Aconcagua season cancelled due to corona pandemic

Aconcagua

The 6,962-meter-high Aconcagua is not allowed to be climbed for the time being. Due to the corona pandemic, the authorities of the Argentinean province of Mendoza canceled the climbing season on the highest mountain in South America, which normally lasts from mid-November to the end of February. The Aconcagua National Park is only open to local trekkers, overnight stays are not allowed.

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Summit success reported from Manaslu

Manaslu, the eighth highest mountain in the world

The first summit success of the year on an eight-thousander in Nepal is perfect. The Nepalese expedition operator Seven Summit Treks let it be known via Facebook that the team of the Royal Guard from Bahrain reached the 8,163-meter-high summit of Manaslu this morning at 6:10 a.m. local time.  Media reports citing the Ministry of Tourism in Kathmandu said that three Nepalese mountain guides had been on the summit with 14 climbers from the Bahrain team.

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Priti and Jeff Wright: On two of three K6 peaks

K 6 – West, Central and Main Summit (in clouds), from r. to l.

One usually imagines vagabonds something different than a software developer and an aeronautical engineer from the USA. Priti and Jeff Wright, a climbing couple in their early 30s from Seattle, call themselves “Alpine Vagabonds“. They have now realized a real coup in the Karakoram in Pakistan.

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Manaslu expedition so far according to plan

Manaslu Base Camp for climbers from Bahrain
Manaslu Base Camp for the mountaineers from Bahrain

Everything is arranged on the eight-thousander Manaslu for the mountaineers from Bahrain. The base camp is ready for occupancy – and the Sherpa team of the Nepalese operator Seven Summit Treks (SST) has already prepared most of the way up the mountain. According to SST expedition manager Chhang Dawa Sherpa, the route to Camp 3 at 6800 meters is prepared. The mountaineers from Bahrain have acclimatized on Lobuche East not far from Mount Everest. According to SST, they reached the summit of the six-thousander last Saturday. As reported, the 8,163-meter-high Manaslu, the eighth-highest mountain in the world, located in Nepal, will be only the overture for the mountaineers of the Royal Guard of Bahrain – for Everest next spring.

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Chinese summit success on Cho Oyu

Tibetan side of Cho Oyu

The first eight-thousander summit success of the fall season is reported from Tibet. Twelve clients and eleven climbers working for the operator Tibet Himalayan Expeditions reached the summit of Cho Oyu today, confirms Mingma Sherpa. The head of the Nepalese operator Climbalaya has good contacts to China. The Chinese expedition team had set off for Cho Oyu on 14 September.

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Nepal announces opening from mid-October

Everest (l.) and Lhotse

From 17 October, foreign mountaineers and trekking tourists are to be allowed to enter Nepal again. This was announced by the government in Kathmandu. Those entering must present a negative corona test, which must not be older than 72 hours. After arrival in Kathmandu a quarantine of at least one week in the hotel is mandatory. Because of the corona pandemic, foreigners are currently not allowed to enter Nepal – unless they are diplomats or work for UN aid organizations.

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Manaslu expedition: When the prince from Bahrain knocks in Nepal

The 8163-meter-high Manaslu in Nepal

All mountaineers are the equal, but some mountaineers are more equal than others – one could say freely after George Orwell’s novel “Animal Farm”. Actually, the Nepalese government had declared that, due to the recent sharp increase in corona infections, only Nepalese returnees, diplomats and employees of UN aid organizations would be allowed to fly to the country from 1 September . There was no mention of foreign tourists – and these usually include mountaineers. This fall’s climbing in the Himalayas seemed to be over before it began.

However, this week  a government spokesperson in Kathmandu suddenly declared that an 18-member expedition from Bahrain had received a permit for the eight-thousander Manaslu and – for the purpose of acclimatization – for the six-thousander Lobuche East near Mount Everest. The team of the Royal Guard of Bahrain will arrive in Kathmandu in mid-September on a charter flight, enter a one-week quarantine and then head for the mountains, it said.

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The (almost) forgotten Chamlang expedition

The routes of Halecek/Hak (read) and Eberle/Köhler (green) on Chamlang

Marek Holecek and Zdenek Hak are a strong climbing team. After the two Czechs had already received the Piolet d’Or in 2018 for their new route through the Southwest Face of the eight-thousander Gasherbrum I in Pakistan, they will again be awarded the “Oscar of climbers” on 19 September at the mountain festival in Ladek-Zdroj in Poland: for their new route via the Northwest Face of the 7,321-meter-high Chamlang in Nepal, which they climbed in Alpine style in spring 2019. Afterwards Marek and Zdenek traversed the summit and descended via the route of the Japanese first ascenders. A Piolet-d’Or-worthy performance, without question.

But Holecek’s statement on his sponsor’s website that it was “the first ascent of the 2,000 m high grueling Northwest Face climbing Alpine style” is only correct if “complete” is added before the word “ascent”. Because already 30 years ago two German mountaineers climbed the Northwest Face – at least up to 6,600 meters, in order to ascend from there via the West Face to the summit. They were also climbing in Alpine style.

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Felix Berg and Co.: Two first ascents in three days

Felix Berg in northern Pakistan

It’s running smoothly for the team of the expedition operator Summit Climb in the remote Shimshal Valley in northern Pakistan. Within three days, expedition leader Felix Berg, the well-known Pakistani mountaineer Mirza Ali Baig and their German clients succeeded in another first ascent. “This second mountain explored by our team is 6,105 meters high and today’s summit action was longer and technically more demanding,” Summit Climb announced yesterday, Saturday, via Instagram. On Wednesday, the five-member team had already first climbed a yet unnamed 5,770-meter-high mountain.

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Czechs want to scale the still unclimbed 7000er Muchu Chhish in Pakistan

Muchu Chhish

Three Czechs want to remove a white spot on the map of the world’s highest mountains. Pavel Korinek, Pavel Bem and Jiri Janak arrived in Pakistan to first climb the seven-thousander Muchu Chhish. “We are happy to be here, after all the troubles caused by the COVID pandemic around the globe,” Bem said after arriving in Islamabad (see the video below): “We hope we have a good luck, Inshallah!”The three climbers now want to acclimatize first in the north of the country. Up to two summit attempts in Alpine style are then planned for late August, early September.

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Felix Berg and Co.: First foreign Karakoram expedition in corona times

Felix Berg in the Hunza Valley in northern Pakistan

“I have a less queasy feeling than when I book a seven-day hut tour in the Alps, knowing that I will meet different people every day,” Felix Berg, who I reach by phone in the small town of Karimabad in the Hunza Valley in northern Pakistan, tells me.  The 39-year-old German professional mountaineer, working for the operator Summit Climb, leads the first foreign expedition team to Pakistan since the outbreak of the corona pandemic. The governments of the European Union continue to warn “against unnecessary tourist trips to Pakistan”. Berg considers this to be exaggerated and points out that Pakistan is no longer on the list of countries with an increased risk of infection in the non-EU country Switzerland.

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New route on Cho Oyu from Nepal?

The Nepalese south side of Cho Oyu

Corona necessity is the mother of invention. “These days, many climbers are free, so we can use good and experienced climbers to find the route,” Maya Sherpa writes to me. The 42-year-old mountaineer means a new route on the Nepalese south side of the eight-thousander Cho Oyu. One that is suitable not only for top climbers but also for commercial expeditions. Maya Sherpa has already scaled five eight-thousanders: Mount Everest (a total of three times, both from Tibet and Nepal), K2, Kangchenjunga, Manaslu – and Cho Oyu, but not via the Nepalese but the Tibetan side of the mountain.

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Will corona pandemic also stop Karakoram climbing season?

K2 in Pakistan

The Himalayan mountains in Nepal and Tibet are closed to foreign mountaineers this spring due to the corona pandemic. For the same reason no expedition permits will be issued for Denali in Alaska, the highest mountain in North America (6,190 m), and the nearby Mount Foraker (5,304 m) in 2020. This was announced last Friday by the Denali National Park Service. The season there usually lasts from the end of April to mid-July. 

Lockdown imposed

Whether expeditions to the 8,611-meter-high K2, the second highest mountain on earth, and the four other eight-thousanders in Pakistan will be possible next summer is currently uncertain. As of today, due to the corona crisis a lockdown is in force until further notice in the northern Pakistani province of Gilgit-Baltistan, where the country’s highest mountains are located. Paramilitary forces have been asked to check whether the regulations are being observed, a member of the provincial government announced. Passenger traffic between the province’s cities has also been suspended. 

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Chinese expedition to Everest?

North side of Mount Everest

Despite the restrictions resulting from the corona pandemic, Mount Everest will apparently not remain completely deserted this spring. There is growing evidence that a Chinese expedition will approach the highest mountain on earth from the Tibetan north side. According to the Kathmandu-based newspaper „The Himalayan Times“, at least 26 mountaineers from China, including six women, will attempt to climb Everest.

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Coronavirus crisis: No permits for expeditions to Everest and Co. in Nepal

Nepalese south side of Everest
Nepalese south side of Mount Everest

The spring climbing season in the Himalayas is over before it has begun. After the Chinese-Tibetan authorities announced that they would not issue permits for the Tibetan north side of Mount Everest and other mountains to foreign expedition teams this spring, the Nepalese government has now pulled the rip cord too. Due to the global spread of the coronavirus, no permits will be issued for expeditions to Everest and the other high mountains of Nepal from March 14 to April 30, the government in Kathmandu announced. The already issued climbing permits are invalid. It is understood that the regulation also applies to trekking tours.

Even if the decree was withdrawn at the beginning of May, the remaining time for expeditions would be too short. The season finishes at the end of May due to the start of the monsoon season.

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