Showing posts with label Manaslu. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Manaslu. Show all posts

Monday, September 29, 2014

Himalaya Fall 2014: Summit Push Underway on Cho Oyu

The pace is starting to pick up in the Himalaya, where last week we saw summits on Manaslu, and we begin this week with a summit push on Cho Oyu as well. Meanwhile, teams on other mountains continue to acclimatize and wait for their opportunities too.

The commercial teams on Cho Oyu launched their summit bids this past weekend, and are hoping to top out today. That includes both the IMG squad, as well as the team led by the Adventure Consultants. Both were in Camp 3 yesterday, and should now be working their way towards the top of the 8201 meter (26,906 ft) peak. If everything goes according to plan, we should have news of successful summits later today, or by tomorrow.

Aussie climber Chris Jensen Burke is on Cho Oyu as well, and a few days back she reported that high winds and deep snow were thwarting efforts to fix ropes. Conditions must have improved however, otherwise the other teams would not be making a move towards the summit. She also indicated that her team would be spending the weekend at Camp 2 as part of their acclimatization process, so they aren't quite ready to make their own push to the top just yet. Chris was quite dismayed to learn that two climbers had used her, and her Sherpas, bottled oxygen and masks that were stored at C2, which means they must carry more supplies to that point in preparation for their own summit bid down the line. That creates not only an expense for her, but they will also expend more energy having to carry extra supplies with them when they go.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Himalaya Fall 2014: Tragedy on Shishapangma, New Speed Record on Manaslu

We have more bad news from the Himalaya today, where tragedy has struck the Double8 team that we have been following so closely this fall. An avalanche hit the squad high on the peak, killing two climbers, and bringing a tragic end to their attempt to summit two 8000-meter peaks in seven days.

As you may recall, earlier this week the team set out for a second summit push on Shishapangma, after being turned back on their first attempt last week. Heavy snows and the danger of avalanches made it impossible for them to top out the first time around, but they were hoping that conditions had improved in the days since. For their second summit bid, they were joined by Ueli Steck, who had set a speed record on Shisha a few years back. The plan was for Ueli and Benedikt Böhm to leave Base Camp on Tuesday, and meet up with Sebastian Haag at Camp1, followed by Andrea Zambaldi at Camp 2. They were also joined by a 5th climber, as Martin Maier joined the squad at the last minute as well. All seemed to go according to plan, and the men headed up the mountain on schedule. If everything were to unfold as they expected, they would top and be back in BC in one day. Unfortunately, that is not what happened.

The team found it tough going on the upper slopes of the mountain once again. Deep, heavy snow made it difficult to break trail, and they were still exhausted from their first attempt. Still, they pushed on, and by 6:55 AM local time on Wednesday they had reached 7900 meters (25,918 ft), which put them just 113 meters (370 feet) below the summit. It was at this point that they were hit by an avalanche which dragged Sebastian and Andrea off the mountain, falling some 600 meters over the side of a cliff. Martin was also hit, and buried by the snow.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Himalaya Fall 2014: Summits on Manaslu!

Weather forecasts predicting good conditions over the Himalaya for the end of the week have proven to be accurate, and as a result, we have now seen the first successful summits of the season on Manaslu. Earlier today, the Altitude Junkies posted a brief update on their website indicating that the team had a successful day on the mountain. Their dispatch read as follows:
"Summits! We have had six team members and six Sherpas summit Manaslu this morning. Everyone is safe, with some members descending to base camp today and some descending tomorrow. More details to come."
The AJ squad was working closely with the Himex team, which also had a successful day on the mountain. Team leader Russell Brice posted his own update that indicated that all nine of his clients topped out, along with two guides and nine Sherpas as well. All members of the team are reportedly in good physical condition, with some returning all the way to Base Camp today, while others will rest in Camp 3, before coming down tomorrow.

This weather window is now expected to close, as high winds move over the summit of Manaslu in the next few days. According to Brice, conditions for the climb today were not ideal, as the winds started to pick up as the climbers left Camp 4. Fortunately, things did not deteriorate from there, and everyone was able to get up and down safely.

Congratulations to all of the climbers on a job well done.

Meanwhile, we're still awaiting word on the Double8 team. The trio of climbers, who hope to summit two 8000-meter peaks in seven days, had set out for the summit of Shishapangma a few days ago with Ueli Steck in tow. They had hoped to make a speed ascent to the summit, and ski back to BC in just one day, but there has not been any official updates on their progress just yet. There are some indications that they may have run into heavy snow just below the summit once again, and may have turned back for a second time. If true, they are likely descending and preparing to head to Cho Oyu for an attempt on that mountain.

Elsewhere across the Himalaya, teams continue to acclimatize and look for good weather to go up their respective mountains. For the most part, things continue to play out on schedule, and there doesn't seem to be any major concerns at the moment. Over the next few weeks, there will be more summit pushes to come, as climbers wrap up their preparation, and start their final attempts as well. I'll post further updates as warranted.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Himalaya Fall 2014: Ueli Steck Joins Double8 Team on Shishapangma

While a host of new arrivals continue to get Base Camps across the Himalaya, a few teams have wrapped up their acclimatization rotations, and are about to launch their summit bids. A good weather window is projected for later this week, and it should allow some of the climbers to make a push for the top, although their remains some concerns about heavy snow and potential avalanches.

We'll start on Shishapangma, where the Double8 squad re-launched their attempt to summit Shishapangma yesterday, but ended up getting turned back once again. They're off to give it another go later today, with the hopes of reaching the summit tomorrow however, and this time they've recruited some world-class help to assist with the process. Ueli Steck, the Swiss Machine himself has joined the team, at least for their speed attempt on Shisha, and he will help lead them to the summit. Ueli will set out from ABC with  Benedikt Böhm, and they'll be joined by Sebastian Haag at Camp1, then and Andrea Zambaldi at C2.

Reportedly, the team is exhausted from their first attempt on the mountain last week, and hasn't recovered fully just yet. They are also feeling a bit under the weather, with all three members dealing with nasty coughs, and pulmonary issues. What that means for the future of the expedition remains unclear, as they have bigger plans beyond just a speed attempt on Shishapangma. As you may recall, they also intend to ski back down the mountain, then mountain bike 106 miles (170 km) to Base Camp on Cho Oyu, where they intend to make another speed climb to the summit of that 8000 meter peak. Whether or not they'll be physically able to achieve this goal remains to be seen.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Himalaya Fall 2014: Teams on the Move

It was a fairly active weekend in the Himalaya, where the commercial teams continue to acclimatize in preparation for eventual summit bids. For the most part, things are going according to plan, and while we're still a couple of weeks away from the first major pushes of the season, each day brings the climbers closer to their goal.

We'll start on Makalu, where the British military team reached Base Camp yesterday at long last. It took them 8 days of trekking from the time they left Kathmandu, until they arrived in BC. Now, they are taking a few days to get settled before they'll move up the sloes to Camp 1, and begin their acclimatization process. Over the next few weeks, they'll establish several high camps while they let their bodies become accustomed to the altitude, before launching a tough, alpine-style push to the summit along the very difficult Southeast Ridge. This will be one of the more fascinating expeditions to watch this fall, and it should be interesting to see if they can pull of this big climb.

Over on Manaslu, the teams are starting to talk summit bids. According to the Altitude Junkies, the Sherpas fixed the ropes to just below Camp 4 on Friday, clearing the way for the teams to start planning for their final push. The weather will dictate exactly when that will happen, but if a good window comes in the next few days, we could see the climbers on the move shortly.

On Cho Oyu, the Adventure Consultants have checked in with a regular progress report. The team is in the middle of another acclimatization rotation, and will spend tonight at Camp 2 before heading back down to BC. Sadly, two members of the team were forced to head home after experiencing some health issues. This is not uncommon on expeditions to the big mountains, but it is always a sad to hear that someone has to abandon their dream of climbing in the Himalaya.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Himalaya Fall 2014: Ueli on Shishapangma, Double8 Expedition Set To Begin

The fall 2014 Himalayan climbing season is now in full swing, with most teams either already in Base Camp, or well on their way. For many, the acclimatization process has begun, and the first steps towards reaching the summit have been taken. But there remains a lot of work to be done, and autumn hasn't even officially arrived just yet.

We'll start today on Shishapangma, where Swiss climbing legend Ueli Steck has checked in. Ueli has returned to a peak that he has already climbed in record time (10.5 hours!) to give it another go, this time climbing with his wife Nicole. As usual,  Ueli's dispatches are short, and to the point, so few details have been shared on their progress so far. I'm sure we'll get more updates in the days ahead, and something tells me this won't be another speed attempt this season.

75-year old Carlos Soria is on Shishapangma as well, and earlier today his team completed its Puj ceremony. That means the they are free to begin climbing the mountain, and will probably begin their first rotation up to Camp 1 tomorrow as well. Carlos is going for his 12th 8000-meter peak, which is an impressive accomplishment at any age.

The countdown on the Double8 expedition website says the team is expected to launch their speed attempt on Shishapangma tomorrow. According to their latest dispatch, the team of  Benedikt BöhmSebastian Haag, and Andrea Zambaldi have been above 7000 meters on three occasions, and have spent the night in Camp 3. That means that they are acclimatized and ready to go for the summit, provided the weather cooperates. They report that there is lots of snow high on the mountain, which has made for slow, exhausting progress. But, if everything goes as planned, they'll launch their speed attempt tomorrow. If successful, they'll then descend back to BC, and mountain bike and trail run to Cho Oyu, which they also hope to summit in a fast and light style. The ultimate goal? Two 8000-meter peaks in just seven days.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Himalaya Fall 2014: More Teams Depart for the Mountains

The 2014 fall climbing season in the Himalaya is starting to pick up steam now. Over the past few weeks, we've seen a number of teams already arrive in Kathmandu, and make their way out to their respective Base Camps. But now, several other high profile squads are en route as well, as the season officially gets under way.

Earlier today, the British Military team climbing Makalu this fall set off at long last. They departed for Nepal from Heathrow International Airport, and should arrive there tomorrow. They'll only spend a few days in the capital city before shipping out to BC. They now estimated that they will arrive on the mountain around Sept. 21, which coincides nicely with the official start of autumn in the Northern Hemisphere. They'll be attempting the incredibly tough Southeast Ridge, which is brutally long and difficult. This will be one of the more interesting expeditions to follow in the weeks ahead, so stay tuned for updates.

Meanwhile, over on Shishapangma, 75-year old Carlos Soria has reached Base Camp. He'll be spending a few days there acclimatizing before he starts heading up the slopes. If he successfully reaches the top in a few weeks time, this will mark his 12th 8000-meter peak, which is an impressive accomplishment at any age. But, Carlos doesn't look like he intends to slow down anytime soon, and he continues to serve as an inspiration to us all.

Chris Jensen Burke left Kathmandu today for Cho Oyu. She hopes to be in Base Camp by next Thursday, after spending some time in both Nyalam and Tingri acclimatizing. Cho Oyu is in Tibet, so much of the journey will be made by vehicle, as opposed to trekking to BC in Nepal. She is allotting just 25 days total for the expedition, and is targeting a summit date around October 4. Of course, the weather will dictate if that schedule will hold or not, but since she is still acclimatized from her summer in the Karakoram, it shouldn't take her long to be ready.

The Adventure Consultants are already on Cho Oyu, and they report that things are going well. They held their Puja ceremony this morning, and spent the remainder of the day prepping their gear for their first rotation up the mountain. Tomorrow, they'll head up to Camp 1 and begin the acclimatization process.

Finally, over on Manaslu, the Altitude Junkies are settling into their routine as well. Their latest dispatch indicates a slight change in schedule, as persistent heavy snowfall over the past few days has made things a bit unstable. Nothing too serious to worry about, but it delayed the rope fixing duties by a day or two. The work is progressing steadily however, and the Sherpas will proceed directly up to Camp 2 tomorrow to start fixing ropes up to C3. The teams will follow them up to C2, where they'll actually be taking their second acclimatization rotation already. Despite the poor weather, things are going about as well as can be expected at the moment.

That's all for updates for today. Look for more progress reports next week.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Himalaya Fall 2014: More Arrivals in Kathmandu and Base Camps

It has been a busy few days in the Himalaya, where after a slow start to the fall season, teams are now on the move at long last. Over the past few days, a number of squads have settled into Base Camp, with some even starting their first rotation up their respective mountains. Meanwhile, back in Kathmandu, climbers continue to arrive on the scene, setting the stage for what promises to be an interesting fall throughout the region.

We'll start this update on Lhotse, where a lone Korean team arrived in BC last week. ExWeb says that they endured the remnants of the monsoon while trekking through the Khumbu Valley, and had soggy first few days. But they have completed their Puja ceremony – the ritual in which climbers as for permission from the mountain to climb – and are now waiting for conditions to improve before proceeding up.

75-year old Carlos Soria is freshly arrived in Nepal, and is still in Kathmandu. The Spaniard will be heading out to Shishapangma soon, where he'll begin his attempt to climb is 12th 8000-meter peak. For now, he is content to do some last minute shopping in the capital city, and rest up for the trek ahead, but he plans to leave for the mountain in the next few days.

The trio of Benedikt Bohm, Sebastian Haag and Andrea Zambaldi – collectively known as the Double 8 Team – will also be heading to Shishapangma soon. They estimate that their climb will get underway the middle of next week. They have ambitious plans for the fall, as they first intend to climb Shisha, then run and mountain bike to Cho Oyu, and summit that mountain as well, all within about a 7 day time span. First they'll need to acclimatize of course, but once they are ready, the intend to make the climb in a fast and light alpine style. It should be interesting to see how their journey unfolds in the weeks ahead.

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Himalaya Fall 2014 Update: Progressing Slowly

The Fall 2014 climbing season in the Himalaya is starting to get underway, although progress has been slow thus far. A few of the teams have already left Kathmandu for their respective mountains, while others have yet to arrive in Nepal at all. The summer monsoon has, for the most part, dissipated however, and conditions are starting to improve in the mountains. The fall season isn't nearly as busy as the spring of course, but things should now start to ramp up accordingly.

The IMG team is headed to Cho Oyu this fall with a group of climbers looking to get experience on an 8000 meter peak. They reached the Tibetan village of Tingri, a few days back, and took a rest day there to acclimatize some. The entire squad should go to Base Camp today however, where there are still just three teams of Sherpas preparing for the arrival of their clients.

The Adventure Consultants are on the same schedule, and were in and out of Tingri the past few days too. They reported that the town was bustling and noisy, and they are looking forward to escaping to the silence of the mountains, and getting the climb underway at last. Once settled in BC, they'll probably take a few days to rest before proceeding up to Camp 1. But for now, they seem content to be at the starting point of the expedition at last.

Over on Manaslu, the Altitude Junkies are already getting settled into Base Camp. They reached that point on Tuesday, and were immediately beset with poor weather. Rain fell throughout the day, but was fortunately replaced with sunshine and clear skies yesterday. They're hoping that is a good omen of things to come. They hope to hold their Puja ceremony tomorrow, and send the first Sherpa teams up the mountain on Saturday where they'll fix ropes to Camp 1 and scout the route to Camp 2. They're joined on the mountains by team from Himalayan Experience, who will help share the work load.

Friday, August 29, 2014

ExWeb Previews 2014 Fall Himalayan Season

Summer is starting to slip away across the Northern Hemisphere, and in Nepal the summer monsoon is starting to weaken at last. That means it is nearly time for the start of another climbing season in the Himalaya, and ExWeb has posted a preview, giving us an idea of what to expect in the weeks ahead.

Typically, the fall climbing season focuses on a number of smaller mountains that are used to gain valuable experience for a spring attempt on Everest. That appears to once again be the case this year, although there are some expeditions that will be attempting some difficult climbs none the less. Take for example the Korean team heading to Lhotse to attempt the South Face. The group hoped to climb the same route last fall, but were thwarted by heavy snows. ExWeb reports that they are already in and out of Kathmandu, and should have started the trek to Base Camp yesterday. That should put them on the mountain sometime late next week, where they'll start their acclimatization process. You may recall that Lhotse is the neighbor of Everest, and shares much of the same route up the South Col.

Meanwhile, over on Makalu, a British military team, supported by a squad of Sherpas, is attempting to summit along the Southeast Ridge. This team is still putting the finishing touches on their preparation, and haven't quite left for Nepal yet. According to their website, they are expected to reach Base Camp around the 20th of September.

Spanish climber Carlos Soria is going for his 12th 8000-meter peak. He'll leave for Shishapangma next week. This past spring, Carlos became the oldest person to summit Kangchenjunga, and at the age of 75, he continues to be an inspiration to all of us. It doesn't appear that Carlos has any intention of slowing down either, as he aims to nab all 14 of the 8-thousanders.

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Video: Alan Arnette Presents Summiting Nepal's Manaslu

A few days back I shared details of a live stream of Alan Arnette's presentation of his Summiting Manaslu slideshow that was brought to us courtesy of Jon Miller of the Rest of Everest Fame. The event was your opportunity to not only learn about an 8000 meter climb, but also get to hear Alan speak. It was a fun, interesting experience for sure, and it included a major announcement about a Himalayan expedition that 16-year old Matt Moniz that you'll be hearing a lot about in the weeks ahead. Both spoke at a fundraiser for the dzi Foundation, an organization dedicated to improving the lives people living in Nepal.

If you missed the event, Jon has kindly posted it online so you can watch it for yourself. It contains some great info about climbing Manaslu specifically and 8000 meter peaks in general. The video is more than an hour in length, so get comfortable.

Monday, February 03, 2014

Watch Alan Arnette's Summiting Manaslu Presentation Live On YouTube Tonight!



Last fall, Alan Arnette added another 8000 meter peak to his already impressive resumé when he successfully reached the summit of Manaslu. At 8156 m (26,759 ft) in height, it is the eighth highest mountain in the world and a challenging climb, although not in the same league as some of the other big Himalayan peaks.

Since his return from the climb last October, Alan has been giving a series of talks about the expedition, sharing his insights about climbing in the Himalaya in general and about Manaslu specifically. But unless you live in Colorado, chance are you haven't gotten a chance to see Alan's presentation. That can change tonight, as the slide show is going to be broadcast live over the Internet starting at 6 PM local time, which 8 PM EST/7PM CST.

The event is being broadcast on the Rest of Everest YouTube channel, which you can access by clicking here. This will be a great opportunity to see Alan in action and learn more about climbing in the Himalaya. It should be a fun and interesting experience for sure.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Himalaya Fall 2013: News From Annapurna And Lunag-Ri, Summit Bids Over On Manaslu

We have more news from the Himalaya today as a couple of teams we've been waiting to hear from check in at last. But before we get to those high profile climbs there is also an update from Manaslu where it seems a busy and active season is about to come to an end.

Earlier in the week we knew that a several teams were attempting to summit Manaslu as a window of good weather was expected to appear over the past few days. It turns out the weather did not improve as forecasts indicated and as a result, the teams moving up the mountain had a much tougher time than expected. A dispatch from Adventure Peaks has all the details, but in a nutshell the climber were ascending in thigh-deep snow only to find that Camps 2 and 3 were completely destroyed by heavy snows and high winds. The effort they put in just to rebuild those camps was very taxing and at one point the Sherpas were forced to spend the night in a tent without sleeping bags because their bags had been buried under fresh powder.

Despite those challenges however the team still considered moving higher. But when they left C3 they discovered that the fixed ropes had been buried in snow and ice as well and were unusable. That was the final straw for the expedition with all climbers turning back and descending to Camp 2 safely. With conditions this bad so late in the season, it seems that the Adventure Peaks team will definitely head home and it is likely that others will too. It appears that the end of the season has arrived at last on Manaslu.

Elsewhere however the climbs continue. There have been no further updates from Annapurna, where yesterday we learned that Ueli Steck topped out solo on the mountain's South Face. That is an incredible climb and the entire mountaineering world is waiting to hear more details. At the moment, we believe that Ueli is back in Base Camp with his partner  Don Bowie, but what their next move is remains to be seen. Their permit runs through November 15, so it is possible they will attempt to go up again provided Don is feeling strong and ready to try to reach the top too. For now, we'll all have to wait for more information.

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Himalaya Fall 2013: More Summit Bids Underway On Manaslu

Despite the fact that a number of commercial teams have wrapped up operations for the fall climbing season in the Himalaya, some climbers still have work ahead of them and are hoping to nab summits before they head home. This is the case on Manaslu in particular, which has been an active mountain so far this fall. It seems the weather there has improved over the past day or two and a new window is set to open. That has launched a new round of summit bids with climbers hoping to top out in the next few days.

ExWeb is reporting that the remaining teams on Manaslu left Base Camp on Sunday with the hopes of taking advantage of good weather that is suppose to start today and run into the weekend. Amongst those teams is an expedition from the British Army and a group led by Adventure Peaks. Those squads are due into Camp 3 today and are looking to go up to the summit either tomorrow or Thursday. There are another couple of teams that are still in BC as well after having just wrapped up their acclimatization rotations. They'll hope for another window next week as well.

While we're on the subject of Manaslu, Alan Arnette has returned from Nepal and posted his final trip report to his blog. It is a detailed and lengthy read that is definitely worth your time as it not only shares good information about a climb on this particular mountain but excellent insights into a Himalayan expedition in general. Alan also posted the video below which will take you through the climb as well, starting in the busy, chaotic streets of Kathmandu and going all the way to the summit of the mountain.

Over on Shishapangma, ExWeb is also reporting that teams are giving up their summit bids due to the high danger of avalanches on that particular mountain. Heavy snows on the upper slopes have made things dangerous and unstable, which has forced all the climbers to abandon their attempts. There were only a couple of summits on Shisha this fall and it has been one of the more elusive summits of the season.

Things aren't looking great on Lhotse either where high winds and snow continue to hit the mountain. The Italian squad remains in Base Camp even as the clock ticks towards the end of their expedition. The two climbers have already sought an extension but at the moment things are not looking good. They have had little chance to acclimatize at altitude and there is still a lot of work to be done before they could even think of attempting the summit or skiing back down. Their reports indicate that winds are howling at 80-90 km/hr (50-56 mph) in BC and are worse higher up the slope. For now, they sit and wait for an opportunity.

That's it for today. Hopefully more new soon!


Thursday, October 03, 2013

Himalaya Fall 2013: More Summits On Manaslu and Cho Oyu

As predicted there has been another round of summits across the Himalaya this week as good weather allowed teams to move up in relatively stable conditions. So far the fall climbing season has gone pretty much by the book with few major issues or problems. There are still some major expeditions under way of course, but it seems that a number of the larger commercial operations are wrapping up their fall itineraries and starting to head home.

It has been a productive season on Manaslu where there have been two major summit pushes within the past week or so. More teams reached the top on that mountain yesterday with Chris Jensen Burke being amongst them. She sent an audio dispatch announcing the team's success and letting friends and family know that everyone had come back down the mountain safely. Her squad was just one of a number of groups to summit yesterday with more expected to top out today.

Over on Cho Oyu there has been a similar level of activity over the course of the season and the past few days. Several commercial squads topped out over the past few days including the IMG team as well as climbers from Amical Alpin and Adventure Peaks. The weather has remained stable on the mountain all through the season, which has helped facilitate safe climbing on the mountain. The most recent summiteers have already returned to Base Camp and are resting up before the trek home.

The weather hasn't remained quite so consistent on Shishapangma however and a number of teams have turned back on their summit bids there. Rich Emerson of the Ski Shisapangma squad turned back on his second summit attempt due to an excessive amount of soft snow around the summit. He was able to get within 450 meters (1476 ft) once again but conditions wouldn't allow him to go any higher. He is now back in BC and intends to wrap up the expedition tomorrow. Meanwhile, 74-year old Carlos Soria  climbed as high as C3 on his summit bid before the weather forced him to retreat as well. He has gone back down the mountain to BC to re-evaluate his choices. Fresh snow and high winds made for poor visibility high on the mountain, which brought an end to summit bids. At least for now.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Himalaya Fall 2013: Second Round of Summit Bids Underway

After successful summits across the Himalaya last week a brief period of bad weather fell across much of the region. But this week things are clearing up and a new weather window is seems to be opening. These improved conditions are allowing a second round of summit pushes as climbers on various mountains make their move to top out. Over the next few days we should see more summits as the fall climbing season begins to heat up once again.

One of the most active mountains during last week's round of summit bids was Manaslu, where it is estimated that approximately 60 climbers topped out. Amongst them was Alan Arnette who posted a brief account of his summit bid on his blog. Alan calls the summit of Manaslu the scariest spot he has ever been in his climbing career, which includes Everest, thanks in no small part to its narrow approach ridge which had a drop of over 3000 feet (914 meters) on either side. As always, Alan provides good insights into climbing on the big peaks, but this dispatch was a bit short due to technical issues. He promises a longer account of the climb once he has returned home.

The work isn't wrapped up on Manaslu just yet however as more teams are making their summit bids this week. A number of international climbers, including teams from Romania, Spain and Italy, amongst others, are headed to Camp 3 today and should be looking to top out on Thursday of this week provided the weather remains cooperative. As the 8th highest peak in the world, Manaslu provides plenty of opportunities for sharpening mountaineering skills for preparation for a higher peak, such as Everest, in the spring.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Himalaya Fall 2013: Summits On Manaslu, Cho Oyu and Shishapangma!

It was a very productive day in the Himalaya yesterday as the projected weather window remained open long enough for teams to top out on several mountains. That window is expected to slam shut today with high winds and snowstorms expected across the region. But the climbers who arrived early in the season, worked hard to complete the acclimatization process and patiently waited for their opportunity were rewarded with successful summit bids. 

We'll start on Manaslu where the majority of the action took place yesterday. The Altitude Junkies confirmed that their team started to top out at about 8:30 AM local time yesterday morning. First to the top were Pasang Nima Sherpa and team leader Phil Crampton, but not far behind was the rest of the crew that included Alan Arnette, whom I'm sure will pass along a detailed account of the summit push in the next day or two As they approached the top, the final 100 meters of rope still needed to be fixed and Pasang Nima joined with the Sherpas from the Himex squad to complete that work. Russell Brice's team had a good day on the mountain too, putting 13 of their clients on top and a total of 29 climbers overall. Reportedly it was a good day on the summit with warm temperatures and calm winds. Both teams report that everyone has now descended safely and after spending the night in Camp 1 they should arrive back in BC today. 

Meanwhile, ExWeb is reporting that there have been summits on Cho Oyu as well. Four climbers topped out there at around 12:40 PM yesterday afternoon. That group included American climber Adrian Ballinger, Russian Sergey Baranov, Passang Bhote Sherpa and Namygal Sherpa. The two westerners than proceeded to make a ski descent and were back in Camp 2 early in the afternoon. ExWeb also indicates that there are a number of other teams poised to make summit bids today before the change in weather arrives. 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Himalaya Fall 2013: No Summits on Shisha, Waiting For News Elsewhere

The waiting game continues in the Himalaya where we know that summit pushes are underway amidst good weather. But the forecast calls for a change starting tomorrow, with snow and high winds predicted. That means that teams are on the move today with news of successful summits to come shortly.

One team that we've been keeping a close eye on this week is the Ski Shishapangma squad. They made an attempt on the summit on Monday with the hopes of completing a ski descent of that mountain. Since then we hadn't heard any word on their progress, but a dispatch this morning tells us that Rich Emerson and Dave Etherington turned back 450 meters (1476 ft) below the summit. They are safely back in Base Camp now and Dave says that his climb is over. Rich, on the other hand, seems to be weighing his options and may consider giving it another go once he has had the chance to rest and recover his strength.

If the weather forecast holds as many as 60 climbers could top out on Manaslu today including groups from both the Altitude Junkies and Himex. Our friend Alan Arnette is a part of that group as well and I expected we'll get an excellent account of the climb once he he safely back in BC.

The other peak that should see plenty of action today is Cho Oyu where several teams should be closing in on the summit as well. The IMG squad isn't among them however as their latest dispatch indicates that they have now completed their second acclimatization rotation to Camp 2 and have descended to Base Camp as well. With the change in weather coming tomorrow they'll take the time to rest and eat lots of good food as they wait for a weather window to open to start their eventual summit bids. That looks like it won't happen until sometime next week at the earliest.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Himalaya Fall 2013: Weather Window Opens Across The Himalaya, Summits In Sight

As noted yesterday, the first real summit push of the fall Himalayan climbing season is now underway and we wait anxiously for word on the whereabouts of the numerous teams that are currently on the move. The weather forecast across the region seems favorable, at least for a few more days, and the climbers are now getting themselves into position to make a push to the top of their respective mountains within the next day or two. After that, it seems the window will close once again and those who aren't able to take advantage of it will wait for their turn in the days ahead. For now though, there is quite a bit of activity taking place.

Yesterday I noted that Rich Emerson and Dave Etherington of the Ski Shishapangma expedition were planning on making their summit bid. The weather was reportedly quite good and it was thought that they would go to the top, then attempt a ski descent. There has been no update on their progress since then however so it is unclear weather or not they did indeed summit and ski or if they ended up descending for some reason. We'll have to wait and watch their Facebook page for updates on their progress.

On Manaslu the summit push is in full swing with most expecting to top out tomorrow. As reported yesterday, the Altitude Junkies squad is amongst them with Alan Arnette part of that team. It seems that the Himex climbers have also joined the summit party and their team is on the way up as well. The forecast says that there should be little wind on Manaslu tomorrow, which should give the teams perfect conditions to top out. After that, rain and snow are expected on the mountain with the potential for some heavy powder to fall at higher altitudes. At the moment, as many as 60 climbers are in Camp 4 and waiting to launch their final push.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Himalaya Fall 2013: Summit Bids Underway!

It was a busy weekend in the Himalaya where most of the teams continued their acclimatization rotations in an effort to prepare for the challenges ahead. While those squads dutifully marched up and down the mountain in an effort to get their bodies accustomed to the thinner air, other teams launched their summit bids at long last. If the weather stays calm and things go according to plan, we could see our first successful summits of the season later today.

One of the teams that is now in position to top out is the Ski Shishapangma squad. They started their summit push last Friday and should top out today, hopefully putting both Dave Etherington and Rich Emerson on the summit. The weather report indicates clear skies and tranquil conditions on the mountain, so provided any unforeseen changes, it seems summit day will be a good one. As the name of the expedition implies however, climbing the mountain is only part of the plan. Dave and Rich also intend to ski back down Shisha, which is the shortest of the 8000-meter peaks at 8013 meters (26,289 ft). Good luck to the team as they make this final push and ski descent.

Also on Shishapangma, 74-year old Carlos Soria is biding his time and waiting for his opportunity to summit. With his acclimatization rotations done, he is now resting in Base Camp, watching the weather and waiting for the right time to move. He is estimating that he'll get on the move around the middle of the week with a possible summit on Sept. 28, which would be Saturday. A savvy veteran of the Himalaya, Soria also says that his team is patient and they will wait for the right opportunity to being their bid for the summit.

The Altitude Junkies have also launched their summit bid on Manaslu setting out on Saturday for their final push. The team, which includes our friend Alan Arnette, spent the night in Camp 2 last night and will proceed to Camp 3 today. Tomorrow they'll move up to C4 and be in position for a potential summit bid on Wednesday of this week. The weather window looks promising at the moment and it seems that the route to the top is in good shape. Over the weekend the Sherpas had to replace three ladders that went missing in avalanche, but all is good now. Hopefully we'll hear news of their success in the middle of the week.