Himalaya Fall 2019: Summit Schedule Set on Manaslu, Cho Oyu

After a bit of a slow start to the autumn climbing season in the Himalaya, things are accelerating quickly now. With good weather arriving at last – at least on seem of the mountains – the teams there are on the move. In fact, the climbers on Manaslu and Cho Oyu are now starting to eye the summit on both of those mountains with the potential for lots of activity over the next few days.

On Manaslu, the rope fixing team completed their work amidst very deep snow yesterday, clearing the way for other climbers to soon follow. The large crowds on that mountain mean that things could be very busy on summit day, which looks like it will be on Friday, September 27. According to the Nepal Ministry of Tourism, there are roughly 520 alpinists on the mountain this fall, including foreign climbers, guides, and high altitude porters. That could make for some traffic jams up near the top, although it is unlikely to be anything like what we saw on Everest earlier this year. Amongst the teams scheduled to top out over the next few days are Adventure Consultants, Furtenbach Adventures, and Summit Climb.

Of course, also scheduled to summit on Friday is none other than Nims Purja, who has already climbed Cho Oyu this fall. A successful summit of Manaslu would leave him with just one 8000-meter peak to go on his Project Possible initiative. Of course, the one that will likely remain is Shishapangma, which is officially closed to climbers this fall. Earlier today, Nims posted a plea for help on Facebook to anyone that might be able to help him obtain a permit, writing:

“It was only 2 min ago, I was on the summit of #ChoOyu and in few hours I will be heading to camp 3 #Manaslu.
Right now, a lot going in my head . I’m inside my tent preparing this message calling for help .
#Shishapangma has been closed this season by the Chinese government.I am hoping that the Chinese government would allow me to climb Shishapangma in good faith of human endeavour.
At this moment, I have no idea what I should I do. If anyone can help me in this matter, I would be thankful.
The government of Nepal has already agreed to speak on my behalf as China being our neighbouring country: finger crossed.”

Nims was part of the rope fixing team on Cho Oyu, and teams on that mountain are now getting ready for a summit push as well. Both the IMG and Alpenglow squads are in position to make a final push to the top today, although there is no word on their success just yet. A few other teams are lagging just a day or two behind them, but should be following soon. The Chinese government has indicated that it will close the mountain on October 1, so the clock is ticking. Fortunately, good weather has arrived so there should be a solid summit window the next few days.

Things haven’t been proceeding quite so smoothly on Dhaulagiri. The weather there as put the teams a little behind schedule, although things are starting to sort themselves out now. Carlos Soria is in Base Camp and starting his acclimatization rotations, reportedly going up to Camp 1 to begin that process. Sergi Mingote has also checked in announcing his arrival in Camp 2 on his attempt to climb the mountain without oxygen. Yesterday he posted saying that the trail up to C3 is covered in deep snow, and more than a meter of fresh powder had fallen on top of that. Those condones would likely cause he and his team to head back down for a rest and to wait for improved conditions.

Garrett Madison of Madison Mountaineering has checked in from Everest with Alan Arnette, telling him that the weather has stalled out their progress as well. He says that the monsoons continue to hang on, dumping lots of snow on the Lhotse Face and higher. Worse yet, Garrett says he expects those conditions to continue well into October, putting his team’s plans well behind schedule already.

To make matters worse, a large serac continues to hang over the route, although it looks like it could collapse and tumble down the side of the mountain at any time. If it does, it will leave a path of destruction in its wake before tumbling into the Khumbu Icefall. This danger has already caused several teams to head home, believing that the risks are way too high. Those that remain continue to weigh their options before deciding what to do next.

That’s pretty much the status of everything that is happening in the Himalaya at the moment. We’ll post more when there is news to share.

Kraig Becker