Poor Weather Could Stall Summit Plans on Shishapangma

Those anxiously awaiting updates from Nirmal Purja and the rest of his team on Shishapangma may have to wait a bit longer before hearing anything positive. Purja and company arrived in Base Camp yesterday and were preparing to hike up to Advanced Base Camp amidst strong winds with the hope that somehow they could reach the summit today or tomorrow. That would mean that Purja had wrapped up his ambitious Project Possible initiative in exactly six months, even faster than his original plan to do it in seven. But the forecast for the coming days doesn’t look very favorable, so it seems we’ll all need to be a bit more patient for awhile.

Purja, along with the men who make up his team — Mingma David Sherpa, Gesman Tamang and Gelje Sherpa, and Jangbu Sherpa — will face some significant challenges on Shishapangma, even if weather conditions are good. As the only climbers on the mountain this year, they’ll need to break trail, fix ropes, and install their camps all the way up the peak. With that in mind, they’re likely to climb in alpine style, carrying all of their gear with them as they go and making camp in locations that best meet their needs. As strong as the group is, it seems likely that they could summit in as few as two or three days. The problem is, the weather doesn’t seem like it will cooperate.

According to forecasts for the next several days, very high winds are going to hit Shishapangma, likely keeping the team in place in ABC for awhile. In fact, those winds could last well into the weekend, which means Nims and his crew may have to settle in and wait for awhile. The narrow, tricky approach to the summit can be dangerous and intimidating to make under the best of conditions, let alone when the winds are swirling and howling around you.

The good news is that Purja has until November 23 to officially complete his quest, which means he can afford to wait a few days for better weather conditions. Eventually a window will open, granting them access to the summit. For now though, we’ll all just have to wait for further news.

Kraig Becker