Monday, September 12, 2016

Himalaya Fall 2016: Kilian Jornet Updates His Progress on Everest

There is no doubt that the expedition that most people are following closely in the Himalaya this fall is Kilian Jornet's attempt to set a new speed record on Mt. Everest. The Spanish ultra-runner left his home for the North Side of the mountain a few weeks back, and while we know that he has been busy working on his acclimatization process in preparation for an eventual crack at the summit, there has been very little word on his progress. But late last week we finally got an update, and while it is brief, it does provide some insight into what is happening at the moment.

Last Thursday, Kilian posted the following message to his Summits of My Life Facebook page. It appears to be a screenshot of a text message sent by phone to his support team that is keeping all of us updated on his current progress. The message reads in Spanish: 
"Bones!! Info Everest: Estem sqguint amb l'aclimatacio. Esta tot molt carregat de neu, xo tot ok!"
Which roughly translates to:
"Good !! Everest Info: We are continuing with acclimatization. This all heavily loaded with snow, x all ok!" 
This small dispatch tells us quite a bit surprisingly enough. For instance, it reaffirms what we already knew that Kilian is proceeding with his acclimatization, which could potentially take another couple of weeks to complete. But, it also tells us a bit about the conditions on the mountain, as it sounds like there is quite a bit of snow there already this fall. That could have a dramatic impact on his eventual attempt at the speed record, although weather conditions can change rapidly, potentially clearing some of that snow out of his way.


While that isn't a lot to go on, it is about the only update we've had over the past couple of weeks, so it is nice to hear something. Hopefully we'll learn more about Kilian's progress and potential schedule soon.

Meanwhile, over on Cho Oyu the Adventure Consultants report that they held their puja ceremony today. This is a ritual during which a Buddhist Lama visits Base Camp and performs a ritual that not only asks permission from the mountain to allow the climbers to go up its slopes, but blesses those climbers and their gear to help keep them safe. Himalayan tradition states that the puja be performed prior to the start of actual climbing operations, so with this detail out of the way, the team will make its first foray up the slopes towards Camp 1 tomorrow.

The Altitude Junkies have checked in from Dhaulagiri, where they arrived in BC last Thursday. If everything has gone according to plan, they should have held their puja today as well, and will now begin fixing the ropes up the slopes. The most recent dispatch from the team says that they will be attempting a different route for that part of the climb due to the dry conditions there. Reportedly, the weather has been very good so far, with just light rain in the evenings. The AJ squad is the only one on the mountain so far, and they report that their BGAN Internet station is not working properly, so updates may be short and sporadic for the length of the expedition.

Finally, the Seven Summits Trek team departed Kathmandu and began their trek to BC on Manaslu yesterday. The expedition's dispatches indicate that the group of Sherpas charged with fixing ropes to the summit are already on the mountain, and should have the route set up to Camp 3 before the climbers arrive.


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