The alpinistic music is currently not playing on the eight-thousanders, but on lower peaks. This is also demonstrated by the three groundbreaking climbs that will be awarded Piolets d’Or this year. The “Oscars of Mountaineering” will be handed out on 15 November in Briancon in the French Alps.
One Golden Ice Axe each will be given to three teams that have opened extremely challenging routes on six-thousanders. Already on the longlist, the pre-selection of the 53 “significant ascents” of the year 2022, neither tours on eight-thousanders nor on seven-thousanders had appeared, but instead 16 new routes on six-thousanders. The last Piolet d’Or for an eight-thousander ascent had been awarded in 2018 to the two Czechs Marek Holecek and Zdenek Hak, after they had climbed for the first time through the complete Southwest Face of Gasherbrum I in the Karakoram.
It’s projects like this that show that alpinism is far from dead – even if the crisis of meaning in eight-thousander mountaineering sometimes makes it seem that way. The U.S. Americans Alan Rousseau, Jackson Marvell and Matt Cornell opened a new route on the 7,710-meter-high Jannu in eastern Nepal through the extremely steep, demanding and therefore rarely climbed North Face. It was the first time the 2,700-meter-high so-called “Wall of Shadows” had been mastered in alpine style – that is, without bottled oxygen, fixed high camps, fixed ropes or Sherpa support.
“So for three years I’ve been trying to climb the North Face of Jannu in alpine style with Matt and Jackson,” Alan Rousseau writes on Instagram. “We finally got it done! In a 7 day push BC (Base Camp) to BC.” The three climbers christened their route “Round trip ticket”.
Miracles – like last spring’s survival of Indian climber Anurag Maloo in a crevasse on Annapurna – are unfortunately the exception on eight-thousanders. On the 8167-meter Dhaulagiri, not far away, Russian climber Nadya Oleneva died in a fall yesterday. This is reported by the Russian mountaineering portal mountain.ru.
According to this information, Oleneva had set out on Friday with her Russian compatriots Roman Abildaev and Rasim Kashapov for a summit attempt without bottled oxygen. Yesterday, they climbed separately and rope-free from Camp 1 at 6,050 meters towards Camp 2 at 6,880 meters. After Roman and Rasim arrived there shortly after each other, they wondered where Elena was, who had been only a short time behind them. Rasim searched for her in vain, but spotted one of her sticks and a slide down track into the depths. The two immediately requested a helicopter rescue and descended to base camp. The helicopter could not take off until today, Sunday. Oleneva’s lifeless body was discovered at an altitude of about 6,100 meters.
“We saw last year on Manaslu and this year on Shishapangma that even the easiest mountain can become the most difficult one, depending on the weather condition or different circumstances,” Anurag Maloo tells me. “Mountaineering is not a race, it’s your own individual journey with the mountains you go to. You shouldn’t compare yourself to others, whether it’s the 14 eight-thousanders or the Seven Summits or whatever. People shouldn’t feel that kind of a competitive mindset.”
The Chinese-Tibetan authorities have pulled the brakes. After two avalanches hit the summit zone of the eight-thousander Shishapangma on Saturday, they declared that “all climbing activities have been suspended in view of the unstable snow conditions on the mountain.” Apparently, this applies not only currently, but also for the rest of the fall season.
On Saturday, as reported, the US American Anna Gutu and her Nepalese mountain guide Mingmar Sherpa had died in a first avalanche. Their bodies had been found – unlike those of Gina Marie Rzucidlo, also from the U.S., and her Nepalese mountain guide Tenjen “Lama” Sherpa, who were swept away by another avalanche about two hours later. The search for the two missing people was suspended.
Naila Kiani and Sirbaz Khan, both from Pakistan, who were also on the mountain and eyewitnessed the disaster, spoke of four dead. They abandoned their summit attempt and descended back to Camp 1. They were “very shaken and distressed” after witnessing how the avalanche swept their friends to their deaths, they let it be known via Instagram. Apparently, two avalanches had gone off at an altitude of around 7,800 meters. The four climbers ascending on the normal route had been caught by the snow masses.
The construction of the school in the small mountain village of Rama in the far west of Nepal is progressing. According to Shyam Pandit, the program coordinator of the German aid organization Nepalhilfe Beilngries in the Himalayan state, the second floor slab of the second school building has now been concreted. You made it possible – through your donation for “School up – far west”. I had started the project in summer 2022. It is also supported by the Austrian top mountaineer Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner.
At the moment, there is relatively stable and largely dry fall weather in Humla District, where the village of Rama is located. A good time to build. In winter, if at all, only interior work will probably be possible. On the one hand, because of the precipitation and the sometimes bitter cold – for example, in winter 2021/2022, the schools were closed for two months because of the extremely low temperatures. On the other hand, because it will be no longer possible to transport materials over the makeshift pistes in snow and ice.
The weather gods remain in favor of the commercial expedition teams this fall. After numerous summit successes on Manaslu and some on Dhaulagiri – both eight-thousanders are located in western Nepal – the first ascents of the season of Cho Oyu are also reported from Tibet today. Operator Imagine Nepal announced that eight team members led by company head Mingma Gyalje Sherpa reached thesummit of the sixth-highest mountain on earth at 8,188 meters, “just five days after crossing the Tibet border, as they were well acclimatized from their Manaslu expedition”