Nobukazu Kuriki's attempt at a solo – without oxygen no less – along the North Side of Everest. Yesterday, we received word that the Japanese alpinist has now set off on his attempt at the summit, a place that has eluded him on five separate occasions in the past.
According to Kuriki's support team, he will climb along the Hornbein Couloir route in his attempt to reach the summit. There is some speculation that he will make that approach along what is known as the Supercouloir Route, which is a combination of a route opened by a Japanese team back in 1980 and the Hornbein. If all goes according to plan, he should potentially top out sometime in the next couple of days.
Kuriki himself has been updating his Facebook page with updates as he goes. His most recent post indicates that he has reached his high camp and will set off for the summit possibly late Friday or early Saturday morning local Nepali time. Weather conditions are reportedly quite good, and while there has been a lot of snow deposited along the route, Nobu appears to be making good time on his way up.
If you are familiar with Kuriki's previous attempts on Everest, you probably already know what a successful summit would mean to him. As already mentioned, he has made five previous attempts at a solo summit on the mountain, one of which ended in disaster. In 2012, the Japanese climber became stranded high on the South Side in Nepal, and had to be helped down by a rescue team. While he was stuck at altitude, he suffered severe frostbite to his fingers and toes. He ended up having nine of his fingers amputated, and yet he continues to return to the mountain on a regular basis to test his strength and determination. Hopefully this time his efforts will pay off. Hopefully he'll also get up and down safely.
Over on Dhaulagiri we're still waiting on word from the Altitude Junkies about their plans. The team has hoped to summit that mountain this past weekend, but turned back after finding unexpectedly deep snow at Camp 2. They had returned to Base Camp, where they were pondering their next move, but since that time there has been now word on their decision. It is possible they are waiting out the weather and hoping to launch another summit attempt in the next few days, but they could also be preparing to clean up BC and head home. For now, we'll just have to wait to see what happens.
That's it for today. I'll be keeping a close eye on Kuriki's progress and will post updates as we hear more.