Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Himalaya Spring 2015: Climbing Season Off to an Early Start

The winter climbing season has barely passed, and spring hasn't even officially arrived yet, but climbers are already getting an early start to the new climbing season in the Himalaya. The majority of the teams won't begin arriving in Kathmandu for another couple of weeks yet, but several high profile mountaineers are already in Nepal and acclimatizing for upcoming expeditions, including one team that has already arrived in Base Camp on Annapurna. 

According to a report from ExWeb, a team of climbers consisting of Samuli Mansikka, Mingma G. Sherpa, Reza Shahlaee, Muharrek Aydin Imrak and Zdravko Dejanovic, reached BC the first week of March, where they have been busy setting up camp and scouting the route up the mountain. In fact, they have already been able to establish both Camp 1 and 2 at 5100 meters (16,732 ft) and 5650 meters (18,536 ft) respectively. 

Last week the team was joined by 76-year old Spanish climber Carlos Soria, who looks to add two 8000-meter peaks to his resume this year. He intends to not only top out on the dangerous Annapurna, but also summit Dhaulagiri later in the spring. Soria has already completed his first rotation up to Camp 1, and is currently back in BC resting before going higher as part of his acclimatization efforts. 

The plan is for this team to get well established on the mountain as soon as possible so that they can make an early-spring summit attempt. As the season unfolds, more snow will be dumped on Annapurna, increasing its difficulty and raising the chances of a deadly avalanche. Annapurna holds the distinction of being one of the most treacherous mountains in the world, with a death-to-summit rate of around 33%. This team hopes to beat those odds – and reach the top – by climbing as early in the spring as possible. 

Meanwhile, after being turned away on Manaslu a few weeks back, Simone Moro and Tamara Lunger have moved into the Khumbu Valley, where there are continuing to acclimatize. They had hoped to make a winter ascent of that mountain, as well as its east summit, but heavy snows forced them off the mountain. Now, they are planning to return later in the spring and complete the project in better weather. 

As I've mentioned before, mid-March is actually the calm before the storm in the Himalaya. These few expeditions aside, it'll be a few weeks before things really start to ramp up. Most teams are still at home, putting the finishing touches on their planning, and starting to pack for their journeys. Soon they'll fly off to Kathmandu, where the real adventure will begin. Expect some very interesting stories in the days ahead, as the spring climbing season in the Himalaya is always a busy and interesting one. 

More to come soon. 

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