Showing posts with label Ueli Steck. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ueli Steck. Show all posts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ueli Steck Dies on Nuptse

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Himalaya Spring 2017: Season Progressing On Schedule

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That's all for now. More updates soon.

Video: A View From the Summit of Lhotse

Earlier today we shared several stories involving Lhotse, the next-door neighbor of Everest. In this video, you'll go up the mountain to get a look at the surrounding region from must below the summit, including the view back down the approach to the top, and images of Everest itself. As you look across to the tallest mountain on the planet, you'll also see the ridge that connects the two mountains. That ridge is the way that Ueli Steck will traverse the two summits later this spring. The clip was shot back in 2008, but will still give you an indication of what he'll face in a month and a half. Obviously not a project for the faint of heart.

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: 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. 

Ueli Steck Training in Nepal Ahead of Spring Everest-Lhotse Attempt

The spring climbing season in the Himalaya is still well over a month from getting under way, but already some of the world's top climbers are preparing for the challenges ahead. Take Swiss alpinist Ueli Steck, who is getting ready for what could be the most difficult undertaking of his illustrious career. And to prepare for that expedition, Ueli is already in Nepal and training for what he expects to be a major undertaking.

This spring, Ueli hopes to summit not only Everest, but its neighbor Lhotse as well. While it is a bit unusual to bag both summits in a single season, it's not completely unheard of with other mountaineers completing that challenging in the past. But, Ueli will attempt to nab both summits in a single go, first topping out on Everest before returning to Camp 4 for a brief rest, and traversing the narrow ride that connects the two mountains, and going straight for the summit of Lhotse as well.

Steck will be joined on this venture by climbing partner Tenji Sherpa, and to prepare for their expedition the duo have already been training in Nepal. Ueli and Tenji recently summited the 6180 meter (20,275 ft) Island Peak. Additionally, while training in the Khumbu Valley, Ueli has also been doing a lot of running, saying that he has covered a distance of 150 km (93 miles) and a vertical climb of around 12,000 meters (39,370 ft).

After spending three weeks in the Khumbu, Ueli will now head home for another three weeks of training in the Alps, before returning to Nepal to attempt the Everest-Lhotse traverse. My guess is that he'll be back in the country early in the season, do some more acclimatization in the valley ahead of the start of climbing season, and will be ready to take on the challenge as early as he can. We've seen Ueli dash up to the summit of Everest before, staying well ahead of the normal crowds, and he is likely to do that again. In fact, a few years back he was amongst the first to summit, following behind the rope fixing team as they installed the lines to the top. I wouldn't be shocked to see him do the same thing again in an attempt to avoid the crowds that would surely slow him down from his normal amazing pace.

It won't be long now and we'll begin to see more stories of training and final prep work for the start of the season. By the first of April, the teams will begin arriving in Kathmandu and things will get really interesting. Right now, it's the calm before the storm, and we still have a winter ascent of Everest to watch closely too.

Ueli Steck Gearing Up For Lhotse Traverse in Spring 2017

It is hard to believe that 2016 is quickly drawing to an end, and soon we'll turn the page to a new year. That means lots of new opportunities of course, and a time to start look ahead to some big adventures to come, including the spring climbing season on Everest, which is sure to be a busy and interesting place after a return to normalcy this year. One climber who is already anticipating his expeditions to the mountain is Ueli Steck, who as usual has some big things planned.

Steck, who climbed Everest without bottled oxygen back in 2012, only to return the following year and find himself embroiled in a high-profile brawl with Sherpa guides, is now gearing up for a very ambitious expedition in the spring of 2017. The Swiss climber will return to the South Side of Everest to attempt what he calls the Lhotse Traverse, which will start with a summit of Everest and continue with him – and his climbing partner Tenji Sherpa – continuing across the saddle ridge to the summit of Lhotse, Everest's closest neighbor and the fourth highest mountain in the world at 8516 meters (27,940 ft). As with his last expedition to the world's tallest mountain, Ueli plans to make the climb without supplemental O's.

Recently, Steck sat down for an interview with journalist Stefan Nestler, during which he talked about this upcoming expedition, which he has already started preparing for. In that interview, Ueli says that he hopes to climb the Everest along the tough West Shoulder, and then after summiting, continue on to Lhotse in a single long, and difficult push. But, that said, he has also acknowledged that conditions might not be right for such a route, so he may shift to the normal route of Everest first, and complete the traverse that way instead. But, he says that this project is one of his dream expeditions, so there is a likelihood that if he does have to take the normal route, he may return in the future to try the West Shoulder again.

In the interview, Ueli also touches on the 2013 brawl, saying that he has now put that ugly incident behind him. It impacted him greatly immediately after the incident, leading to him not trusting other climbers quite so much and taking a different approach to his expeditions. He says that it has shaped his perspective moving forward, but that he is at peace with what happened and is ready to just concentrate on climbing in the High Himalaya instead.

As he prepares for the altitude he'll face on Everest and Lhotse, Ueli says he has begun picking up the volume of his training to get ready for the challenge ahead. Dong lots of vertical climbing at a rapid pace – something he is well known for – allows him to stay in the Alps and still prepare for the Himalaya, and while the start of the expedition is still more than three months away, he is already getting his body ready.

If successful, Ueli will be the first person to complete the Lhotse Traverse without the use of bottled oxygen. He seems very confident that he can pull this off, and knowing what I know about the "Swiss Machine," I wouldn't bet against him.

Will Ueli Steck Attempt Everest-Lhotse Traverse in Spring of 2017?

When it comes to daring climbing expeditions in the big mountains, Ueli Steck always seems to be planning something interesting. Over the years, the Swiss climber has built an impressive reputation for going fast and light in both the Alps and the Himalaya. So, naturally when he shares plans for an upcoming expedition, it is usually something of interest to the mountaineering community. Ueli did just that in a recent interview with Stefan Nestler for his adventure sports blog.

Recently, Nestler caught up with Steck at the International Mountain Summit in the Dolomite mountains of Italy. They talked about what Ueli has been up to recently, which included a climb on Shivling in India to celebrate his 40th birthday. On that expedition he traveled with his wife, and kept the climb low-key, not even alerting media to their plans. While they were there, they also met and shared Base Camp with Polish climbers Grzegorz Kukurowski and Lukasz Chrzanowski, who ended up later perishing on that mountain.

In the interview, Ueli also talks about what it is like getting older, and that while he can still go fast ni the mountains, he finds that it takes him longer to rest and recover. He's also learned that he doesn't necessarily want to take the big risks that he has in the past, although he estimates that he has another five years of big expeditions ahead of him.

But perhaps the most interesting aspect of the story is when Nestler asks him about his plans for the future. Steck says that his next project is another attempt on making the Everest-Lhotse traverse which would involve a summit of the tallest mountain on the planet, followed by a daring crossing of the ridge that links it to its neighbor Lhotse, where he would nab another summit along the way. "The Swiss Machine" doesn't give any indication of exactly when he'll give this expedition a go, but it seems that it could be on his radar for the spring 2017 climbing season in the Himalaya. Naturally, he'll be making the traverse and both summits without oxygen.

Ueli tells Stefan that he'll make the climb as part of a two-man team, with only Tenji Sherpa joining him on the expedition. Tenji was with him in 2012 when Ueli summited Everest, and the two have enjoyed several other expeditions in the Himalaya together as well.

The 2016 fall climbing season isn't completely over just yet, but we already have something to potentially start looking forward to in 2017. As always with Ueli, it should be a fun expedition to follow. 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: 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: 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.

Video: Ueli Steck's 2015 Year in Review

As usual, Swiss climber Ueli Steck had another busy year in 2015, climbing 82 peaks in the Alps and heading to the Himalaya looking for challenges as well. In this video, we get a visual recap of his accomplishments from last year, including some great footage of Ueli in the mountains doing what he does best. Watching Steck go to work is always amazing, as he makes it look so easy and effortless.

Climb to the Summit of Mont Blanc with Google Street View

Over the years Google Street View has continued to expand, taking us from the familiar avenues of our hometowns to such iconic locations as Machu Picchu in Peru, Petra in Jordan, and even the Khumbu in Nepal. Now, you can add one more location to that list, as earlier this week the tech giant brought one of Europe's most famous mountains online when they added Mont Blanc to their library of virtual destinations.

To capture these amazing places in full 360º images, Google uses a special backpack called the Street View Trekker. This special pack comes equipped with a device that includes 15 different cameras, each snapping images at the same time. Once the data is collected, software is used to stitch the data back together, creating a seamless experience of the various locations that the Trekker records.

In order to capture Mont Blanc in all of its glory, Google decided to enlist some specialists to help them out. They brought in mountain athletes Kilian Jornet, Ueli Steck, and Candide Thovex – amongst others – to get a streamlined version of the Trekker to the summit. The results are nothing short of spectacular.

The video below gives you a bit of insight into the project that brought Mont Blanc online. To explore it for yourself in Street View, simply click here.

Video: Dani Arnold Sets the Speed Record on the Matterhorn

Alpinist Dani Arnold is known for going fast and light in the mountains. In this video, we tag along with him as he sets out to break the speed record – held by Ueli Steck – on the Matterhorn, one of the most iconic mountains in the entire world. The time to beat is 1 hour and 56 minutes, which is a blazing fast time on the technically challenging mountain that stands 4478 meters (14,692 ft) in height. Does he break the record? If you followed Dani's efforts earlier in the year, you probably already know that he topped out in 1 hour and 46 minutes, but watching him do it in this video is impressive nonetheless.

Video: Ueli Steck Climbs 82 Peaks in 62 Days

One of the other most impressive accomplishments of 2015 was Ueli Steck's project to climb all 82 peaks in the Alps that are taller than 4000 meters (13,123 feet). The Swiss Machine managed to knock off all of those mountains in a mere 62 days, showing us once again why he is amongst the most talented alpinists of his generation.

In the video below, you'll get a chance to watch Ueli go to work in the Alps, while discussing the project, and what drives him to press forward with his expeditions to the mountains.

What will Ueli have in store for us in 2016? We'll just have to wait to find out. But I'm sure it'll be something unique and impressive.

Video: Ueli Steck Sets New Speed Record on the Eiger

Earlier in the week I wore about Ueli Steck's new speed record on the Eiger. On November 16, he managed to climb the mountain in 2 hours, 22 minutes, and 50 seconds, shaving five minutes off the previous record held by Dani Arnold. In this video, we not only get to hear Ueli talk about this new record, we also get to see him climbing along the famous Heckmair Route. As usual, he makes the climb look almost effortless, and when he talks about his accomplishment he is quite humble too. Watching the video will help you understand how he earned the nickname "The Swiss Machine," as he moves with such speed and grace on one of the most iconic mountains in the world.