Summit day on Annapurna I. About 20 climbers from three commercial teams reached the summit of the tenth highest mountain on earth at 8,091 meters today, according to the Internet portal ExplorersWeb: about half Climbing Sherpas, the other half paying clients. In the latter group was also the Austrian Hans Wenzl, who thus scaled his tenth eight-thousander.
This is particularly remarkable for two reasons. First, Hans is not a professional mountaineer – nor is he a zillionaire: The 51-year-old earns his money as a foreman for an Austrian construction company, and takes time off for his expeditions. Wenzl lives in Metnitz, a town with 2,500 inhabitants in northern Carinthia, and has two grown-up sons with his wife Sonja.
On the other hand, he climbed his first nine eight-thousanders before Annapurna all without bottled oxygen. And I have no reason to believe that this time was any different.
Mingma Gyalje Sherpa is again in the lead. After leading the first commercial team to an eight-thousander this spring, on the 8167-meter-high Dhaulagiri, the head of the Nepalese expedition operator Imagine Nepal had himself flown by helicopter to Kangchenjunga in the east of the country. There, his Climbing Sherpas had already begun securing the normal route on the south side of the mountain.
Today, Mingma and Co. wanted to fix the ropes above Camp 4 (at about 7,550 meters). Planned summit day is Wednesday. The highest point is at 8,586 meters. This makes Kangchenjunga the third highest mountain on earth after Mount Everest and K2.
Probably no other climber on the eight-thousanders in Nepal this spring has as many people crossing their fingers as the Spanish senior Carlos Soria. And just as many are likely to be a bit disappointed again today: “After seeing the weather forecasts, Carlos Soria and Sito Carcavilla decided to descend to base camp and wait for a more favorable opportunity,” Carlos’ team let it be known via Twitter. Snowfall is expected for the next few days on Dhaulagiri in western Nepal.
The climber, now 83, his Spanish teammate Sito Carcavilla and their six-member Sherpa team had ascended to Camp 3 at around 7,400 meters. One stage was still missing to the summit at 8,167 meters.
The first success report from a commercial expedition this spring season on Nepal’s eight-thousanders is in. The operator Imagine Nepal let it be known that today 22 team members reached the 8,167-meter-high summit of Dhaulagiri in the west of the country: expedition leader Mingma Gyalje Sherpa, the head of the company and eleven Nepalese Climbing Sherpas, as well as ten clients from seven countries. It was not disclosed whether anyone climbed without bottled oxygen. Mingma, one of ten Nepali climbers who succeeded in the first winter ascent of K2 in 2021, had announced two days ago that the team’s summit push was underway.
Every year, the Icefall Doctors prepare the route for the commercial teams – with fixed ropes and ladders up to Camp 2 at around 6,400 meters. They also maintain the route until the end of the season in early June. For this service, the teams have to pay $600 per expedition member to the SPCC.
Ang Dorjee Sherpa is pleased. “Today 471 trekking tourists arrived in Namche, a new record this spring,” the 53-year-old owner of the “A.D. Friendship Lodge” in Namche Bazaar, the main village of the Everest region, wrote me yesterday, Tuesday. By comparison, last fall there were a peak of about 250 new arrivals per day.
Lodge owners like Ang Dorjee are thirsty for guests – two lean years in the wake of the corona pandemic lie behind the people of the Khumbu region, almost all of whom live from mountain tourism. According to Ang Dorjee, 33 planes and helicopters landed at the airfield in Lukla, the gateway to the Khumbu, on Tuesday. That almost sounds like normalcy again.
The only 1.58 meter “Little” was one of the greats. According to Pakistani media reports, the legendary Pakistani mountaineer Mohammad Karim, whom everyone only called “Little Karim” because of his height, died today at the age of 71 in a military hospital in the city of Rawalpindi. Karim was suffering from liver cancer, and the regional government of Gilgit-Baltistan had only recently declared that it would cover the costs of “Little Karim’s” treatment. As a result, he had been transported from his home in the mountain village of Hushe to Rawalpindi.