Friday, May 04, 2018

Himalaya Spring 2018: Waiting Out the Weather and Skiing the Lhotse Face

We've reached that point of the spring Himalayan climbing season where everyone is putting the final touches on their acclimatization rotations and are getting into "rest and recover" mode prior to the upcoming summit bids. Right now, it looks like those could start sometime around the end of next week, although all of the teams are keeping an eye on the forecast to see how things develop in the days ahead.

One team that is watching the sky closely is the Alpenglow double-summit squad that is currently on Cho Oyu but also plans to make an attempt on Everest this spring too. The group is currently in Camp 1 and are pretty much ready to make push for the first of those summits, but the weather isn't quite cooperating. High winds are expected over the next four or five days, keeping them pinned down for now. They'll try to wait until early next week, then set off for top of Cho Oyu. Once that push is wrapped up, they'll then make the jump over to the North Side of Everest for their second summit of the season.

Over on Dhaulagiri, 79-year old Carlos Soria is playing the waiting game too. He and his teammates wrapped up their acclimatization rotations a week or so back, but now they're waiting for the weather to improve. He reports that conditions tend to be good early in the morning, with clear skies and light wind, but by the afternoon the weather has taken a turn for the worse, dumping snow on base camp and across the mountain itself. Soria, who is making his 9th attempt on Dhaulagiri, is hoping for a good weather window to open next week that might give them a shot at the summit.

On the South Side of Everest, things are still moving at a steady pace. Most of the teams are still completing their final rotations with climbers heading up to Camp 3 to spend a night or two to get accustomed to the altitude. Others have already returned to BC where they are recovering and waiting. They've now entered the worst part of an Everest expedition, the long wait until they get the go ahead to head up to the top.

Yesterday, two climbers made he most of their latest rotation by heading up to C3 and then skiing back down the Lhotse Face on their return to BC. Those two men were Matt Moniz and Willie Benegas, who are attempting a double summit of their own by nabbing both Everest and Lhotse this season. The duo now seem to be ready for their eventual summit push too, which will require a window wide enough to reach the top of both mountains.

That's it for this week. Next week we'll start looking ahead to possible summit schedules. There is still a lot of work to be done on both sides of Everest, as the fixed ropes aren't in place to the summit yet. But that should be completed soon, clearing the way for the teams to launch their bids. We are now in the calm before the storm, but things should get super interesting very quickly.

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