Monday, October 12, 2015

Himalaya Fall 2015: It's Over On Everest and Dhaulagiri

The fall 2015 Himalayan climbing season continues to unfold, even while I was off connecting with other outdoor bloggers in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. As most of you probably know by now, Nobukazu Kuriki has ended his attempt to scale Mt. Everest, and while he is now heading home, others are still pursuing their summit dreams.

Last week, Japanese climber Kuriki managed to put himself into position to make yet another attempt on scaling the highest peak in the world completely alone and without oxygen. After a slow, and measure ascent, the final push to the top began last Wednesday, October 8. According to his dispatches, Kuriki managed to climb as high 8200 meters (26,902 ft) before turning back. Once again, the weather was not very cooperative, as high winds and deep snow prevented him from moving up the mountain. After turning around, he was back in Base Camp by Friday.

This second attempt on the summit has taken its toll on the Japanese climber. He reported yesterday via Facebook that he has been quite sick over the past few days, and has even struggled to eat. We already knew that this second push would be the last, but that has now been confirmed. Kuriki has taken a helicopter back Kathmandu, and has already returned home to Japan – ending his fifth attempt to climb Everest.

The end of Kuriki's expedition marks a milestone in climbing on Everest. Thanks to the spring earthquake in Nepal, there hasn't been any summits of the mountain at all this year. The last time that happened was back in 1974. Even last year, when the season was interrupted by the loss of 16 porters on the mountain, there were summits from the North Side and a single summit from the South. But this year there have been none. Hopefully, 2016 will prove to be a safer and more successful year.

Meanwhile, another team is also calling it quits on Dhaulagiri as well. French climbers Patrick Wagnon and Yannick Graziani launched their summit bid on that mountain late last week, and had hoped to top out today. But once again weather has kept them from reaching their objective, as Yannick reports 30 cm (11.8 inches) of fresh snow has fallen on the mountain, baking it difficult to progress upwards, and adding to the danger significantly. So, the duo has decided the summit is out of reach this year, and are now descending back to BC before heading home.

ExWeb is reporting that a Korean team is attempting to climb Lhotse this fall. The squad arrived in Kathmandu back on Sept. 21, and had hoped to fly to Lukla on Sept. 23, but had to wait until the 28th due to bad weather. They were then planning on spending 10 days acclimatizing during the trek up the Khumbu Valley before starting their rotations on the mountain. That means that they should be in BC by now, and have camp well established. Considering that the route up Lhotse follows the same path as Everest for much of the way, it'll be interesting to see how they fare.

Finally, Ueli Steck is enjoying his return to the Himalaya. While he waits for climbing partner Colin Hayley to return from the valley following a bout of illness, the Swiss climber has continued with his acclimatization efforts by bagging the North Face of Cholatse. He should be back in BC on Nuptse now however, and hopefully Colin has rejoined him so they can begin the actual expedition they came to Nepal to complete.

That's all for today. I'll keep an eye on these remaining expeditions and post news as it is warranted.

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