Himalaya 2008 climbing season, Karakoram and Himalaya wrap-up /18/ – Week in Review.

The jet stream moved in over Nepal Himalaya last week punishing lonely climbers scattered on difficult mountains. One by one, mountaineers were forced to abandon climbs on Everest, Annapurna – and also on Ama Dablam, struck by yet another serac fall. Vince and Marko still managed a new line on Makalu 2 and a very difficult ski attempt is just now ongoing on Kang.

In other news; Everest update, accounts from K2, teacher forced to quit for wearing a pro-Tibet t-shirt, rogue waves, ocean survival, popular re-runs, Alpinist folding, and South Pole specials as skiers are flying out to Punta.

Vikings on Kangchenjunga summit push Extreme skiers Swedish Fredrik Eriksson and Norwegian Jörgen Aamot started their summit push Saturday. The climb up to the summit and the ski descent is expected to take four days. “The Mountain looks very good at moment. There is a lot of snow so if we can make it to the summit the chances are good that we will be able to ski all the way down to the snow level at 5500 metres,” Fredrik reported Friday. From the last camp at 7800 meters the climb towards the summit (8586 metres) is expected to take around ten hours. Expected to take five hours from there, the ski descent has a vertical of almost 3100 metres and very steep sections of up to 50 degrees inclination. “To ski at 8000 meters is not easy. It’s extremely hard work and in the beginning we have to stop to rest after only a few turns. After four to five turns I’m as exhausted as after skiing 1000 vertical meters in the Alps,” Fredrik explained.

Everest: Korean summit push – over for the Europeans The French/Italian team has abandoned Everest due to high winds, while the Korean expedition (led by Park Young-Seok) planned a summit bid on October 19, reported Peak Freaks’ team leader Tim Rippel from nearby Pumori. No injuries have been reported following a minor avalanche on the Lhotse face.

Annapurna I: not this time for Swiss team Too much snow on summit push forced Troillet’s team to surrender the avalanche prone south side of Annapurna. Martin Minarik, Dodo Kopold, and Petr Masek have reached at least 6300 meters on Annapurna’s north side. They reported Very difficult climbing among serac barriers.

Annapurna II: a very demanding climb The Croatian team led by Darko Berljak reached up to 7200m but strong wind stopped further climbing just under Annapurna IV. The final push will demand setting Camp 4 at 7,200m far out on the ridge. Snow conditions are quite bad and there are many avalanches, the team told ExWeb.

New route on Makalu II Vince and Marko made a new route on the unclimbed west face of Kanchungtse (Makalu 2, 7,600 m). Vince reported mostly mixed terrain, with difficulties increasing on what turned out a very long climb just below the visiting jet stream. Darkness, cold, hunger, thirst, and failed eyesight followed after summit until the two climbers arrived back in camp 2 at 11:00 pm, with Steve (forced to stay behind to nurse his cough) serving hot drinks and soup. Conditions on the mountain are generally deteriorating with high winds and -20º in BC. “Forecasts show an improvement in a week’s time – let’s see if we have time enough by then, before winter settles in,” Steve told sponsor Patagonia Friday, adding that a lonely Greek climber have arrived the lonely mountain hoping to attempt the normal route.

Ama Dablam: Massive serac chunks sweep the route “Big chunks of the Dablam have fallen off,”  SummitClimb team leader Jason Thomas reported on Monday. “There’s been at least 3 serac avalanches that wiped the whole slope clean above camp 3 and has probably taken out camp 3 as well. Probably half of the mass of the Dablam has come off in the last 30 hours. The snow slope leading up to the Dablam is now sheer blue ice instead of snow.” No injuries are reported, but a number of climbers have left the peak, left without a summit so far this season. At least five large teams and a few smaller ones are still in place treading carefully, Adventure Consultants reported.

Pumori: Divided into two groups, Peak Freaks’ team has launched a summit push on Pumori, hoping to reach the top on Monday/Tuesday. Fabrizio Zangrilli’s team is expected in BC this week. Member Matt Fioretti, an experienced climber and Himalayan guide, survived Aplastic Anemia and a bone marrow transplant in 2005.

The wolf is back: Gnaro bags Baruntse “A wolf might lose his hair, but not his call…” Last year, Silvio ‘Gnaro’ Mondinelli broke the haunted 13 when he summited the last peak on his list of 14, 8000ers – becoming only the 6th mountaineer in the world to have bagged them all without supplementary oxygen. Last week, he summited Baruntse (7,220 m) after a six hour climb from camp 2 at 6.300 m and returned to base camp the same day. “How nice to fly so ‘low’…” Gnaro told Montagna.org, “the summit offered a stunning panorama. I could see Makalu, Kangchenjunga, Everest and I thought to myself – ‘how did I ever manage to climb these giants?’.”

Memories from K2: Marco Confortola’s testimony Gunsmoke clearing, climbers are publishing personal accounts of what happened on K2 this dreadful summer. Monthly mags have compiled feature stories with journalists’ take on the events – all combined trying to puzzle together a true picture of the disaster. Last week Italian K2 survivor Marco Confortola posted his testimony at Montagna.org (in English).

Another wrinkle on the Mallory and Irvine episode This past spring, Tom Holzel’s conclusion about Mallory and Irvine’s final climb after tracking truth-in-evidence on Mount Everest became one of the most popular articles about the issue. The ensuing ExWeb interview with Tom in addition offered a funny insight into the battle of this particular subject. Last week, fearless Tom posted another take on the M&I episode.

Popular Re-run kick off Over the years ExplorersWeb has published many articles that have become classics and warrant re-runs. Last week ExplorersWeb kicked-off Popular Re-runs, i.e. republishing stories either significant in current events, or simply by their own popularity.

Popular re-run: Spot Blanc? A closer look at the Zaragoza Everest brain study Last week, media reported that a new study of professional mountain climbers shows a subtle loss of brain cells and motor function. High-altitude illnesses such as HAPE and HACE are reportedly a growing concern in general, with about 20 percent of Colorado tourists reporting AMS. Zaragoza’s University Hospital in Spain performed an MRI on high altitude climbers already last year, and ExWeb published a re-run.

Popular Re-run: Everest Yeti Each year some time around Halloween, a brand new yeti story comes out of Himalaya. Last fall, ‘Destination Truth’ stated that they had “discovered footprints that merit further investigation.” Last week, a team of Japanese adventurers reported yeti footprints on Dhaulagiri IV. If you are a frequent Himalaya climber, you probably recall Messner’s much publicized search expeditions and the Yeti head in the monastery en route to Everest BC which in fact is the scull of a monkey. Ang Tshering reported on the yeti issue also last year and ExWeb re-ran the story.

Popular Re-run: Learning from accidents – was the Ama Dablam serac safe? In 2006, a large part of a serac collapsed on the upper slopes of Ama Dablam. The falling chunk of ice hit Camp 3 on the normal route, sweeping six sleeping climbers off the peak shortly before a summit push. The big accident sparked a debate between mountaineers, on whether the peak is safe with all the overcrowding during high season on the normal route. With the past week’s new serac falls on the peak, ExWeb re-ran the story.

Alpinist bids farewell Alpinist announced that the October 2008 financial crisis has forced them to suspend operations. Attempts might however be ongoing to save the popular magazine, website and film festival.

Polar technology: the complete package Out of the 7 expeditions last season that skied from the coast the South Pole; 6 used comms from HumanEdgeTech. In the past three seasons, 13 out of 15 successful South Pole expeditions used CONTACT including Hannah McKeand on her speed record, Rune on his record breaking kite crossing and Matty McNair on the first polar return trip. Since 2001, in addition to crossings and the “all-the-way” expeditions; gear from HumanEdgeTech has been used by Vinson climbers, last degree folks and scientists. Last week HET ran a story on the 2008/2009 polar package.

ExWeb interview with Mark Langridge: Solo to the South Pole and back without sail support Early November British soldier Mark Langridge will attempt to ski solo from Hercules Inlet to the Pole and return to the Inlet without a kite. He will be placing depots along the way, which he will mark with his GPS and bamboo sticks with black flags. ExWeb’s Correne Coetzer caught up with him during his last days at home.

Antarctica meteorite hunters: ANSMET back for more “As long as there are meteorite hunters stars will keep falling,” wrote ANSMET in folding the 2006-2007 season. Close to 1000 meteorites collected were put under lock and key in a freezer in McMurdo. The crew is back this year, with daily dispatches and all.

Exclusive Antarctic Terminal for Punta Arenas Airport The Chilean port to ALE’s Patriot Hills base camp on Antarctica is through Punta Arenas Airport. Renovations for this airport is in the pipeline and in 2010 the airport will have an exclusive terminal for Antarctic travelers, reported Mercopress.com. The purpose for this Antarctic terminal they report, is “to confirm Punta Arenas as the real door of access to Antarctica, a condition it disputes with neighboring Ushuaia in Argentine Tierra del Fuego.

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.
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