Monday, October 05, 2015

Himalaya Fall 2015: More Summits on Manaslu, Progress on Everest, and Makalu Ski Expedition Ends

There was lots of news from the Himalaya this weekend where the climbing season continues to unfold. It is October now, so most of the major commercial teams will be wrapping up operations, but the good climbing opportunities should continue to exist for another month or so. But for the most part we should start to see most of the groups start heading for home.

A week ago it seemed that things were looking grim on Manaslu. That was where the bulk of the climbers had convened this fall, and after three major commercial squads (Himex, Adventure Consultants, and Altitude Junkies) left the mountain, it appeared that there might not be any successful summits. But last week the climbers finally broke saw some good weather and improved conditions, and as a result ExWeb now reports that there have been more than 80 people who have reached the top between September 30 and October 2. Than means that thanks to a little patience and perseverance, the bulk of the Manaslu expeditions were successful this fall.

There was a bit of sad news on the mountain however. According to reports, a member of the Summit Climb team died in Camp 4 last Thursday. The diseased as been identified as Zoltan Benedek of Australia, who apparently took ill after descending from the summit. Benedek's climbing partner also had to be helped down from C4 to C3 before being flown off the mountain. Apparently, both men were climbing without support above Base Camp.

Over on Makalu, the Alpenglow Expeditions climb and ski squad has officially pulled the plug on their attempt on the mountain. The talented group of athletes had hoped to become the first to make a full ski descent of the mountain, but unstable conditions high on the slopes prevented them from topping out last week. Now, they're all off the mountain safely and preparing to head home.

The team did have one very scary moment while on their summit push. While up above 8000 meters (26,246 ft) one of their guides – Mingma Chhiring Sherpa – was caught in an avalanche and fell quite a distance. Luckily he didn't suffer any major injuries and was ultimately okay, but that was the fifth avalanche the team encountered, which convinced them it was time to go home.

Over on Everest there hasn't been much word from Japanese climber Nobukazu Kuriki over the past few days, although his website has been updated with the word that he reached Camp 3 on Saturday, and spent the day there yesterday while acclimatizing. That means he should move up to C4 today, which would put him in position to potentially summit tomorrow or Wednesday depending on conditions. His last proposed plan indicated that he might try to break trail above Camp 4, than return to that point for a rest, before setting off for the summit. Either way, we should know the result of his efforts within the next few days.

Finally, Ueli Steck is fully acclimatized and ready to climb on Nuptse, but unfortunately his climbing partner Colin Haley is having a more difficult time of it. Haley apparently got sick, so he made the decision to descend down to Deboche in the Khumbu Valley. Hopefully this will allow him to rest and regain his strength before heading back to Nuptse Base Camp so that the expedition can truly get underway.

That's it for now. I'll keep an eye on Everest over the next few days. Hopefully we'll have good news there soon.

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