Showing posts with label Mountaineering. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mountaineering. Show all posts

Himalaya Spring 2017: Teams Continue Acclimatization and Look Toward Summit Bids

The climbing teams on Mt. Everest continue to play the waiting game today, watching the weather, waiting for news on the completion of the route to the summit, and plotting their eventual summit bids. Reportedly, conditions are good and things are going according to plan, but it remains unclear as to when the first summits of the season will take place, or when the waves of commercial climbers will follow along. But over the next few days, we should learn a lot about the schedule ahead and have a clearer picture of what to expect later this week and next. 

The rope fixing team continues to make progress and could potentially complete their work today. Yesterday, the group of Sherpas charged with installing the lines on the South Side of Everest reached the Balcony and today they hope to go all the way up to the summit. They'll need to put in a full day's work to finish the task, but they seem poised to make that happen and record the first summits of the season at the same time. 

Once the ropes are in place they'll descend back to Base Camp for a much needed and deserved rest. At that point, the other teams will check the weather forecast and their own health and condition, to begin thinking about when they'll launch summit bids of their own. Right now, that looks like it could start as early as this coming weekend, although ultimately Mother Nature will decide when to grant access to the top of Everest. 

In the meantime, the teams are keeping busy in a variety of ways. For instance, the IMG squad is spread out between Camps 1 and 3, with climbers in each location wrapping up their acclimatization process. It is possible that they are moving into position to make a dash for the summit once the ropes are installed, or they could be finishing one last rotation before returning to BC for a rest before starting their summit bids next week. A number of the other teams are on track for the same schedule, making a mass ascent in the days ahead as has become the norm on Everest in recent years. 

So there you have it. The stage is nearly set, and teams are preparing to make their push. The weather forecasts look good heading into next week, which is pretty much exactly what is expected for mid-May. Now, it is only a matter of time. But first, the Sherpas must finish their work. Hopefully that will happen today, and the summit season will officially begin. 

Good luck to everyone!

Argentine Climber Rescued From Mt. Logan in Canada

An Argentine climber by the name of Natalia Martinez got more than she bargained for when she set out on a solo expedition to Canada's highest peak. Martinez began her trek on April 22, but two large earthquakes earlier this week caused avalanches that left her stranded on the mountain.

Martinez was climbing the 5959 meter (19,551 ft) peak on Monday when a 6.2 magnitude earthquake hit the Yukon less than 150 miles away from her campsite. This caused snow, rock, and lots of ice to come crashing down the slopes of Logan, creating an impassable barrier for either going up to the summit, or descending back down to the trail head. Natalia spent fours days trapped there until she was finally rescued yesterday. She has now reportedly been taken to Kluane Lake in southwest Yukon.

While the Argentine adventurer was stranded on the mountain, it is important to point out that she was uninjured and had plenty of food and fuel to stay safe for an extended period of time. Martinez is an experienced climber and was well prepared for her solo climb of the peak, which sees just 25 climbers on average each year.

The remote nature of the mountain, mixed with poor weather conditions, prevented a rescue from happening earlier in the week. Thankfully conditions improved yesterday however, and a SAR team was able to extract Natalia without incident. She's now enjoying some creature comforts in Kluane Lake before deciding her next move.

Martinez's story is a good reminder as to why we should always travel with plenty of gear and supplies when heading into the backcountry. From the sounds of things, she could have stayed safely on the mountain for awhile yet, thanks to the fact that she brought plenty of food and fuel along with her. Fortunately, that didn't have to happen and she's now safely off Mt. Logan.

Himalaya Spring 2017: First Summits of the Season, Fixing Ropes on Everest, and Ueli Laid to Rest

It continues to be a busy time in the Himalaya, where teams are now squarely focused on finishing up their acclimatization efforts and planning summit bids. While it will likely be another week or so before the push gets underway on Everest, elsewhere in Nepal the first 8000 meter summits of the year have been recorded, even as plans are in place to finish fixing ropes on the highest mountain on the planet.

Last Sunday, five climbers managed to top out on Dhaulagiri, the seventh highest mountain in the world at 8167 meters (26,794 ft.). That team consisted of Mingma Gyalje Sherpa, Nga Tashi Sherpa, Lhakpa Nuru Sherpa, Liu Yong Zhong and Dong Hong Juan, all of whom stood on top at 12:20 PM local time on April 30. The weather was reportedly good, and other teams on that mountain are now preparing to follow suit, including Spaniard Carlos Soria, who is looking to bag his 13th 8000-meter peak.

On Everest, the rope fixing team has headed back up the mountain and now plans to complete its work tomorrow, May 6. That means that the route will be complete all the way to the summit, allowing the commercial teams to finally launch their summit bids. Ultimately, it will be the weather that decides when that happens, with the earliest window looking like it could come sometime next week. Meanwhile, another rope fixing team is looking to complete its work on Lhotse on May 8 or 9 as well, clearing the way for teams heading up that mountain too. Once this job is done, we'll definitely be in the calm before the storm, as once the weather clears for a long enough period, the rush to the top will truly be under way.

Finally, The Himalayan Times is reporting that Ueli Steck was laid to rest in the Khumbu Region of Nepal yesterday. The remains of the climber, who perished in a tragic accident earlier in the week, were taken to Tengboche monastery where they were cremated. At least nine Buddhist monks oversaw the proceedings, which included a sermon that lasted for three hours prior to completing the ceremony.

In addition to the monks, Ueli's wife Nicole was present, as were his parents, and several close friends. Only those who were part of this close circle were allowed to participate and visit the scene where he was finally laid to rest. A second ceremony will be held in Switzerland for friends and family, as well as the general public, as well.

That's all for today. Next week should be an interesting one for the teams. It looks like the summit season should be upon us at long last.

Himalaya Spring 2017: Sherpas Hold Protest in Everest BC to Demand Summit Certificates

While the mountaineering world continues to mourn the loss of Ueli Steck on Nuptse, life continues on the big mountains in the Himalaya. Over the past few days, teams have continued their acclimatization rotations on Everest, with most now returning to BC to rest up, most likely for one more rotation before summit bids begin sometime around the middle of May. Despite this calm before the storm however, it appears that things are not business as usual on Everest.

On Tuesday of this week, the Sherpas working on the mountain staged a protest demanding that they receive summit certificates for successfully reaching the top of the peaks they climb in the Himalaya, including Everest and the other 8000 meter mountains. According to The Himalayan Times, the lead Sherpas sent a five-page memorandum to the Secretary of the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation, as well as the Nepal Mountaineering Association and the Expedition Operators’ Association in Nepal, laying out their requirements and the reasons why this is important to them. Apparently, local climbers in Nepal have not been receiving those certificates since last year, and possibly even earlier.

For the Sherpas, the certificates are a badge of honor, and one that they feel that they have earned as part of a climbing expedition that they have taken part in. But, the Nepali government points to a rule in the 2002 regulations governing mountaineering that states that only paying members of an expedition team will receive such certificates.


For its part, the Department of Tourism has said that it will attempt to amend the 2002 resolution as quickly as possible so that certificates could be issued. The new regulations will reportedly recognize the Sherpas as part of an expedition – and rightly so – allowing them to collect their certificates along with the rest of their team. Last year, there were 256 Sherpas that topped out on Everest alone, none of which have received the documents as yet.

This protest isn't just about the certificates however. It is also a symbol of the growing unrest, resentment, and dissatisfaction that many of the Sherpa climbers are feeling these days. They continue to feel disrespected, both by their own government and many of the foreign climbers that come to Nepal. This could lead to further protests, strikes, and clashes in the future as the Sherpa operators continue to grow more prominent on Everest and elsewhere.

Fortunately, it seems that things have returned to normal, and the Sherpas continue to support their clients. Hopefully this won't interfere with summit bids in the days ahead, but I suspect we'll continue to see more of these types of actions in the future.

Ueli Steck Dies on Nuptse

Incredibly sad news to report from Nepal today. The Himalayan Times has posted a story this morning that indicates that Swiss climber Ueli Steck was killed while climbing on Nuptse. He was apparently making a solo ascent of that mountain as part of his acclimatization process prior to an attempt on an Everest-Lhotse traverse later in the season. It is believed that he slipped and fell more than 1000 meters (3280 ft).

Dubbed the "Swiss Machine," Steck was known for his fast and light approach to mountaineering. He often climbed solo and was incredibly athletic, even at higher altitudes. His daring style made him a favorite amongst mountaineers and non-climber alike, who were often amazed at his exploits in the Alps and the Himalaya. The Everest-Lhotse traverse was to be just his latest big expedition.

According to The Times, Steck's body was shredded into several pieces due to the impact of the fall. Those remains were reportedly taken to Camp 2 on Everest where they were airlifted back to Kathmandu. His wife, who is at home in Switzerland was alerted to his death not long after the accident occurred.

As you can imagine, the mountaineering community is grieving today. Ueli was one of the brightest and most talented climbers of his generation, pushing the boundaries of what could be accomplished in the mountains. His death will cast a long shadow over this season on Everest, no matter what happens from here forward, and the Swiss Machine will be missed on that mountain and his personal playground – the Alps – back home.

I only met Ueli one time, but he came across as a genuinely humble human being. I have always enjoyed following his exploits in the mountain and wondering what he would do next. This is an incredibly sad ending to an incredibly rich life. My condolences go out to his friends and family.

Video: Life at Camp 2 on Everest

In my update on Everest from earlier in the day, I mentioned that a lot of teams were heading to and from Camp 2 as part of their acclimatization efforts. So what exactly is it like at C2 on the mountain? This video gives us a glimpse of what the place looks like and what staying there for a few days is actually like. While there, climbers tend to rest a lot, but also walk around, sometimes even going higher up the mountain, as their bodies adjust to the thin air. It is all part of the process that gets them ready for an eventual summit bid, which is still a couple of weeks off at this point.

Himalaya Fall 2017: Rest and Recovery, Base Camp Pups, and Acclimatization on Everest

It has been a busy week on Everest. Reportedly, the weather has been quite good there over the past few days, allowing a number of teams to send climbers up to Camp 2 to continue their acclimatization efforts as they prepare for the challenges ahead. At this point, most of the teams have now spent at least a little time at that point on the mountain, with some now planning to even higher over the next few days. It is a lot of work, and rest and and recovery in Base Camp are much appreciated at this stage of the game, when summit bids are still a long way off and the grind can begin to take its toll.

The IMG team will be one of the first to head up to Camp 3 for their rotation. Their first squad will begin the ascent to that point on the mountain today, even as another team descends back to BC after spending a couple of days at C2. Sherpas have been steadily shuttling gear up to that point as well, and as a result there is now a wall of bottled oxygen in place there, waiting to go higher. The IMG clients have all been undergoing oxygen mask and goggle training over the past few days in anticipation of the summit push in a few weeks time. All part of the process as they get read for what is to come.

The Adventure Consultants are back in Base Camp after a few days at altitude as well. The team is recovering nicely and enjoying the fine weather after going up to Camp 2 and staying there for a few nights. Unfortunately, on the descent, one of the members of the team – New Zealander Mike Davies – slipped and fell while crossing the Khumbu Icefall. This resulted in a broken wrist and as a result he's now on his way home. Thankfully, the injuries weren't serious, but it was enough to keep him from continuing the climb. The team has also adopted a dog that is living in Base Camp and named him "Blizzard." He has apparently been keeping the group company and playing off the sympathies of the ladies in the group to enjoy some food and water too.

The Mountain Professionals have checked in from C2 on Everest as well, where they report good weather all the way up the Western Cwm. In fact, according to their dispatch, it was downright hot on the ascent as the sun reflected off the ice. The group will now rest for a few days in their current position before moving up to "tag" C3 on Sunday. After that, it is back to BC for some rest. The latest dispatch from the team also indicates that Sherpas are working away on fixing ropes to the summit, and may accomplish that feat by as early as Monday of next week.


The #EverestNoFilter team of Corey Richards and Adrian Ballinger are back in BC as well, where they're spending three days of rest and eating before going up. They're joined by Adrian's Alpenglow team, which are just arriving on the North Side of the mountain. Reportedly the jet stream is hitting the summit there at the moment, making things difficult, but duo have started their acclimatization and are feeling good about their no-O's ascent of the peak.

Ueli Steck has been scouting Everest and Lhotse for his upcoming traverse attempt. He's going solo at the moment as partner Tenjing Sherpa is suffering from minor frostbite and has descended to allow recovery. Ueli says that all is good, and everything is progressing as expected, although high winds are arriving at C2 now, making things a bit more challenging. He reports that the West Shoulder is in good condition at the moment, and hopes that it remains so for the next few weeks.

That's a quick and dirty round-up of where everything is at on the mountain right now. As mentioned a few days back, the season is unfolding very well so far with few problems. The weather has been fairly predictable so far, and teams are acclimating nicely. We're still a few weeks away from a summit bid, but at the moment it has been a textbook season for sure.

Reinhold Messner on the Future of Climbing Everest

Italian climbing legend Reinhold Messner has weighed in on the current state of affairs on Everest, and where mountaineering on the world's highest peak is headed, and as usual his thoughts are quite fascinating. Messner recently spoke with The Diplomat about these subjects and more, bringing his years of vast experience and knowledge to the table. In his typical style, the iconic climber doesn't mince too many words.

In the interview, Messner talks about the crowded conditions on Everest, and the guided climbs to the summit that are now very different than when he made his famous ascents on the mountain. In describing what it is like there, the Italian says that it is not alpinism but is instead tourism. A very different game than previous generations. He also says that with the path more well prepared and set out for the climbers to follow, the sense of adventure and exploration is gone. It is simply a guided trip to the top of the world.

The Italian also discusses the growing sense of resentment amongst Sherpas and how that has led to more locally owned trekking and climbing companies in Nepal. Those companies are able to offer less expensive trips into the mountain, and as a result they are slowly but surely eroding the business of foreign operators. That will have a dramatic impact on the future of climbing on Everest. Those same Sherpa are also now very experienced and talented mountaineers in their own right, and no longer need to follow the foreign climbers up the slopes.

Messner goes on to touch on the dangers of climbing the mountain, the fact that no one listens to the danger signs until it is too late, and the fact that so man inexperienced climbers are traveling to the Himalaya. He also talks about his relationship to Buddhism and his hopes for a free and autonomous Tibet, amongst other topics.

Most of what Messner talks about isn't especially new, and anyone who follows the climbing scene on Everest probably is aware of the things that are going on there. Still, it is always interesting to hear a man of his prominence and stature share his opinion on where mountaineering was, where its at now, and where it is heading. Check out the full text of the interview here.

Men's Journal Names the 25 Most Adventurous Women of the Past 25 Years

Here's another list for those of you who enjoy these articles. This time, it comes our way from the good folks over at Men's Journal, and it names the 25 most adventurous women of the past 25 years, giving us a look at a group of ladies who are tough, determined, and downright inspiring too.

Each profile of the ladies includes a few paragraphs about why they are deserving of a spot on the list, as well as a brief rundown of their noteworthy accomplishments. These women are explorers, pioneers, athletes, and activist, and in most cases they are all of those at once. I have written about the exploits of many of them right here on this very blog, with more than a few pulling off some of the most daring and impressive accomplishments we've seen in the outdoor world.

So who made the cut? As usual, I won't spoil the list too much, but I will reveal a couple of the women who earned a place on MJ's honor roll. That list includes the likes of polar explorer Sarah McNair-Landry, Nepali climber Pasang Lhamu Sherpa Akita, and Appalachian Trail hiker Jennifer Pharr Davis. They're joined on the round-up by filmmaker Kathryn Bigelow and mountaineer Melissa Arnot Reid, just to hame a few.

To find out who else is part of this hall of fame, and to learn more about the ladies mentioned above, check out the full article by clicking here. Chances are, you'll come away with a few new heroes to follow and a lot of respect for some of the most impressive women who are out their pushing the boundaries of what is possible.

Himalaya Spring 2017: Season Progressing On Schedule

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

That's all for now. More updates soon.

Video: Scary Footage From Everest Base Camp During 2015 Earthquake

Today marks the second anniversary of the devastating earthquake that rocked Nepal, killing nearly 9000 people and leaving countless others injured. The disaster leveled homes and building, leaving thousands without a place to live, with food, water, and other supplies difficult to find. Even now, we're still hearing new stories about what it was like on that day, and in this video we get some new footage, including shots from Everest Base Camp, where more than 20 people were killed in an avalanche. Nepal, and the mountaineering community in general, are still struggling to recover from this event, which has left an indelible mark on everyone connected with that place.

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: Record Year on Everest Confirmed

In the months leading up to the start of the spring climbing season in the Himalaya there was a lot of speculation that it would be a record-setting year throughout the region, but on Everest in particular. After two tragic and incredibly bad seasons in 2014 and 2015, last year marked a triumphant return to form in Nepal. Now, more climbers than ever are on their way to the world's highest peak, and of course that is sparking some serious concerns.

According to an article in The Himalayan Times, 41 expeditions from 44 countries have applied for permits to climb Everest this year, which adds up to 376 foreign climbers on the mountain, with more expected to come. That alone doesn't sound too high when you consider about 550+ summited last season. But, as Alan Arnette points out, those are just the foreign climbers, and when you factor in the Sherpa support teams, the number actually rises to about 730 in total.

Alan also says that approximately 200 climbers will be on Lhotse this season as well, which will add to the congestion on the route up. Everest and Lhotse share much of the same route, only splitting off in opposite directions as the teams near the top. That route will be extremely crowded come mid-May, when summit bids traditionally begin. So much so, that current estimates are at about 1000 climbers in the Khumbu Icefall and climbing in the days ahead.

This will obviously cause traffic jams on the mountain. It could also lead to potential problems should the weather take an unexpected turn. That is a lot of people who will potentially be making their attempts on the summit at the same time, and since teams have often tried to get out in front of one another to avoid these problems, we could see some groups setting out early to take advantage of weather windows. Needless to say, its going to be a very interested spring on the Nepali side of the Everest.


The Times article also states that the big teams in Base Camp met this past Saturday to discuss the plan for fixing the ropes, which is traditionally handled by the larger, more experienced squads in a cooperative manner. This year, the Ministry of Tourism in Nepal has allowed helicopters to fly all of the ropes and other equipment up to Camp 2, which cuts down on the number of trips that need to be made through the Khumbu Icefall, making things safer in general.

Speaking of the Icefall, last week there was a partial collapses of the route that prevented some of the early climbers from shuttling gear up to Camp 1. It was a temporary setback however, and within a couple of days the Icefall Docs had repaired the route and things were flowing once again. But, the incident does underscore the dangers of traveling through this very treacherous section of the climb. Apparently, a large serac collapsed, taking part of the route down with it. This happens regularly throughout the season, and the Sherpa teams usually are quick and efficient about repairing it.

That's all for today. We'll have more updates soon on the current status of teams on the mountain. Most are now getting settled in BC and working on acclimation as they start their first rotations higher up the mountain. It should be interesting to see how things unfold in the days ahead.

Video: The Trek to Everest Base Camp

Earlier today I posted an update from the Himalaya on the progress of the climbing teams there. Most of those teams are now en route to Everest Base Camp on the South Side of the mountain. If you've ever wondered what that trek is like, or what the mountaineers see on the way, this video is a great example of that experience. It was shot last year in April and should be a good representation of what is happening in the Khumbu Valley at this very moment. Having made this trek myself, this video brings back some great memories. This is a special, beautiful part of the world and I recommend that everyone visits it at some point.

Himalaya Spring 2017: Teams Arriving in Base Camp on Everest

For the past couple of weeks I've been posting a number of pre-season updates from the Himalaya, essentially setting the stage for the next couple of months of climbing in Nepal and Tibet. But now, its time to get down to business with most mountaineers now having arrived in Kathmandu and are either preparing to head to their respective mountains or are already en route. Some, are even now arriving in Base Camp, particularly on Everest.

The most prominent squad to reach EBC at this point is International Mountain Guides (aka IMG). The company's first team reached Base Camp last Friday and are now settling in, while they await the arrival of two other IMG teams that are still further down the Khumbu Valley and trekking up to that location. The climbers who are already there have been spending the past few days getting settled and resting up, while also working on their skills in a special obstacle course that was set up to prepare them for what they'll face on the mountain, especially as they cross through the dreaded Khumbu Icefall.

The first team has also gone through its Puja ceremony, which involves a Buddhist lama and several monks asking the local mountain gods to protect the climbers as they prepare to head up the mountain. During the ceremony, the mountaineers all receive blessings, as does their gear. They also ask for safe passage up and down the mountain as well.

While the Puja may sound like a superstitious ritual, it is also tradition on Everest and other Himalayan peaks. The Sherpas in particular are reluctant to step food on any mountain without first getting the blessings from the lama, and over the course of the next few weeks, every team will have their own ceremony in anticipation of the start of the climb.


Now that the IMG team has gotten settled, their next step will be to head back down the Khumbu Valley today to trek to Lobuche Peak. This 6118 meter (20,075 ft) mountain will serve as a warm-up climb and acclimatization trek before they start on Everest. Over the past few years many teams have chosen to acclimate on other mountains as a way to avoid passing through the icefall too many times, and it has proven to be a safe and effective way to get accustomed to the altitude before heading up to Camp 1 or 2.

Meanwhile, there are a number of other teams that are still making their way up the Khumbu to BC and are now at various points along the valley. For instance, the Adventure Consultants are on their way to Kongma La after climbing Chukkung Ri as part of their acclimatization efforts. They expect to be in BC by Thursday of this week. RMI has several trekking teams in the area as well, as does Mountain Professionals, who last checked in from Lobuche, which means they should probably reach Base Camp today.

In other news, Ueli Steck should now be in Nepal after departing from Europe this past weekend. He'll spend a bit of time in Kathmandu before heading out to the Khumbu, where he'll undergo his own acclimatization training. From there, it'll be on to EBC before the start of his much-anticipated Everest-Lhotse traverse. There are some rumblings that if all goes well, he may extend that traverse to include Nuptse too. We'll have to wait to see, as it is already a very ambitious project.

On the other side of Everest in the north, the Tibetan border has now reportedly opened and the first teams are driving to EBC in that country. While the mountain is much easier to reach on the North Side, climbers still have to take their time and allow their bodies to become accustomed to the altitude. Most make several stops along the way to try to slowly adjust, but they don't have the same kind of acclimatization trek as the teams on the South Side do. Still, we should see the first climbers trickling into camp on that side of the mountain over the next few days too.

That's it for now. More new from the Himalaya soon.

Alex Honnold and Renan Ozturk To Attempt One of the Toughest Free-Climbs in North America

While we're obviously still gearing up for a very busy Himalayan climbing season in the days ahead, there are other interesting expeditions in the planning stages as well. Take for example the new project from Alex Honnold and Renan Ozturk, which will send them to Alaska to take on one of the toughest free-climbs in all of North America.

According to Men's Journal, the two climbers will attempt the first free ascent of Wine Bottle Tower on the East Face of Mt. Dickey in June. In terms of altitude, Dickey is a modest climb at best, topping out at a mere 2909 meters (9545 ft). But, its East Face is a spectacular big wall built to test the skills of any climber, including ones as talented as Honnold and Ozturk.

The route they'll take up Wine Bottle Tower is extremely technical, requiring plenty of skill and talent to even consider undertaking. It also happens to be 1600 meters (5250 ft) of sheer vertical granite, which makes it about 609 meters (2000 ft) taller than El Capitan in Yosemite.

The first – and only – ascent of this route was done back in 1988 by Austrians Thomas Bonapace and Andreas Orgler. But those two men made the climb using aid to help them up the incredibly difficult rock face. Honnold and Ozturk will try to free the wall instead, something they attempted back in 2013 with Freddie Wilkinson, only to turn back less than 15% of the way up the route.

Men's Journal says that the two men haven't shared their exact plans yet, but it seems likely that in June they'll have to ski to Mt. Dickey to begin the climb and decide from there what their strategy will be. Since the route is mostly unscouted by either of the climbers, it seems likely that they'll spend several days on the project, setting up portaledges as they go. A straight shot up the wall in a single, massive push seems very unlikely, even for two guys as talented as this.

Either way, it should be interesting to see how this one develops. We'll have to wait for June to get further updates.

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.

Himalaya Spring 2017: The Kangchenjunga Skyline Expedition - 3 Miles Across the Death Zone

Earlier today I posted a story about some interesting expeditions to follow in the Himalaya this spring the aren't taking place on Everest. Not long after that story went live on The Adventure Blog, we got news of yet another very interesting climb that is set to get underway soon as well, with one of the most difficult mountains in the world as the target.

This morning, Simone Moro took the wraps off of his next project which is called the Kangchenjunga Skyline Expedition. As has been the case in most of his recent expeditions, he'll be climbing with Tamara Lunger on what promises to be one of the most difficult endeavors of their careers – which is definitely saying something.

The plan is for the the duo to attempt an incredibly difficult and high altitude traverse without the use of supplemental oxygen or Sherpa support. They'll start on the Kangchenjunga plateau and cross over four massive peaks along the way, starting with Yalung Kang (8505 m/27,902 ft), then on to the third highest peak on the planet in Kangchenjunga itself at 8586 meters (28,169 ft), before proceeding on to Kangchenjunga Central (8482 m/27,828 ft), before proceeding to Kangchenjunga South (8476 m/27,808 ft). Along the way, they'll cover more than 5.5 km (3.5 miles) above 8300 meters (27,230 ft), all the while trekking above the so called "Death Zone" without bottled oxygen.

Once acclimatized, Simone and Tamara will spend seven days on the traverse, completely unsupported along the way. If they are successful, it will be the longest traverse at altitude ever.

To learn more about this impressive expedition, check out the announcement video below.


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.