Showing posts with label Shishapangma. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Shishapangma. Show all posts

Himalaya Spring 2017: Season Progressing On Schedule

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

That's all for now. More updates soon.

Himalaya Spring 2017: 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.

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Himalaya 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: Summit Window Shaping Up On Everest, Go Time on Shishapangma?

The weekend brought a bit more clarity to the summit schedule on Everest, where rope fixing teams are still working on completing the installation of the lines but should wrap up those efforts over the next few days. And with good weather projected this week, the summit teams may not be far behind.

At the moment, most of the teams on the South Side of Everest are in Base Camp or even further down the Khumbu Valley. They'll all be heading back to BC soon however, as various reports say that climbers are now preparing to go to the summit as soon as the rope fixing is complete. That means we could potentially see the first summits of the past two years take place as soon as Friday, May 13. On top of that, the weather forecast looks very favorable through May 20, which means we could have a steady week of summit bids.

On the North Side, the story is a similar one. As of the start of the weekend, the ropes were fixed up to 8230 meters (27,000 ft), with the final lines set to be placed in the next few days. That will clear the way on the Tibetan side of the mountain too, with summit bids launching there as well.


Over the next few days, we're likely to see very few updates from Everest. It is the calm before the storm there at the moment. The climbers are resting, relaxing, and preparing for the challenge ahead. But their schedules are now falling into place, and within a few days they'll start their summit pushes. Even those who will delay past the initial rush are likely to be gearing up for the final stage of the season.

Meanwhile, over on Shishpangma it looks like it may be go time for Ueli Steck and David Göttler soon as well. They have yet to confirm when they will begin their attempt along a new route on the mountain, and a potential traverse down the opposite side. But the weather forecast there is said to be looking good for the next week, giving them plenty of time to begin their light and fast, alpine style ascent without oxygen. We'll be keeping an eye on their attempt as well.

While the next few days may be fairly quiet in the Himalaya, we're about to get vary busy. Stay tuned for lots of updates to come.

Himalaya Spring 2016: North Side Route on Everest Could Open Today

As the spring climbing season on Everest continues we could reach a major milestone on the North Side of the mountain today, while on the South teams continue to wait and watch the weather forecasts. Summits pushes are still at least a week from getting underway, but we're nearing the endgame of a season that had to bring some sense of normalcy to the mountain, and so far it has done just that.

So far this year we haven't had a lot of news from the North Side of Everest in Tibet. That's mostly because there are fewer climbers there, and things have just been moving along about as smoothly as possible. The teams have been making regular acclimatization rotations, and for the most part there hasn't been any drama to speak of. Now, we get word that the ropes to the summit could be in place as early as today. On that side of Everest, the China-Tibet Mountaineering Association handles all of the installation of the ropes rather than the teams themselves, and according to their latest updates they say that they "hope to go to the summit on the 5th." Meaning that if all goes as expected, the work will be wrapped up today and the route to the summit will be complete.

With the summit open, the North Side teams will start to look at their schedules and weather forecasts to determine the best time to start a summit bid. Some of those teams are now wrapping up their acclimatization process, so they'll return to Base Camp to rest and regain their strength before starting up. But it won't be long now before they start thinking about the final push.


Meanwhile, on the South Side, the rope fixing efforts have reportedly stalled out after reaching 7900 meters (25,918 ft). Minor avalanches along the Lhotse Face have kept the team that handles those duties from going higher. The teams have organized the rope fixing work on the Nepali side of Everest, and it seems they had a meeting yesterday to start plan their strategy moving forward. The hope is that the weather will hold, and the avalanches will cease, in order to allow the rope-fixing Sherpas to finish the job.

The concern amongst expedition leaders on the South Side now is that the summit schedule could get backed up, or more teams will try to take advantage of a narrow weather window, causing traffic jams on summit day. But its too early to worry about that at this point, and for now the focus should be on getting the ropes in place and acclimatizing for impending summit bids.

Finally, we have no real update from Shishapangma regarding Ueli Steck and David Göttler's new route on that mountain. The duo are still in BC and waiting for a good weather window. But, there is more information on their plans. Ueli and David hope to make a direct ascent on Shisha, and then potentially make a traverse down the opposite side. The weather will dictate if that is possible, but it does give us an idea of these two talented mountaineers' plan for the days ahead.

That's all for now. More to come soon.

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

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

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

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

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

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


Video: The Amazing Story of Alex Lowe and Conrad Anker

The discovery of the remains of Alex Lowe and David Bridges on Shishapangma has made headlines across the mountaineering community and beyond. That revelation has brought to the forefront Alex's friendship with Conrad Anker, and they way the loss of his friend changed Anker's life forever. This video from Outside TV provides the background on that story which remains extraordinarily touching even for those of us who already know it.

Himalaya Spring 2016: 5 Questions for Ueli Steck and David Göttler

One of the most interesting expeditions that is currently taking place in the Himalaya is Ueli Steck and David Göttler's attempt to summit Shishapangma along a new route. The two men made headlines over the weekend when they discovered the remains of Alex Lowe and David Bridges along the route they plan to ascend, but for those of us who have been watching their progress, there was other important news, namely that they have now completed their acclimatization and are simply waiting for a weather window before they begin their fast, alpine style ascent. Before that happens, German journalist Stefan Nestler has sent five questions to the dynamic duo as they wait in Base Camp, and their answers are very interesting indeed.

As usual, I won't spoil all of the questions and answers, but just tell you that Stefan asks some of the things we've all been wondering about, like which one of the two men is the most fit and the fastest. Both Ueli and David are known for being fleet of foot in the mountains, and they say that they are simply enjoying climbing with one another since they know the other is capable of staying with them throughout the expedition.

Stefan also asks them about their unusual acclimatization process (trail running in the Khumbu Valley), the current conditions on the mountain, details on the route they intend to climb, and about their experience in the region one year after the Nepali earthquake. As you can imagine, they have some good things to share on all of these topics. Of course, they are also eager to get started on the actual ascent, which hopefully can happen starting later this week.

Elsewhere, teams on Everest are now starting to retreat back to BC after rotations up to Camp 3 for a round of acclimatization. Despite the fact that there have been a lot of reports of avalanches on the mountain in recent days, it should be noted that there have been no injuries and the route has been repaired where ever these ice slides have occurred. In other words, the season is progressing about as smoothly and normally as it has in the past five years, with teams going about their business quickly and efficiently. If all goes according to plan, they should be ready to make summit bids – weather permitting – sometime around the middle of the month.

That's all for today. More news from the Himalaya as we get it.

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


The Remains of Alex Lowe and David Bridges Found on Shishapangma

There is a lot of news to report from the Himalaya over this past weekend, but I felt this story warranted its own post. One of the big stories to break over the past few days is that the remains of climbers Alex Lowe and David Bridges were discovered on Shishapangma more than 16 years after they went missing there.

Back in October of 1999, Lowe and Bridges – along with Conrad Anker – were part of an expedition to the 8027 meter (26,335 ft) mountain. The three men were scouting their route in anticipation of their ascent when an avalanche struck, sweeping Alex and David away in the process. Anker survived and was joined by other members of the team, who swept the face of the mountain for signs of their fallen comrades. They didn't find a trace of them.

Those of you familiar with this story know what happened next. Anker returned home, grieving for the loss of Lowe who was his best friend. He sought solace with Alex's widow Jenni, and the two eventually married with Conrad becoming the step father to the couple's son. In the years that have followed, Anker has gone on to be one of the most accomplished alpinists of his generation.


Last week, Ueli Steck and David Göttler were scouting a new route on Shishapangma in preparation of an alpine style ascent this spring. The two men – who are also highly accomplished climbers - discovered the remains of Lowe and Bridges, who was a talented cameraman sent to film the 1999 expedition.

The bodies of the two men were revealed as climate change has started to cause melting on Shishapangma. And while they haven't been conclusively identified as of yet, the gear from the era that they went missing, and the location of the bodies on the mountain, all point to bodies being Alex and David.

The discovery does bring a measure of closure to the families of the two climbers who are no doubt grieving again with revelation of the remains of Alex and David being uncovered. Our thoughts are with those who were close to the two men. Hopefully this discovery helps them to find a further measure of peace.

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: 4 Deaths in 5 Days Cast Shadow Over the Himalaya

Despite the fact that the spring climbing season in the Himalaya seems to be proceeding about as smoothly as can be expected following the challenges of the past few years, there are still some dark clouds hanging over the big mountains. The Himalayan Times is now reporting that four foreign climbers have lost their lives in the past five days, breaking the sense of safety and serenity that has hovered over the region so far this year.

Two of the deaths came on Shishapangma, where a Swiss climber named Patrik Mattioli and an Austrian named Jon David Johnson fell from a fixed rope into a crevasse. The accident occurred on April 24 at 6200 meters (20,341 ft) as the two men were climbing up from Advanced Base Camp. They were apparently killed immediately.

Meanwhile, over on Everest, a Japanese climber named Hidenori Hagi passed away in Base Camp on the same day. He was being treated for altitude sickness at the time, but succumbed to the illness. His body was retrieved and flown back to Kathmandu.

The fourth death also occurred in the Khumbu Valley yesterday. An unnamed Korean climber died of altitude sickness while returning from Lobuche Peak. Details on the incident remain sparse, with local officials still investigating the incident, although it seems to be a simple case of HACE or HAPE claiming another life.


Altitude sickness is a common occurrence in the Himalaya. According to the Times, at least seven people were evacuated from Everest Base Camp over the past three weeks while exhibiting symptoms of the illness. Another 110 patients have been treated in EBC for HACE or HAPE as well.

The altitude sickness treatment center in Pheriche in the Khumbu Valley shared even higher numbers. They indicated that 9 people had to be evacuated from the area, while 250 have been treated for altitude sickness.

While these numbers seem high, they are generally in line with what you would expect from the spring climbing season. It is not uncommon for people to take ill at altitude, but those symptoms aren't always life threatening or dangerous. Some are quite mild, with headaches or mild nausea common. That said, a friend of mine collapsed twice above the Khumbu Icefall on Everest last week and had to be evacuated from the mountain. Had he gone much higher, the situation could have become dire, but fortunately he was able to be pulled off the mountain safely and is now home and recovering. Hopefully that will be the case for most who run into trouble.

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Himalaya Spring 2016: 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 FrogManCharities.org. 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.




Summer Climbs 2015: 6 Summit Challenge Continues in Pakistan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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