It is that time of year again. As April inches ever closer, climbers, trekkers, porters, and guides are gathering in Kathmandu to begin their annual pilgrimage out into the Himalaya. The spring climbing season in Nepal and Tibet is about to begin, and already the first teams are on their way to their respective mountains. It promises to be yet another interesting year, with potentially record setting numbers on Everest. And while the other peaks in the region will see less traffic, there will nevertheless be plenty of expeditions on those mountains to follow too. So buckle up and settle in, as the next two months of adventure news will be highly focused on the mountaineering world.
As I write this, the first teams are already en route to Everest Base Camp, and Sherpas have been there for a couple of weeks establishing the campsites that will be home for the next two months. The Icefall Doctors are also already onsite and have been busy building the route through the Khumbu Icefall. They’ll stay until the last climber is off the mountain, maintaining and repair that route late into May or even early June.
This year, we can expect the usual suspects to continue to play major roles on the mountain. That will include teams from Himalayan Experience, Adventure Consultants, Mountain Madness, and others. You’ll also see more and more low-cost Nepali operators muscling their way onto the mountain. These locally owned companies have begun to play a much larger role in the past few years, and are able to offer Everest expeditions at much lower rates than their Western counterparts. They’ll be bringing large continents of clients with them to the mountain, as interest in climbing the highest peak in the world only continues to grow.
Of course, this being Everest, we’ll also see our fair share of other stories to follow too. For instance, 85-year old Min Bahadur Sherchan will be attempting the mountain once again with the hopes of establishing a new age record. Swiss climbing icon Ueli Steck will be back on the mountain as well as he attempts the Everest-Lhotse traverse. We’ll also be following Andy Holzer as he attempts to become the second blind man to reach the summit of Everest as well.
This is just the tip of the iceberg however, as we’ll also be watching expeditions on Annapurna, Shishapangma, Manaslu, and other big Himalayan peaks. Everest always takes center stage of course, but there are other stories to tell too. As those expeditions begin to take shape, and fall into place, I’ll post regular updates on their progress. Those peaks will be less crowded, and often receive less attention, but they are incredibly difficult climbs that deserve respect as well.
One Himalayan expedition has already been cancelled before it could even get off the ground. As reported a few weeks back, American Bill Burke had intended to climb the 6942 meter (22,775 ft) Burke-Khang this spring. The summit of the mountain that bears his name has eluded him on two previous attempts, but things were looking promising for this year. Unfortunately, inclement weather put a stop to the attempt before the team could even set foot on the mountain. Heavy snows, high winds, and a dangerous forecast convinced the team to call off the expedition and wait for for a better opportunity in the future. As is often the case in mountaineering, discretion is the better part of valor.
We’re just getting started with our climbing coverage for the Spring 2017 season. Stay tuned for plenty of updates to come.