The spring climbing season in the Himalaya is now just a month off, with climbers and their teams now putting the final touches on their plans. For most, that means climbing along the well-established routes on both the North and South Sides of Everest, sticking very closely to the same paths that have been used for decades. But on occasion, some of the stronger, more intrepid alpinists will break off and try a new route instead. That’s exactly what Cory Richards and Esteban “Topo” Mena hope to do this year.
The plan for these two talented young mountaineers is to travel to the North Side of Everest in Tibet and attempt the same route that Raphael Slawinski, David Goettler and Daniel Bartsch had in mind back in 2015 before the earthquake brought the season to an abrupt end. They plan to acclimatize on Everest itself and do a variant of that route, with the plan to go without oxygen or any support above Advanced Base Camp. Once they’ve become accustomed to the altitude, they’ll be climbing in alpine style the entire way.
Recently, Richards sat down with Alan Arnette for an interview, sharing a few more thoughts and details on this expedition. They discuss the fact that it has been ten years since anyone has completed a new route on the Big Hill, how they two men will prepare for the altitude in the Himalaya, and the lessons he and Mena have learned from summiting without oxygen. Both have impressive resumes with summits on several 8000-meter peaks, although any new route up Everest is sure to be a challenge.
The duo have also announced that the expedition will be documented by Roam Media with the video below serving as a trailer. That should give those of us who follow along at home an opportunity to see how things unfold on a climb up an 8000 meter peak. Even this short clip is insightful, with some impressive photos and videos from Cory’s past adventures.
It is exciting to know that there are some climbers out there who are planning new things for the upcoming season. It’s no secret that Everest continues to get more crowded each year, and while I respect anyone who gives the mountain a try, it is especially interesting to see something new. We’ll be keeping a close eye on the team’s progress in the weeks ahead as they travel to the Himalaya and attempt to push their boundaries.
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