Himalaya 2013: Action Away From Everest

While the bulk of my coverage from the Himalaya this season has centered around Everest thus far, it is important to note that there are plenty of climbers on other mountains in the region as well. Just like their companions on the Big Hill, these climbers have quietly been going about their work, acclimatizing and preparing for eventual summit pushes. Here is a sample of some other expeditions that are taking place this spring.

As you would expect, Lhotse (8516 m/27,940 ft) is a popular target for climbers once again this year. The peak, which is located just next door to Everest, shares the same route much of the way. Climbers make the approach along the South Side of the mountain with the paths diverging after Camp 3. As a result, the climbers share much of the same experience including spending their days in Base Camp, trekking through he Khumbu Icefall and spending their time in Camps 1 and 2. Several of the big commercial expeditions operating on Everest also have smaller teams heading to the summit of Lhotse including the Adventure Consultants and Himex.

The 8481 meter (27,825 ft) Makalu seems to be a popular destination for climbers this spring. It is the 5th tallest mountain on the planet and can be found a short distance to the southeast of Everest. Some of the climbers who are currently on that mountain include Don Bowie, who will be climbing alone, but as he says he won’t be solo. He is sharing Base Camp with 15 other people, including Kinga Baranowska.

She arrived in BC yesterday and reports two other teams now on site. ExWeb is reporting that young Indian climber Arjun Vajpai is also hoping to bag Makalu this spring. The 19-year old alpinist has already managed to successfully summit Everest, Lhotse and Manaslu, and now he’s looking to add another 8000-meter peak to his already impressive resume.

Polish mountaineer Pawel Michalski is reporting in from Dhaulagiri (8167 m/26,795 ft), a massive peak located in central Nepal, not far from Annapurna. He says that the weather has been terrible the past few days, as we’ve seen on Everest as well. He’s been spending his time in Base Camp, waiting for an opportunity to go up, which may actually come today. Reports indicate that the weather improved across the region yesterday which is allowing climbers to get back on the move as they continue their acclimatization process.

Journalist Billi Bierling is once again writing the dispatches for the Himex team but she has returned to the Himalaya this spring for another climb of her own. Over the past couple of years she’s managed to knock off both Everest and Lhotse and now she’s turning her attention on Nuptse. This 7861 meter (25,791 ft) mountain is less than 2 km from Everest and is another popular peak in the Khumbu Valley. Billi has already had a bout with High Altitude Pulmonary Edema, better known as altitude sickness, and was forced to drop to a lower altitude to recover. She seems to be feeling better now and is moving slowly back up to EBC. Hopefully she’ll be okay to continue her climb, but only time will tell if her body has grown accustomed to the thinner air.

That’s all for now. I’m sure there are some other excellent expeditions taking place on other mountains. I’ll be sure to try to keep up with them and share news of their progress throughout the weeks ahead.

Kraig Becker