Friday, May 16, 2014

Himalaya 2014: It is Go Time in the Himalaya!

After weeks of acclimatizing, and days of waiting for a weather window, it appears that it is finally time for the summit season to begin in the Himalaya. All across the region there are reports of good conditions in the mountains, with the high winds that have been buffeting the area quieting down at last. That means it should be a busy weekend on the 8000-meter peaks, where teams have launched their summit bids at last.

We'll start on Shishapangma, where ExWeb is reporting that there have already been successful summits, with more yet to come. A team of four French climbers, S├ębastien Moatti, S├ębastien Ratel, Antoine Bletton and Max Bonniot topped out on Wednesday via the South Face, and are already safely back in Base Camp. Meanwhile, teams on the North Side of the mountain are on the move as well, and should have a legitimate shot at reaching the summit sometime this weekend.

Over on Makalu, Mike Horn and Fred Roux have launched their summit bid. They climbed up to 6800 meters (22,309 ft) yesterday, and are homing to move up to Camp 2 at 7500 meters (24,606 ft) today. They report that high winds are still making things difficult on the upper slopes, but they expect them to quiet down, and allow for an attempt on the summit on Sunday.

Other teams are on the move on Makalu as well, which is where Chris Jensen Burke is tuning up for an attempt on K2 later this summer. She expects her squad to be heading up this weekend as well, as everyone looks to take advantage of the weather window ahead. There hasn't been an update from Chris in a couple of days, but it is safe to assume that she, along with the rest of her team, are eying a summit on Sunday too.

The team of  Alex Txikon, Adam Bielecki and Dmitri Sinev, Denis Urubko and Artem Braun are looking to open a new route on Kangchenjunga, and after acclimatizing along the normal route on the North Face, they are on the move as well. If everything goes as scheduled, they should top out tomorrow or Sunday, with Txikon and Bielecki looking to descend on the South Side, completing a traverse of the mountain. The team is climbing without supplemental oxygen, or high altitude Sherpa support.

On Cho Oyu, it seems this will be a very narrow weather window, with storms predicted to move in early next week. With that in mind, Mike and Matt Moniz have launched their summit bid, with the hopes of moving quickly to the top, and getting back down before the weather window slams shut. They left Advanced Base Camp yesterday, and should be Camp 2 today, where they'll rest for a brief period before making a push all the way to the summit, which should happen tomorrow morning local time.

Conspicuous with its absence on this update is Everest of course. The North Side has been effectively shut down the past few days due to high winds. The ropes are reportedly fixed up to Camp 3, and Sherpa teams are preparing to install them all the way to the summit, which looks to be finished around the 20th or 21st of the month. After that, teams will begin heading up, and may even be in a position to summit soon after the rope fixing is complete.

On the South Side of the mountain, where the two women climbers are making attempts on Everest and Lhotse, it is impossible to say what their schedule is. Rope fixing needs to be done there as well, and both of the ladies are probably still acclimatizing to the altitude. That story is an evolving one of course, so we'll just have to wait to see how it plays out once they come back down the mountain.

I'll post updates next week with results of these summit bids. Hopefully everyone gets up and down safely this weekend.

No comments: