Thursday, October 09, 2014

Himalaya Fall 2014: Progress on Lhotse and Makalu

The fall climbing season in the Himalaya is starting to draw to a close. Most of the commercial teams have wrapped up operations for the year, and have now started for home. It has been a successful autumn on Cho Oyu and Manaslu, while Shishapangma has shut out all attempts thus far. But there are still a few teams still in the mountains, and they are continuing to make progress on their intended routes.

We'll start today with the Korean squad that is attempting the South Face of Lhotse. The team has faced poor weather almost from the time they touched down in Kathmandu, but they continue to press ahead with their efforts none the less. Progress has been slow this season, but they are making the best of the situation. According to their most recent dispatch, they have now established Camp 2 at 6800 meters (22,309 ft), and they are working on constructing Camp 3 at 7500 meters (24,606 ft), although that has been a real struggle so far. The team is said to be in good spirits however, and the forecast is for improved conditions in the future. Hopefully this will allow them to push towards the summit in the days ahead.

Meanwhile, over on Makalu, the British tri-service team is back in BC for a much needed rest. They've been working the route along the Southeast Ridge for several weeks now, and have Camp 2 firmly in place at 6700 meters (21,981 ft). The squad spend several days there earlier in the week, and have now descended to recuperate and gain their strength. The plan is to begin shuttling more gear up the mountain over the next few days, and they are now eyeing a summit bid sometime after October 15.



Yesterday, a helicopter delivered some fresh supplies, including a new generator. Their previous model had been giving them problems, so they requested another one. This should provide the power they need to post dispatches more regularly.

The Madison Mountaineering team is also on Makalu, and have been making good progress since they switched routes over to the Northwest Ridge. Earlier in the week, they established C2 on that side of the mountain at 6464 meters (21,210 ft). According to their most recent dispatch, the weather has been good over the past few days. They expected to go up to Camp 3 yesterday, and then descend back to BC tomorrow for a rest. After that, they'll be looking for a good weather window to go for the summit as well.

Chris Jensen Burke has wrapped up her Cho Oyu expedition with a successful summit last weekend. She's now on her way home, but has started to post her thoughts on the climb. You can read the first part of her recap by clicking here. As usual, she provides good insights into what it is like to climb an 8000-meter peak, sharing her own personal experiences quite nicely. Definitely a good read for those who want to know more about these big peaks.

Finally, Bo Belvedere Christensen is pulled the plug on his attempt of Shishapangma. He had hoped to bag a second 8000-meter peak this fall, after successfully summiting Cho Oyu last week. But, as we've heard from a number of teams throughout the course of the season, the snow on Shisha is incredibly deep this year, and it has created unstable conditions, ripe for avalanches, near the summit. He'll now return home as well.

That's all for now. I'll continue to post updates as they are warranted.

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