Himalaya Fall 2013: Summit Bids Underway!


It was a busy weekend in the Himalaya where most of the teams continued their acclimatization rotations in an effort to prepare for the challenges ahead. While those squads dutifully marched up and down the mountain in an effort to get their bodies accustomed to the thinner air, other teams launched their summit bids at long last. If the weather stays calm and things go according to plan, we could see our first successful summits of the season later today.

One of the teams that is now in position to top out is the Ski Shishapangma squad. They started their summit push last Friday and should top out today, hopefully putting both Dave Etherington and Rich Emerson on the summit. The weather report indicates clear skies and tranquil conditions on the mountain, so provided any unforeseen changes, it seems summit day will be a good one. As the name of the expedition implies however, climbing the mountain is only part of the plan. Dave and Rich also intend to ski back down Shisha, which is the shortest of the 8000-meter peaks at 8013 meters (26,289 ft). Good luck to the team as they make this final push and ski descent.

Also on Shishapangma, 74-year old Carlos Soria is biding his time and waiting for his opportunity to summit. With his acclimatization rotations done, he is now resting in Base Camp, watching the weather and waiting for the right time to move. He is estimating that he’ll get on the move around the middle of the week with a possible summit on Sept. 28, which would be Saturday. A savvy veteran of the Himalaya, Soria also says that his team is patient and they will wait for the right opportunity to being their bid for the summit.

The Altitude Junkies have also launched their summit bid on Manaslu setting out on Saturday for their final push. The team, which includes our friend Alan Arnette, spent the night in Camp 2 last night and will proceed to Camp 3 today. Tomorrow they’ll move up to C4 and be in position for a potential summit bid on Wednesday of this week. The weather window looks promising at the moment and it seems that the route to the top is in good shape. Over the weekend the Sherpas had to replace three ladders that went missing in avalanche, but all is good now. Hopefully we’ll hear news of their success in the middle of the week.

On Cho Oyu the IMG team has moved up to Camp 2 where they spent the night last night as part of their normal acclimatization process. The climbers have now been in Tibet for three weeks and their bodies should begin responding positively to the higher altitudes. The weather is reported good on the mountain and everyone is expected to descend back to Base Camp today for a couple days rest before proceeding back up.

The Italian team of Edmond Joyeusaz and Federico Colli had a tough climb up to Camp 1 on Lhotse over the weekend. As much as 40 cm (15.8 inches) of fresh snow had fallen and it made what should typically be a relatively easy climb into a very tough slog. As they moved higher, the snow started falling again and soon the found themselves in a blizzard that ended up dropping as much as 70-80 cm (27-31 inches) of new powder. With conditions deteriorating rapidly, they were forced to continue up to C1 rather than turn back. They spent an cold, wet and generally uncomfortable night at that spot, waking up the next day to find that the skies had cleared and conditions had improved dramatically. This gave them the opportunity to return to BC for some much needed rest. While on the hike up to Camp 1, Edmond displayed some signs of altitude sickness which could be troubling. Hopefully the rest in Base Camp will help alleviate the issue and he can continue with the expedition as planned.

Finally, Ueli Steck and Don Bowie were expected to reach Annapurna Base Camp yesterday, which means they have probably already gone to work today. The duo planned on scouting various routes to the top once they arrived in BC. It is there belief that Annapurna, which is amongst the most dangerous mountains in the world, will be more stable in the fall with colder conditions and less snow. Both men have tried this mountain in the past and the summit has eluded them thus far. Hopefully this season will be a little different.

Stay tuned for more updates as they come in.

Kraig Becker