Himalaya 2013: Summits On Shisha!

With all of the drama surrounding Everest over the past couple of days, it is easy to forget that there are plenty of other expeditions in the Himalaya this spring. In fact, while the teams on Everest continue to toil away on acclimatization rotations, elsewhere in the region other teams are already bagging summits.  A spate of good weather has been a welcome respite from conditions earlier in the season and climbers are now taking advantage of it to climb higher.

Last week we had our first summits of the season on Makalu and this week we have more successful summits, this time on Shisha Pangma. Earlier today a team that included Austrian climber Rupert Hauer,  Turkish climber Tunç Findik and Germans Luis Stitzinger and Alix von Melle reached the top of the 8013 meter (26,289 ft) mountain, which is the 14th tallest in the world, but the smallest of the 8000 meter peaks.

Others currently on Shisha but apparently not apart of this current summit bid include Spanish cilmber Rosa Fernandez, Germans Cleo Weidlich and Thomas Laemmle. Each seems to have wrapped up the acclimatization and will be looking for a weather window this coming weekend.

Over on Dhaulagiri, Polish climber Pawel Michalski is back in Base Camp after spending a few nights at Camp 2. He reports very high winds at altitude, which forced him back down the mountain. He should be close to wrapping up his acclimatization efforts as well and will most likely be looking for a weather window in the next week or so too.

Kinga Baranowska has completed her first foray up Makalu, establishing Camp 1 at 6300 meters (20,669 ft) and then pressing on to build C2 at 6600 meters (21,653 ft) before heading back to BC. She reports an inordinate number of crevasses between the two camps, which will make for slow going when moving up the slope. She also says there is less snow there this year, although plenty of ice. A good set of crampons will be in order. After spending a few days in BC, she and her teammate Rafal Fronia are now moving back up amidst good weather to spend a few nights at their higher camps. They will likely be scouting for a good location for Camp 3 while they are there.

Finally, teams aiming for a summit on Lhotse are patiently waiting for their opportunity to come. As you know, those climbers share the same Base Camp and route up to C3 as the Everest climbers, so much of their progress is the same. Right now, that means its all about acclimatization rotations and most teams are now on their way to Camp 3 or are already spending time there. While the Sherpas work to fix the lines to the summit of Everest, which will likely be completed early next week, the Lhotse climbers will have to remain patient and wait. The Sherpas will first complete the lines up Everest, then Lhotse and finally Nuptse. The teams will then proceed up in roughly that order.

Lots more action in the Himalaya to come. Stay tuned for more update.

Kraig Becker