Himalaya Fall 2013: The End Is In Sight


The 2013 fall Himalayan climbing season is rapidly coming to a close now. Most of the teams have wrapped up their expeditions and are now on their way back to Kathmandu as deteriorating weather conditions have spread across the region and effectively shut down most of the summits. But a few high profile expeditions are still taking place even as the end of the season looms ever closer.

Just how bad are the conditions on the big mountains at the moment? From the sound of things, it has gotten incredibly bad at times. For instance, ExWeb is reporting that when Italian climber Danilo Callegari attempted a summit of Shishapangma last week and was turned back before he could reach the top. On the descent he managed to survive a fall into a crevasse and was nearly swept off the mountain not by one avalanche but three. On top of that, he had to survive for three very long days without food as well as he finally made his way back to Base Camp just happy to be alive.

Perhaps the most high profile expedition of them to take place this fall was Ueli Steck and Don Bowie’s Annapurna attempt.  As we all know by now, Ueli made a solo summit of the mountain along the South Face late last week but aside from that few details are known. We should get more information soon however as the two men left Base Camp on Friday and started their trek back to Pokhara. It’ll take a few days before they arrive there at which time we hope to know more about this amazing effort on the part of the “Swiss Machine.” When the news of the climb broke last week I had thought the duo might stay on Annapurna and attempt another summit, after all their permit runs for another month. But it seems they were content with their efforts and are now more than ready to head home.

Over on Lhotse, the Italian and Korean teams are still holding tight and waiting for an opportunity to move up the mountain. Conditions above Camp 2 continue to be bad and the outlook is not good for either team to summit this season. With the weather taking a turn for the worse, there doesn’t appear to be any windows to the summit coming anytime soon. But both squads continue to hold out hope even as the clock ticks. The Italian’s in particular must feel the pressure as they have just two weeks left on their permit, which has already been extended once this year.

Finally, there has been no word from Chad Kellogg and David Gottlieb yet from Base Camp on Lunag-Ri. We do know that they reached Namche Bazaar last week and were expected in BC yesterday. Hopefully they are setting up shop and getting settled into their campsite before they begin the climb itself. You may recall that their objective is to summit the highest unclimbed peak in Nepal, which stands at 6895 meters (22,621 ft). After acclimatizing on a trek for the past two weeks, I’m sure they are more than eager to take a crack at that mountain.

That’s it for today. As I mentioned, things are starting to get very quiet now. Soon there will only be a couple of expeditions to cover as fall season nears the inevitable end.

Kraig Becker