Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Himalaya Fall 2016: Season in Full Swing as Teams Move to Manaslu, Cho Oyu, and Lhotse

The fall climbing season in the Himalaya is now full steam ahead as teams continue to gather in Kathmandu and make their way out to their respective mountains. We have already discussed Kilian Jornet's speed record attempt on Everest multiple times and checked in with Japanese climber Nobukazu Kuriki a couple of times as well. Both of those men should now be in Base Camp on the North Side of the mountain, and have started their acclimatization process as well. But elsewhere in the region other teams are getting settled too, and now it appears that it should be quite an interesting few months in Nepal and Tibet.

On Lhotse, South Korean climber Sung-Taek Hong is back on the mountain for the fourth time in as many years, and his fifth attempt overall. He'll be having a go at Everest's neighbor in the coming weeks as he attempts to go solo and in alpine style to the summit. Last year he made four individual summit pushes, reaching as high as 8200 meters (26,902 ft) but couldn't top out due to poor weather and deep snow on the route. He's hoping to have more luck this year.

Meanwhile, the Base Camp on Cho Oyu is starting to get crowded as commercial teams have arrived there in the past few days. Most of the squads, which include the Adventure Consultants and IMG, are still getting settled as they begin to get acclimatized. Soon, they'll start their first rotations up the mountain as they start to get accustomed to the altitude.

Interestingly enough, climber/journalist Billi Bierling is on Cho Oyu this fall and she reports that the road leading to BC has been extended further into the region. So now, what was once a quiet and peaceful place, has trucks rolling through all night long, causing the setting in camp to be very different. It is likely something the climbers will get use to in time, but for now it is a bit different.

Another popular climbing destination this fall is Manaslu, where the commercial teams started to arrive more than a week ago. It is a very crowded Base Camp as Alan Arnette reports that the Seven Summits Treks squad is more than 130 people, while large western guide company Himex is also there as well. Alan says that the most successful year on the mountain came back in 2011, when there were 140 total summits. This year, one company nearly has that many clients alone.

Cho Oyu and Manaslu are both very popular warm-up climbs for Everest. They are both fairly straight forward climbs for an 8000 meter peak, and are considered good places to get experience before going higher. Some of the climbers that are on these two peaks right now will almost certainly return to the Himalaya in the spring to have a go at Everest too.

The Altitude Junkies are now en route to Dhaulagiri, where it appears they'll be the only team on the mountain this fall. Flight delays and logistical challenges have caused a bit of a later start, but all is good and everyone has started the acclimatization process while driving to BC. They should get there in another couple of days.

That's it for today. We'll have more updates as the teams continue to get settled and the climbing operations begin.

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