As mentioned previously in my updates on the fall climbing season in the Himalaya, things are definitely winding down across the region. The majority of the expeditions have returned home although a few are still there and attempting to make summit bids on various mountains. Heavy snows are not making it easy however as teams continue to dig out from the massive cyclone that dumped impressive amounts of powder on the mountains last week.
Chad Kellogg and David Gottlieb have checked in from Lunag-Ri, the target of their efforts this fall. As you may recall, the mountain holds the distinction of being the tallest unclimbed peak in Nepal with an altitude of 6895 meter (22,621 ft). When last we heard from the boys, they were on there way to Base Camp after just setting out from Namche Bazaar. The trek to BC was relatively uneventful and duo arrived on the mountain where they were greeted by two other climbers hoping to make the first ascent of Lunag-Ri as well. That team had already established Advanced Base Camp further up the slope and were in the process of wrapping up their acclimatization efforts.
All of this happened early last week before the cyclone made landfall, bringing heavy snows along with it. The forecast indicated that the storm could dump fresh powder on the Himalaya for several days, so Chad, David and their companions all settled into their tents to wait. Before long, a full fledged blizzard was hitting the mountain, burying everything in sight, including the tents they were staying in. It was an uphill battle keeping them from collapsing under the weight, but they managed to make it through relatively unscathed. By the time the snow stopped falling it had deposited 4 feet (1.2 meters) on the ground, which has made things difficult to say the least.
Over the weekend the team started shuttling gear up the mountain towards ABC. They made a cache halfway to that point and plan on going all the way up today. They’ll build their campsite there, then drop down to fetch the cache tomorrow. After that, it’ll be back to BC for a brief rest and then they’ll launch their attempt on the summit. Chad estimates that it will take them roughly four days to make the climb. That ascent could start late this week.
It sounds like conditions will be tough all the way to the top, as the boys will be forced to break trail much of the way. They are particularly concerned about how much snow will be on the summit ridge as they approach the top, provided they even get a chance to reach that point. The weather forecast looks much improved for now however, so it seems they’ll at least have a shot at topping out.
Stay tuned for updates.
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