Fall Climbing Season Set to Begin in the Himalaya

Mt Manaslu Photo courtesy Arnold Coster

It doesn’t seem like it was all that long ago that we were wrapping up the 2018 spring climbing season in Nepal, but here we are –– just a few months later –– ready to kick off the fall season instead. As usual, it looks like it will be a busy one, with plenty of action to be found in the big mountains, just don’t expect too much news from Everest itself.

The Himalayan Times is reporting that the Nepali Department of Tourism, which oversees mountaineering efforts within the country, says that more than 108 foreign climbers on 12 different expeditions have been issued permits to climb Manaslu this autumn season. Further, an additional 73 climbers on six other teams have applied for permits as well, but haven’t had them officially issued yet. That peak serves as a good warm-up for bigger, more challenging 8000-meter mountains and is often a stepping stone to Everest.

In recent years, Manaslu has grown in prominence during the fall season. Last year roughly 255 foreign climbers summited the mountain in autumn, which was up from 150 the year before. Before the 2018 season is all said and done, another 250 will top out as well.

The teams are already starting to arrive in Base Camp and the rope fixing teams are already at work. According to The Times, the lines have already been installed all the way up to Camp 2. Considering the monsoon has only recently passed, and we’re early in the climbing season, that is impressive work to get things started.

While Manaslu seems to be getting the bulk of the attention this fall, there are plenty of other interesting expeditions to follow as well. For instance, a four-person team led by American James White Morrison will attempt to climb Lhotse and ski from its summit. Meanwhile, the always tenacious Carlos Soria will be back on Dhaulagiri this fall. This will be the 79-year old Spaniard’s tenth attempt on the mountain, which is the only one that stands in his way of joining the elite group of climbers who have nabbed all 14 8000-meter peaks.

This is just the preliminary report from Nepal. There will obviously be several other expeditions taking place this fall as well on numerous other peaks. Tibet should see some traffic again this year too, with Cho Oyu and Shishpangma both being popular fall climbing destinations. Stay tuned in the weeks ahead, as we’re likely to have quite a few updates as things unfold.

Kraig Becker