Marc Batard, 70, Returns to Attempt His Alternate Route Up Everest

Tomorrow, Marc Batard leaves Kathmandu on a project that he hopes will bookend his expedition career. Thirty-four years ago, Batard entered Everest history by making the first climb of Everest in less than a day, on his own and without oxygen. Now, he wants to repeat the climb, again without oxygen, to celebrate his 70th birthday.

Marc Batard in Kathmandu earlier this week. Photo: Marc Batard

 

He plans to reach Camp 2 via a new route that he scouted last year, which avoids the Khumbu Icefall. He hopes that it may become a safer option for future expeditions.

The project began in 2020, over 25 years after he suddenly retired from high-altitude mountaineering in the prime of his career at age 43. In addition to Everest, Batard had climbed Dhaulagiri in winter, sped up Makalu’s West Pillar in 18 hours, and Cho Oyu in 19 hours. No wonder he became known as The Sprinter.

Marc Batard and Pasang Nuru Sherpa, together again for a new route and a no-O2 Everest ascent. Photo: Marc Batard

Two generations

For his comeback, Batard has put together a bi-generational group that includes his long-time partner Pasang Nuru, and both men’s sons, Alan Batard and Nuru’s son Tenji.

“In addition, three French friends will join us around April 26,” Batard told ExplorersWeb before leaving.

Batard father and son, at lunch today in Kathmandu. Alan (left) and Marc. Photo: Marc Batard

 

When the team reaches the head of the Khumbu on April 19-20, they will not pitch their tents in Everest Base Camp. Instead, they will settle in Gorak Shep, a more convenient spot from which to start their proposed new route up the flank of Nuptse to Camp 2.

However, Batard recently ran into some unexpected bureaucracy.

Permit for Nuptse

“We were forced to obtain a permit and a liaison officer for Nuptse,” he said.

He has stuck to the rules but is working his contacts to get a free Everest permit. “I have written to the tourism and finance ministers,” he said. “I also hope that the French ambassador will be able to mediate.”

Given that he now has a permit for Nuptse, like it or not, he will climb up to its main summit at 7,732m to acclimatize.

Batard’s proposed route from gettotext.com/DR

 

In fact, Nuptse is a serious climb with sustained steepness. It is rarely climbed — only 6 successful expeditions out of 56 attempts, according to The Himalayan Database. Only 20 individual climbers have summited.

Yet each spring, permit lists show many Nuptse applicants. The reason is that a permit for Nuptse, which costs far less than an Everest permit, allows climbers who want just a taste of Everest to go affordably to Camp 2. Nuptse, Everest, and Lhotse all share that same camp. Often, relatives and friends accompanying a summit climber go to that point.

Via Ferrata-like bars

“Fixing” Batard’s new route goes well beyond anchoring ropes.

“We are going to reinforce the equipment that we installed last year,” Batard explained.  “We will equip [the route] with metal bars…to facilitate vertical sections for future customers.”

Last year, the exploratory climbing team reached an unnamed summit at 5,880m. This year, the team will have to open the route further up to a snow ridge, and then down to the Khumbu Glacier and Camp 2.

“To reach the Western Cwm [below C2], we will fix ropes,” Batard said. “From what we have seen, the route is not exposed to falling seracs. But we will have all the details by the end of April.”

A member of Batard’s team last fall on the lower part of the planned new route. Photo: Jean-Marc Demoz

Senior journalist, published author and communication consultant. Specialized on high-altitude mountaineering, with an interest for everything around the mountains: from economics to geopolitics. After five years exploring distant professional ranges, I returned to ExWeb BC in 2018. Feeling right at home since then!


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damiengildea
Editor
20 days ago

Regarding Nuptse, it’s interesting that, as you accurately write here, only 20 or people have actually stood on the summit – yet several well-known climbers have claimed to have summited Nuptse as part of their ‘Triple Crown’ or ‘Everest Trilogy’.

In each case they have stopped well short of the summit – further/lower than climbers had been stopping short of Manaslu’s summit – yet still they make these false claims.

fred west
fred west
16 days ago

Very interesting story developing here

antonio gomes
antonio gomes
16 days ago

the new route will bring a safer but more dificult to achieve and that is good for alpinism.Merci beaucoup Mr Marc pour donner à l’everest une option plus securitaire malgré votre age.