Himalaya 2008 climbing season, Karakoram and Himalaya wrap-up /16/ – Week in Review.

Freedom, independence, and honesty – remember that old climbers’ code?

On Gasherbrum 2 this summer, out of over 20 summits reported only a handful were true; on Manaslu this fall, two large commercial team’s reports don’t add up to other climbers’ tales cutting numbers of success down to barely half.

In other news; the financial crisis, a terrible plane crash in Lukla, Everest Skydive kick-off, Edurne headed for number 12, a HET series with focus on the new – almost global – BGAN coverage, and an ExWeb special with updated danger stats for the 14, 8000ers quest.

Along with heads-ups on all current Himalaya climbers, oceanrowers and the polar list of expeditions – last week was packed at ExplorersWeb.

Climbers cleaning house on Manaslu Who reached the main summit and who stopped on the secondary top? Here go the chronological turn events.

Friday: Dutch Katja Staartjes and her climbing mate Henk Wesselius reached the fore summit of Manaslu Friday, October 3d in perfect weather together with a small team from Himex. Katja and Henk used no oxygen support, Himex did, the climbers reported to ExWeb. “I regret we did not continue towards the main summit. On the other hand it did not look pretty well and our rope + part of our anchors were already used before,” Katja wrote.

Saturday: Nives confirmed that the fixed rope ended about 30 meter before the true summit. “The wind had erased tracks made by Sherpas on Friday,” Nives reported on Saturday. At 7,500m, the Italians caught up with a long line of Sherpas and foreign climbers close behind, going up or turning back. The Italians reached the top at 9:00am, without fixed ropes and oxygen support. “There was just the three of us there – everyone else stopped at the foresummit,” Nives reported,” it was a large bunch of people, most of them on O2… there were empty canisters all along the route.”

This was confirmed by Altitude Junkies/Project-Himalaya. Leader Phil Crampton reported from C4 that day, ”There have been numerous summits of the central summit but at the time of this dispatch the only true summits we are aware of are two Italian climbers,” he stated. Edurne’s team chimed in, stating that climbers stopped before the actual highest point on Saturday, at a technical section separating the secondary top from the main.

Sunday: Sunday October 5, Edurne and her Al Filo team finally fixed some rope on the section between both summits. Edurne Pasaban, Alex Txicon, Asier Izaguirre, Mikel Zabalza, Ester Sabadell, Ferrán Latorre, Juanjo Garra and Kinga Baranowska summited the main top. Next up were the Japanese using supplementary oxygen. At 9.30 am and without oxygen support followed Valerie and Tarki Sherpa, with leader Phil Crampton. Joining the group were Mexican Yuri and Laura. The Altitude Junkies/Project-Himalaya leader added, “the summit this year is decorated by prayer flags bearing an exposed corniced ridge that leads to the true summit, which many teams have avoided. We have to say a huge thank you to the Spanish team for putting in the route along the exposed cornice ridge.”

Contradicting those reports: Jagged Globe stated that they summited Manaslu true summit Saturday October 4, at 9:08 am. HiMex team member Adrian Ballinger also reported success, in addition stating Himex was the first team to push the route to the summit. RussianClimb reported that Vassily summited the peak on Friday.

Annapurna: newcomers Czech climbers Martin Minarik, Petr Masek and Slovak climber Jozef (Dodo) Kopold will be attempting Annapurna NW wall this fall via the Gabarrou route whose first summit was bagged by Czech climbers Josef Nežerka and Jindøich Martiš on 2.10.1988.

Kangchenjunga: Vikings climbing up Fredrik and Jörgen are on the peak and have commenced their climb. Check in Monday for a report.

Makalu: over for Calleja “I’ve made a sad decision – we’re going back home,” Spanish Jesús Calleja reported. “The Sherpas sent to check our camps have confirmed it is impossible to launch a summit bid in the current conditions: Excess of snow is constantly avalanching down the route.”

Makalu: Vince checking in from BC “All settled in base camp now at 18,500 ft.,” Vince Anderson reported last week. “Steve is still ill with a cough though seems to be getting better. Marko and I hiked up a small peak behind camp that is about 20,500 ft. We will continue to acclimatize and just take it easy for the next few weeks until we are ready to try our route.”

Shisha Pangma: Italian summits Italians Andrea Zambaldi and Andrea Montolli summited Shisha Pangma’s main summit via the NW route last week. Zamballi topped out on October 2nd, and Montolli followed on his own during the night of October 3rd. According to Montagna.org, the climbers reached Shisha’s summit along the north ridge to the main top.

Shisha Pangma: Edurne going for her 12th Edurne Pasaban’s Al Filo expedition got a visa granted for Tibet during their Manaslu climb, and caught a chopper back to KTM only one day after their summit, driving to Tibet next for Shisha Pangma. With Nives and Edurne’s Manaslu summit, Edurne Pasaban, Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner and Nives Meroi are now on an even 11, 8000er summits each. With Shisha, Edurne could take the lead at 12.

Annapurna: Americans from IV to I “Brad and Tonya called via satellite phone from 22,000 feet on October 5th to announce their descent of Annapurna IV,” Dare to Dream home team reported Monday. “They weren’t able to summit due to weather, tricky terrain, and health risks. They will be moving over to begin from base camp of Annapurna I within the next week.”

Cho Oyu – summits and fatalities Most teams reportedly summited except for Spanish Extremadura who still hopes for another shot. Unfortunately, two climbers – Guy Leveille and Miha Valic – were lost on the peak. Field Touring Alpine, SummitClimb and the Spanish climbers provided detailed reports on both accidents.

Pumori: Peak Freaks nearing BC The team is making their way to Pumori base camp. Only one helicopter was available early last week for shuttle purposes.

Lukla plane crash Lukla was blanketed in fog when the Yeti Airlines plane approached at 7.30 on Monday morning. The Twin Otter snapped a security fence with a wheel, skidded 50m along the simple airstrip and then caught fire. By the time the flames were extinguished by onlookers some 2 hours later, all 18 passengers – trapped inside – had perished. Only the pilot survived, though he remains in critical condition.

Everst Skydive Last Saturday the Everest Skydive project kicked off in Shyangboche when 10 solo and 3 tandem jumpers made their jumps from 22,000ft. Monday they bagged 29,500ft, and a total of 27 solos and 5 tandems. At five solo jumps, Kiwi Wendy Smith remained the skydiver with the highest number of jumps in this event. One of the jumps went not so well however. Peak Freaks was first on the scene to stabilize a female skydiver who apparently dropped in through the fog and became disoriented. “When she went to correct her chute, she picked up too much speed and smashed into the ground. She is bruised and broke her leg,” Tim Rippel reported.

Japanese Kula Kangri tragedy update, “they were all work mates” The avalanche on Kula Kangri (7.538m) in Tibet wiped out three Japanese climbers Susumu Nakamura, 62, Yoshinobu Kato, 32 and Satoshi Arimura, 27. Yoshinobu Kato had climbed 8, 8000ers, while Susumu Nakamura skied to the North Pole from Cape Hekla BC in 1978 (with resupplies and dogs) and from Hercules Inlet to the South Pole in 1994. With Everest in 1988, the Japanese explorer accomplished one of the earliest expeditions to the three poles. ExWeb’s Japanese contributor Yusuke Hirai, said that Yoshinobu Kato and Satoshi Arimura both were Hirotaka Takeuchi’s (11, 8000ers) work mates at ICI Ishii Sports, the huge sports chain in Japan where also female Japanese K2 summiteer Yuka Komatsu is employed.

ExWeb special: How dangerous is the quest to summit all 14, 8000ers? In a follow up to the Karakoram 2008 Season´s end Chronicle, Rodrigo Granzotto Peron has compiled an article about mountaineers in the 14, 8000er quest, focusing on climbers with at least 7 summits.

Wall Street crash: Boom or Bust for Everest Guides and Commercials? Colorado Mountain News Media published a September 23 report from RSVP Publishing, an upscale direct marketing firm, stating that affluent homeowners will still be spending their money. “Boom or Bust. The Haves keeping the Have-Nots afloat,” stated the news source. “An economic downturn offers great opportunities for both buyers and sellers.”

Pablo Besser on the Northern Patagonia Icecap again for unclimbed route He led the first complete crossing of the Southern Patagonian Ice Cap and then the first complete winter crossing of the Northern Patagonian Ice Cap. In July last year (the winter season in Chile), orthopedist surgeon Pablo Besser explored and climbed the little known north-east side of the cap. Pablo Besser’s latest expedition with team mates Jose Mijares, Tomas Ariztia and Ariel Valle, kicked off October 4. It will be a 30-day round trip on the Northern Patagonian Icecap to climb San Valentin, 4020 meters, the highest mountain in Patagonia. Then sled to the south, close to Nef glacier, Paso Colonia (Della Torre pass), the Colonia glacier and the Colonia lake and valley. “As far as I know this route has not been done before,” Pablo told ExWeb.

Exweb Week-In-Review is sponsored by HumanEdgeTech the world’s premier supplier of expedition technology. Our team helps you find ultra light expedition tech that works globally.
e-mail or call +1 212 966 1928

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

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