The fall 2018 climbing season has turned toward the finish line. While there are still a number of teams in the region that are focused on making their ascents up various big mountains, the bulk of the commercial squads have now wrapped up their expeditions and are heading home. Last week was a successful one on Manaslu, Cho Oyu, and Shishapangma, with dozens of climbers topping out across those three peaks. Now, those teams are heading home, as are a few squads that weren’t quite so successful this autumn.
Over on Dhaulagiri the mountain is now all but deserted. As we’ve mentioned several times throughout the season, heavy snowfall and generally poor weather conditions kept the climbers in Base Camp for much of September, prevented them from properly acclimatizing. So when October arrived, and summits were being recorded on other 8000-meter peaks in Nepal and Tibet, Dhaulagiri was still getting blasted with high winds, heavy snow, and unstable conditions. Eventually this caused the squads to give up on the summit this year, with most heading home at the end of last week.
Amongst those on Dhaulagiri who were forced to abandon their attempt was Spaniard Carlos Soria. He was on the mountain for the ninth time, still struggling to reach the top. Unfortunately, it wasn’t in the cards and it is unclear if the 79-year old will ever get another shot at scaling this elusive peak. At the moment, he has 12 of the 14 8000-meter peaks on his resume, with only Dhaulagiri and Shishapangma remaining. The word is that most of his sponsors bowed out of this fall expedition, so this may be his Himalayan swan song. We’ll have to wait until spring to see if he returns once again.
Dhaulagiri isn’t the only mountain that has seen climbers pull the plug in recent days. Annapurna hasn’t exactly been busy this fall, but it was the target of Russians Vitaly Lazo and Anton Pugovkin. The duo had hoped to summit and ski the mountain this fall, but once again poor weather conditions have put an end to their attempt. Annapurna is legendary for its dangerous slopes and this fall has been particularly bad with heavy snow creating the potential for avalanche danger. As a result, Lazo and Pugovkin have announced that they are leaving the mountain and returning home.
Updates from the Himalaya are likely to get a lot more infrequent moving forward. As mentioned, there are still a few teams climbing in the region and there is likely to be more news to report straight through into November. But things will be a bit quieter now for awhile, with just a few weeks remaining until things shut down until Spring. Such is the cyclical nature of climbing in the big peaks of Nepal and Tibet. We’ll continue to keep an eye on things of course and as important news arises, we’ll keep sharing.