respective mountains as a potentially good window opens at long last.

Today we'll start on Everest, where Nobukazu Kuriki has shared his plan for the next few days. The Japanese climber isn't posting too many details about his solo climb of the tallest mountain on the planet, but he is updating his schedule to keep us informed of his progress and where he is headed. Today, Nobu will push up from Camp 3 at 7000 meters (22,965 ft) to Camp 4 located at 7600-7700 meters (24,934 ft - 25,262 ft). From there, it seems he plans to spend a day in C4 resting, regaining his strength, and preparing his gear. If all goes according to plan, he'll launch his summit bid on Sunday, with the hopes of completing the climb then. We wish him the best of luck in this effort, and hope that he gets up and down safely.

The weekend is shaping up to be a busy one on Manaslu too, where a number of commercial squads are now preparing to make their final push to the top as well. The Altitude Junkies, Himex, and Mountain Experience teams have all targeted tomorrow – Saturday, Sept. 26 – as their summit day. That means they should be in position later today, and will be setting off early to reach the top. Amongst them will be Nick Cienski of the 6 Summits Challenge expedition. You may recall that earlier this year Nick announced plans to climb six 8000 meter peaks in a single year. But the Nepal earthquake on April 25 put an end to all attempts in the spring, and the exceptionally poor weather in the Karakoram this summer turned back his efforts there as well. Now, he's hoping to bag Manaslu, and end a bit of his frustration.

Meanwhile, other teams seem to be eyeing the summit of Manaslu early next week. The Adventure Consultants plan to launch their attempt tomorrow, which will put them on track to top out on Monday or Tuesday depending on the weather and the strength of the team. Other squads are likely to follow suit.

On Makalu the Alpenglow team continues to wait in Base Camp for another opportunity to move up. After getting turned back by extremely cold temperatures and waist deep snow above 7620 meters (25,000 ft), they are currently regrouping and waiting for another shot at the summit. The plan is to top out, and then make the first full ski descent of the mountain. Hopefully they'll get their shot again starting sometime next week.

Finally, Ueli Steck and Colin Haley arrived in Nepal and are already on their way to Nuptse for a challenging climb. The duo checked in from Namche Bazaar where they report poor weather in Khumbu. They seem unconcerned so far however, as they are just starting their trek and will take the time to acclimatize. Ueli also reports that Namche is very quiet, with few tourists in the area. That could be an ominous sign for the tourism industry there as we head into the normally busy fall trekking season.

That's it for now. Watch for updates on Monday with news on summit attempts. Hopefully all will go well this weekend.

Himalaya Fall 2015: Turned Back on Makalu, Moving Up on Everest

The fall climbing season continues to unfold in the Himalaya where teams have been pressing ahead with their expeditions despite the challenging weather. While some are stuck in Base Camp at the moment, others are on the move and hoping to make progress over the next few days.

We'll start today's update on Makalu where the mountain has turned back a summit bid from the Alpenglow squad. According to the team's most recent dispatch, the team was in Camp 3 at 7467 meters (24,500 ft) after discovering waist deep snow, white conditions, and fresh avalanche activity above that point. The five member group was hoping to top out and make a ski descent of the mountain, but they weren't even able to reach Camp 4. They have since descended and are waiting for a better weather window before trying again.

Meanwhile, over on Everest, solo Japanese climber Nobukazu Kuriki has updated his blog to share his movements. While no details are shared, it does appear that he'll climb up from Camp 2 to Camp 3 today, putting him at 7000 meters (22,965 ft). Whether or not he feels acclimatized enough to move up to C4 remains to be seen, but if he does, we could be looking at a summit attempt this weekend, weather permitting of course.

The Adventure Consultants have checked in from Manaslu, where the team is now in BC and resting for their upcoming summit bids. They expect to start heading up the mountain on Saturday which would put them in position to top out early next week.

The Himex team appears to be a bit ahead of that schedule. They plan on summiting on Saturday instead. This tells us that the weather must be stable on Manaslu at the moment, with a wide weather window open. In Base Camp, conditions have been less than ideal, but the forecast says things are better up top. So, they'll set out for the summit and hope for the best.

The Altitude Junkies are on the same schedule, and will be joining in on the fun, as their Sherpas are working closely with Himex and the Mountain Experience to get fixed ropes into place. According to their update, the weather is far from settled, and the teams are taking a bit of a gamble that things will work out. But if the gamble pays off, they'll all summit this weekend.

Finally, Eric Larsen and Ryan Waters have returned to Kathmandu after making the first ascent of the 6000 meter Jabo Ri. The duo are preparing to head home now after their successful expedition, but couldn't leave town without first checking in with Ms. Elizabeth Hawley to share the details of their expedition. Their climb was proof that there is plenty still to do in the big mountains, as there are literally dozens of unclimbed peaks waiting to be explored.

That's it for today. I'll be keeping a close eye on summit bids over the next few days. Hopefully we'll have news of success very soon.

Himalaya Fall 2016: Summit Success on Jabou Ri, Movement on Manaslu

It has been a slow, challenging start to the fall climbing season in Nepal. Until recently, poor weather had kept teams from moving as freely as they'd like, and as a result acclimatization efforts were a bit behind schedule. But last week a weather window opened on several mountains, allowing teams to finally get back to work. As a result, most of the climbers were on the move this weekend, with one team even finding success on an unclimbed peak.

We'll start with the duo of Eric Larsen and Ryan Waters, who have been attempting to make the first ascent of Jabou Ri, a 6000-meter peak located in a remote region of Nepal. Last week the two explorers made two other summit bids but were turned back do to poor weather conditions. But last Wednesday they were finally able to break through and move to the top. The duo are currently in the village of Thame, and they shared the story of their summit in more detail yesterday. You can read about it here. Eric and Ryan managed to take advantage of the good weather and get up and down safely, but they were certainly exhausted by their previous efforts, making their 13-hour round-trip trek quite the slog. Now they're resting in the village while they decide their next move, which could involve another climb, or simply calling it quits and heading home. Either way, it has been a successful expedition.

Meanwhile, over on Manaslu, the Adventure Consultants resumed their efforts to climb that mountain. Over the weekend they climbed up to Camp 2 at 6200 meters (20,341 ft) as part of their acclimatization efforts. After spending a night there, they descended back to Base Camp yesterday, where they now plan to rest for a few days while watching the weather forecasts. If all goes well, the team could be on the move back up the mountain later in the week.

The Altitude Junkies have also checked in from Manaslu, and report plenty of snow and rain in BC. Their squad hiked up to Camp 1 over the weekend, but have been keeping themselves busy with other treks in the region. Their latest dispatch indicates that Camp 3 has now been established on the mountain, and while some of the other teams may be ready to move up to that point shortly, the AJ squad is still working on their acclimatization process.

The Himex squad just returned from Camp 2 within the past few days as well, and they had information to share on the upcoming weather forecast. Apparently teams should expect relatively good weather to start the week, but heavy snows could return soon. That means they may be sitting in BC again for a few days while they wait for improvements. This is all typical of expedition climbing of course, but it can be frustrating none the less.

Over on Makalu, the Alpenglow team is resting up in preparation for their summit push. The small team hopes to top out soon, and then make the first full ski descent of the mountain. Alpenglow founder Adrian Ballinger shared his thoughts on the expedition with Outside magazine last week. Read about it here.

Finally, there has been not update from Everest yet where we wait for news on the progress of Japanese climber Nobukazu Kuriki. He is making a solo climb of the world's tallest peak, and was expected to head to Camp 2 to start his summit push last Thursday. Where he is at on the mountain now is unclear. He could be in the middle of that push, but poor weather may have delayed his summit as well. For now, we'll just have to wait for news.

That's it for the start of the week. More to come soon as the season unfolds.

Himalaya Fall 2015: Attempting Unclimbed Peaks in Nepal, Improved Weather

We have another update from the Himalaya today as teams are on the move to try to take advantage of good weather, and another squad heads to the mountains to attempt an unclimbed peak. It has been an unusual start to the fall climbing season so far, but there is hope for improved conditions moving forward.

We'll start with news about an expedition that is just getting underway. Legendary British climber Mick Fowler – along with partner Paul Ramsden –  are preparing to return to the Himalaya where he and his team will attempt to summit an unclimbed peaks in western Nepal. The team has been surveying its destination via Google Earth, and at the end of the month they'll set off into the unknown. The valley that they have targeted has never been visited by westerners before, so at this point they are unsure of exactly what they will find there. The adventure will begin with a six-day walk to the region, where they will then attempt an alpine style expedition up a 6000 meter (19,685 ft) peak that has yet to be climbed. They expect to top out in mid- to late- October, depending on the weather.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in the Himalaya the poor weather that has been delaying progress has abated a bit, at least on Manaslu. The Adventure Consultants report good weather this morning, which means they are on the move up to Camp 1 at 5735 meters (18,815 ft). They'll now spend two nights acclimatizing there before moving up to C2, provided the good weather window holds out.

Over on Everest, Japanese climber Nobukazu Kuriki is expected to begin his summit bid on the world's highest mountain today. He'll climb solo up to Camp 2 as well, and from that point he'll watch the skies as well, and potentially become the first person to reach the summit since the mountain was closed this past spring following the April 25 earthquake. If all goes according to plan, he could top out as early as Friday or Saturday.

The Alpenglow team on Makalu is on the move too. After reaching reaching C2 yesterday, the entire squad climbed up to 24,500 feet (7467 meters) today. They report a lot of fresh snow on the mountain as they broke trail to reach Camp 3. They'll be happy to have that fresh snow should they summit in the next day or two, as the plan is to make the first full ski descent of that peak. With a little luck, that could happen before the end of the week as well.

That's it for today. With teams back on the move, we could get some big news before the weekend arrives, depending on how quickly they climb and if the weather holds. Stay tuned for further updates soon.

Himalaya Fall 2015: Bad Weather Impacting Expedition Schedules

It has been a relatively slow start to the fall climbing season in Nepal, in no small part due to the poor weather that teams have experienced thus far. Last week, heavy rain and snow fell around Everest and Manaslu, making it tough to make any progress at all. In fact, it has been reported that over two feet of snow fell in Everest Base Camp alone, which has had an impact on how things are unfolding there. Still, the Ice Doctors have completed a route through the treacherous Khumbu Icefall, and are now working on finishing the route to Camp 1 as the season begins to unfold at long last.

As you may recall, there is just one expedition to Everest this fall, and it is being led by Japanese climber Nobukazu Kuriki. The squad arrived in BC later than expected, but has since tried to make the best of the situation. Kuriki did an acclimatization climb of nearby Lobuche Peak in preparation for his Everest summit attempt, and is now prepared to begin a solo push to the top. If a weather window opens as expected this week, he'll climb up to Camp 2 tomorrow and launch his summit bid from there.

Over on Manaslu, the teams are seeing their acclimatization rotations delayed due to the weather as well. The Adventure Consultants report more rain and snow yesterday and today, but hope for clear skies tomorrow to allow them to start back up the mountain. The Summit Climb and Himex teams are facing a similar challenge, as are numerous others. Manaslu is a busy peak this fall, with more than 100 climbers currently hoping to summit.

Over on Makalu, the Alpenglow squad moved up the mountain yesterday as they continue their acclimatization process. They're hoping to spend a few nights above 25,000 feet (7620 meters) before return to Base Camp. From there, they'll start watching the weather too with the hopes of pushing to the top. They plan to make a ski descent of that mountain as well.

Explorer Eric Larsen is in Nepal this fall, where he is attempting to climb several unclimbed peaks with partner Ryan Waters. They are reporting similar news on their attempt to summit Jabo Ri. So far, they've spent an inordinate amount of time in their tent waiting out storms that include high winds, and plenty of rain and snow as well. Over the past two days, the two men have launched two separate bids to move up the peak, but both were turned back due to dangerous conditions. They are currently back in BC, where they are resting and regaining their strength for another go.

In other news, it appears that the rebound for the economy in Nepal may be a slow one. It was hoped that climbers and trekkers would return in large numbers to help jumpstart the rebuilding process following the deadly earthquake that had occurred back in April. But so far only about 200 permits have been issued to climbers, which is a far cry from the 1000 that were issued last year. Hopefully more travelers are preparing to visit the country later in the fall as the trekking season really gets underway, but at the moment it looks like it could be an even longer road to recovery than first anticipated.

That's all for now. More news from the big mountains soon.

Himalaya Fall 2015: More Teams Heading into the Mountains, China Rejects Climbing Applications

Yesterday we noted that the the fall climbing season was ramping up nicely in the Himalaya with teams now starting to arrive in Kathmandu, and some already making their way out to their respective base camps. While the monsoon rains are still subsiding there, and autumn has yet to officially arrive, it appears like it will be a relatively active season in the mountains. This bodes well for the return of travelers to Nepal, which is in dire need of a boost to its economy following the massive earthquake back on April 25.

The Nepalese won't be competing with their counterparts in Tibet for tourism dollars this fall, as China has rejected all applications for permits to climb there. The official party line is that Chinese officials fear for the safety of climbers following the earthquake and that they want to take time to inspect the mountains before allowing teams to return. But, the Chinese president is also planning to visit Tibet in September, so there may be political reasons as to why the permits have been denied.

The closure of the Tibetan peaks has caused a few of the commercial teams to change their plans. Cho Oyu and Shishapangma are two popular peaks during the fall season, but with their closure climbers are heading elsewhere – namely Makalu and Manaslu.

ExWeb posted an update today that has provided us with more information on climbing teams in the Himalaya this fall. They report that a French squad is currently en route to Annapurna where they hope to attempt a new route along that mountain's notorious South Face. The team will first acclimatize to the altitude, than split into two groups. One of those groups will go up the new route in alpine style along the Japanese Spur, while the other will attempt to summit along the normal route.

Yesterday we noted that Adrian Ballinger of Alpenglow Expeditions would be attempting a full ski descent of Makalu. It turns out that is only part of the story, and he isn't alone. The expedition was one that was denied a permit on Cho Oyu, so they switched locations to make the best of the situation. Adrian is already in Base Camp on that mountain, and is joined by such luminary ski-mountaineers as Emily Harrington, Hilaree O'neill, Kit Deslauriers and Jim Morrison. That should be a fun expedition to follow in the days ahead for sure.

The plan isn't to just climb and ski the mountain however, as the Alpenglow team is also looking to have a positive impact on the communities in Nepal as well. Not only will they be putting money back into the economy there by hiring Sherpas, porters, and local guides, but the team hopes to raise as much as $20,000 to help with recovery efforts as well. On top of that, Aspect Solar has donated 30 full solar energy kits to help 30 different villages improve their energy infrastructure as well. The team will be helping to install those systems while in Nepal too.

Finally, Eric Larsen's climbing team has left the road and started their trek into Rolwling. The monsoon caused some unexpected mudslides, preventing them from driving to the trailhead, but that just meant they transitioned to foot a bit sooner than expected. The team will be focusing on some newly opened unclimbed peaks in the days ahead, but for now they are just happy to making progress towards BC.

Eric and his team are heading into a very remote area. In his latest dispatch he indicated that even the trail they are using is mostly overgrown since so few people actually come this way. The squad won't be focused on an 8000 meter mountain, but will instead look to go where no other climbers have gone.

That's all for today. More updates will come soon as the teams begin to get settled.

Himalaya Fall 2015: Teams En Route to Base Camps

The fall climbing season in the Himalaya is set to begin as teams have now begun to arrive in Nepal, and are already making their way out to their respective Base Camps. In fact, it is shaping up to be a typical fall season in the big mountains as climber return to the region following the devastating earthquake of this past spring. That's good news for the tourism sector and economy of Nepal, although it remains to be seen how many mainstream travelers return as well. 

Amongst those heading into the mountains this fall are a pair of Japanese climbers, including Nobukazu Kuriki. This will be his fifth attempt to summit the mountain, with his last climb nearly ending in disaster. Kuriki attempted a solo-summit a few years back, but got stranded on his descent and ended up spending an extended amount of time above 8000 meters. This resulted in severe frostbite that claimed all but one of his fingers. He has already departed for Base Camp and is now starting his acclimatization process. 

Nick Cienski is also trekking to his Base Camp in the Himalaya at the moment. Nick, who launched the 6 Summits Challenge this past spring, is headed to Manaslu to try to get his expedition back on track. He had originally set a goal to summit six different 8000 meter peaks in a single calendar year, but has not had much luck so far this year. His spring expeditions were cut short due to the earthquake, and his summer plans in the Karakoram were thwarted due to the weather there. He hopes to continue working towards his goal with a successful summit of the 8163 meter (26,781 ft) Manaslu this fall. 

Also headed into the Himalaya at the moment is explorer/mountaineer Eric Larsen. He and team will be attempting some unclimbed peaks in Nepal this fall, including some mountains that have only just recently been opened for climbing. I spoke to Eric about this while at Outdoor Retailer a few weeks back, and he was super excited about the expedition. While there are no major 8000 meter mountains on the itinerary, there will be plenty of climbing on peaks that have had few or no visitors ever. It should be fun to watch the adventure unfold, and at the moment the team is driving to the start of their trek, which should begin in another day or two. 

ExWeb has the lowdown on a few other expeditions heading into the Himalaya in the days ahead. They include the possibility of a South Korean squad heading to Lhotse, as well as a team setting its sights on Nuptse as well. Adrian Ballinger will reportedly attempt a ski descent of Makalu, while climbers Luke Smithwick and Andrew Lock will look to open a new route on that same mountain. Finally, ExWeb indicated that a Polish team will attempt an alpine style ascent of Annapurna IV as well. 

Of course, there will also be a number of commercial teams operating in Nepal this fall. They will include the Adventure Consultants, SummitClimb, and Amical Alpin, all of which will be leading climbers who have eventual plans to attempt Everest. Each of these squads will be heading to Manaslu in the days ahead, with some already en route. 

As you can see, things are starting to pick up, and it won't be long before we start getting progress reports and updates. The monsoon hasn't fully receded yet, which means it is still very wet and rainy in Nepal. But soon that will change, and the climbing will begin. Hopefully there will be a lot more success than this past spring.