Himalaya – Week in Review.

China done and soldiers gone; Everest climbers are entering the formerly restricted zone, with early summit pushes kicking off already today.

Last week though, other Himalayan peaks stole the show and it’s not over. On Annapurna 1; Inaki, Horia and Alexei hope to top out tonight and so do some climbers left on Makalu and Dhaulagiri.

On the oceans; the world’s longest ocean row was unfortunately aborted this weekend.

From a purely selfish point of view, we are all very happy that the Chinese have finished their business and that the restrictions imposed upon climbers from the South side will now be lifted,” reported James Balfour. “Other views I may have regarding the situation we’ve faced since the beginning of this expedition will have to wait until I return to the UK.”

No one has enjoyed what we’ve had to go through, but by and large people have behaved well. Our liaison officer, the head LO of base camp, Mr. Dhakal, has been an especially cordial, friendly, and reasonable,” wrote Andrew Brash, adding that a stampede of people have been rushing up on the peak. Conditions permitting, early summit bids should begin on approximately the 17th with the first top reached around the 20th.

The two ropes up and down from the South Col will work well,” Peak Freaks reported. “After all of the delays with waiting for the Chinese to summit everything is going very fast now,” said SummitClimb. “These waiting days are tough to bear,” vented Silvio Mondinelli. “But from May 20 to May 25 we will all ‘open fire’ in an all-out attack: We’ll go for the summit.”

Annapurna summit push Spanish Inaki Ochoa de Olza, Romanian Horia Colibasanu and Russian Alexei Bolotov are on Annapurna 1 summit push. Sunday was to be spent at 7.900 meters below the east summit and, on Monday – the main summit!

Lhotse Spaniards Carlos Pauner and Javier Pérez are on their way to Everest/Lhotse BC after summiting Dhaulagiri two weeks ago, hoping for a fast Lhotse ascent by May 20/27. So are Ralf Dujmovits (recent Makalu summit), wife Gerlinde and climbing partner David Göttler (both summited Dhaulagiri two weeks ago).

Makalu Denis Urubko (in his 13th summit), Eugeny Shutov, Boris Dedeshko and Svetlana Sharipova summited Makalu early last week. So did Irivan Gustavo Burda and Waldemar Niclevicz (the first two Brazilians to summit Makalu), Santiago Quintero, Carlos Soria (at 69 years old the oldest person to summit the peak), Alex Gawan (who reported that a climber took a 20 meter fall after a fixed rope broke), and Carlos Hernan Wilke (the 1st Argentinean to summit Makalu) who stayed behind to help Santiago Quintero taking over from Makalu summiteer (top no 13) Ralf Dujmovits.

ExWeb Makalu special: interview with Santiago Quintero After summit last Sunday, Santiago Quintero reportedly suffered from HACE and was helped to high camp by Ralf Dujmovits. Santiago lost most of his toes to frostbite during a solo climb on Aconcagua in 2002. In spite of his extensive frostbite, Santiago summited the peak without supplementary oxygen. “When I arrived on the summit, I cried and to cried. I was so immensely moved by this beautiful summit, where a small flag with a photo of Dalai Lama greeted us. What a great welcome,” he wrote. ExWeb ran a filed interview with the climber just as he reached Makalu BC with the help of Hernan, two sherpas and climbers from other expeditions.

Makalu: Juanito’s frostbite Existing frostbite always makes mountaineers vulnerable to additional cold injury, and Juanito is no exception, “I am frostbitten again,” he told Marca.com. Makalu marks the 22nd time Oiarzabal stands on the top of an 8000+ meter summit – an outstanding world record. The Spaniard said that he climbed Makalu “to prove I am not yet over, (and I want to let everybody know that).”

Makalu: Expedition Andalusia – the long road to BC “We were crossing the second, west col climbing over loose rock. The Sherpa slipped, and fell one hundred meters off the wall. He died instantly.” The Andalusian expedition led by Manuel Gonzales failed to get a helicopter so the porters decided to bury their mate on the spot. Back in Lukla, one of the porters told police that the Sherpa had been pushed to his death by his companions. This resulted in five of the expedition porters being thrown in jail; and the climbers grounded. Brothers of the deceased, the liaison officer, the representative of the agency, the military administration of Lukla, and Maoist representatives all got involved. On May 2nd the climbers were released at last and got a chopper lift to Makalu where they currently have launched a hasty summit push. “Will we summit? The gusts of wind tell me not to take anything for granted, but I sure will give everything to obtain it. Fernando and Jorge feel the same way,” wrote Lolo about the top-out date expected May 18 (today Sunday).

Makalu summit pushes Portuguese Joao Garcia reported to ExWeb that BC is reduced to half now: “Lots of tents missing but I like it better like this. We are expecting good weather for the 19th so a big party is making a summit attempt. Looks like Fernando Rubio, me, Jean Luc Fohal, Blair and his Sherpa, a French climber and some others are leaving BC tomorrow. Andrew, Hector will try to summit on 20th.

Dhaulagiri: Polish summits On May 11 at 2:45 p.m. local time, Polish Artur Hajzer and Robert Szymczak stood on the summit of Dhaulagiri.

Report from an empty Dhaulagiri BC: Lithuanians on lonely summit push The climbers were key in the rescue of an Argentinean climber on Dhaulagiri two weeks back. Now, all expeditions on the mountain are done except for theirs. “We are now the only expedition left here in BC,” reports Ruta to ExplorersWeb. Even the rescue team searching for Dario flew off by helicopter yesterday morning. “Today five of our members and two Sherpas moved to camp 1. They plan to re-establish camp 2 tomorrow; as a few days ago Sherpas hired by the Polish mistakenly brought down our own Lithuanian camp 2 with tents, gas, oxygen, food and all. “So climbers and the Sherpas now work together to put our camp back in place. If the weather holds, the team will at the same time push for the summit.”

Dhaulagiri – search over The search for Dario Bracali on Dhaulagiri is over. There is no hope of finding him alive after almost 2 weeks of disappearance. The searches were organized by Bracali´s father and his wife, and coordinated by Global Rescue. Several experienced Sherpas climbed the slopes of Dhaulagiri and a helicopter air searched the area, but found no trace of the Argentinean. In addition to Dario Bracali, the 2008 Argentinean expedition to Dhaulagiri reportedly had several incidents. Sebastian Cura was helicoptered out with frostbites early on while the leader and (only) summiteer Christian Vitry suffered several frostbites after spending a freezing night in a crevasse.

Manaslu – Max bags first summit of the season. Kazakh star climber Maxut bagged the first summit of Manaslu and his 8000er no 12. German climbers Thomas Lammle and Carsten followed at 12 pm, with Australian Michael Parker and Sherpa next at 2 pm. One of the Japanese expedition’s Sherpas reportedly died from heart failure last week. The other Sherpas have gone on strike and the Japanese expedition is currently halted.

Japan heads-up: ExWeb contributor Yusuke Hirai reports that this March, Hirotaka Takeuchi kicked off his regular climbing mates Ralf and Gerlinde in KTM. Hiro will return to G2 this summer. Japanese K2 female summiteer Yuka Komatsu has not climbed since Shispare. She’s quit her Job at ICI in Japan and is currently scouting new routes in Okinawa.

American Annapurna IV first ski descent summit push is on! ExWeb interview with Ben Clark They are climbing Annapurna IV, a 24,680 foot peak located in western Nepal with the ambition to ski it for the first time. The expedition consists of “3 friends, skis and a mountain.” Climbers are seasoned alpinists Ben Clark, Tim Clarke and Josh Butson. The route to camp one slid to the ground the day after they climbed it. A push from 20,000′ was aborted. As the climbers struggle up their lonely mountain, ExWeb ran an interview with Ben Clark.

Barneo debrief: Base closed after eventful season The little action for the North Pole this year was made up for by an eventful Barneo season. The drifting ice camp – constructed annually near 89°N to assist skiers, scientists and polar visitors – opened up early this year. A tractor was airdropped on the ice, but broke shortly after. A parachuter bringing spare parts got frostbite and had to be evacuated to Spitsbergen. On April 20, the floor of the mess tent was wrecked by participants of the North Pole marathon (who have since denied the allegations), a snow storm brought out the hero in an American scientist who challenged the snowdrift “like a Bison” and freed the entrance; shortly after over-eager repairs to the mess tent resulted in a “water mattress” effect with the ice melting beneath. There was a game of tennis; the camp drifted faster than some skiers could run and finally Arthur Chilingarov (the Russian NP sub dive) closed the lot on April 26. The floe on which the camp was situated is now empty; and Russian drifting base Barneo will resume operation next year.

Erden breaks longest rowing record; and aborts soon after May 10, on day 306, Erden Erduc took the record for the longest time by an ocean rower, used to belong to Peter Bird. “This pioneer of ocean rowing, who was lost at sea, had reached 304 days on one of his legendary rows. It gives me pride that I carry Peter’s logo on my boat in tribute, while I now reach the level of his earlier commitment,” Erden wrote. For this record, Erden has been nominated for Ocean Rower of the Year by the Oceanrowing Society. Unfortunately, the planned resupply fell through and a sudden, uncontrolled drift northwards forced Erden to abort only days from his planned beaching in Jayapura. Check in Monday for details.

Anasazi Girl update: the first trip up with only one rudder James Burwick is trying to get to Bermuda with the port rudder lost after his collision with a whale. On starboard tack most of the way James had to climb the mast last week to free a sail. “It was quick and no drama. Just never feels right climbing the rig at sea. I did take some time to look around and let it all sink in as the situation was totally cool., “Just don’t f…. it up James” is all I said to myself.” The sailor also added, “this is the only the second trip up the rig at sea in the whole voyage around the planet and the first trip up with only one rudder. But ‘It ain’t over til its over’ 833nm left to the end of the line at the town Cut entrance to St Georges Harbour, Bermuda.”

Read these stories – and more! – at ExplorersWeb.com

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