Himalaya Fall 2015: Progress on Lhotse, Looking ahead to Nanga Parbat in Winter

1280px Lhotse fromChukhungRi

The fall climbing season in Nepal is slowly grinding to a halt. Not many teams remain in the mountains now, and the poor weather conditions that have persisted throughout the autumn continue to make things difficult. While one team continues to labor away on an 8000 meter peak, another begins looking forward to the winter season ahead.

We’ve finally received an update from the South Korean team on Lhotse, and they have made some progress, despite very high winds on the mountain. According to ExWeb, the team has now established Camp 4 at 8000 meters (26,246 ft). They had attempted to set camp at 8100 meters, but winds in excess of 70 km/h (43 mph) made it impossible to keep the tents standing. They were able to find some shelter a bit lower power, which is where the squad is now as they wait for an opportunity to go up. The winds may not allow for that to happen though, as reportedly the strong gusts are impacting the entire mountain, including Base Camp.

The plan now is to wait and see if a weather window will come. The team is prepared to wait for a few days and watch the forecasts. Considering how late in the season it now is, this will likely be there last chance to summit, but they’re not prepared to give up just yet.

Over on Annapurna IV, the Polish team has decided to pull the plug on their attempt to summit that mountain along a new route. The big wall that they were attempting to climb was already difficult enough, but it is now gotten even more difficult due to avalanche conditions. Early in the season, the squad saw great weather and felt confident that their expedition would succeed. But as they prepared to launch their summit bid, conditions on the the mountain took a turn for the worse, with heavy snow dropping along the Southwest Wall that they had planned to climb. The team stayed in BC hoping for a shift in weather, but it never came. Now, they will pack their bags and go home, although they do feel they managed to get some good intel from the route. Perhaps they’ll return to give it another go in the future.

Late last week, 76-year old Spanish climber, Carlos Soria reached the summit of Ama Dablam. The 6812 meter (22,349 ft) peak is often used as a tune-up for bigger mountains in the Himalaya, but considering Carlos’ resume, he wasn’t there for a tune-up of any kind. Still, his team managed to top out in good weather conditions, which is no small feat considering how difficult the fall season has been. Congrats to him and all of his companions on a job well done.

Finally, the fall season may not be quite over yet, but some climbers are already looking ahead to winter. Among them, Spanish climber Alex Txikon, who has announced his plans to return to Nanga Parbat once again. He’ll be joined by Ferran Latorre, Daniele Nardi, Ali Sadpara, and Janusz Golab, as the entire squad sets out for Pakistan in late December. The plan will be to reach the mountain as winter official sets in, and start the climb immediately. They are planning to attempt the Kinshofer Route on the Diamir Face, and are preparing to be there until the end of February.

You may recall that the 8126 meter (26,660 ft) peak is one of only two 8000-meter mountain that have to be climbed in winter – K2 being the other. They will likely not be the only team on Nanga this winter, as it has been a prime candidate for a first ascent for some time. Alex hopes to build on the experience his team – which included Ali and Daniele – from last year to finally reach the top.

That’s all for today. More to come as any news breaks. Right now, that looks like it will most likely come from Lhotse, although there are a few other expeditions still ongoing as well.

Kraig Becker