Friday, September 16, 2016

Himalaya Fall 2016: Commercial Teams Planning Summit Attempts, Nobu Alone on Everest

With Kilian Jornet announcing his departure from Everest yesterday, I felt it was time to take a look around at the other expeditions currently going on in the Himalaya to check the status of their progress. In some cases, teams are already starting to look ahead to summit bids, which could come as early as late next week in some cases.

First off, now that Jornet has left Everest, Japanese climber Nobukazu Kuriki is the only one on that mountain this fall. He reports that he has now climbed up to 7000 meters (22,965 ft) and his acclimatization process is moving along about as well as can be expected. From the reports we've heard from the mountain, that won't be the challenge for him this year. Instead, it will be the deep snow that seems to be piling up on Tibet's North Side. Kilian mentioned the heavy snows as the main reason for his departure from the mountain, but for Nobu it is just another challenge to overcome as he attempts to climb solo, unsupported, and in alpine style without oxygen. For now, he'll just have to continue acclimating and waiting for his opportunity to push higher.

Alan Arnette is reporting that two climbers are taking an interesting approach to attempting a summit on Cho Oyu. Adrian Ballinger, who owns Alpenglow Expeditions, and his partner Emily Harrington are currently training in Tahoe, and are sleeping in altitude tents as they acclimatize as much as possible before they head to the Himalaya. Once they've wrapped up their preparation, they'll head to Tibet and try to climb the mountain in just two weeks total time. This holds true with the company's philosophy for climbing faster by preparing more ahead of time, which is used on other peaks too. A strategy that has come under fire from mountaineering purists from time to time.

Speaking of Cho Oyu, that continue to be a popular mountain this fall. There are currently no less than six commercial teams there, Base Camp has been a bit crowded this season. Most of those squads have now wrapped up their first round of rotations, with the next coming in a few days when they'll move up the slope to Camp 2.

On Manaslu, the Seven Summits Treks Team is proceeding on a quick schedule. The team is currently in the process of wrapping up its final acclimatization rotation after spending the night at C3. Sherpas from that team are working on fixing ropes to the top, and the large group of clients they brought with them are now preparing for a summit push. It has been rainy on the mountain, but there hasn't been a lot of snow. That bodes well for a potential weather window in another week or so.

Over on Dhaulagiri, the Altitude Junkies have started their acclimatization with a move up to Camp 1. They report several days of rain, but good weather moving into the picture now. Their Sherpa teams are now fixing ropes between C2 and C3, which they hope to wrap up in the next day or two. The team is feeling good, and are now eyeing a summit push on Sept. 25 or 26 depending on weather and wind conditions.

An RMI-led expedition reported to BC on Shishpangma a few days back, after driving to the mountain. They have already moved up to Camp 1, where they are finding conditions on the mountain to be quite good at this stage. It is early in the acclimatization process, but everything looks good so far.

As you can see, it is getting to be quite a busy season in the Himalaya. While not much is happening on Everest, there is a lot going on around the rest of the region. Of course, none of the big commercial teams are trying anything new this year, there are some smaller squads who will be pushing the envelope on some unclimbed peaks. We'll be keeping an eye on those expeditions moving forward too, and bring updates on the entire season as it unfolds. Stay tuned.

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