Himalaya Fall 2019: Manaslu Gets More Crowded, Slow Steady Progress Everywhere

The fall climbing season in the Himalaya is officially off and running, with numerous teams either settling into Base Camps across the region or on their way to do so. It promises to be an unusually busy year, patricianly in Nepal, with a number of unique expeditions to keep an eye on in the weeks ahead. As usual however, the commercial teams will dominate several of the mountains, especially Manaslu which has become the center of attention when it comes to autumn climbing.

Previously it had been reported that more than 400 climbers would be on Manaslu this fall, but now it appears that number will be substantially higher. According to The Himalayan Times, that number has now grown to 530, of which 260 are foreign alpinists. Amongst them is Tatiana Abramson, a 55-year old mountaineer who hopes to be the first woman from Israel to summit the mountain. Also in BC are Nives Meroi along and Romano Benet, the husband and wife team who have already summited all 14 8000-meter peaks together. Icelandic climber John Snorri Sigurjónsson is also there, tuning up for a winter attempt on K2 with Mingma Sherpa in a few months.

Of course, Nims Purja is also planning to climb Manaslu this fall and it was believed that he would attempt to summit the mountain quickly before heading to Tibet to climb Cho Oyu. That turns out to not be the case, as even though he arrived on Manaslu last week, he has already left for Tibet and is in BC on Cho Oyu now. He says that he’ll head to Camp 1 tomorrow and then see how things go from there. He may feel like he is already acclimated and right for the push, in which case Nims and his team may summit before the end of the week. He says he plans to climb both mountains before the end of September, leaving only Shishapangma left to complete his Project Possible expedition. Purja says he is still hoping for a permit to climb that mountain this fall, but he is waiting for approval from the Chinese government.

Elsewhere, Carlos Soria has arrived on Kala Patthar where he’ll spend some time acclimatizing before heading over to Dhaulagiri. He’s making his tenth attempt on that mountain, with only it and Shishapangma standing in the way of him climbing all 14 8000-meter peaks. At the age of 80, he continues to just keep going. He’ll be joined on Dhaulagiri by Sergi Mingote, who is attempting that mountain in light-and-fast fashion this autumn, and without oxygen of course.

Over on Everest, Polish climber Andrzej Bargiel and his squad have arrived on the mountain and are now scouting the route through the Khumbu Icefall. Bargiel will attempt to climb and ski down Everest this fall. They are currently sharing BC with Spanish ultrarunner Kilian Jornet, who is preparing for a climb of his own. What exactly that climb is remains a bit of a mystery as there are rumors that he is making an attempt on the speed record, although there are some indications that he might be attempting the fabled Everest-Lhotse link-up, which was the project Ueli Steck was working on when he passed away a few years back.

Madison Mountaineering is leading a team on Everest this fall as well and will be the only commercial squad on the mountain. They arrived in Base Camp yesterday and have started getting settled there. They expect to hold their puja ceremony tomorrow and begin climbing operations not long afterwards.

Speaking of Lhotse, an 11-person team of Polish climbers is headed to that mountain as well. They are reportedly still hiking up the Khumbu Valley but should arrive in BC soon. As most readers already know, Everest and Lhotse share the same Base Camp and much of the same route on the Nepali side of the mountain, so this team will also be sharing camp with Bargiel, Jornet, and company.

That’s the latest updates on where things stand as we head into a new week. As you would expect for mid-September, things are starting to get busy but summit pushes are still a few weeks out. Expect the news to continue to roll in in the days ahead, when we should get more solid information on several of the big expedition that are only now getting underway.

Kraig Becker