Himalaya 2012: More Than Just Everest


Each spring the Himalaya become the epicenter of the mountaineering world with hundreds of climbers descending on the region to take on some of the most challenging and beautiful mountains on the planet. Most of them travel to Everest and naturally that mountain is the center of attention for the general public as well. But there are always a number of interesting expeditions to other peaks and this year is no exception. Here are a few to keep your eyes on.

Ueli Steck will return to Nepal in just a few days where he will join Freddie Wilkinson on a new project dubbed the Khumbu Express II. You may recall that last year Ueli traveled to the Himalaya where he made successful speed climbs of Shisha Pangma (solo) and Cho Oyu (with Don Bowie). This year Ueli has his sights set on some different peaks and he now hopes to open three new routes on the North Faces of Cholatse (6440m/21,129ft), Tawoche (6542m/21,463ft), and Ama Dablam (6812m/22,349ft). Considering Ueli and Freddie’s talents for going up in a fast, alpine style, I think this will be a great expedition to follow.

Meanwhile, Ueli’s partner from last year Don Bowie is already in the Himalaya where he is attempting the North Face of Annapurna. In fact, Don has a jump on most of the climbers and has already reached Camp 1 on that 8091 meter (26,545 ft) mountain. Apparently things are a bit treacherous there at the moment, as Don reports that serac avalanches have been keeping him on his toes so far.

Also on Annapurna, a notoriously fickle mountain, is Carlos Soria. The 73-year old Spanish climber is making his 46th expedition into the Himalaya and a successful summit here would mark his 12th 8000-meter peak.

Australian climber Allie Pepper is currently in the Khumbu doing an acclimatization trek. Last year she successfully summited Everest and this year she’s back in the Himalaya for a climb on Manaslu (8156m/26,759ft). She’ll be back in Kathmandu next week and plans to head out with the rest of her team on April 10. If everything goes well on Manaslu, Allie may try for a summit on Lhotse (8516m/27,940ft) too.

Finally, South African climber Sean Disney will be leading a team of climbers on Cho Oyu, an 8201 meter (26,906 ft) peak that is the sixth highest on the planet. The team is just now gathering in Kathmandu and will be traveling overland to the Tibetan side of the mountain starting tomorrow.

This is just a sampling of what is happening around the Himalaya. Stay tuned for more news from other big climbs as they unfold in the coming weeks.

Kraig Becker