Himalaya Fall 2016: One First Ascent Expedition Begins, Another Ends

Burke Khang photos taken by David with zoom lens 8

As I’ve mentioned in previous updates, most big commercial climbing expeditions have wrapped up for the fall climbing season and there are very few people left on the big 8000-meter mountains. But, that doesn’t mean that everyone has gone home. Quite the contrary in fact, as several teams continue to ramp up operations to start their own adventures on unclimbed peaks in November.

Take Bill Burke for instance. The American climber has returned to Nepal to attempt the first ascent of Burke Khang, a mountain named in his honor. He is making the attempt with David Liaño, and the two men, along with their support team, are still trekking towards the mountain. They got their first look at the peak a few days back, and it will be another couple of days before they arrive in Base Camp, but they are eager to get started on this 6942 meter (22,775 ft) mountain.

Last year, Bill and a team of climbers attempted Burke Khang as well, but came up just a bit short of the summit. That was the first real scouting trip up the slopes of the mountain, and this year – armed with intel from the previous expedition – he hopes to complete the first ascent. We’ll be keeping an eye on their progress in the days ahead.

Polar explorer and mountaineer Lonnie Dupre is also in Nepal where he is wrapping up operations on Langju, another unclimbed mountain that reaches 6365 ft (20,885 feet) in altitude. The expedition launched back at the beginning of October, at late last week the team moved all of their gear up to High Camp to prepare for a summit push. But, unfortunately the path to the summit was very dangerous, with a high likelihood of avalanches, so feeling that the conditions were to treacherous to push forward, so they decided to pull the plug on the expedition and head home. The team is now descending the valley and are currently in Jagat Village and preparing to continue on back to Kathmandu.

Finally, Alan Arnette tells us that French climber Frederic Degoulet has aborted his attempt to make the first ascent of the South Face of Nuptse. The team made a five-day push toward the summit, but overestimated their chances and ended up finding it impossible to continue upwards. The route was harder than they expected, and conditions were not good, but they fully admit they made some strategic errors in their approach that prevented them from topping out. They’ll now head back to Kathmandu and go home to ponder another attempt in the future.

That’s it for now. More news as we receive updates.

Kraig Becker