Thursday, October 22, 2015

Himalaya Fall 2015: Ueli and Colin Scout Nuptse Route

There is a bit of progress to report in the Himalaya, where a few teams are forging ahead with their expeditions, despite the fact that weather conditions have not been favorable all season long. But the fall climbing season is far from over, and there is still time for these expeditions to achieve their goals, even if it appears that they'll face some serious obstacles along the way.

Ueli Steck and Colin Haley are back on Nuptse and still hoping they can summit along the very difficult Babanov route. Yesterday, the team did some scouting of that route to check out conditions on the mountain, and Ueli reports on Facebook that "the hope for Nuptse is still alive!" That indicates that the boys are far from wrapping things up, and are still planning to at least have a go at the mountain, despite some difficult setbacks. Colin struggled early with illness, but is ready to climb now, but the weather has dumped fresh, wet snow on the mountain, making it more dangerous to go up. Hopefully those conditions will settle down, allowing the duo to proceed.

Steck and Haley were not alone in Base Camp yesterday. They were joined by a trio of visitors that includes none other than Kilian Jornet. It's not clear what Kilian was doing on Nuptse. It could be that he is just in the Himalaya on a training/scouting expedition, and dropped by to see Ueli, but none the less, they are hanging out on the mountain right now. For many, that would be the Dream Team of climbing, Kilian and Ueli working together on a project. Perhaps we'll see that happen at some point.

Meanwhile, Bill Burke has arrived in Kathamdnu is preparing for a very special climbing expedition of his own. Bill is back in Nepal to have a crack and an unclimbed peak that just happens to be named after him. The 73 year old climber will be attempting to summit Burke-Khang, a 6742 meter (22,775 foot) mountain that has only just recently been opened to climbing. He departs from Kathmandu today for Lukla, and will spend a few days trekking in the Khumbu Valley before arriving in BC on the mountain.

There have been no new updates from Luke Smithwick or Brian Beatty just yet. The duo set out on Sunday to begin their expedition of the unclimbed Saldim Ri (6343 m/20,810 ft) in the Makalu region of Nepal. They should be trekking to the mountain now however, and will arriving in the next few days. Hopefully we'll get another update on their progress than.

Finally, there has also been no word on the progress of the South Korean team on Lhotse. When last they checked in, the conditions on the mountain were unsafe for climbing and the weather was very poor. At the time, they were waiting for a shift in fortunes, but it doesn't seem that that has come there way just yet.

While it has certainly gotten a little quieter in the Himalaya, these expeditions are definitely still worth following. More to come soon.

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