Showing posts with label Tibet. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Tibet. 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!

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.

Himalaya Spring 2017: Season Progressing On Schedule

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

That's all for now. More updates soon.

Himalaya Spring 2017: Kilian Jornet 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: 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.

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: 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 Spring 2017: Ueli Steck Shares Everest-Lhotse Traverse Plans

One of the expeditions that we'll be keeping a close eye on this spring is Ueli Steck's attempt to summit both Everest and Lhotse in a single push. As most of you probably already know, the two mountains stand next to one another, and are joined by a single long and difficult ridge that sits above 8000 meters (26,246 ft). That means that any climber attempting the double summit will be above the so called "death zone" for an extended period of time, although Steck has shown his ability to move quickly and tolerate the challenges of thin are at altitude in the past.

In a nutshell, here is Ueli's plan. The Swiss climber has already done some acclimatization in Nepal this winter, and has been preparing int he Alps too. But, he'll still have to allow his body to adjust to the altitude before he begin the climb. To that end, he'll depart for Kathmandu this Saturday, April 8. After handling some logistics in the city and finishing his gear prep, he'll then head out to the Khumbu Valley to being the trek to Base Camp.

Once he is fully acclimatized and ready to begin the traverse, Ueli will first depart BC for Camp 1 just like everyone else. He'll make his way up the Hornbein Couloir on his way to the summit of Everest, before descending back down to the South Col at 8000 meters. From there he'll traverse the ridge between Everest and Lhotse and climb another couloir along Denis Urubko's route before approaching the 8511 meter (27,923 ft) summit of Lhotse. From there, he'll descend along the standard route to Camp 2 for rest, before crossing the Khumbu Icefall and returning to Base Camp.


Of course, we're still a number of weeks away from Steck actually launching this ambitious double-summit bid, but at the moment this is his plan. He'll be joined on the climb by Tenji Sherpa, who he has climbed with in the past. The duo have knocked off the Cholatse North Face (6440 m/21,128 ft) together, and have completed the Eiger/Mönch/Jungfrau traverse in the Alps as a team as well. Tenji and Ueli trained together in Nepal this past February when they worked out the logistics of the expedition.

Expect to hear a lot more about this climb in the days ahead. Ueli is just now preparing to depart for Nepal, but we'll likely receive regular updates as he makes his way to BC, prepares for the climb, and sets off on this difficult attempt.

Meanwhile, ExWeb is reporting that the Chinese have shut down another attempt on Lhotse's South Face this season. Korean climber Sung-Taek Hong had planned on attempting Everest's neighbor along that route this spring, but was informed by his Chinese trekking company that the expedition had been cancelled and payment was no longer being accepted. No reason has been given, but it is believed to have political roots. ExWeb speculates that the expedition was shut down due to the U.S. military installing a missile defense system in South Korea recently.

Once again, politics get in the way of completely unrelated events. More updates to come soon.

Himalaya Spring 2017: Kilian Jornet Returns to Attempt Everest Speed Record

This past fall, Spanish mountain runner Kilian Jornet traveled to the North Side of Everest to attempt to set a new speed record on that mountain. Those efforts were thwarted early on due to horrible weather conditions, and Jornet pulled the plug on that attempt, vowing to return at a later date. Now, we know when he'll be back and what his plans are for the year ahead.

According to reports, Jornet will now travel to the Himalaya this spring where he will move ahead with plans to climb and descend the world's highest peak in under 24 hours. Apparently he was having difficulty obtaining permits to return in the fall, so has elected to give it a go during the busy spring season instead. How this will impact his approach to the climb remains to be seen.

During the autumn Himalayan climbing season, Everest is all but abandoned making it much easier for Jornet to use his now-famous fast and light style. But during the pre-monsoon season, he'll have to contend with other climbers that will be along the route too. Presumably he'll be making his record-setting attempt from the North Side in Tibet once again, as the crowds are usually much lighter from that side of the hill. He will acclimatize in Nepal before hand however before heading to the mountain.

Everest is the final stage of Jornet's Summits of My Life project, which has seen him set speed records on peaks all over the world, including Kilimanjaro, Aconcagua, and Denali. He hopes to complete that pursuit by adding one more record to his resume.

In addition to tackling Everest in the spring, Jornet has also signed up to compete in a host of ultra events, including the Mont Blanc Marathon in June, the HardRock in Colorado in July, and Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc in September, amongst others.

This being Kilian, he also plans to attempt to set a new speed record for running a tough route through the Lake District in the U.K. as well. The path covers 119 km (73 miles) and feature 43 hills with a combined elevation gain of 8700 meters (28,543 ft). The current record for the route stands at 13 hours and 53 minutes and was set back in 1982. That makes it ripe for being beat.

Of course, Jornet is likely to show up in a few other events and projects as well. As usual, we'll be following his exploits closely. Especially as he prepares for Everest.

Himalaya Spring 2017: A New Season Begins on Everest and Beyond

It is that time of year again. As April inches ever closer, climbers, trekkers, porters, and guides are gathering in Kathmandu to begin their annual pilgrimage out into the Himalaya. The spring climbing season in Nepal and Tibet is about to begin, and already the first teams are on their way to their respective mountains. It promises to be yet another interesting year, with potentially record setting numbers on Everest. And while the other peaks in the region will see less traffic, there will nevertheless be plenty of expeditions on those mountains to follow too. So buckle up and settle in, as the next two months of adventure news will be highly focused on the mountaineering world. 

As I write this, the first teams are already en route to Everest Base Camp, and Sherpas have been there for a couple of weeks establishing the campsites that will be home for the next two months. The Icefall Doctors are also already onsite and have been busy building the route through the Khumbu Icefall. They'll stay until the last climber is off the mountain, maintaining and repair that route late into May or even early June. 

This year, we can expect the usual suspects to continue to play major roles on the mountain. That will include teams from Himalayan Experience, Adventure Consultants, Mountain Madness, and others. You'll also see more and more low-cost Nepali operators muscling their way onto the mountain. These locally owned companies have begun to play a much larger role in the past few years, and are able to offer Everest expeditions at much lower rates than their Western counterparts. They'll be bringing large continents of clients with them to the mountain, as interest in climbing the highest peak in the world only continues to grow. 

Of course, this being Everest, we'll also see our fair share of other stories to follow too. For instance, 85-year old Min Bahadur Sherchan will be attempting the mountain once again with the hopes of establishing a new age record. Swiss climbing icon Ueli Steck will be back on the mountain as well as he attempts the Everest-Lhotse traverse. We'll also be following Andy Holzer as he attempts to become the second blind man to reach the summit of Everest as well. 

This is just the tip of the iceberg however, as we'll also be watching expeditions on Annapurna, Shishapangma, Manaslu, and other big Himalayan peaks. Everest always takes center stage of course, but there are other stories to tell too. As those expeditions begin to take shape, and fall into place, I'll post regular updates on their progress. Those peaks will be less crowded, and often receive less attention, but they are incredibly difficult climbs that deserve respect as well. 

One Himalayan expedition has already been cancelled before it could even get off the ground. As reported a few weeks back, American Bill Burke had intended to climb the 6942 meter (22,775 ft) Burke-Khang this spring. The summit of the mountain that bears his name has eluded him on two previous attempts, but things were looking promising for this year. Unfortunately, inclement weather put a stop to the attempt before the team could even set foot on the mountain. Heavy snows, high winds, and a dangerous forecast convinced the team to call off the expedition and wait for for a better opportunity in the future. As is often the case in mountaineering, discretion is the better part of valor. 

We're just getting started with our climbing coverage for the Spring 2017 season. Stay tuned for plenty of updates to come. 

Himalaya Spring 2017: Blind Austrian Climber Returns to Everest

As I mentioned yesterday, the spring climbing season in the Himalaya is still a month away from truly getting started, but we're starting to see some interesting stories emerge ahead of the climbers arriving in Kathmandu. As usual, there will be a number of fascinating climbs to follow over the course of the two months that the season runs, not the least of which will be Andy Holzer's expedition to Everest, his third attempt in the last four years.

Everest 2017: Looking Back Before We Look Forward

The 2017 spring climbing season on Everest is about a month from getting underway at this point. The first teams will begin arriving in Kathmandu around the end of March, with more streaming into Nepal – and eventually Tibet – in the early days of April. For most, it will be a two-month long adventure, during which they will be attempting to reach the summit of the highest mountain on the planet. Right now, those climbers are putting the final touches on their preparation, organizing their gear, and starting to look ahead to the challenges to come. But, before we also look ahead to the season that is now fast approaching, it might be appropriate to first look back at seasons past.

Our friend Alan Arnette has been covering Everest for 15 years, and is now gearing up for the 2017 season as well. Over the past decade and a half, he has offered some of the best insights and commentary on the evolving climbing scene, which has undergone a lot of change since he penned his first blog. To start his coverage this year, Alan has written an excellent post in which he looks back at each of the seasons from 2010 through 2016.

If you follow Everest closely, you probably already know that some of those years were amongst the most unusual and tumultuous ever. For instance, 2013 was when the now infamous brawl took place on the Lhotse Face between a group of Sherpas and a team of prominent European climbers. At the time, that incident shocked the mountaineering community and sparked debates about who was wrong and who was right. The following two seasons, 2014 and 2015, were marred by tragedy with significant loss of life both years. Those seasons also ended abruptly, with climbers and Sherpas leaving the mountain.

To wrap up this blog post and set the scene for the season ahead, Alan has also posted his thoughts on what he thinks 2017 will be like. He predicts a record number of summits, but also expects disorganization on both the North and South Sides of the mountain. There will be more new operators guiding clients on Everest this year, many of whom will be inexperienced. Additionally, more climbers are also flocking to the Himalaya as prices for climbing continue to drop. That inexperience could show through as well.

The article, which you can read in full here, is a good introduction to the current climate on Everest. It also sets the stage nicely for what is to come. In a few short weeks, I'll begin my regular Everest coverage as well, and as usual it promises to be another interesting year.

Video: Climbers on the Summit Approach to Everest

The view from the top of the world is not one that many of us will ever get to see, but if you've ever wondered what it is like on the approach to the summit of Everest, you'll want to take a peek at this video. It's obviously not from the mountain in 2017 as the label says, but it still gives you a good idea of what it is like to finally reach the top.

Climb Everest in Virtual Reality on the Oculus Rift

Let's face it, most of us are never going to be able to climb Everest. Not only is it extremely difficult, requiring years of experience and training, it also happens to be prohibitively expensive too. But, thanks to the miracles of modern technology, we can now all catch a glimpse of what it is like to stand on the highest point on the planet.

A company called Sólfar Studios, working in conjunction with another firm called RVX, have created a virtual reality experience that allows owners of the Oculus Rift VR headset to climb to the summit of Everest. The software offers Oculus owners a chance to take in the views from the mountain, without actually having to travel to the Himalaya or acclimatize for three weeks before starting up.

The new Everest VR experience is actually an updated version of one that Sólfar created for the HTC Vive headset last year. But, Oculus users get a couple of additional features, including the ability to climb up the Lhotse Face and a new "god" mode that takes them above the Himalaya themselves for a bird's eye view of the tallest mountains on Earth.

I don't own either of these VR headsets so I can't comment on what this virtual climb of Everest is like, but having used the Oculus Rift in the past, I can tell you that it provides a very compelling and realistic experience. We do get a glimpse of the technology at work here in the video below however, which is no substitute for actual VR, but it does serve as a preview of what to expect. This is especially true if your browser supports 360º video, allowing you to pan around in all directions. Check it out to catch a glimpse of this tech in action.

Will the Everest 2017 Season Be One for the Record Books?

The start of the 2017 spring climbing season on Everest is still a couple of months off, but already there are climbers, guides, and Everest junkies all over the world who are gearing up for its start. Amongst them is mountaineer/blogger Alan Arnette, who always follows the climbing scene on the Big Hill closely and provides excellent insights as to what to expect and thoughts on events as they are developing. With a new season on the horizon, Alan is currently looking ahead and says that we can expect big things this year.

In an article posted to his blog yesterday, Alan says that 2017 is looking like a year for the record books. Two months before the first climbers start to arrive in Kathmandu, he is already predicting a record number of summits and many new climbers in Base Camp. This is in part because of the low cost operators who have begun taking over the mountain. This has allowed an influx of climbers from India and China in particular, and since those operators don't mind dealing with large groups of clients. In some cases, more than 100 at a time.

But beyond that, there are a number of stories to watch this year that should prove of interest. For instance, Alan notes (as we have here at The Adventure Blog) that Ueli Steck is planning to return to attempt an Everest-Lhotse Traverse. He also mentions the Indian survey team that will be measuring the current height of Everest to see if the 2015 earthquake has had an impact on that number. And as if that wasn't enough, Alan also notes that Nepali Min Bahadur Sherchan will be on the mountain in an attempt to set a new record for the oldest person to summit. At the age of 86, Min Bahadur says he is still in good shape and ready to go.

Of course, this is probably just the tip of the iceberg in terms of storylines and drama that we'll see on Everest this spring. As always, it will be a never ending source of inspiration and motivation, and probably a bit of controversy along the way too. It wouldn't be Everest otherwise. Stay tuned for regular reports throughout the spring as events unfold.

Alan Arnette Answers Common Questions About Everest for 2017

The spring climbing season on Everest is still two months off, but as I write this there are hundreds of climbers around the world who are preparing to leave for the Himalaya in a few short weeks. While they still have plenty of time to get ready, there is always lots of gear to buy and organize, training to conduct, and daily affairs to get in order before leaving for Base Camp for two months. It is a busy, hectic, and exciting time for many of them, with a major challenge looming on the horizon.

Awhile back, mountaineering blogger Alan Arnette posted a Personal Letter to Everest climbers for 2017, in which he posed some serious questions for them to think about before they go. In that letter, Alan urged anyone who was considering making the climb to think long and hard about whether or not they were ready for such a challenge, as he pointed out that most of the deaths on the mountain since 2000 were due to lack of experience. As a follow up to that post, Alan – who has been on Everest numerous times – answered the very questions he posed, providing some insight into what you should know before you go.

One of the most common questions that people have is how high should they have climbed previously before trying Everest. Alan says that it depends on the person of course, but he recommends having at least one other 8000 meter peak under your belt before heading to the Big Hill. But, that is just one of many very specific questions on this list, which includes Alan's thoughts on regulating the flow of oxygen on the way to the summit, what kind of foods you should eat while on the expedition, how long to give fresh snow a chance to settle before moving up, and more. The blog post talks acclimatization strategy, physical conditioning, dealing with fatigue, and lots of other issues that climbers deal with on Everest.

This is one of those blog posts that provides a ton of insight from someone who has been on the mountain. While you can often read about the experience, or even watch it unfold in videos and movies, it is hard to pick up these pearls of wisdom from those sources. The questions and answers that Alan provides are useful on a different level, sometimes addressing minute details that are only learned through years of experience. That makes this an interesting read for those of us who follow the Everest climbing scene closely.

To read those insights for yourself, click here.

Video: Climbing a New Route in Tibet

This past October, mountaineers Nick Bullock and Paul Ramsden traveled to Tibet to make the first ascent of Nyainqentangla South East, a tough 7046 meter (23,123 ft) peak that has seldom been visited in the past. As you'll see in the clip below, the two men faced incredible challenges and were pushed to their limits on this expedition into the unknown as they approached the climb not in a fast and light style as has become the trend, but in a more thoughtful, methodical pace that adheres to the mantra of slow and steady wins the race.

Nyainqentangla South East, Nick Bullock from MOUNTAIN EQUIPMENT on Vimeo.

How Much Does it Cost to Climb Everest? (2017 Edition)

As I already mentioned today, as 2016 grinds to an end, it is time to start looking ahead to 2017 and adventures yet to come. A bit part of that will be what happens on Everest next spring, and to get ready for the start of another season of climbing on the Big Hill, Alan Arnette has once again posted his annual look at the cost of climbing Everest. If you've ever wondered how much you'd have to spend to go up the highest mountain on the planet, Alan breaks it down nicely for us, and explains where all of the cash goes. He also takes a look at the trends impacting pricing, and where we're headed in the future too.

As usual, there is a lot to sift through in Alan's report, and he does a much better job of breaking everything down than I could ever possibly hope to do. But, there are a few things that stick out as you examine the price of climbing on Everest in 2017. First, and unsurprisingly, costs are increasing, particularly on the Chinese side of the mountain in Tibet where Alan says the average price of an expedition has gone up 22% over last year. That is largely in part because of higher costs of permits from the North Side this season.

The price of a standard supported climb now ranges from $28,000 to $85,000, with the level of "support" varying greatly of course. The top end of spectrum stretches out to $115,000 for a custom climb, while those who want to mostly go it alone can get by for as little as $20,000. Alan points out that most of the lower-end prices come from Nepali companies who have been competing on price to win customers in recent years, but even their costs are starting to inch up as they realize there is more money to be made. But, if you still want to get a great deal, they are more willing to haggle than their Western competitors.


Following the highly successful 2016, which came after two very tumultuous seasons in 2014 and 2017, the demand for climbing on Everest is expected to be higher than ever. More climbers are now coming to the mountain from China and India, as well as other parts of the world, which is pushing the need for more guides and more options. In the wake of this vacuum, new companies are stepping up to provide services for all of these clients, and as a result pricing is in flux at the moment. In also calls into question the safety of climbing on the mountain, as it continues to become even more crowded. How this impacts things going forward should be interesting, and hopefully not tragic.

Other interesting elements from Alan's price guide include a breakdown of how much each element of the climb costs – including permits, travel, insurance, gear, and so on. He also has a complete list of operators and their expected costs for 2017, as well as some answers to common questions. In short, it is a great primer for understanding the basics of a climb, and just why it costs so much.

If you're thinking about making the climb yourself, you'll definitely want to give this a read. And start saving your pennies of course. Even a "low-end" Everest climb is still quite an investment.