Friday, March 27, 2015

Himalaya Spring 2015: Expeditions to Watch

This weekend many climbers from across the globe will set out for Nepal at long last. Even though there has already been action in the Himalaya this spring, the season won't truly get underway until next week when the teams begin arriving in Kathmandu in droves. It'll take them some time to get out to their various Base Camps, but things are about to get very interesting in the big mountains.

To prepare us for the season ahead, Alan Arnette shared a post yesterday detailing some of the major expeditions to watch in the weeks ahead. Most of these climbs center around Everest of course, but several will focus on other major peaks too. Alan himself will leave shortly for Nepal as well, where he'll be attempting Lhotse this spring.

Among the climbs that Alan recommends keeping an eye on this year are an expedition to the rarely visited North-Northeast Ridge, where Canadian Raphael Slawinski will be joined by Germans David Goettler and Daniel Bartsch to attempt a new route without the use of Sherpas or supplemental oxygen. This side of the mountain has only been scaled one other time, but a Russian team back in 1996. The trio will be going up the ridge along a different path however.

Kilian Jornet's speed attempt on Everest will certainly get plenty of attention as well. His original plans were to make the attempt from the North Side, but Alan's report seems to indicate that is no longer the case. Considering the challenges and uncertainty that come with climbing in Tibet, and the fact that some operators switched sides and cancelled climbs on the North, perhaps Kilian has had to change up his plans as well. That will make things difficult for him, as the larger crowds on the South Side will certainly alter his approach.

Other interesting expeditions on the schedule an attempt to ski the Lhotse Coulair on Everest by Matt Moniz and Wilie Benegas. Alan says the coulair has never been fully skied before, and these two climbers will do it after summiting Everest. British climber Kenton Cool has ambitious plans for the weeks ahead as well. He'll first attempt to summit Everest – something he has done 11 times in the past – before moving on to Kangchenjunga and eventually K2. 23-year old Brit Rupert Jones-Warner will attempt to summit Everest from both the North and South Side, using a helicopter to travel between the two Base Camps on the respective sides of the mountain. Finally, German climbing legend Ralf Dujmovits is returning to Everest once again to attempt to summit without the use of bottled oxygen. Ralf has already climbed all 8000-meter peaks, but feels he has unfinished business on Everest after using O's to summit that peak.

That's the run-down of Alan's suggestions for climbs to watch this spring. Of course, I'm sure there will be plenty of other interesting expeditions to keep an eye on as well. The season is only about to get underway, so there should be plenty of action to come.

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