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Himalaya Spring 2017: High Winds on Everest Turning Early Summit Bids Back.

All week long we’ve been closely watching the evolving situation and weather on Everest with the expectation that teams would launch their summit bids over the weekend, provided the weather window holds. But, a few teams have attempted to go up in dicey weather, and now it sounds like they may be headed back down without ever reaching the top.

Alan Arnette has been following the summit pushes closely and as always, he has the best info on where everyone is at on the mountain at any given time. He’s posted an update of the “second summit wave” which got underway late last night Nepali time, and has been continuing throughout the day there. But, an update from the Summit Club team indicates that they have received a radio call that says high winds on the summit are turning teams back without success. That means that the teams that launched an early bid, including the 7 Summits Club, are heading back down the mountain. How far they’ll descend and whether or not they’ll be ready to make a second push over the weekend remains to be seen.

Considering that a large number of teams, including IMG, are now heading to higher camps for summit attempts over the weekend, you can bet that all eyes are now on the weather forecast. If high winds continue, a lot of squads will be forced to delay their final push to the top, and the next weather window isn’t expected to open until the early part of next week. Hopefully conditions will settle down and allow these teams to get up and down safely, but nothing is certain at this point. In fact, the weather has been so strange and unpredictable this season that it is possible that some climbers will miss out on the summit altogether due to bad timing, a narrow window, or because conditions simply just aren’t right. The forecasts continue to look positive for the next couple of days, but for now you can bet there are a lot of climbers and expedition leaders holding their breath and crossing their fingers.
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Is the Hillary Step Gone From Everest?

Yes, we’ve had a lot of news focused on Everest of late, including an update already today. But this new is big enough that I thought it deserved its own post.

Last year we speculated that the Hillary Step, one of the most prominent landmarks on the route to the summit of Everest on the South Side, may have been destroyed in the 2015 earthquake. The iconic spot was named for Sir Edmund Hillary of course, who scrambled up that section of the mountain on his way to the first ascent with Tenzing Norgay back in 1953. That part of the climb has always told climbers that they were closing in on the summit, and was an important access point for climbers who may not have had the technical skills necessary to complete the ascent. Now, it appears that there is more evidence that the Step is gone, and it could cause problems for future alpinists.

When news broke last year that the Hillary Step was no longer on the mountain, there were some that said that it was indeed still there, but it was covered in a lot of snow and ice, altering its look. When climbers approached, they still found a similarly shaped obstacle that had to be overcome on the way to the top, leading many to believe that everything was normal, but things just looked a bit differently. But now, it appears that those reports may have been wrong.

According to a report posted by Alan Arnette. climbers Tim Mosedale and Scott Mac summited Everest earlier this week just behind the rope fixing team. On the way up, the discovered that the route was indeed a bit more technical than normal, and that the Hillary Step was no longer there. Mosedale is quoted as saying:

“The route from the South summit is reasonably technical and, shock horror, there’s no Hillary Step. The next thing you know we’re on the summit enjoying the views and the sense of achievement.”

He later posted the photo above with another quote:

“It’s official – The Hillary Step is no more. Not sure what’s going to happen when the snow ridge doesn’t form because there’s some huge blocks randomly perched hither and thither which will be quite tricky to negotiate.”

So there you have it, it seems this iconic point that has been a part of the Everest climb for decades is now gone. How that will impact the summit push ahead remains to be seen, but it sounds like it will have a bigger role in years to come, when there might not be as much snow on the mountain. We’ll just have to wait to see.
This season continues to get more and more interesting.

Autor : Kraig Becker

* source: – Is the Hillary Step Gone From Everest?

** see also: –

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The New York Times Takes A Look at Climbing K2 in Winter.

It’s not often that mountaineering gets good coverage by the mainstream media, let along the paper of record. But, this past weekend, The New York Times took an in-depth look at what it takes to climb K2, the second highest mountain on the planet, during the winter – something that has yet to be accomplished.

The story in The Times introduces readers to a team of Polish climbers who are preparing to take on “the world’s most lethal mountain” this coming winter. The story does a good job of not only providing readers with a sense of history for Polish winter climbing in the Himalaya, but also the sense of pride and accomplishment that has come along with the impressive feats that those climbers have accomplished in the past. For them, there is only one big challenge yet to be conquered during the coldest months of the year, and that’s K2.

Readers get a sense of what it is like to climb a major Himalayan peak during the winter months, when cold conditions and howling winds can leave alpinists stuck inside their tents for days on end, waiting for a proper weather window just to go out and acclimatize, let alone make a summit push. It is a harsh and unforgiving environment that has crushed the dreams of many climbing teams, and has left far too many men and women dead in its wake. Add that to the fact that K2 is already one of the most difficult and dangerous mountains on the planet, and you begin to understand why it is such a crazy endeavor.

The New York Times story is quite extensive, and an excellent read for those of us who already have a sense of what it takes to climb a big mountain in winter as well as those being introduced to the concept for the very first time. I’m sure more than a few readers were left wondering why anyone would want to do this at all, but if you read this blog with any kind of regularity, chances are you’ve already moved beyond that question.

Winter is still quite a few months off yet, so its hard to think about it too much at the moment. But, it will also be here before we know it, and the Polish team is busy preparing, plotting, and training to get ready. Once they get underway, you can bet we’ll be following their progress closely. Until then, you’ll just have to read the article to get ready for the challenge they face.

Autor : Kraig Becker

* source: – The New York Times Takes A Look at Climbing K2 in Winter

** see also: – Polish famous climbers – The golden decade of Polish Himalayan mountaineering.

 

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Himalaya Spring 2017: It’s Finally Go Time on Everest.

After years of planning, months of preparation and training, and weeks of acclimatizing and waiting, it’s now starting to look like it is time to climb on Everest. The teams on both the North and South Sides of the mountain have been patiently watching the weather forecasts for the past week or so, and conditions are starting to finally come around. But the weather windows look tight, so squads are setting off now to get themselves into position for the summit push to come.

If you’ve been following the season closely, and you thought to yourself that the weather seems odd this year, you’re not alone. In fact, Alan Arnette has written an article on that very subject, quoting meteorologist Michael Fagin of Everest Weather who has described conditions this year as the most difficult to forecast in the 14 years he’s been predicting weather in the Himalaya. He also indicated that the forecast models have often changed ever 12 hours, which is why it has been so difficult to nail down a good window to launch summit bids.

But, things are changing, and there does seem to be a two short periods of stability about to arrive. The first should take place on May 18-21 – essentially today through Sunday, and then again from May 23-25, which is the middle of next week. The teams on the mountain are now scrambling to take advantage of these calmer days ahead.

Amongst them is the IMG squad, which sent their first wave of climbers up yesterday. They’re expected to reach Camp 2 today, and if everything goes according to schedule, they should be ready to summit over the weekend. But, the team’s guides are keeping a close eye on conditions to determine the right time to climb. They also have two other waves of climbers waiting for their turn, with another one likely to set out today.

Joining IMG will be the Mountain Professionals who also set out yesterday, along with on the South Side, along with the 7 Summits Club and Summit Club on the North Side. Others are sure to join in on the fun too, while some are likely to hold off and wait for the second window to open early next week.
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Himalaya Spring 2017: First Summits of Lhotse, South African Climber Detained.

We’ll start the day with yet another update on the current climbing scene in the Himalaya, where things are now quickly coming to a head. On Everest, the teams are now eyeing a weekend summit push, but elsewhere there is plenty to report as well.

We’ll start on Lhotse, the fourth highest mountain on the planet and the closest neighbor to Everest. Yesterday, a team of Sherpa’s completed fixing ropes to the summit of the mountain, becoming the first people to stand on top of that peak in three years. According to The Himalayan Times, that group consisted of Tshering Pemba Sherpa, Temba Bhote, Phurba Wangdi Sherpa, and Jangbu Sherpa, along with a few others, were amongst those who installed the lines and made the push to the top. They’ve now cleared the way for others to follow, with about 100 climbers expected to make the attempt in the days ahead.
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Himalaya Spring 2017: More Summits on Everest, Dhualagiri, and Makalu.

With mid-May finally here, the pace of climbing has definitely started to pick up in the Himalaya. The season will start to grow short soon, and in just a few weeks it will close down altogether. With that in mind, teams are on the move all over the region, with more than a few now finding success on their respective mountains.

Yesterday we reported that the route to the top of Mt. Everest from the South Side had opened after the rope fixing team took advantage of a small weather window to finish installing the lines to the summit. We also knew that a few foreign climbers followed closely behind but just how many remained a bit of a mystery. Today, The Himalayan Times reports that at least 35 other climbers summited Everest in the wake of the rope fixing team, with some of the most prepared and eager mountaineers also taking advantage of the weather window. The group of summiteers was a mix of both foreign climbers and Sherpa guides. With the weather window now closing, they are all descending back to Base Camp today.

Most of the teams are now in Base Camp and eyeing the forecast, which calls for higher winds over the next few days. But, as we inch closer to the weekend, conditions are expected to improve and another weather window is expected to open. Look for a major push on both sides of Everest to begin on Wednesday or Thursday of this week, with climbers looking to top out over the weekend. We’re in the final stages of the season now, but there is a lot of work to be done before we’re through.
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