Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Himalaya Spring 2016: Teams on the Move on Annapurna

The spring climbing season is still a couple of weeks away from officially getting underway, but much like last year there are some climbers who are getting a bit of a head start on Annapurna. In fact, there are several high profile mountaineers already in Base Camp there, including Spaniard Carlos Soria and Aussie Chris Jensen-Burke. Now, it looks like those teams are already on the move as they begin their acclimatization process ahead of future summit bids.

According to a blog post on Jensen-Burke's website she and her squad moved up the mountain yesterday and will stay at altitude for a prolonged period of time. In fact, she isn't sure exactly when they'll return to BC as they let their bodies grow accustomed to the thin air they'll experience as they move up even further. She reports that she and three other members of the team went up to 4300 meters (14,107 feet) to deposit gear a few days prior to their departure, but now they will actually be climbing up to Camp 1 and possibly Camp 2 if the weather permits. 

Chris also says that there are already a number of teams at C1 and C2 as they start their acclimatization process as well. In fact, some of them arrived having pre-acclimatized on other mountains, and are hoping that they'll only need one rotation on Annapurna before they make their summit bids.

The strategy for starting so early in the year worked well last year, when nearly a dozen climbers were able to reach the top before the April 25 earthquake shut down the Himalaya climbing season. The thought is that while it is currently much colder there than it will be during the spring climbing season proper, those could conditions help to limit the number of avalanches that Annapurna is so well known for.

While we're still probably several weeks away from a true summit push, it is interesting to see these climbers going to work so early in the season. We'll be keeping an eye on their progress in the days ahead, but it is starting to look like we could have successful summits on Annapurna before some teams even start to arrive in Base Camp on Everest. Ultimately it will be the weather that dictates when those summit bids can begin, but right now things are calm and progressing nicely.

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