Himalaya Fall 2016: Climbers Heading to Tenzing and Hillary Peaks

Elia Saikaly and Pasang Kaji Sherpa climbing

The fall climbing season in the Himalaya is still ramping up, with lots of climbers heading to places like Cho Oyu, Manaslu, and Dhaulagiri. But, the big 8000 meter peaks aren’t the only ones garnering attention this year, as it appears that several teams are heading out to attempt first ascents on some unclimbed mountains.

According to this story in The Himalayan Times, a three-person team consisting of Gabriel Filippi, Elia Saikaly and Pasang Kaji Sherpa will be attempting to summit both Tenzing Peak (7916 m/25,971 ft) and Hillary Peak (7681 m/25,200 ft). Both mountains, which are named after the two legendary climbers who were the first to summit Everest, hold a special place in the hearts of Nepalis but until now have not drawn much attention from climbers.

According to the story, Hillary Peak can be found close to Lhotse and Nuptse, while Tenzing Peak is located between Cho Oyu and Gyachung Kang. That means the team will have to travel a bit in order to get to the summits of both mountains. It appears that they will first acclimatize on Hillary and make an attempt on the summit, before proceeding toward their second goal.

Neither of the two mountains has been climbed before, and the route to their summits remains a bit of a mystery. While the two peaks have been scouted, the trio of mountaineers will have their work cut for them. They will likely be creating the path to the summit that others will follow in the years ahead.

In a push to draw some attention away from its 8000 meter peaks, and spark some interest in more mountaineers coming to visit, Nepal recently opened up more than 100 peaks that had previously been closed to climbers. A number of those mountains remain unclimbed, which is a big draw to even the most experienced alpinist. The plan seems to have worked to a degree, as I have heard from several mountaineers who will be attempting one of these “virgin” peaks this year or in the near future. That includes American Lonnie Dupre, who will head to Nepal next month to lead a team up Langju, a 6365 meter (20,885 ft) mountain that has yet to be summited as well.

I’m sure we’ll be hearing a lot more about the big peaks in the days ahead, but I’ll try to keep an eye on this smaller expedition as well. Some of the boldest and most impressive climbs are coming on other mountains, and the teams attempting them deserve plenty of attention too.

Kraig Becker