Autumn 2016 Wrap Up: Success on Manaslu and Cho Oyu, Difficulties on Other Peaks

Post monsoon climbing season wraps up in Himalayas with more than a few summits on popular peaks Manaslu and Cho Oyu. Contrarily, solitary teams on Shisha Pangma and Dhaulagiri turned back on summit-day due to bad weather. There were two small independent teams on Everest but excessive snow made the ascent impossible. Lastly, it appears that Korean team didn’t attempt Lhotse South Face as initially planned.

Kilian Jornet and Nobukazu Kuriki were on Everest Northside with distinctive goals this season. The Spanish mountain-runner was aiming to set a new speed record, without bottled oxygen. Kuriki wanted to climb the mountain - solo, no O2. However, excessive snow made the climbing conditions difficult and dangerous.

Kilian Jornet arrived in Kathmandu at the start of August. He acclimatized in Nepal and Tibet, before reaching Everest Northside BC. However, by mid-September, he concluded that Everest is not in a condition to be climbed this year. The Spaniard is hoping to return to the mountain next year.

Nobukazu Kuriki decided not to quit early. But continuous bad weather and avalanches made even the acclimatization process immensely challenging. He never really got going. The Japanese mountaineer, eventually, decided to launch summit push at the start of October. He spent a night at 6800m and planned to reach 7400m on Oct 7th, but bad conditions forced him to turn back. While Kuriki hasn’t announced the end of expedition, another attempt on the mountain seems unlikely.
Kuriki (the dot on extreme left at the middle of photo) on summit push; Source

Manaslu New Route
Alberto Zerain and Mariano Galvan attempted a new route on Manaslu Northside, via a spur on the left of Urubko/Samoilov's 2006 direct line. They set up C2 at around 6400m and deposited food/gear there for summit push in last week of September.

However, once at 6400m on summit-bid, they were unable to locate the camp. It was either buried under snow or swept away by an avalanche. Alberto Zerain believed that further climb would be dangerous and turned back to BC on 28th. Mariano Galvan continued alone. He spent four days on the mountain and was 300m below summit where a technical section forced him to retreat. “The technical difficulties were impossible to scale, at least for me.”

Later, both Alberto Zerain and Mariano Galvan climbed the normal route and summited on October 4th. Almost all commercial teams were done with summit attempts, by then.
Mariano Galvan; File Photo

No Broad Peak Attempt
Oscar Cadiach wanted to climb his last of 14 eight-thousanders, Broad Peak, this October. However, due to ongoing border tensions between Pakistan and India, he couldn’t get necessary approvals. To be precise, availability of liaison officer [army personnel] for the expedition wasn’t confirmed.

Dhaulagiri and Shisha Pangma
There was just one team on Dhaulagiri and Shisha Pangma each, this season. Both of them remained unsuccessful due to bad weather. Unfortunately, one Sherpa died in an avalanche on Shisha Pangma.

On Dhaulagiri, Altitude Junkies team fixed ropes and high camps and was ready for summit-push by the last week of September. They launched the summit-bid on Sept 28th, but bad weather before summit window had deposited a lot of snow on the mountain. The team encountered around 3 feet deep snow near C2 and henceforth decided to turn back.

RMI Shisha Pangma team found good conditions on Shisha Pangma and left Base Camp for the summit on Sept 27th. The Sherpa team was a day ahead of clients, when latter spent a couple of night in C1. On 30th, clients ascended to C2, while Sherpa headed up towards C3. Just below the camp, a Sherpa was caught in an avalanche and was killed. All members retreated to BC next day.
Cho Oyu teams on summit night; Source

Commercial Teams on Manaslu and Cho Oyu
It has been a highly successful season on Manaslu and Cho Oyu. More than 150 climbers topped out on Manaslu on September 29th and 30th. Similarly, dozens of climbers were successful on Cho Oyu as well.
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