Himalaya Fall 2017: Summit Bids Denied on Dhaulagiri

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This past weekend saw the first real summit push of the 2017 fall climbing season in the Himalaya, with climbers on Dhaulagiri hoping to claim an early victory. But as usual the weather conditions dictated the level of success and the team quickly learned that Mother Nature isn’t any more forgiving in the autumn then she is in the spring.

78-year old Spanish mountaineer Carlos Sora and his seven-person squad left for the summit on Dhaulagiri on Saturday morning. They were accompanied by four Sherpas who helped install fixed ropes up the mountain. Working together the team was able to install lines up to 7800 meters (25,590 ft). From there, they made the decision to keep a bit of extra rope in reserve for the final push to the top of the 8167 meter (26,795 ft) peak.

The weather forecast for the day had called for relatively light winds on the summit and clear skies overhead. But things can change quickly in the big mountains of Nepal, and those conditions didn’t last. Precipitation has been an issue for most of the season so far, with rain at lower altitudes and snow up high. As they approached the top, snow began to fall and the winds started to pick up, making it difficult to see where they were going. With the situation quickly becoming dangerous, the team decided to turn back to Camp 3 to seek shelter from the storm.

Now, the entire group has descended back to Base Camp, where they are currently resting and regaining strength. The current plan is to watch the weather forecast for later in the week and prepare for another summit push in a few days. Right now, there is no schedule for when they’ll go up again, but if conditions improve, it could happen in just a few days time.

Meanwhile, over on Manaslu the acclimatization rotations have truly begun. The Adventure Consultants report that their squad has gone up to Camp 1 over the weekend with the intention of spending 2-3 nights at 5600 meters (18,373 ft) to allow their bodies to adjust to the altitude. From there, they’ll drop back down to BC to recover before heading back up later in the week.

The Adventure Peaks team has already headed up to Camp 2 on the mountain as they continue their acclimatization process. The group reports a very crowded mountain as there are more commercial squads on Manaslu this year due to the closure of the Tibetan border. But the team arrived on the mountain two weeks ahead of most of the other groups, which puts them ahead of schedule when compared to the everyone else. That could come in handy as they look to avoid crowds on their eventual summit day as they are ahead of everyone else in terms of scheduling.

That’s all for now. We’ll be keeping a close eye on the proceedings in the Himalaya, as it looks like it should be another very active week there.

Kraig Becker