Everest 2013 | Gender Equality Expedition Treks to BC, Other Prominent Endeavors

After the dramatic winter season in Pakistan, mountaineering action has shifted to Nepal as hundreds of mountaineers would attempt Mount Everest and other Himalayan peaks. Climbers would try reaching summit before the start of monsoon season that is June. (Fact: Everest has never been climbed between 15th June - 15th August). Two Pakistani siblings are attempting Mount Everest this year. Samina Khayyal Baig was the first Pakistani lady to scale a 6000er peak and now she is all set to scale the biggest mountain on earth. It would be the first instance of a Pakistani female attempting an 8000er. Her elder brother Mirza Ali would try to reach summit without using supplemental oxygen. Apart from hundreds of climbers on standard South Col and North Col routes, resilient Denis Urubko (ex-Kazakh, who is a Russian national now) and Alexey Bolotov would try to climb SW face of Everest via new route in pure alpine style. Similarly Simone Moro and Ueli Steck are set to do something ‘different’ on Everest this season.

Pakistani Expedition
After the usual pre-expedition hustle and bustle, Samina Baig and Mirza Ali flew to Kathmandu on 1st April. Before departure they got some media exposure including live show on a local radio channel and a press conference at Islamabad Press Club. In Kathmandu, they were received by expedition leader Dawa Sherpa. They were excited to know that twin sisters from India (similar age as Samina's) would also be climbing with their group. It would surely be a good companionship. After enjoying a day in Nepalese capital, they flew to Lukla next morning. From there, started the trek through Khumbu Valley. Yesterday Mirza Ali messaged that he has safely reached Namche. Within a week, they should be at the foot of Everest, the south side BC.

Kathmandu Airport; Twitter Photo by Mirza Ali
Gender Equality Everest Expedition is fourth Everest attempt by Pakistani nationals. Thus far, two Pakistanis have stood atop Everest, both using bottled oxygen at some point. Samina Baig would be the first Pakistani to attempt an eight thousander peak. Mirza Ali intends to climb without supplemental oxygen (Samina would use bottled oxygen at high altitude). Their expedition is funded by donations from New Zealand, sponsorship of Young Gasshopers and is facilitated by Seven Summit Treks. Mirza Ali has summited several 6000er peaks in Pakistan, attempted Spantik "Golden Peak" twice and Manaslu (8163m) last autumn. Samina Khayyal Baig summited Chashkin Sar (ca. 6000m) in 2010 and has attempted several 6000er peaks since then. She was also part of Spantik Gender Equality Expedition 2012.

Some Prominent Endeavors
Like every spring, Mt Everest has attracted hundreds of climbers this year either. Majority of them would be on standard routes i-e South Col and North Col. One prominent climber on South Col this season would be 80 year old Japanese Yuichiro Miura. Miura is a seasoned climber and a skier, who has skied down the highest mountains on each of the seven continents. His father Keizo Miura skied down Mont Blanc at an amazing age of 99. But achieving Everest summit at an age of 80 (oldest person to do so) isn't his ultimate dream. "Maybe, when I become 85 years old, and if I stay alive, I want to climb and ski down Cho Oyu," Miura said. "It is my next dream."

But the strongest climbers are all set to do difficult and innovative things on the mountain, this year. Russians Denis Urubko and Alexey Bolotov would try to climb SW face of Everest via new route in pure alpine style. Which means they wouldn't make any acclimatization trips on the mountain or establish any camp. Once found an adequate weather window, duo would go from BC to summit (probably, they wouldn't be carrying a sat phone, either). To do so, they have to be well acclimatized before the push. That's why they arrived in Nepal very early and are currently busy in acclimatization on lower peaks.
Unfortunately, East Face, New Route alpine style attempt by Glab Sokolov & Alexey Kirikov has been delayed till next year due to lack of funds.

Everest SW Face.  Everest SW wall
Proposed SW Center route of Denis & Alexey; Source

The winter partner of Denis Urubko, Simone Moro has teamed up with Swiss tactician Ueli Steck to do something 'different' this year. Earlier there were suppositions that they might be attempting a new route but a recent interview hints towards innovative approach on some established route. The details would available once they are actually on the mountain. Ueli Steck was supposed to reach Kathmandu yesterday, while Simone Moro is already in Nepal.

For detailed coverage of Everest 2013, you can follow Alan Arnette.
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