Monday, September 28, 2015

Himalaya Fall 2016: Kuriki Ends Everest Expedition, Teams Turned Back on Manaslu

As expected, it was a busy weekend in the Himalaya, where a number of teams had hoped to make summit bids on their respective mountains. But weather conditions there continue to be unpredictable, and success has remained elusive.

We'll start todays update with news from Everest. Last week, Japanese climber Nobukazu Kuriki moved up the Lhotse Face in an attempt to get himself into position for a summit push this past weekend. But Kuriki was forced to abandon that attempt at an altitude of around 7700 meters (25,262 feet), turning back due to deep snow on the route up the mountain. He said that the snow slowed his progress greatly, and would not have allowed him time to safely get up and down from the summit. So, he wisely chose to turn around.

You may recall that Kuriki has attempted Everest in the past, and his last expedition in 2012 ended in disaster. The young Japanese climber became stranded at altitude and had to be assisted down by a team of Sherpas. This resulted in him losing parts of nine of his fingers due to frostbite. I'm sure memories of that difficult climb still remain, and he didn't want to chance another dangerous push to higher altitudes.

It now appears that the first attempt to summit Everest following the April 25 earthquake has come to an end. All indications are that Kuriki, who was climbing without supplemental oxygen, has decided to go home. We'll now have to wait until the spring of 2016 for regular climbing operations to resume.


Meanwhile, a number of teams climbing Manaslu had set this weekend for their summit bids too, but once again poor weather put a halt to those efforts. Heavy snow fell on the mountain over the past few days, making it difficult to make any kind of progress above Camp 4. The Altitude Junkies and Himex teams were leading the way, with their Sherpas fixing lines for everyone else to follow. But the conditions were so poor higher up on the mountain that they were forced to abandon those efforts, and in the process ending any chance of reaching the top – at least for now.

Both of those squads have now decided to call it quits and head home for the season. The danger of avalanches has grown quite high, and deep snow is making it a challenge to break trail. With both Himex and the Altitude Junkies departing the mountain, the remaining teams will have to find a way to install the ropes. There aren't many teams left with the resources to pull that off, so we will likely see other teams leaving too. For instance, the Adventure Consultants said they will pull out and head home, as have the Amical Alpin team.

While the summit push was underway this weekend, one of the Sherpas from Himex fell into a crevasse after a snow bridge he was crossing collapsed. He was rescued and flown back to Kathamdnu, where he is now resting comfortably. His injuries are not life threatening, and he should be back on his feet soon.

Over on Makalu things are starting to look up. The Alpenglow team has received the green light for a go at the summit, as a weather window is expected to open over the next few days. They set off for Camp 2 yesterday, are expected to move up to C3 today, and go higher tomorrow. If everything unfolds as expected, they could make a summit push as early as Wednesday. After that, they hope to make the first full ski descent of the mountain. Stand by for updates on their progress.

Finally, Alan Arnette has posted that a small team of climbers is on the move on Dhaulagiri. The squad has gone as high as 7000 meters as part of their acclimatization rotations, but it looks like they're heading back to Base Camp for now. The team appears to be the only one on the mountain this fall. We'll watch for future updates on their progress as well.

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