Himalaya Fall 2014: Teams on the Move

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It was a fairly active weekend in the Himalaya, where the commercial teams continue to acclimatize in preparation for eventual summit bids. For the most part, things are going according to plan, and while we’re still a couple of weeks away from the first major pushes of the season, each day brings the climbers closer to their goal.

We’ll start on Makalu, where the British military team reached Base Camp yesterday at long last. It took them 8 days of trekking from the time they left Kathmandu, until they arrived in BC. Now, they are taking a few days to get settled before they’ll move up the sloes to Camp 1, and begin their acclimatization process. Over the next few weeks, they’ll establish several high camps while they let their bodies become accustomed to the altitude, before launching a tough, alpine-style push to the summit along the very difficult Southeast Ridge. This will be one of the more fascinating expeditions to watch this fall, and it should be interesting to see if they can pull of this big climb.

Over on Manaslu, the teams are starting to talk summit bids. According to the Altitude Junkies, the Sherpas fixed the ropes to just below Camp 4 on Friday, clearing the way for the teams to start planning for their final push. The weather will dictate exactly when that will happen, but if a good window comes in the next few days, we could see the climbers on the move shortly.

On Cho Oyu, the Adventure Consultants have checked in with a regular progress report. The team is in the middle of another acclimatization rotation, and will spend tonight at Camp 2 before heading back down to BC. Sadly, two members of the team were forced to head home after experiencing some health issues. This is not uncommon on expeditions to the big mountains, but it is always a sad to hear that someone has to abandon their dream of climbing in the Himalaya.

75-year old Carlos Soria is attempting Cho Oyu this fall, and he arrived in BC last week. After attending his Puja ceremony, Sora’s team has been acclimatizing on some of the smaller mountains near by, while they wait for a chance to move up and start the process of climbing their intended peak. They should get that opportunity in the next few days.

ExWeb is reporting that the Korean team climbing Lhotse this fall had a close encounter with an Avalanche. They were fixing rope between Camp 1 and 2, at around 6200 meters (20,340 ft) when the avalanche struck. Fortunately, no one was injured, and it turned out to be yet another challenge for the  Koreans to overcome. The team has faced poor weather the entire time they have been in Base Camp, but they continue to move upwards, despite the conditions.

Finally, the Double8 team is getting ready to launch their second attempt on Shishapangma. The trio of Benedikt Böhm,Sebastian Haag, and Andrea Zambaldi took a shot at the summit last week, but heavy snow high on the peak turned them back. After spending the weekend resting in Base Camp, they’re ready to go again. They’ll launch their second bid today with the hopes of a speed attempt to the summit, and a ski descent back to BC. If successful, they’ll then get on their mountain bikes, and ride for approximately 100 miles (160 km) to Cho Oyu Base Camp, where they’ll then attempt another speed climb, and ski descent. Their aim is to knock off two 8000 meter peaks in just seven days. I’ll keep you posted on their progress.

More updates to come over the next few days. The teams are truly on the move now, but summit bids are not really in the cards just yet. Stay tuned however, as it won’t be long now.

Kraig Becker