Himalaya Fall 2018: Ama Dablam Opens for Business, Tragic Loss on Mt. Gurja

1280px Ama Dablam2

I’m back from the 2018 Outdoor Blogger Summit and working on catching up on the news from while I was away. A lot has happened over the past few days with climbing expeditions in the Himalaya continuing to unfold and a tragic accident on one of the lesser-known peaks in the region.

We’ll start with the bad news. Last weekend, nine climbers lost their lives on Mt. Gurja, a 7193 meter (23,599 ft) peak located in western Nepal, not far from Dhaulagiri. The group consisted of five climbers from South Korea and four Sherpa guides, all of which were caught in a massive landslide while in Base Camp. Apparently, the team was waiting out bad weather there before proceeding up to high camp, but heavy snow accumulated on the mountains flanks. Eventually, that snow gave lose, burying BC in a wall of ice, snow, rock and dirt.

Amongst those who lost their lives was Korean climbing legend Kim Chang-ho. He was the first person from his home country to scale all 14 8000-meter peaks and was the leader of the expedition to Gurja as well.

Our condolences go out to the friends and family of the team. This story is a sharp reminder that even Nepal’s “lesser” peaks are still dangerous and that Mother Nature can be cruel. This is one of the worst accidents in the Himalaya since the earthquake of 2015.

Elsewhere, teams are preparing to climb a variety of sub-8000 meter peaks as the autumn season continues to unfold. Our friend Alan Arnette is in the midst of his expedition to Island Peak for instance, and The Himalayan Times reports that rope fixing on Ama Dablam was completed a few days back, clearing the way for teams to begin scaling that famous and unique mountain. The 6812 meter (22,349 ft) peak is a popular one for climbers looking to tune up prior to a major 8000-meter climb in the spring, and apparently most teams are still getting settled into Base Camp and acclimatizing.

Last week, a team of three climbers consisting of mountain guide Jyamchang Bhote, Belgian Martin Paul Discors and Swedish alpinist Manuel Alejandro Jimenez Carrosa scaled Ama Dablam before the ropes were installed. They went up in alpine style in a fast and light descent a few days ahead of the rope fixing Sherpas. Now that the stage has been set however, we can expect more summits to come.

As mentioned previously, the fall climbing season is kind of winding down. The big 8000-meter peaks have been scaled and those squads have gone home. There are still several ongoing expeditions on smaller mountains however, so we’ll continue to keep an eye on things for interesting news.

Kraig Becker