Himalaya Fall 2009: It’s Go Time!

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The Fall Himalaya season seems to be rapidly heating up as summit bids are now underway on a variety of mountains across the region. The acclimatization process is finished, the lines are fixed, and the high camps are stocked. Looks like it’s go time!

On Everest, the Basque team of Alberto Iñurrategi, Mikel Zabalza and Juan Vallejo will begin their assault on the Hornbein Couloir tomorrow, with an eye on reaching the summit on Sunday morning, according to the latest update from ExWeb. The current plan is to survey the route tomorrow and if everything goes as planned, begin their alpine style ascent, which as ExWeb points out, has only been accomplished once before.

Jumping over to Makalu, we finally get an update from Ueli Steck, who is taking on the West Pillar solo and in alpine style. Ueli has had some set backs in that climb, and he is currently in BC, hoping for better conditions on the mountain, and knowing that he has just three weeks to make a go at it. If you read his very personal account of his attempt to go up the mountain, you’ll get a sense of the frustration he is currently feeling at not being able to climb as quickly and safely as he’d like. He’s even considered giving up and going home, which is so unlike the indomitable spirit we usually see out of him. It’s a bit sobering considering how strong a climber Ueli is, but it also says a lot about the conditions and challenges of this route on this mountain. Definitely a good read.

Meanwhile, the Chilean Ski Expedition is hoping to begin their summit bid on Manaslu tomorrow. They hope to top out on Sunday as well, and will then make the descent back down the mountain on their skis. On that same mountain, the Altitude Junkies should be in the middle of their summit bid right now, and should be hopefully reaching the summit this weekend as well. The Himex Team is apparently progressing with their acclimatization, and have already spent two nights at at 6300 meters, and are eyeing their bid, weather permitting, in the next week and a half.

Andrew Lock checks in once again from Shisha Pangma where he reports great conditions. He has now climbed up to Camp 1, but described the route as slow and treacherous at this point. It took him and his climbing partner, Kinga Baranowska, seven hours to make the trip up to 6250 meters. That climb was made several days ago, and today he and Kinga are back up to C1 to spend the night, before moving on to Camp 2 tomorrow. For Andrew, this is his 14th 8000 meter peak, so obviously he’s keen on using the great weather to his advantage and finishing off the last of the big mountains.

The North Face Cho Oyu Triology Team continues to make their way to that mountain, and are posting regular updates to their blog. Yesterday we were treated to some great photos from the area on the team’s blog and the video posted below was put up today. It shows climber Simone Moro in Chhukung village discussing his previous experiences in the Himalaya, of which he has had many.

Also on Cho Oyu, the IMG blog is reporting that their team is now in the middle of their final push to the summit, and updates later today should clue us in on their success. It looks like they should be standing on top very soon.

FInally, the Field Touring Alpine Team has updated their blog to let us know that the entire team is now back in BC on Satopanth after successfully putting several climbers on the summit of that peak located in the Hindu Kush of India. Well done team, and glad you’re all safe!

Kraig Becker

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