Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Himalaya Fall 2014: The Season is Over

It has been a long, and often difficult, fall season in the Himalaya, where poor weather, unstable conditions, and challenging routes have made for a less than successful year in the big mountains. While I was away in Ecuador, the last remaining teams wrapped up their expeditions, and the season has come to a close at last. But before we close the book on another year in the Himalaya, I wanted to post a couple of updates on things that took place over the past couple of week.

Before I departed for South America, we were watching Lhotse closely, waiting for new from the South Korean team that has been struggling for two very long months to make progress on that mountain. In the first week of November, the team set off on a summit push, installing Camp 4, and hoping to move to the top of the 8516 meter (27,940 ft) peak. According to ExWeb, the climbers reached as high as 7800 meters (25,590 ft) before they were once again turned back by high winds and poor conditions. One of the team members was also said to be in deteriorating health as well, which eventually forced the abandonment of the entire project.

One other expedition that had been ongoing was the attempt by Canadian climbers Jason Kruk and Ian Welsted to summit Nuptse along the South Face. The duo spent four days on their summit push, but were forced to turn back after encountering conditions that prevented them from reaching the top. Later, Welsted feinted on the trail and had to be airlifted out to safety. He seems to be in good condition, and all is well, but it did put a scare into Kruk for a time. The episode took place on November 3, and was the result of fatigue after living above 5000 meters (16,404 ft) for five weeks. The boys are home now, and doing much better.

This report brings a wrap to the 2014 fall Himalaya climbing season, and now all eyes will turn towards the spring, when Everest will sure dominate the scene once again. Considering how unusual the past few seasons have been on the Big Hill, I suspect we will not lack for drama once again in 2015.


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