Thursday, October 03, 2013

Himalaya Fall 2013: More Summits On Manaslu and Cho Oyu

As predicted there has been another round of summits across the Himalaya this week as good weather allowed teams to move up in relatively stable conditions. So far the fall climbing season has gone pretty much by the book with few major issues or problems. There are still some major expeditions under way of course, but it seems that a number of the larger commercial operations are wrapping up their fall itineraries and starting to head home.

It has been a productive season on Manaslu where there have been two major summit pushes within the past week or so. More teams reached the top on that mountain yesterday with Chris Jensen Burke being amongst them. She sent an audio dispatch announcing the team's success and letting friends and family know that everyone had come back down the mountain safely. Her squad was just one of a number of groups to summit yesterday with more expected to top out today.

Over on Cho Oyu there has been a similar level of activity over the course of the season and the past few days. Several commercial squads topped out over the past few days including the IMG team as well as climbers from Amical Alpin and Adventure Peaks. The weather has remained stable on the mountain all through the season, which has helped facilitate safe climbing on the mountain. The most recent summiteers have already returned to Base Camp and are resting up before the trek home.

The weather hasn't remained quite so consistent on Shishapangma however and a number of teams have turned back on their summit bids there. Rich Emerson of the Ski Shisapangma squad turned back on his second summit attempt due to an excessive amount of soft snow around the summit. He was able to get within 450 meters (1476 ft) once again but conditions wouldn't allow him to go any higher. He is now back in BC and intends to wrap up the expedition tomorrow. Meanwhile, 74-year old Carlos Soria  climbed as high as C3 on his summit bid before the weather forced him to retreat as well. He has gone back down the mountain to BC to re-evaluate his choices. Fresh snow and high winds made for poor visibility high on the mountain, which brought an end to summit bids. At least for now.

On Lhotse, the Italian team of Edmond Joyeusaz and Federico Colli continue to have their struggles. The two men went back up to Camp 1 a few days ago and found it in disarray due to recent storms. They rebuilt their campsite and dug out their tent, which was buried in snow both inside and out. They then spent a terrible night there in which Ed was sick once again and Federico's sleeping bag had a broken zipper, which made for a long, cold evening in the tent. They had intended to go up to Camp 2, but with their situation being less than ideal, they moved back down to BC instead. They hope to fix the sleeping bag and we're told that Ed's illness has more to do with food poisoning than altitude, so they'll push back up the mountain in another day or two. Meanwhile, the Korean team that has joined them in BC has built a path through the Khumbu Icefall and is preparing for their first acclimatization rotation soon as well.

Finally, there continues to be no updates from Ueli Steck and Don Bowie on their attempt to climb Annapurna. They checked in a few days back saying they had gone up the mountain to as high as 6000 meters (19,685 ft) but were back in BC at the time. For now, we wait to hear about their plans. Similarly, Chad Kellogg and David Gottlieb have yet to check in from Lunag Ri. Presumably they are still en route to the mountain and will begin sharing dispatches once they get settled. At 6895 meters (22,621 ft), that peak is the tallest unclimbed mountain in all of Nepal. It should be interesting to follow both of these expeditions moving forward.

That's all for now. More news from the Himalaya when there is something to share.

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