Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Himalaya Spring 2015: Kilian Jornet Departing for Kathmandu, Still Waiting on Annapurna

Kathmandu is now seeing a steady stream of arrivals as climbers from around the globe descend on Nepal's capital prior to the start of their expeditions in the Himalaya. There will be many notable arrivals in the days ahead, with some of the best mountaineers in the world traveling to Everest, Lhotse, and a number of other major mountains. But one mountain athlete is sure to get plenty of attention his spring as he makes his bid for the speed record on the tallest mountain on the planet.

Spanish ultrarunner Kilian Jornet is preparing to depart for Nepal soon, where he'll pass through Kathmandu on his way to the Tibet. He will be climbing Everest from the North Side of the mountain due to the lower traffic on along that route. He also says that he will actually start his climb/speed-run lower in the valley, perhaps in the final village before reaching Base Camp. Kilian tells Barrabes.com that he expects the project to take roughly seven weeks to wrap up, at which time he'll turn his attention to some of the major ultrarunning competitions in the U.S. and Europe.

While it will certainly be interesting to watch Kilian's speed-record attempt unfold, it should be noted that there really isn't going to be a time to compare it to. No one has ever done the speed record from the North Side before, and since he is starting further down the mountain, his time won't compare to someone who has started in BC for instance. Still, we all know that Kilian puts on a show when he is focused on a project, and I expect this will be no different. He'll do some impressive things on Everest for sure, but it will still be interesting to see how he performs at such high altitudes. Jornet has never had to deal with the thin air on a Himalayan peak, and this will be a very different test for him.

Kilian should be departing for Kathmandu sometime this week.

Meanwhile, over on Annapurna, another Spaniard is getting ready for his climb. Carlos Soria has checked in from Base Camp and says that the weather remains dicey at the moment. Heavy snows have fallen on the mountain, creating unstable conditions that are keeping all of the teams in BC at the moment. They hope to launch summit bids sometime this week, but unstable conditions and continued poor weather will likely dictate when they can proceed.

Annapurna has a reputation for the being the most dangerous mountain in the world. It is well known for having numerous avalanches, which makes the climbers there very cautious about when they go up. Teams arrived early on the mountain this year in an attempt to summit before to much spring snow fell on its slopes, and while there was some early success, the climbers there now have to wait to see when a window will open. It is still incredibly early in the season however, so hopefully that chance will come soon.

That's all for today. More updates from the Himalaya soon.

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