Spring 2017 Kick-off: Interesting Expeditions All Around

It’s time for another interesting climbing season in Himalayas. The number of new route and other exciting expeditions on 8000m peaks is relatively healthy this year. Quite a few climbers are nearing personal goals like 14x8000ers. We will formally kickoff Spring 2017 proceedings with an overview of major expeditions.

Everest/Lhotse Traverse
Ueli Steck is back in Khumbu valley to attempt Everest-Lhotse Traverse - a project that ended prematurely in 2013. This year, together with Tenji Sherpa, he will try to reach Everest summit via Hornbein Couloir, traverse the ridge via South Col to Lhotse summit and retreat down Lhotse face.

“I am very excited to go away again; to switch off my phone and not to read my emails. And that’s exactly what I will do. I want to live my experience, feel my cold fingers and fall dead tired into my sleeping bag after a long day.” Ueli says, it’s all about being there and inhaling the mountain experience.

Everest SW Face
Slovak Vladimir Strba and Zoltan Pal were on Everest Southwest Face (British route) last year. During summit attempt, at around 7200m, they were hit by an avalanche, and Zoltan had to be rescued. The duo had planned to return to the mountain this year. However, because of some unforeseen issues Zoltan Pal had to abandon the expedition at the last moment.

Vladimir Strba will, thus, be solo on SW Face. The Slovak climbers admits the potential danger and difficulties of less climbed route, and has considered alternate options. Nonetheless, he has eventually decided to go ahead with the plan.

Vladimir has been acclimatizing in Khumbu region since a while and is currently returning to Kathmandu to sort out permit related issues.

Everest Speed Record Attempt
Kilian Jornet has preponed his expedition to set a new speed record on Everest to spring, after Chinese government denied his request for a late summer permit. The Spanish mountain runner will be on North side.
Kuriki Again
Nobukazu Kuriki returns to Everest with signature no O2 attempt on North side, although, in spring season this time.

Everest No O2
Several climbers intend to climb Everest without supplemental oxygen - including Hungarian Dávid Klein and Szilárd Suhajda, the international team of Ferran Lattore, Yannick Graziani and Hans Wenzel, Snapchat duo Adrian Ballinger and Cory Richards, Peruvian Richard Hidalgo, Ralf Dujmovits and Horia Colibasanu, Justin Ionescu and Brit Niel Mark Ward.

If successful, it will be Ferran Lattore’s 14th eight-thousander without bottled oxygen. Ralf Dujmovits has already climbed all 8000m peak without O2 except Everest - where he reached the summit using supplemental oxygen. He has been trying to achieve the no O2 ascent since a while.

Min Bahadur’s attempt is another expedition to watch out for. The 85 year old Sherpa wants to regain the oldest Everest summiteer record from Japanese Yuichiro Miura.

Mountain Politicking
China’s influence on mountaineering extends beyond Tibetan territories this time, as Korean-Spanish Lhotse South Face expedition’ Chinese sponsor backs away following government instructions. The reason is speculated to be the ongoing political tensions between two neighbors.

Similarly, China has communicated the operators about limited post-monsoon expeditions to Tibetan eight-thousanders because of some “local events”. It’s said that Shisha Pangma and Everest will remain closed in fall, whereas very limited permits will be issued on Cho Oyu.

Cho Oyu New Route
A strong four man team is headed towards a new technical line on Cho Oyu North Face. The versatile team consists of Louis Rousseau, Adam Bielecki, Rick Allen and Felix Berg.

“The proposed route will start from the base of the north wall and will go directly up an untouched section in the center. In our opinion, the north face of Cho Oyu is an amazing objective. Four kilometers wide and more than 2000 meters high, the wall is steep and almost unexplored; it is really exceptional for an 8000m mountain,” wrote the team in press release.

Shisha Pangma South Face Again
David Gottler will return to Shisha Pangma South Face to climb the route that he and Ueli Steck attempted last spring. He is accompanied by Herve Barmasse, as Ueli will be on Everest/Lhotse. They underwent an extreme training session in Khumbu region earlier this year.

David and Herve will be accompanied by just a couple of kitchen runners, and they are perhaps the only team on Shisha Pangma South side.

Kangchenjunga New Route and More
Simone Moro and Tamara Lunger are all set for an interesting expedition this spring - most likely on Kangchenjunga. They will be releasing further details later today.

Meanwhile, there will be few expeditions on normal route as well - including Nepalese female trio (of K2 2014 fame), Indian climbers Arjun Vajpai and Atul Sharma, Sophie Lavaud, Mathew Du Puy and Khoo Swi Chio.

Going Strong on Dhaulagiri
Peter Hamor is just one summit away from 14x8000 without supplemental oxygen. He will try to finish off the quest on Dhaulagiri this season. The Slovak climber has spent a couple of weeks in Khumbu region; acclimatizing on Island Peak and climbing Pumori till 6400m. The team includes Michal Gabriž, Michal Sabovčík, Tomáš Petrík and Janci. They will reach Dhaulagiri BC next week.

Legendary Carlos Soria will also be on Dhaulagiri for his 13th eight-thousander. 78 years young Spaniard will be accompanied by his usual teammates Sito Carcavilla and Luis Miguel López. Shisha Pangma is the other missing summit from Carlos’ 14x8000er list.

Ecuadorian Santiago Quintero, Canadian Al Hancock, a team from Taiwan and multiple other climbers with Dreamers Destination are also heading to Dhaulagiri this season.

“Romeo-Juliet” on Annapurna
Italian couple Nives Meroi and Romano Benet have already reached Annapurna BC. If successful, it will be the 14th eight-thousander for both Nives and Romano.

Spaniard Alberto Zerain is also climbing Annapurna this year.

A four member Polish team led by Paweł Michalski is first to reach Makalu this season. They climbed to C1 (6400m) on April 4th. The team also intends to attempt Lhotse later this season. German mountain guide Thomas Lammle will also attempt Makalu/Lhotse double-header.

Phil Crampton leading Altitude Junkies team on Makalu estimates that there will be around 50 climbers and 25 Sherpa on the mountain this season.
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