Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Himalaya Spring 2017: More Summits But End of Season in Sight

It has been a long and very eventful spring season in the Himalaya, that much is certain. Over the past few month we've seen drama, intrigue, tragedy, and triumph. Now, the season is coming to an end, but it will be one that will be remembered for years to come without a doubt.

This past weekend marked the final pushes to the summit by several teams who had waited patiently for their opportunity. And while not everyone was successful, a number of climbers stood on top, closing down the season in style. High winds made the final push more difficult than expected. The forecast has called for clear skies and calm winds, but the jet stream is now moving into place and likely won't shift again until fall.

Amongst those topping out was Adrian Ballinger, who summited without oxygen after having to turn back just short of the top last year. He was accompanied by Corey Richards, who did have to put on an oxygen tank for the final push up. They of course climbed with Alpenglow, which also saw another successful season come to a close by putting seven on the summit.

By now, most of you have probably already heard that Kilian Jornet summited for a second time in less than a week, this time taking 17 hours to go from ABC to the top of Everest, which isn't a record but is damned impressive indeed. It seems Kilian is now the first non-Sherpa to summit twice in the same season without using bottled oxygen. It is nearly impossible to convey just how amazing that feat truly is.

It was also a good season for women climbers from India. Anshu Jamsenpa also had a record setting year on Everest. She also managed to summit twice in five days, earning her the distinction of the fastest time by a female climber between a double summit. Meanwhile, Anita Devi became the first Indian woman to climb Everest from the North Col route and the first to scale the mountain from both sides.


Unfortunately, Ralf Dujmovits wasn't successful in his attempt to nab his 14th 8000-meter peak without oxygen. This past weekend he turned back from the summit in part because of the high winds. Dujmovits has said that this would be his last go at Everest, so this was a disappointing end to his efforts. Perhaps next year he'll reconsider.

In another record setting effort, Kami Rita Sherpa topped out on Everest, claiming his 21st summit of the world's tallest mountain. That ties him with Apa Sherpa and Phurba Tashi Sherpa for the most summits of all time.

At this point, both the North and South Sides of Everest are all but deserted. The teams that climbed over the weekend are packing up and heading home at long last. The one climber who was hoping to summit today or tomorrow was Nobukazu Kuriki of Japan, but it appears that he may have packed it in as well due to the shifting winds. I'm still waiting on confirmation on that, but with Kuriki preparing to leave the South Side, the season will now officially be over.

Considering that few teams climb in the fall, and the Chinese are making it difficult to get permits from the North Side, it seems likely that we won't see any climbers on Everest until the spring of 2018. That's a long wait, but if this season is any indication, it should be worth it once again.

Congrats to everyone who successfully summited during this very busy season. Travel home safely and revel in your accomplishments.

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