Himalaya Spring 2009 Update:

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We’re just days away from climbers descending on Kathmandu, and in this eleventh hour they are no doubt hurriedly packing and picking up last minute supplies. Meanwhile, in the Nepal, another ritual of spring seems to be taking place, as the Maoist once again are disrupting travel in the country.

According to ExWeb, who posted their own Himalaya wrap-up today, unrest and general strikes in certain areas of Nepal, from Maoist rebels no less, are already having an impact on the region. It seems Nives Meroi and her husband Romano Benet have been forced to change their plans thanks to the protests. The duo had been planning on heading to Kangchenjunga, one of the three remaining 8000m peaks left for them to conquer, but apparently, Nives and Romano sent their BC team on ahead to begin preparing their campsite, and they were detained by the rebels and turned back. Looking to avoid conflict, the Italian climbers elected to switch mountains and head to Annapurna instead. Nives still needs a summit on Annapurna in her quest to become the first woman to summit all 14 8000m peaks. At the moment they are in Kathmandu, where they report a severe shortage of water and power, but they’ll head to the Annapurna region by the end of the week, where they’ll await their team and gear.

Also heading to Annapurna is Valeri Bavanov and climbing partner Victor Afanasief. They are also in KTM at the moment, and while they’re all set to leave, and expected to be gone by now, they’re having problems finding any porters to hire. Apparently a number of porters were expected in the city by now, coming from villages in the countryside, but they’ve also been delayed by the Maoist strikes. Valeri and Victor feel confident however that they will find the porters they need soon, and will head for the mountain, where they intend to climb the West Face this spring.

It looks like not everyone has given up on the North Side, as ExWeb is also reporting that a combined team of Indian and Tibetan climbers have been issued a permit to scale the mountain from that side. With the borders still closed, it remains to be seen if the Indian climbers will receive access, but perhaps they will get special dispensation due to the nature of their climb. Eight members of the team also intend to ski down from the summit following their successful climb. Considering how quiet the North will be this year, it is going to take a lot of work to fix the lines.

Billi Bierling, who will be climbing Everest with Himex this year, lives and works in Kathmandu, where she reports that there was finally some rain over the weekend, helping to bring down the amount of smog and dust in the air. That should help make it a bit easier for all the travelers who will be headed to the city soon, although if the water shortages are as bad as they seem, anyone heading there soon should be prepared for the worst.

Last week I briefly mentioned Lori Schneider, the woman who suffers with MS, but still has her sights set on an Everest summit this year. If successful, she’ll also have bagged all of the Seven Summits as well. Today, Alan Arnette has posted a great interview with this very inspirational climber to his Everest 2009 page. Scroll down further and you’ll find a letter to Alan from Ang Tshering Sherpa, founder of Asian Trekking, who has some interesting things to say about what’s happening on Everest this spring, including the Eco Everest expedition that will be working hard to clean up the mountain.

Continue scrolling even further on Alan’s page, and you’ll find that we already know when Summit Day will be this year. According to Scott Parazynski, whose gone into orbit five times on the space shuttle, we can expect to see the first teams on top of Everest on May 14th. Of course, that’s just his best guesstimate, and one that he’s using on his schedule, but it’s the best we’ve got right now. The fact that it’s more than a month and a half away, and there are dozens of factors that will play into which date is actually picked, shouldn’t matter at all. 😉

To everyone headed to the Himalaya this week. Have fun, travel safe, and drop by the Rum Doodle for me. 🙂

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