With October now officially here, the climbing season in the Himalaya – at least for the big commercial teams – is starting to wind down. With Tibet closed for the season, Manaslu took center stage throughout the autumn with a slew of summits last week. Now, just one team remains on the mountain, as most have completed their expeditions and have begun the trek for home.
According to Alan Arnette, Manaslu has seen somewhere in the neighborhood of about 200 summits so far this fall. The largest of the teams on the mountain was organized by Seven Summits Treks, who managed to put 90 climbers on top, including about 45 Sherpas. Other squads at much more modest and manageable numbers, with the majority of them topping out over the final three days of last week.
At the moment, it appears that the Adventure Consultants are the last team to make their summit push. They are making their way up to Camp 4 today, with the hopes of pushing on to the top tomorrow. In their most recent dispatch, the team indicated that it had passed several groups of climbers who were descending after summiting on Saturday. It is believed that there are no more teams higher than the AC squad at this point, leaving them on the mountain completely alone.
If all goes according to plan, they’ll make the final push to the summit, and begin their descent in good weather. The forecast remains favorable for the next few days, allowing them to return to Base Camp and begin the process of heading home as well. For now, they’re squarely focused on getting up and down safely.
In other news, American climber Bill Burke has returned to the Himalaya and is looking to make the first ascent on his namesake mountain once again. The Nepali government named a 6942 meter (22,775 feet) peak Burke Khang in honor of the alpinist, who is the oldest American to summit Everest. Bill has attempted the unclimbed peak on two previous occasions, only to turn back due to poor conditions.
Things are already looking promising this year however, as an advanced Sherpa team has already established Base Camp, and fixed lines up to Camp 1 on the mountain. The route is reportedly clean and climbable, although Burke and his team are hoping to do a helicopter recon flight over the summit to get a better look at what they are up against. Bill and a documentary film crew arrived in BC over the weekend, and should now be preparing for their first acclimatization rotation up the mountain.
That’s all from the Himalaya for today. It looks like things should wind down on Manaslu over the next few days, but with ongoing expeditions on Lhotse, Burke Khang, and elsewhere, I’ll continue to post updates in the days ahead.