Himalaya Update: Summits On Cho Oyu!

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Both ExWeb and Everest News are reporting that a number of teams have topped out on Cho Oyu today, while, tensions seem to be running high on Manaslu.

First up, the Summit Climb Team was the first to top out on Cho Oyu yesterday, with a number of climbers reaching the summit, and one skiing back down. Suzy Madge of the U.K. became the first female skier from that country to ski down an 8000m peak, while Squash Falconer elected to head back down the mountain via a snowboard instead. Lakpa Gyalbu Sherpa Lama, team leader Dan Mazur, Raimo Koponen, Jangbu Sherpa, Keith Spencer and John Pando all reached the top. Raimo did it without oxygen as well. The next two groups of climbers were in C2 and C3, with each planning to make their summit bids today and tomorrow.

In his dispatch, Dan also noted that the team managed to assist in a couple of minor rescues as well. In once case, a climber had fallen into a large crack and couldn’t get out, so they assisted in helping him abseil back down to safety. The other incident occurred as the team returned to C2, where just outside of camp they found a climber sitting in the snow, dazed and disoriented. They assisted him back into camp, and everything appeared to be fine.

Over on Manaslu, the word is that the Himex Team was fixing lines up to the top today, and would likely be the first team to reach the summit. Reportedly they are the only team that has reached Camp 4 so far, and they intend to make their summit bid tomorrow.

Meanwhile, it’s not going great for other teams on the mountain, as climber Yuri Contrerashas reported that the logistics for his climb has been completely fowled up thanks to disorganization by expedition leader Henry Todd. Yuri contends that there are only five sherpas for 15 climbers, and they are spread to thin, resulting in the members of the team caring far more gear than expected, along with heavier packs. If that wasn’t bad enough, Yuri and a few other climbers were told to go up to C2 today, where a tent would be waiting, only to arrive and find no tent or supplies. Luckly the Jagged Globe Team had a spare tent to share with them. Doesn’t sound like a good time for the climbers on that particular team.

Other teams are experiencing tension of their own in BC, as they wait, watch the weather, and try to decide what to do. The current weather window is only expected to last through the weekend, so many team are looking to make their bids now, even if they haven’t spent all the time on the mountain that they need to acclimatize. The Altitude Junkies are one of those hoping to go up in the next few days. High winds and avalanches on the upper slopes have not made it easy so far though.

A couple of quick updates from other Himalayan peaks. On Makalu, the news is that the weather is expected to improve over the next few days, opening possibly the only weather window of the season, but heavy snows have made for dangerous avalanches, with C2 already being buried once. On Annapurna IV it’s go time for the summit for Brad and Tonya, but they’re going up unassisted as their Sherpas have taken ill and had to be left in camp.

Good luck to everyone making their summit climbs this weekend. Climb safe! And a hearty congrats to those already topping out, especially the teams on Cho Oyu. Get down safe!

Kraig Becker

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