Himalaya 2011: Expeditions Make Way To Makalu, Shisha, and More

800px Kanchenjunga India

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been following a number of climbers and teams as they’ve made their way to Everest, mainly on the South Side. As is usual for this time of year, there will be a lot of traffic on that side of the mountain, and a good deal of coverage for everything that is happening there. But as you well know, that isn’t the only mountain of interest in the Himalaya, and teams are now making their way to some of those equally, if not more, challenging mountains, that are a bit lesser known.

For instance, Melissa Arnot and Dave Morton are on their way to Makalu, the 8481 meter (27,825 ft) peak located on the border between Nepal and Tibet. It i the 5th highest mountain in the world and one that Melissa has dreamed of climbing for some time. She and Dave will be sharing their experience on the First Ascent Born Out There Blog, with their first entry being filed yesterday. The two climbers  arrived in Lower Base Camp, located at 4800 meters (15,748 ft) yesterday, and were expecting to shuttle all of their gear up to BC at 5600 meters (18,372 ft) today.

The Field Touring Alpine squad is en route to Cho Oyu as well, and according to this blog post they should be arriving in Advanced Base Camp tomorrow or Wednesday. The team drove from Tingiri to Chinese BC on Saturday, where they arranged yaks for the trek, and should have arrived at Intermediate Base Camp today. Cho Oyu is the 6th highest peak on the planet at 8201 meters (26,906 ft) and obviously the FTA team is climbing from the Tibet (Chinese) side of the mountain.

Alex Gavan is in Base Camp on Kangchenjunga as well, and filed this dispatch today with reports on climbs as high as C1 on that mountain already. Alex and one of his teammates have spent the night in Camp 1, located at 6173 meters (20,252 ft) and are now back in BC with the rest of the Kangchenjunga climbers. Acclimatization is going well, and Base Camp is crowded this year, with five teams on the mountain. That’s a lot of activity for this peak.

Finally, Ueli Steck and Don Bowie are on their way to Shishapangma, which will be the first of their Himalayan triple header. The talented climbing duo hope to not only climb that mountain, but also Cho Oyu and Everest this season. Word is that Ueli has already been acclimatizing for some time, and is prepared to make fast and light, alpine style attacks on all three of these mountains. Ueli is already a legend in climbing, and if he pulls this off, he’ll only add to that resume. See the video below for more.

We’re just getting warmed up in the Himalaya folks. While over all traffic in the region may be down a bit this year, there are still plenty of fantastic teams going after some impressive mountains. The next month to month and a half are going to be very busy there.

Ueli Steck’s Project Himalaya from Mountain Hardwear on Vimeo.

Kraig Becker