Monday, May 19, 2014

Himalaya 2014: Summits Across the Himalaya!

As expected, there were a number of summit pushes across the 8000 meter peaks this past weekend, with climbers finding success on several mountains. It was a busy couple of days in the Himalaya, where teams sought to take advantage of a weather window, and top out during a period of relatively calm winds and good all around conditions.

We'll start on Kangchenjunga, where Denis Urubko summited the mountain solo after his teammates turned back out of fear of an unstable approach to the summit. Climbing along the North Face, Denis completed a new route that is a variant of the British Route used in the past. He has already returned to Camp 4, where his teammates, Alex Txikon, Adam Bielecki, Artjom Braun and Dmitri Sinev, were waiting. Alex and Adam had hoped to summit, and traverse down the South Face, but conditions were not good for such an attempt. All members of the team will now head down to Base Camp, and most likely prepare to head home.

On the South Side of Kangchenjunga, ExWeb is reporting that Spanish climber Carlos Soria has also topped out, nabbing his eleventh 8000-meter peak at the age of 75. He was joined on the summit by Italian Marco Camandona and Finnish climber Samuli Mansikka, who topped out without the use of supplemental oxygen.

Jumping over to Cho Oyu, Mike and Matt Moniz successfully topped out on Saturday, right on schedule. They had a very narrow weather window for their summit bid, as high winds are expected back on that mountain today. After setting out at 4 AM, the reached the summit at 11 AM that morning, before descending all the way back down to ABC before taking a rest. The father-son team had originally planned to now travel to the South Side of Everest, and attempt a double-summit of that mountain and Lhotse. With things shut down on the South Side however, we'll have to wait to see if they just head home instead.


Mike Horn and Fred Roux found success on Makalu on Saturday as well. They reached the summit of that 8463 meter (27,765 ft) mountain without supplemental oxygen or high altitude Sherpa support. Fred topped out at about 10:30 AM local time, while Mike followed along at 4:00 PM in the afternoon. That should give you an indication of how good the weather was, at that is late in the day for summit. Both men descended the mountain safely and reunited in ABC.

Other climbers who have reportedly topped out on Makalu this weekend include Serbian climber Dragan Celikovic, Canadians Al Hancock and Monique Richard, Norwegian Arvid Lennard Lahit, and  French alpinist Philippe Gatta with Pasang Gombu.

Not everyone was successful on Makalu however, as ExWeb reports that a team of Indian climbers led by Arjun Vajpai were forced to turn back just 150 meters below the summit due to exhaustion and a lack of fixed ropes going to the top. Other teams were in position to summit yesterday and today, but we'll have to wait for further confirmation on their success.

ExWeb also reports that there were 10 summits on Dhaulagiri this weekend as well, with clients of Seven Summits Treks topping out on Saturday that includes two Chinese climbers Jing Luo and Zhu Gang, Peruvian Rimac Trejo Victor and Nepalese clients Nirmal Purja and Krishna Thapa Magar.

Meanwhile, the climbers on Everest's North Side continue to wait for their turn to come. A weather window is now expected later this week so that rope fixing can be completed at long last. Most teams are now looking at making their summit push starting on Friday and extending into the weekend. We'll just have to wait to see how things play out then.

Stay tuned for more updates.

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