Himalaya 2012: Camp 3 On Annapurna, Ueli Watches The Weather


As teams across the Himalaya are wrapping up their first acclimatization climbs, there is movement in the region for teams that are now ready for the challenges ahead. At these early stages of the season there is still a lot of uncertainty about the weather, stability of the routes and the route ahead, but things are becoming more clear and the climbers are taking advantage of what ever the mountains will offer them.

There is no place where this is more evident than on Annapurna, where Don Bowie reports that he, and presumably his climbing partners Carlos Soria and Waldemar Niclevicz, are climbing up to Camp 3 today. Don says that at the very least he’ll spend a few days acclimatizing at C3 in preparation for a summit bid, but the trio expects to survey the conditions above 6800 meters (22,309 ft) to see if it is possible to continue higher. If those conditions are right and the current good weather holds, they could have a go at the summit as early as Friday.

Meanwhile, Ueli Steck and Freddie Wilkinson have completed their acclimatization work on Lobuche and are now back in Pheriche. Ueli says that he picked up the idea of using Lobuche from Russell Brice, owner/operator of Himalayan Experience (Himex). As I mentioned yesterday, Himex prefers to limit the number of trips through the Khumbu Icefall on Everest’s South Side, so they tend to make acclimatization climbs elsewhere. Apparently the trend is catching on, as Ueli reports that Lobuche was crowded this year. Steck and Wilkinson are now prepping for their alpine style climbs of Cholatse, Tawoche and Ama Dablam, but snow accumulations on those peaks have made it a challenge to climb any of them at the moment. Conditions are expected to change in the next few days however, and they expect to head out to Cholatse as soon as the weather report shows improvement.

Chad Kellogg has arrived on Everest and has been busy getting settled in. He has made three trips through the Icefall already this season and was hauling gear and supplies up to Camp 2 yesterday. You may recall that Chad hopes to make a run at the Everest speed record going from Base Camp to summit and back again.

Also arriving in BC on the South Side is Bill Burke, who at the age 70 is attempting to make a double summit of Everest. Bill will first climb the South Col route as normal, but after descending to Base Camp he’ll depart for Tibet and the North Side of the mountain, where he’ll hope to make a second summit within a matter of days. That’s a pretty ambitious project for someone half his age, so we’ll definitely be keeping an eye on Bill’s progress in the weeks ahead.

The Nat Geo/North Face squad led by Conrad Anker has gone up to Camp 2 today as they start the process of their climb. They’ll build camps like the other teams on Everest but veer off along a different route up the West Ridge starting at C2. All seems to be going well thus far and this very strong team is on schedule at the moment.

Finally, the Adventure Consultants team made it to Manaslu at last and are happy to be in Base Camp on that mountain. They report good conditions this morning giving away to a big snow storm in the afternoon, but even with the snow flying they hope to climb up to Camp 1 tomorrow as they start their climb in ernest as well.

Kraig Becker