We are most of the way through the Fall 2010 climbing season in the Himalaya. So far, not so good with one exception.
Arguably Cho Oyu at 26907′ is the most climbed Himalayan mountain in the Fall. It is the 6th highest mountain and climbed from Tibet. Poor weather and dangerous snow conditions thwarted almost every team this year.
Multiple avalanches prevented the fixed lines from reaching much higher than Camp 3 and one slide hurt multiple Tibetans from the Chinese Tibetan Mountaineering Association (CTMA), including two severely. As a result, the entire CTMA support team left the mountain early leaving it up to the remaining teams to fix the ropes. more
However, another avalanche soon hit the standard route and veteran guides said this was not the year and pulled their teams from the mountain. A few remained hoping for an improved forecast and better snow conditions and in fact there were three summits as of today: Austrian Rupert Hauer, German Alix Von Melle and Danish climber Jakob Urt. more
Sadly there was a death when respected Italian Alpinist Walter Nones reportedly fell on a new route from the Southwest Face. more
It is very rare for Cho Oyu to see so few summits as it had become the norm to have several hundred a season.
Meanwhile over on Manaslu, 26758′, located in Nepal, we saw a rare season of success. Manaslu has emerged as an alternative to Cho Oyu given the simpler logistics of climbing in Nepal. However, it has a reputation for difficult weather and many climbers reaching the false summit, not the true top.
Leading off this season’s success was Spanish climber Carlos Soria at 71, who became the oldest climber to summit Manaslu. He climbed without supplemental O’s along with Carlos Pauner. The Himalayan Experience (Russell Brice) team put 17 climbers and Sherpa on top including Brice himself. Also 5 summited from an Asian Trekking expedition. Briton Kenton Cool summited and skied off the top. And Brazilian Cleo Weidlich was also amongst the summiters this season.
Over on Shishapangma at 26289′, the only 8000m mountain located entirely in Tibet; the commercial team lead by Henry Todd called it quits due to poor weather. Other teams were also stopped. I am not aware of any summits this season.
Sadly there was large tragedy on Dhaulagiri, 26794′, where an avalanche apparently killed a Nepalese Guide and three Japanese climbers including Osamu Tanabe, one Japan’s top climbers with new routes and summits in off-season periods. The search continues for them today after the incident occurred on September 28th. more
On Everest, ambitious plans for north side summits via the Hornbein Couloir were stopped way short due to dangerous snow conditions. On the south several teams put strong efforts and reached the Yellow Band but all have turned back except for Eric Larsen who is now at Base Camp still considering a summit push. He has reached Camp 3 in his acclimatization process. more
While we monitor Eric, the second half of the Fall season gets underway with Ama Dablam climbs and the inspiring expedition led by Erik Weihenmayer, Soldiers to the Summit – where 11 injured soldiers and 10 Everest climbers seek to inspire others through climbing Lobuche Peak or Kala Patar.
Congratulations to all the climbers and my condolences to the friends and family of the fallen.
A quick update on Lam Geshe. As I previously reported, he suffered a stroke around September 20 and required brain surgery in Kathmandu. While he is still in a difficult condition requiring him to stay hospitalized for four to five months, his son Jigme reports his father is doing well and insisted Jigme return to the US to finish his schooling. Donations are still being accepted to help the family. Please see the original report for the link.
Arnette is a speaker, mountaineer and Alzheimer's Advocate. He is climbing the 7 Summits starting with Mt. Vinson in November 2010 to raise $1 million for Alzheimer's research. You can read more on his site.