Winter Climbs 2017: Messner Visits Txikon in Base Camp on Everest.

Autor : Kraig Becker

The winter climbing season continues unabated in the Himalaya and elsewhere. The days are now ticking away rapidly, and with just two weeks to go in the season, the climbers on Everest are beginning to eye the finish line with the hopes of making one last summit bid before spring actually arrives. Meanwhile, in Alaska, another expedition is about to truly get underway.

Alex Txikon and his team have been on Everest since early January now, and have had all attempts to summit the mountain turned back due to bad weather. The team has seen its share of bad luck as well, with a couple of members being sent home after suffering injuries. In fact, the entire squad was recalled to Kathmandu a few weeks back, but after spending eight days in the Nepali capital, they returned to Base Camp last week to begin preparing for another summit push once again. They spent most of that time rebuilding the route through the Khumbu Icefall, but did manage to climb up to Camp 1 before going back down to BC.

It has been a very long and difficult season to say the least, and Alex and company are probably more than ready to wrap up this challenge and head home. If they have been feeling dejected in any way, it hasn’t come through in their dispatches however, and the Spaniard has always maintained an optimistic demeanor, even when things looked like they were at their worst. Still, today he received a major shot to his morale when legendary alpinist Reinhold Messner paid them a visit in Base Camp. Just judging from his dispatch it is clear how excited Alex was to meet his idol, and it may just be the shot in the arm he needed to finally get him up the mountain. Continue reading

Himalaya Spring 2017: Bill Burke Heading Back to his Namesake Mountain.

Autor : Kraig Becker

Over the past couple of climbing seasons in the Himalaya, one of the mountains that we’ve watched closely has been Burke-Khang, an unclimbed 6942 meter (22,775 ft) peak located in the  Solukhumbu region of Nepal not far from Mt. Everest and Cho Oyu. The mountain is named after American climber Bill Burke, who has spent the past couple of years trying to complete the first ascent of the peak that bears his name. Those efforts have been stymied by bad weather, and in some cases bad luck, so far but, and after not being able to summit last year, it looked like it might be awhile before anyone would try again. But, it turns out that a new expedition is in the works, and Bill will once again be taking a crack at the mountain.

In a recent blog post on his website, Bill wrote “It’s a Go!” regarding a new expedition to take place this spring. Apparently, the team of Sherpas that he works with on this climb have made a reconnaissance flight over Burke-Khang and have spotted a route that will take the team up the mountain more safely. Last year’s attempt was blocked by a dangerous icefall, but in the months since they were last there, the seracs that made up the icefall have collapsed, clearing the way forward.

Bill says that there are still a few crevasses to traverse, but the snow is reportedly in good condition and the route up is much safer and more straightforward. There are a few sections of blue ice to climb, and the headwall on the way to the summit is described as “steep,” but everyone is feeling much better about their chances heading into the 2017 season.

Burke left for Kathmandu on March 1 and should now be in Nepal and making plans for the start of the expedition. Hopefully, after two years of being denied the chance, he’ll finally stand on top of his namesake mountain at long last.

We’ll be following Bill’s progress and adding a number of other expeditions to our line-up in the days ahead. The start of the season isn’t as far off as it would seem at this point and things will start to get very interesting in just a few weeks time. Stay tuned.

* source: – Himalaya Spring 2017: Bill Burke Heading Back to his Namesake Mountain

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Winter Climbs 2017: Icefall Route Restored on Everest.

Autor : Kraig Becker

Alex Txikon and his team of Sherpas continue to make progress on Everest as they attempt one more shot at the summit. The squad arrived back on the mountain earlier in the week, and have been working on restoring the route through the Khumbu Icefall ever since. Now, with that job done, they are turning their attention upward with the hope of making a final push to the top soon.

In all, it took three days to completely rebuild the path through the icefall. According to reports, more than 60% of the route was destroyed while Txikon and his crew were back in Kathmandu for eight days. Bad weather and shifting ice took its toll on the path, which is mostly made up of ropes and long aluminum ladders that are used to cross open crevasses.

With the icefall now tamed once again, the team is planning their next move. Yesterday was a rest day, but today they intend to get back on the move. They’ll climb straight up to Camp 2 and 6400 meters (20,997 ft). Since the group should be fully acclimatized at this point, this could indicate that they are prepared to make a summit bid now, although it could simply be a recon mission to check the status of the camps prior to resting for a few days. That said, time is now of the essence. With just three weeks left in the winter season, and their endurance starting to be tested, we’re closing in on a “now or never” situation. And of course, as always, it is the weather that will ultimately decide when they can have a go at the top again.

To get an idea of what it is like to work in the Khumbu Icefall, check out the video below. We’ll have more updates as we learn more about Alex’s plans moving forward.

* source: – Winter Climbs 2017: Icefall Route Restored on Everest

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Everest 2017: Looking Back Before We Look Forward.

Autor : Kraig Becker

The 2017 spring climbing season on Everest is about a month from getting underway at this point. The first teams will begin arriving in Kathmandu around the end of March, with more streaming into Nepal – and eventually Tibet – in the early days of April. For most, it will be a two-month long adventure, during which they will be attempting to reach the summit of the highest mountain on the planet. Right now, those climbers are putting the final touches on their preparation, organizing their gear, and starting to look ahead to the challenges to come. But, before we also look ahead to the season that is now fast approaching, it might be appropriate to first look back at seasons past.

Our friend Alan Arnette has been covering Everest for 15 years, and is now gearing up for the 2017 season as well. Over the past decade and a half, he has offered some of the best insights and commentary on the evolving climbing scene, which has undergone a lot of change since he penned his first blog. To start his coverage this year, Alan has written an excellent post in which he looks back at each of the seasons from 2010 through 2016.

If you follow Everest closely, you probably already know that some of those years were amongst the most unusual and tumultuous ever. For instance, 2013 was when the now infamous brawl took place on the Lhotse Face between a group of Sherpas and a team of prominent European climbers. At the time, that incident shocked the mountaineering community and sparked debates about who was wrong and who was right. The following two seasons, 2014 and 2015, were marred by tragedy with significant loss of life both years. Those seasons also ended abruptly, with climbers and Sherpas leaving the mountain.

To wrap up this blog post and set the scene for the season ahead, Alan has also posted his thoughts on what he thinks 2017 will be like. He predicts a record number of summits, but also expects disorganization on both the North and South Sides of the mountain. There will be more new operators guiding clients on Everest this year, many of whom will be inexperienced. Additionally, more climbers are also flocking to the Himalaya as prices for climbing continue to drop. That inexperience could show through as well.

The article, which you can read in full here, is a good introduction to the current climate on Everest. It also sets the stage nicely for what is to come. In a few short weeks, I’ll begin my regular Everest coverage as well, and as usual it promises to be another interesting year.

* source: –Everest 2017: Looking Back Before We Look Forward

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Will the Everest 2017 Season Be One for the Record Books?

Autor : Kraig Becker

The start of the 2017 spring climbing season on Everest is still a couple of months off, but already there are climbers, guides, and Everest junkies all over the world who are gearing up for its start. Amongst them is mountaineer/blogger Alan Arnette, who always follows the climbing scene on the Big Hill closely and provides excellent insights as to what to expect and thoughts on events as they are developing. With a new season on the horizon, Alan is currently looking ahead and says that we can expect big things this year.

In an article posted to his blog yesterday, Alan says that 2017 is looking like a year for the record books. Two months before the first climbers start to arrive in Kathmandu, he is already predicting a record number of summits and many new climbers in Base Camp. This is in part because of the low cost operators who have begun taking over the mountain. This has allowed an influx of climbers from India and China in particular, and since those operators don’t mind dealing with large groups of clients. In some cases, more than 100 at a time.

But beyond that, there are a number of stories to watch this year that should prove of interest. For instance, Alan notes (as we have here at The Adventure Blog) that Ueli Steck is planning to return to attempt an Everest-Lhotse Traverse. He also mentions the Indian survey team that will be measuring the current height of Everest to see if the 2015 earthquake has had an impact on that number. And as if that wasn’t enough, Alan also notes that Nepali Min Bahadur Sherchan will be on the mountain in an attempt to set a new record for the oldest person to summit. At the age of 86, Min Bahadur says he is still in good shape and ready to go.

Of course, this is probably just the tip of the iceberg in terms of storylines and drama that we’ll see on Everest this spring. As always, it will be a never ending source of inspiration and motivation, and probably a bit of controversy along the way too. It wouldn’t be Everest otherwise. Stay tuned for regular reports throughout the spring as events unfold.

* source: – Will the Everest 2017 Season Be One for the Record Books?

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Forbes Interviews 21-Time Everest Summiteer Apa Sherpa.

Autor : Kraig Becker

Who do you talk to if you want to know about climbing Everest? Why, Apa Sherpa of course. After all, he is the man that has stood on top of that mountain 21 times, tying him with Phurba Tashi for the most successful summits of the highest peak on the planet. Recently, Forbes magazine caught up with the now retired Apa and conducted an interview with him, getting some very interesting insights along the way.

In the interview, Apa talks about his first ascent of Everest, how he missed out on the infamous 1996 season, and why he made his last ascent in 2011, well before the disasters of 2014 and 2015. He also touches on what it is like to climb the mountain, providing advice for anyone who is considering doing it themselves. He even shares his experiences with meeting Sir Edmund Hillary, the legendary climber from New Zealand who – along with Tenzing Norgay – was the first to summit the Everest back in 1953.

Apa also talks about the experience of passing through the Khumbu Icefall, widely held as the most dangerous part of the climb from the Nepali side of the mountain. He estimates that he made that trek more than a thousand times, braving the shifting ice there far too often.

In another very interesting story, he talks about how he summited the mountain in 2008 in just 9 days. That was the year that the Chinese closed down the mountain until after their team took the Olympic torch to the top. So, rather than wait in BC, Apa stayed at his home, which is located near by. Then, after the torch circus was over, he reported to Base Camp and was on top of Everest a few days later.

This is a brief, but very interesting, interview that fans of Apa or climbing on Everest won’t want to miss. Read the entire thing here.

And as always, thanks to my friend George for sharing this with me.

* source: – Forbes Interviews 21-Time Everest Summiteer Apa Sherpa

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Winter Climbs 2017: Txikon Back in Base Camp, Ready for Summit Attempt.

Autor :  Kraig Becker

At the end of last week I wrote that Spanish climber Alex Txikon had set out from Everest Base Camp to take advantage of a brief weather window that had opened on the mountain. At the time, there was some speculation that he might be making an attempt on the summit, although I suspected it would be his final acclimatization rotation instead. Now, after a very busy couple of days on the mountain, we know two things: The weather window has closed and Alex is ready to make history once again this winter.

Txikon and his band of Sherpa climbing partners left BC last Thursday to make a push up the Lhotse Face. The team made solid time as they enjoyed good weather on their way up the mountain, first staying in Camp 2 for the night, before proceeding up to C3 the following day. Ultimately, they would establish Camp 4 at 7950 meters (26,082 ft) on Saturday, where they would deposit gear that will eventually be needed for the coming summit push. Once they dropped off the equipment, they immediately turned around and descended back down the mountain, with the Sherpas remaining in C2 while Alex himself continued back to Base Camp.
Now, all the members of the team have safely reached BC, where they are awaiting a storm that is expected to arrive early this week. That storm will bring high winds, lots of snow, and very cold conditions. But, it isn’t expected to be a large weather pattern, and the forecast says it will move on later in the week. That means that another weather window could open within a few days, giving the team a chance to go for the summit at long last.
Alex says that he is now full acclimatized but he needs rest before launching his summit bid. He’ll get time to regather his strength while the weather is bad. Once the storm passes and he’s had a few days to recuperate, the final push will begin. The Spaniard says that he is now ready to go and the stage has been set. All he needs is a stretch of good weather conditions and he will have a go at the summit.
As if climbing Everest in the winter isn’t challenging enough, Alex is also doing so without the use of bottled oxygen, something that has only been accomplished once in the past. You may recall that the Spanish climber is use to making history during the winter, as last year he was part of the squad that put up the first ascent of Nanga Parbat during that season as well.
For now, just like Alex and his teammates, we have to sit and wait. But the next time he leaves BC, it should be for an attempt on the summit. I’ll let you know when that happens and will have regular updates on his progress in the days ahead.

* source: – Winter Climbs 2017: Txikon Back in Base Camp, Ready for Summit Attempt
** see also – Winter Climbs 2017: Txikon Leaves Everest BC, Possible Summit Bid This Weekend.

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