Himalaya Fall 2014: ExWeb Interviews British Makalu Team

Yesterday I posted an update from the Himalaya with the latest news on where some of the commercial teams were at as the fall climbing season begins in Nepal and Tibet. Many of the climbers are still getting settled into Base Camp, and are just now preparing for their first rotation up the mountain.

Others, are preparing to set out for Kathmandu in the days ahead, including a British military team that has its sights set on the Southeast Ridge of Makalu, the fifth highest mountain in the world at 8463 meters (27,766 ft) in height.

The team is still more than two weeks away from arriving in BC, but prior to their departure to Nepal, team leader Colin Scott took some time out to answer a few questions from ExWeb. In the interview, he discusses the challenges of climbing their chosen route, their “alpine style” approach to the expedition, and the importance of the patronage of Sir Chris Bonington, the British climbing legend who has served as an advisor to the team. He also touches on the role that Sherpas will play for the team, and how the climbers are preparing both physically and mentally for the challenges ahead.

The plan for this expedition is to fix ropes, and establish camps, all the way up to C2 at about 6800 meters (22,309 ft). From there, the squad will launch their alpine style attempt on the summit, making one push to the top while carrying all of the gear they’ll need with them as they go. They will be using bottled oxygen, as the long approach to the top will require them to be above 8000 meters for a substantial amount of time.

Part of what makes this expedition an incredibly tough one is the fact that the Southeast ridge is incredibly long, and there are a considerable number of technical challenges above 7000 meters (22,965 ft). The ridge itself measure more than 10 km (6.2 miles) in length, which will leave the team exposed at altitude for a long time. The alpine style approach is almost a necessity thanks to that distance, and final push will certainly test their strength, endurance, and determination.

The team will set out from London on September 10. After arriving in Kathmandu, they’ll then fly to Tumlingstar where they’ll begin an eight day trek to Base Camp. That will start the acclimatization process that will start to get their bodies accustomed to the altitude. If all goes according to plan, they hope to launch a summit bid sometime around mid-October.

I’ll post updates as they come.

Kraig Becker