Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Himalaya Fall 2014: Ueli Steck Joins Double8 Team on Shishapangma

While a host of new arrivals continue to get Base Camps across the Himalaya, a few teams have wrapped up their acclimatization rotations, and are about to launch their summit bids. A good weather window is projected for later this week, and it should allow some of the climbers to make a push for the top, although their remains some concerns about heavy snow and potential avalanches.

We'll start on Shishapangma, where the Double8 squad re-launched their attempt to summit Shishapangma yesterday, but ended up getting turned back once again. They're off to give it another go later today, with the hopes of reaching the summit tomorrow however, and this time they've recruited some world-class help to assist with the process. Ueli Steck, the Swiss Machine himself has joined the team, at least for their speed attempt on Shisha, and he will help lead them to the summit. Ueli will set out from ABC with  Benedikt Böhm, and they'll be joined by Sebastian Haag at Camp1, then and Andrea Zambaldi at C2.

Reportedly, the team is exhausted from their first attempt on the mountain last week, and hasn't recovered fully just yet. They are also feeling a bit under the weather, with all three members dealing with nasty coughs, and pulmonary issues. What that means for the future of the expedition remains unclear, as they have bigger plans beyond just a speed attempt on Shishapangma. As you may recall, they also intend to ski back down the mountain, then mountain bike 106 miles (170 km) to Base Camp on Cho Oyu, where they intend to make another speed climb to the summit of that 8000 meter peak. Whether or not they'll be physically able to achieve this goal remains to be seen.


It is also unclear what this means for Ueli's plans on Shishpangma. He is in Tibet to climb that mountain with his wife Nicole, but it does not sound like she will be a part of this summit push, nor would I expect her to take part in a speed climb on the mountain. It is possible that Steck will help the Double8 team get to the top, then return to BC, rest and make another climb with his wife. He certainly has the skills and physical strength to climb the mountain twice, but we'll have to wait to see if that is his intention.

Meanwhile, over on Mansaslu, several teams are preparing to make a summit push as well. Both the Altitude Junkies and Himex teams began their ascents yesterday. The two squads have been working together all season long, and that cooperation seems to be continuing now. Sherpas from both teams are leading the way, breaking trail in deep snow, and if all goes according to plan, they should top out on Thursday of this week, and return to BC on Friday. We'll monitor the situation closely and provide updates along the way.

Other teams appear to be a part of this summit push on Manaslu as well, as they scramble to take advantage of the good weather coming over the next few days. But not all is good on the mountain, as ExWeb is reporting that French and Italian climbers have had their food stolen from their tents at C1. It is unfortunate that these incidences happen in such remote places, but they are more common than you would think.

Good luck to the climbers who are on the move. Hopefully they'll get up and down their mountains safely, and perhaps with a successful summit to add to their resumes.

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