Lonnie Dupre abandoning his attempt to summit Mt. Hunter in Alaska this winter, we have one less expedition to follow this season. Still, there are major climbs taking place on Everest and Manaslu that should keep us occupied over the next two months, which is exactly the amount of time remaining until winter comes to an end. That may seem like a long time, but with winter weather often keeping teams stuck in Base Camp for extended periods, those days and weeks can disappear in a hurry. But for now, at least one team is making good progress towards their goal.
It has been about a week since we last had an update from Elisabeth Revol regarding her winter expedition to Manaslu. At the time, she had just arrived in Base Camp and was reporting heavy snow falling on the mountain, with 2.5 meters (8.2 ft) of snow falling in the first half of January alone. But since then there has been no further updates on her team's progress, so we can only presume that things are proceeding, but how well the expedition is unfolding remains a bit of a mystery for now. Hopefully we'll hear something soon.
On the other hand, Alex Txikon has done a good job of keeping us up to date on the progress of his small team on Everest. After completing a route through the Khumbu Icefall last week, the group made its way up to Camp 1 for an acclimatization rotation. After securing a campsite there, and depositing some gear, Alex and his climbing partners – Carlos Rubio and Nurbu Sherpa – descended back to BC for a rest.
Fortunately for them, the weather has been fairly cooperative so far however, so it wasn't too long before they were headed back up the mountain. Yesterday we received word that they had established Camp 2 at 6400 meters (20,997 ft) and have spent the night there as part of the ongoing acclimatization process.
It is possible that if the weather holds, the team will stay at that spot for another night or two, before once again returning to Base Camp. This is all according to plan, and much like an Everest expedition that would take place at any other time of the year. The difference being if the weather does make a shift, Alex and company will probably see incredibly cold temperatures and heavy snow start to fall. How they react to that change in weather, and jus how severe the conditions are, will play a major role in the eventual outcome of the expedition.
Txikon is hoping to summit without the use of supplemental oxygen, something that has happened only one other time during the winter months. If he can pull it off, it will be no small feat, as temperatures will likely be around -60ºF/-51ºC at the top of the mountain when a summit bid finally does come. It is impossible to judge when that might happen, although if they manage to stay on their current schedule, we could see an attempt in about two weeks time. The weather will ultimately dictate the schedule however, so don't count on that happening just yet.
We'll continue to keep an eye on Everest and watch Alex's progress closely. So far, he has to be pretty pleased with how things are proceeding.