Himalaya Fall 2009: More Summits, Death on Cho Oyu

It was another busy weekend in the Himalaya with successful summits, changes in the weather, and the sad news of a death on Cho Oyu.

I’ll start there today, as the news broke over the weekend that Clifton Maloney, the husband of U.S. Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, died on Cho Oyu after achieving a successful summit. At the age of 71, he claimed the title as the oldest to summit that mountain, but died in his sleep back at C3 after telling one of his teammates “I am the happiest man in the world. I just climbed a beautiful mountain”. Maloney was an avid climber, sailer, and runner, having competed in the New York City Marathon on no less than 20 occasions. This is the first death of the season in the Himalaya, and I send my condolences to the family.

In other news on Cho Oyu, the North Face Trilogy team that had been planning to scale the mountain and then run/mountain bike back to Kathmandu, are in the process of altering those plans thanks to the Chinese closing the Tibetan borders once again. According to their latest blog posts, they’ll now consider a different peak in the region, since they won’t have access to Cho Oyu until after October 8th, and they won’t have the time to finish their project.

We also received an update on Ueli Steck over the weekend with the news that he reached the summit of Makalu late last week. He had been planning on making a solo, alpine style attempt on the West Pillar, but if you read his dispatches, you could tell how difficult that climb was going to be, so rather than go home empty handed, he topped out along the normal route while he was in the neighborhood.

IMG and Jagged Globe both put teams on the summit of Cho Oyu late last week and have posted photos and updates on the their teams as well, all of which are often the mountain and safe and are already en route back to Kathmandu for the journey hope. Congrats to everyone!

Summit bids are underway on Shisha Pangma, where Andrew Lock has updated his blog this morning with news that he is “Going For It”. He and his team have spent a night at C2 and the camps are well stocked up to that point, and he now believes that they’ll top out on Friday or Saturday of this week. They’ll be taking an alternate route to the summit that is long and challenging, but should avoid the treacherous cornices and snow that turned back another team yesterday.

Teams have been very busy on Manaslu the past few days as well, and the Altitude Junkies were successful in putting three climbers high on the mountain, but the did not reach the true summit itself, coming up about 15 vertical meters short. It seems that the ropes were not fixed all the way to the summit, and left them just short of the top. They elected to not attempt to go further for safety reasons. Meanwhile, according to Alpenglow Expeditions, climbing with Himex, the team should reach the top today and upon doing so, descend back to C2. Hopefully all has gone well for them this morning.

Finally, ExWeb has an update on the Basque team on Everest. The team was making a summit bid up the Hornbein Couloir, but are now back in ABC after a very scary night 7200 meters in which they survived no one, but two avalanches. The first hit them while they were in the tent, and buried it. Deciding that discretion was the better part of valor, they elected to head down the mountain, but were hit by a second avalanche that covered them in snow. They ended up spending the night under a rocky outcropping before making a long, slow treacherous descent the next day. No word as of yet if they’ll have another go at it.

Kraig Becker

3 thoughts on “Himalaya Fall 2009: More Summits, Death on Cho Oyu”

Comments are closed.