Friday, October 30, 2015

Himalaya Fall 2015: Summit on Kyajo Ri and Kuriki Shares Details on Everest

The fall climbing season may be winding down in the Himalaya, but there are is still news to share. Weather remains dicey across the region, but teams have continued to press forward with their climbs on peaks lower than 8000 meters. It has been an up and down season to say the least, but it has not been without its success stories, and the trend of traveling to remote, unclimbed peaks is a promising one to say the least. 

One such expedition has been led by polar explorer and mountaineer Lonnie Dupre. His team has been in Nepal for several weeks now, but spent much of their time assisting in the rebuilding process that continues post-earthquake. Those efforts also allowed them to acclimatize to the altitude however, as they couldn't leave the county without first completing a climb. 

Earlier in the week, Lonnie updated his blog with the news that the squad and successfully summited Kyajo Ri, a 6186 meter (20,295 ft) peak located to the west of Everest and Lhotse. The team topped out at 11:04 AM local time on Tuesday, but details of their climb didn't come until a dispatch was released today. As you would expect, it wasn't an easy climb, with team using double ice axes to make progress on a slope that averaged an age of about 55 degrees. 

In order to reach the summit, the squad made a single push from their high camp at 5700 meters (18,700 ft). That came after establishing Base Camp at 4528 meters (14,858 ft) and an intermediate camp at 5268 meters (17,285 ft). Because they had acclimatized before their arrival on the mountain however, they were able to launch their summit push immediately, and complete the climb in a single go. 

Congrats to Lonnie and his entire team on a job well done. 

Meanwhile, Japanese climber Nobukazu Kuriki is back home in Tokyo, and has now shared more details about his recent attempt on Everest. Posting to Facebook a few days back, Kuriki gave a longer account of his second summit push on the mountain, which ended with him turning back after reaching 8000 meters (26,246 ft). 

In his report, he talks about the challenges he faced along the way, not the least of which were his own doubts and fears. The route was relatively clear and easy up to 6400 meters (20,997 ft), but above that point the snow started to get deeper and the winds began to howl So much so that even at 7000 meters (22,965 ft) the winds felt like he was above 8000 meters. That took a toll on his body, which was still exhausted from a previous attempt to summit just a few days earlier. 

At one point Kuriki could see the path to the top, which was still very far away, and began to worry about whether or not he would have strength to descend. It as at that moment that he told his team that he had had enough, and was turning back. Considering his previous experience on the mountain, that makes perfect sense. Back in 2012, he had to be rescued from Camp 4 after a failed summit attempt. He had suffered frostbite in his fingers and toes, and couldn't make his way down on his own. A team of Sherpas came to get him, but he ended up losing 9 of his fingers in the process. That experience had to weigh on him as he returned to that spot on the mountain.

If you followed Kuriki's climb this fall, you'll find his account of the summit push enlightening. It provides us with some real details on what he was thinking and feeling as he went up Everest, completely alone and on his own. That has to be a difficult thing from both a physical and psychological stand point. Read the whole report here

Finally, there has been no word from Ueli Steck or Colin Haley following their aborted attempt to climb Nuptse earlier this week. Their last dispatch seemed to hint that they were calling off the expedition, but there has been no confirmation of that just yet. They could still be in Base Camp, waiting for another weather window to arrive. But considering how unpredictable the conditions have been this year, that window might not ever come. 

That's all for today. More news as it is warranted. 

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