Himalaya 2013: Summits On Lhotse And Shishapangma


Moving away from Everest for now, there has been a host of activity across other peaks in the Himalaya these past few days as well. Weather has been an issue for the entire region, but a few climbers have been lucky enough to bag their summits while others continue to toil away and wait for their opportunity to move up.

Yesterday was a big day on Lhotse, the fourth highest mountain on the planet and Everest’s neighbor. While the ropes to the summit on the Big Hill were completed last Friday, there were still a couple of hundred meters to go to finish that job on Lhotse. That work was wrapped up by a team consisting of climbers with the Himalayan Ascent squad as Chris Jensen Burke, Chirring Sherpa, Lakpa Sherpa and Pasang Sherpa fixed the final ropes to the top. Their efforts not only gave them the honor of the first Lhotse summits of the season, they have now paved the way for other climbers to follow after them.

The weather cleared on Shishapangma late last week, allowing a number of climbers to top out on the 8013 meter (26,289 ft) peak. ExWeb reports that Fabrizio Silvetti, climbing with Asian Trekking, reached the Central Summit on Friday as did climbers from Kobler & Partner.  Two other climbers with Asian Trekking – Austrian Zoltan Benedek and Batmanlai Ulzli-Orshikh of Mongolia – also summited but whether or not they made the Central or Main Summit remains unclear. Benedek is now moving on to Everest North Side to attempt a Himalayan double-header.

Over on Makalu, Kinga Baranowska and Rafal Fronia have now established their Camp 3 at 7450 meters (24,442 ft) and Sherpa teams have been working on Camp 4 at 7900 meters (25,918 ft). Having spent the night at C3, the duo are acclimatizing nicely and feel like they are strong enough for a summit bid soon. High winds are making that impossible at the moment and the forecast doesn’t look good for the next few days. They’ll likely now return to Base Camp and wait for conditions to improve. A summit bid could come early next week.

Oscar Cadiach is now ready for a summit push on Kangchenjunga. He and his climbing partner spent some time off the mountain trekking throughout the region while they waited for their health and the weather to improve. They went in search of the elusive snow leopard and came up empty, but did have a wonderful time at lower altitude before returning to BC. A weather window is expected to open on Thursday and they’ll proceed up then. This could be a very narrow window, so they wanted to take advantage of it while they can. On a mountain such as this one, this could be the only chance they get to reach the summit.

800px Kangchenjunga South Face

Italian climber Annalisa Fioretti is on Kangchenjunga as well and is back in Base Camp following a trip up to Camp 2 and 3. She reports poor weather continues with winds and lots of fog. The team will be attempting their climb without oxygen and they are getting eager to move up, but as elsewhere in the Himalaya, the weather will determine when that will happen. Annalisa reports, via her home team/husband Luca, that a team of six climbers and three Sherpas are making a summit bid right now, but after several days on the mountain, there has been no word about the progress. Lets keep our fingers crossed that everyone is okay.

Finally, Polish climber Pawel Michalski continues to sit and wait in BC on Dhaulagiri. Bad weather, with hurricane force winds, is keeping him at the base of the mountain while he waits for things to improve. There have been few updates in the past few days, but presumably his weather window could come at the end of the week as well, allowing him to begin a summit push too. We’ll just have to stay tuned to see if that happens.

It is now the clam before the storm in the Himalaya. If all goes according to schedule, in two days time there will be a lot of teams, on a lot of mountains, back on the move.

Kraig Becker