Autumn 2014 Wrap Up

Post monsoon climbing season has been a mixed one with success and failures in Himalayas, this year. Cyclone Hudhud’s offshoots resulted in a major tragedy in Annapurna and Dhaulagiri regions. Several trekkers and climbers lost their lives due to blizzard and avalanches. More than hundred summits have been reported on Manaslu and Cho Oyu, whereas several new routes have been forged on lesser peaks.

Lhotse South Face

The Korean team on Lhotse South Face was forced to turn back from around 7700m - 7800m, during summit-bid at the start of November. The expedition led by Hong Sung Taek fixed the route and established higher camps in September and October. Their progress was slow and demanding because of severe weather and snowstorms.

The team left Base Camp for the summit on Nov 1st. However, on sixth day of climb they were at around 7700m - 7800m, when high wind and deteriorating health of Hong Sung Taek forced the climbers to retreat.



Nuptse South Face

Like Lhotse, the conditions on Nuptse were too hostile to launch a successful summit-bid. Canadian duo Jason Kruk and Ian Welsted spent four days on South Face. “We encountered conditions and difficulties we were unable to overcome and made the hard decision.” Jason commented about their decision to retreat.

Fatal Avalanches on Shishapangma and Dhaulagiri

Bad snow conditions on Shishapangma didn’t let any team reach the summit this season. In the last week of September, five climbers Andrea Zambaldi, Benedikt Böhm, Sebastian Haag, Martin Maier and Ueli Steck launched a speed ascent on the mountain. After battling difficult and dangerous conditions, the group was at around 7900m, when a large avalanche broke off, sweeping down Andrea Zambaldi, Sebastian Haag and Martin Maier. Maier was fortunate to miraculously survive the avalanche and make it back to C3. He shared his story of survival during an interview with German journalist Stefan Nestler, here.

Slovak team was making slow and steady progress on Dhaulagiri, prior to cyclone Hudhud’s arrival. The snowstorm during bad weather continued for several days and a massif avalanche hit the Base Camp on Oct 14th. Two climbers Jan Matlák and Vladimir Švancár and three members of BC staff Bhoj Kumar Rai, Dorje Sherpa and Gopal Rai were killed in the incident.

No Success on Makalu

British team on Makalu SE Ridge was able to reach C4, but considering overall length of climb and physical condition of climbers, the summit-bid was not launched. On normal route, the teams couldn’t go beyond C2 because of bad snow conditions.

Manaslu and Cho Oyu

Manaslu and Cho Oyu have been favourite eight thousanders for commercial expeditions during fall season and this year was no different. The season concluded smoothly on both peaks with summit count nearing hundred on each. On Manaslu, however, a Japanese climber Yoshimasa Sasaki suffered a fatal fall at around 7300m. His body was later recovered and sent to Japan.

First Ascents on Lower Peaks

Earlier this month, we reported about multiple first ascents and new routes in India. Another new route has been reported on central buttress of Northwest wall of Langshisha Ri (6427 m) in Nepal. Ukrainian climbers Fomin Mikhail (team leader), Polezhaiko Viacheslav and Balabanov Nikita reached the top on Oct 22nd. They climbed the 1600 vertical meter route in 6 days going up (NW wall) and 2 days on descent (via South Face), in alpine style. Further details of ascent can be found here and in this interview.

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