Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Himalaya Fall 2016: Japanese Climber Nobukazu Kuriki Heading Back to Everest

We're in a bit of a lull in the mountaineering scene right now. Yes, Kilian Jornet is in Tibet and preparing for his speed record attempt on Everest, but for the most part this is the time of year when there is a brief pause between the summer climbing season in Pakistan and the fall climbing season in Nepal and Tibet. Most of the teams that are preparing for a Himalayan summit in the next few months are waiting for the monsoon to subside before heading to the mountains. Once that happens over the next few weeks, we'll begin to see climbers arriving in Kathmandu once again.

In recent years, the fall season in the Himalaya has mostly concentrated on 8000 meter peaks other than Everest. A lot of mountaineers use this time of the year to gain valuable experience ahead of an Everest attempt next spring, so you're more likely to see expeditions to Shishapangma, Cho Oyu, or even Ama Dablam. But, there are still some climbers who will focus on the world's highest peak, most notably Japanese Nobukazu Kuriki.

If that name sounds familiar it is because this fall Kuriki will be making his sixth attempt on Everest, once again looking to summit solo and without oxygen. He has tried this same feat in the past, and it hasn't always gone well for him. Back in 2012, the Japanese mountaineer ended up getting stranded high on the mountain and head to be rescued, but not before he suffered severe frostbite in his hands and feet. He ended up losing parts of nine fingers in the process.

That hasn't deterred him from attempting Everest however. He climbed on the South Side last year and made a valiant effort before ultimately having to call it quits. This year he'll have a go at the summit from the Tibetan side of the mountain, where he hasn't climbed before. It is unclear whey he decided to make the change, but it could have something to do with Nepal's recently discussed new restrictions, which ban solo climbers altogether.

Kuriki, who is a popular figure back home in Japan, has crowdfunded his latest expedition, easily surpassing his goals to get the money he needs for this climb. He'll now prepare to head back to the Himalaya this fall, most likely sometime in September. That's about when Jornet hopes to be wrapping up his speed attempt, so the two might not even be on the mountain at the same time.

As German adventure sports writer Stefan Nestler points out, there hasn't been a successful fall summit of Everest in nearly six years. That's when Eric Larsen topped out along with five Sherpas as part of the Save the Poles project. Lets hope Kilian and Nobu have more luck this year.

No comments: