The fall climbing season in the Himalaya is starting to ramp up, with teams now arriving in Kathmandu ahead of their departure for the mountains. As previously noted, much of the activity this autumn will take place on Manaslu, although there are some big plans for other other peaks across the region too. But one of the most interesting expeditions to follow in the weeks ahead will no doubt be an attempt by a Polish team to summit that mountain along a very difficult, and seldom used, route that hasn’t been successfully completed in more than 30 years.
According to ExWeb, the Polish team is led by veteran climber Rafal Fronia, who is joined by seven of his countrymen. The squad will be attempting a route that has been completed just once, when legionary alpinists Jerzy Kukuczka and Artur Hajzer did it back in 1986. The line goes up the 7992 meter (26,220 ft) Manaslu East, which is challenging enough in its own right. But from there, the team will traverse over to the main summit of Manaslu in a single push.
This expedition is meant to be a training climb of sorts, preparing the Polish mountaineers for future projects that will take place in the Himalaya during the winter. We all know that the Poles intend to return to K2 during the winter in 2020 and this could be a way for them to get ready for that attempt. Fronia was on that mountain this past winter with the Polish squad, but had to be evacuated after a falling rock struck and broke his arm.
The eight-person team arrived in Nepal last week and are already en route to Manaslu. They expect to summit sometime in early October provided everything goes as planned.
This isn’t the only team of Poles looking to make history in the Himalaya this fall however. The two-person team of Monika Witkowska and Joanna Kozanecka have also set their sights on Manaslu this fall as well. The two ladies will be climbing along the regular route, but what sets their endeavor apart is that they are attempting the expedition independently. They’ll climb completely on their own without Sherpa assistance or as part of a larger commercial squad. If they manage to summit, they’ll be the first female climbers to finish such a small, lightweight, alpine style ascent. They too arrived in Kathmandu last week and are now trekking to the mountain.
The autumn climbing season is just now getting ready to commence, so there will be plenty of updates and news to follow soon. It should be an interesting fall.
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