No-Summit Week on Dhaulagiri and Annapurna

Carlos Soria retreated from Camp 3 on Dhaulagiri today. Poor weather also dashed hopes for the time being on Annapurna.

Plenty of time remains for further summit attempts on both mountains, as long as the climbers don’t have to hurry to some other mountain. Soria, of course, has plans only for Dhaulagiri. But most of the climbers currently on Annapurna chose that peak as a “starter” before heading to the taller 8,000’ers.

Annapurna and Dhaulagiri

With several avalanches roaring down the always dangerous normal route on Annapurna in the last few days, careful decision-making is crucial. Yet patience may clash with the new business model of offering fast summits on several peaks in the same season.

Gelje Sherpa, who is on Annapurna with Adrianna Brownlee, shared this photo of “lower” Camp 2 in grey weather today.

 

This spring, outfitters planned to have Annapurna completely ready — ropes fixed, camps set — by mid-April. But when the summit push began this past weekend, the guides’ work was incomplete. Some climbers had already returned to Base Camp by Sunday, while others chose to wait in Camp 2 for the Sherpas to fix the route ahead of them. This second group includes the UK’s Adrianna Brownlee, Taiwan’s Grace Tseng, and Brazil’s Moeses Fiamoncini. They didn’t get any further up, though.

India’s Arjun Vajpa confirmed today from Camp 1 that everyone turned around because snow was falling heavily. They are now waiting for better weather. At least, Gelje Sherpa and Pasang Nurbu managed to fix the ropes to Camp 3 yesterday, across the most exposed sections of the route, reports Vajpai.

Arjun Vajpai of India, currently at Annapurna Base Camp. Photo: Arjun Vajpai

 

There’s also plenty of time on Dhaulagiri for further bids. The route is fixed from bottom to top. Currently, Kari Kobler’s team should be in or about to reach Base Camp, and Carlos Soria is surrounded by at least seven people.

The “taller” 8,000’ers

Every day, more climbers swarm into Everest’s huge Base Camp. It’s time for puja ceremonies, ice-climbing training on nearby seracs, and preparations for the first acclimatization round. This means crossing a Khumbu Icefall that, according to the Sherpas, looks “easier” this year.

Yesterday, however, was a day of mourning for those Sherpas who remember that tragic day in 2014, when a serac fell in the icefall, killing 16 Nepalis and injuring nine more.

Everest Base Camp under a full moon. Photo: Madison Mountaineering

 

Both fully guided and smaller, no-O2 teams are also moving on the lower sections of Makalu and Kangchenjunga. Peter Hamor’s group, aiming to climb Kangchenjunga and then possibly traverse to Yalung Kang, has just spent its first night in Camp 2. On Makalu, Adrian Ballinger and his Alpenglow team are in Advanced Base Camp.

Lhotse South Face

Trekking past Dingboche, young Vadim Druelle had his first glimpse of the huge South Face of Lhotse, which he will attempt to climb under the leadership of Hong Sung-Taek.

“[It] does not look very good,” he wrote from Chukhung about the face’s current state. “It’s very dry — little snow, lots of ice.”

The South Face of Lhotse from Dingboche yesterday. Photo: Pasang Rinzee Sherpa

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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