Monday, October 26, 2015

Himalaya Fall 2015: Ueli and Company Turned Back on Nuptse

There isn't a lot of new news to report from the Himalaya as we start a new week, but I did want to take the opportunity to post an update on the expedition to Nuptse, which launched a summit bid over the weekend, only to see the weather turn back all attempts to climb the mountain.

We have been following Ueli Steck and Colin Haley's expedition to Nuptse for several weeks now. The pair joined forces in Nepal to attempt to repeat the very difficult Banavov route, which hasn't been repeated since it was first opened back in 2003. When the duo first arrived in the mountains, the weather was actually quite good, but it took them some time to acclimatize, as Colin battle illness early on. By the time they were ready to go, the conditions took a turn for the worse and the weather deteriorated, dumping a lot of snow on the mountain. So, they have been waiting for an opportunity to make an alpine style ascent ever since.

Last week, they were joined in Base Camp by Ben Guigonnet and Helias Millerioux (and Kilian Jornet!), two French climbers who had also come to Nepal to attempt Nuptse this fall. The teams immediately joined forces and started scouting the route, and when the forecast for this past weekend indicated that they had a small weather window, they decide to go for it.

On Friday, the four climbers set off from BC to get themselves into position to possibly summit on Saturday or Sunday. They climbed 2200 meters (7217 ft) to establish a camp at 6900 meters (22,637 ft). That would have put them in good position to go to the 7861 m (25,791 ft) summit. But, as they climbed the snow started to fall, and by the time they woke up the next morning to start their push, it was already clear that it was not safe to proceed. They have already descended back to BC, and from the tone of their dispatches, it seems they are preparing to go home. That hasn't been confirmed yet, but it seems that once again conditions are poor enough on the mountain that they'll call off the expedition.

To get an idea of what the route looks like, take a good look at the image above. It was shot by Ueli on the Nupste's Southface during the climb on Friday.

Elsewhere in the Himalaya, another expedition is about to get underway. Polar explorer/mountaineer, Lonnie Dupre has been in Nepal helping with rebuilding and relief efforts from the spring earthquake. But yesterday he posted that his team had established Base Camp on a peak called Kyoja Ri, a 6186 meter (20,295 ft) peak near Namche Bazaar in the Khumu Valley. They'll be attempting that mountain over the next few days, before eventually moving on to Ama Dablam. At the moment, all is well, conditions are reportedly good, and everyone is feeling strong. If all goes as planned, a summit bid could come later in the week.

I'll keep you posted of any developments. The climbing season is starting to rapidly wind down now, but there are still a few interesting ongoing expeditions. Success has been fleeting in the Himalaya this fall however, so the odds seem stacked against these climbers. Hopefully there will be some good news to come however.

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