Thursday, March 27, 2014

Everest 2014: Teen Goes For Triple-Header, New Route On Kangchenjunga

As mentioned earlier in the week, it is a busy time in Kathmandu, where the climbing teams are now arriving ahead of the official start of their expeditions. Nepal's capital is a bit chaotic anytime of the year, but that is even more true now. Most are still organizing their gear and planning the last minute logistics of their adventure, while also trying to relax before they have to truly go to work. Over the next couple of months, we'll be sharing their stories as we follow along with their progress.

One climber that you'll be hearing a lot about in the weeks ahead is Matt Moniz. At the ripe old age of 16, Matt is already a veteran climber who has summited Kilimanjaro, Elbrus, Aconcagua, and Denali. A few years back, he and his dad Mike reached the highest point in each of the 50 U.S. states, accomplishing that task in just 43 days, and earning Matt the honor of being named one of National Geographic's adventurers of the year. Since then, his passion for the mountains has only grown, and this spring he'll attempt his first 8000 meter peak. Well, technically he'll attempt three of them.

Matt and Mike will head to Nepal next week, where they will begin an ambitious expedition. They'll first travel to Tibet where they'll acclimatize and test teen's skill on Cho Oyu, an 8201 meter (26,906 ft) mountain that is considered one of the easier 8-thousanders, if you can call any of them easy. If all goes according to plan, they'll summit around mid-May, then transfer back to Nepal, where they'll travel to Everest Base Camp on the South Side. From there, they'll have a go at the 8848 meter (29,029 ft) summit of Everest. If successful on the tallest mountain on the planet, and conditions are right, they'll then try to summit nearby Lhotse (8516 meters/27,940 ft) as well. Since Everest and Lhotse share much of the same route, they hopefully won't need to descend back to BC, but can link up both summits in a single push.

Whether or not they'll be successful has yet to be seen, as a number of factors such as weather and health, will have an impact. Last year, Mike was able to bag both Everest and Lhotse however, and that experience will prove invaluable on this expedition as well.

On a personal note, I had the pleasure of meeting both Mike and Matt in person at last year's Outdoor Retailer show. They are incredibly down to Earth, humble individuals who simply love to climb. I am wishing them the very best on this big adventure, and I'll be following their progress all the way. If there is one young man who is capable of pulling off this triple header in the Himalaya, it is Matt, and I look forward to reading about their progress.

While the mountaineering community will be squarely focused on Everest in the days ahead, it won't be the only big Himalayan peak to see action this spring. In fact, some of the more interesting climbs will probably be taking place away from the Big Hill, as top mountaineers look to avoid the large crowds that are now associated with climbing the tallest mountain on the planet. Take for example, Denis Urubko, who will be leading a team at they attempt a new route on Kangchenjunga, the third highest mountain on the planet at 8586 meters (28,169 ft).

Denis will be joined by Artem Brown, Adam Bielecki, and Alex Txikon on this adventure, in which they'll be trying to open a new line up the mountain's North Face. This experienced and talented team will have their work cut out for them, as Kangchenjunga is no easy mountain to climb, and can be very dangerous when conditions are poor. But each of them is looking to put a challenging 2013 behind them and try something new in the Himalaya this spring. They'll likely travel light and could possibly even attempt an alpines style ascent. Their expedition will be another one that I'll be keeping a close eye on this spring.

Good luck to everyone traveling to Nepal in the next few days. Be safe and enjoy a bit of calm before the hard work begins. You'll be on the mountain soon enough.

No comments: