Himalaya Fall 2014: Summit Push Underway on Cho Oyu

1280px ChoOyu fromGokyo

The pace is starting to pick up in the Himalaya, where last week we saw summits on Manaslu, and we begin this week with a summit push on Cho Oyu as well. Meanwhile, teams on other mountains continue to acclimatize and wait for their opportunities too.

The commercial teams on Cho Oyu launched their summit bids this past weekend, and are hoping to top out today. That includes both the IMG squad, as well as the team led by the Adventure Consultants. Both were in Camp 3 yesterday, and should now be working their way towards the top of the 8201 meter (26,906 ft) peak. If everything goes according to plan, we should have news of successful summits later today, or by tomorrow.

Aussie climber Chris Jensen Burke is on Cho Oyu as well, and a few days back she reported that high winds and deep snow were thwarting efforts to fix ropes. Conditions must have improved however, otherwise the other teams would not be making a move towards the summit. She also indicated that her team would be spending the weekend at Camp 2 as part of their acclimatization process, so they aren’t quite ready to make their own push to the top just yet. Chris was quite dismayed to learn that two climbers had used her, and her Sherpas, bottled oxygen and masks that were stored at C2, which means they must carry more supplies to that point in preparation for their own summit bid down the line. That creates not only an expense for her, but they will also expend more energy having to carry extra supplies with them when they go.

Over on Shishapangma, the teams are saddened by the deaths of Sabastian Haag and Andrea Zambaldi in an avalanche last week. But of course, the climbers are there to summit the mountain themselves, so the work in preparation for a summit push must continue. 75-year old Carlos Soria, is in Camp 1 today as he turns his eyes towards the summit. The weather conditions are said to be favorable at the moment, but deep snow has made it a challenge so far. We’ll have to wait to see if the team can continue towards the top later in the week, or if they’ll have to wait a bit longer for things to settle.

The British military team on Makalu is making progress. In their latest dispatch they indicate that the Sherpa team has fixed ropes to Camp 1, and the entire squad is heading up to ABC, and then proceeding higher as they acclimatize as well. The team has only been in camp a little over a week, and they have a great deal of work ahead of them yet, but progress so far has been steady.

Finally, there was more sad news from the Himalaya over the weekend when it was revealed that 59-year old Japanese climber Yoshimasa Sasaki fell to his death on Manaslu last Friday. He reportedly lost his footing at 7300 meters (23,950 feet) while on the descent after a successful summit. A recovery team is working to collect his body, and return it to Kathmandu. My condolences to his friends and family.

That’s it for the Monday morning update. We should have more news in the next day or two on possible summits on Cho Oyu, and other teams moving about. The fall climbing season is definitely in full swing now, with things heating up nicely.

Kraig Becker