Himalaya Spring 2018: No-Oxygen Summit on Makalu, World’s Highest Dinner Party

Gao Xiao Dan

Progress in the Himalaya continues today as more teams head up for their next acclimatization rotations on Everest, where things continue to run like clockwork. But before we get to that we also have word on our first summit of the year on Makalu, with this ascent coming without the use of supplemental oxygen.

The Himalayan Times is reporting that Chinese climber named Gao Xiao-Dan has completed the first trek to the top of Makalu this spring accompanied by Nima Gyalzen Sherpa, Jit Bahadur Sherpa and Ang Dawa Sherpa. The four reached the top of the mountain at about 9:00 AM local time this morning. For the 35-year old Dan, this is her third 8000-metere peak having already knocked off Everest and Manaslu too.

Dan is a part of six-member team that is currently on the mountain, with the others expected to launch their summit bids soon. They are just one group on the mountain at the moment, as the Nepali Department of Tourism says that it has issued 27 climbing permits for Makalu this spring

Meanwhile, over on Everest things continue to go about as well as they possibly could at this point of the season. The weather remains good and the teams there are making steady progress. The IMG squad has already spent the night at Camp 3 and is now heading back down to Base Camp, even as others head up for their turn at that location on the mountain. With this rotation out of the way, they’ll now rest up in BC and wait for the lines to be fixed to the summit. From there, it is just a matter of watching the weather to find a proper window. That could happen sometime late next week.

Similarly, the Adventure Consultants are on the move today as well with the team moving straight up to C2 directly from BC. Presumably they’ll head up to Camp 3 tomorrow as well, getting a chance to spend some time at altitude. The Jagged Globe team was already at that position and have now dropped back down to C2 as part of their current rotation. They report cold, uncomfortable conditions  on the mountain. So cold in fact that all their phones, watches, and cameras saw their batteries die.

To put things a little into perspective, while these teams have been laboring away on the mountain, the Furtenbach Adventures crew is just now arriving in Kathmandu. How are they pulling that off and hoping to summit in another week or two? Simple, they’ve been pre-acclimatizing in oxygen tents back home prior to their arrival. In theory, they’ll have already done much of the work of getting ready for the climb ahead of time and are now ready to just go up. They’ll still have to be physically fit for the ascent, but they are otherwise set to begin their expedition, even at this later stage of the season.

Finally, we have another one of those odd Everest records to report on. A few days back, a British team of climbers held the “highest black tie dinner party” ever when they had a fancy meal at 7050 meters (23,129 ft) up the North Side of the mountain in Tibet. The meal included a table, fine dinnerware, cutlery, flowers, a candle, and a three-course gourmet meal. The view wasn’t bad either. (Thanks to my friend George for sharing this story!)

We’ll be back with more updates as things continue to progress.

Kraig Becker