Himalaya Update: Final Words From Makalu

GokyoRi Makalu
It’s all but over for the Fall climbing season in the Himalaya, with final dispatches coming in now, and more information about a few rumors we’ve been hearing for the past few weeks.

First up, The Cleanest Line, the official blog of gear company Patagonia, has the final audio dispatch from Steve House today, who has been climbing Makalu along with partners Vince Anderson and Marko Prezelj. When last we heard from the team, they were turned back on a new route along the West Face due to high winds. After that attempt however, Steve made another go at the mountain, this time a solo climb on November 4th. He managed to climb above 6500m (21,325 feet), amidst calm conditions, but once he got above that point, the winds picked up again, with snow and ice flying everywhere, forcing him to abandon the climb once again, and return to base camp.

Steve also notes on this call that yesterday he and the team spent their first night below 10,000 feet in 43 days! He notes how well they all slept and how good they feel now that they are back to a more manageable altitude. He also seems to appreciate the much improved weather as well.

ExWeb also has updates from the Himalaya today too, reporting that the Altitude Junkies have given up on their attempts to summit Kang Guru, and are scheduled to leave BC today. High winds throughout last week prevented any serious attempts on the summit, although a few of the climbers gave it a go on Friday and Saturday, getting as high as 6400 meters. Conditions above that were just not stable enough to continue however, and in the end, they simply ran out of time.

We have more details on the rescue on Pumori that I mentioned last week, in which American guide Fabrizio Zangrilli helped bring French climber Corinne Favre down the mountain. Fabrizio reports that Corinne was hit by a “very large chunk of ice the size of an armchair” and was knocked unconscious. He then proceeded to carry her down the mountain for 4 hours before other climbers and sherpas could come to their aid. Corinne is reportedly still in a hospital in Kathmandu, recovering from multiple chest fractures, and is said to be improving, although not completely out of the woods yet.

It’s sad news from Ama Dablam, as the Field Touring Alpine Team has confirmed that on November 4th, shortly after summitting the mountain, climber Wei Cui fell while rappelling down the Grey Tower, and died as a result of his injuries. He reportedly fell more than 500 meters (1640 feet), and an attempt to bring his body down will begin in a few days.

Finally, it seems that the traffic jam at the Lukla airport is finally over. The weather there has cleared, allowing for more frequent flights, shuttling the climbers and trekkers back to Kathmandu and their flights home. Things will likely quiet down there now until the Spring, when a whole new crowd will appear.

Kraig Becker

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