Himalaya Update: Now or Never on Annapurna!

This morning I posted updates from the Everest teams, who continue to move into position on the mountain, and will begin making summit bids in the next day or two. The other big Himalayan peaks continue to see their action as well, with climbers on Lhotse following a similar schedule as their mates on Everest, and teams on Annapurna gearing up to go up or go home.

We’ll start with an update from ExWeb with news from all around the region. They report that Spaniard Iñaki Ochoa, Romanian Horia Colibasanu, and Russian Alexey Bolotov all moved up to Camp 5 yesterday, fixing lines as they went. The weather window remains open at the moment, although they have seen cold mornings and snowy afternoons on their ascent. If all goes well, and the weather continues to cooperate, they should reach the summit later today or sometime tomorrow.

Meanwhile, Makalu has seen several successful summits with Joao García of Portugal topping out with out the use of supplemental oxygen, and not far behind him was a French team who also reached the summit. The reports are that it has been very cold and windy at the top, but as expected, the views were spectacular.

The latest news from Brian Oestrike is that he is moving into position on Lhotse and hopes to make his summit bid beginning on the 21st. Brian has been using acclimatization gear from his sponsor Hypoxico to help train for his climb, and he’s looking to go solo, without oxygen, to the summit. The latest word is that he may go on oxygen at night while sleeping to help his circulation due to the very cold nights that have been hitting the area recently. Other than that, things are going according to plan, and Brian should be topping out around the 21st or so.

Spaniards Carlos Pauner and Javier Perez, who recently knocked off Dhaulagiri are making their bid for a Himalaya Double Header, and have arrived on Lhotse as well. Already well acclimatized, the two started up the mountain, but Javier turned back at C2, while Carlos continued up to C3. His current plan is to proceed to C4 tomorrow and summit on Wednesday. Husband and wife team of Ralf Dujmovits and Gerlinde Kaltenbruner hope to complete their own doubleheaders on Lhotse as well. Ralf already summitted Makalu and Gerlinde finished up Dhaulagiri. The pair of met in the Khumbu and will not proceed to BC to start their climb. If successful, Gerlinde will have just 2 8000m peaks left to become the first woman to summit all 14. Besides Lhotse, she’s still missing Everest and K2.

Finally, last week I posted an update on the Annapuran IV team making the decision to go down the mountain rather than attempt a summit in poor weather. The team was besieged with bad weather since arriving in base camp, and a safe window never really opened for them to go up. Their most recent and possibly last dispatch, is a long and detailed account of their climb told in Ben Clark’s well written style. Ben does a great job of really laying out his feeling about being on the mountain with his friends, and at times his words are almost poetic. Obviously the guys are a bit disappointed that they didn’t stand on top, then ski back down as intended, but you can tell that the spirit of adventure is what drives them, and just being there and experiencing the mountain is fulfilling in it’s own right.

That’s all for now. I’m sure we’ll have more updates in the next few days on these mountains as well. Annapurna should be interesting, and Lhotse is heating up literally right along side Everest.

Kraig Becker

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