Ski attempt on Mount Everest, hustle and bustle on Manaslu

Mount Everest
Mount Everest

If you want to experience Mount Everest in solitude, you should come there in fall. The five-member expedition of Polish ski mountaineer Andrzej Bargiel is (at least so far) the only one to which the Nepalese government has granted Everest permits for this season. The 34-year-old wants to climb the highest mountain on earth without bottled oxygen and ski down from the highest point.

On his ascent he will be accompanied by the experienced 54-year-old Janusz Golab, who in 2012 succeeded with his compatriot Adam Bielecki in the Karakoram in Pakistan in the first winter ascent of the 8,080-meter-high Gasherbrum I. Bargiel climbed with Golab and filmmaker Carlos Llerandi yesterday to Camp 2 at around 6,400 meters to acclimatize further.

A seven-member Nepalese team from the operator Pioneer Adventures, led by Ngaa Tenji Sherpa, had secured the route through the dangerous Khumbu Icefall up to Camp 2. “This time Khumbu Icefall conditions are more risky and challenging than last spring,” Ngaa Tenji said.

Karnicar used bottled oxygen

In fall 2019, Bargiel had abandoned a first attempt on Mount Everest because a huge serac hung like a sword of Damocles over the Khumbu Icefall and threatened to collapse. In summer 2018, Bargiel had succeeded in the first complete ski descent from 8,611-meter-high K2, the second highest mountain on earth. Also then he had been supported by Golab and had climbed without breathing mask.

The only complete ski descent from the highest point of Everest to the base camp to date was achieved by Davo Karnicar in 2000. The Slovenian had used supplemental oxygen during the ascent from the South Col at almost 8,000 meters. Karnicar had died in a forestry accident in his homeland in 2019.

More Manaslu permits than in the spring for Everest

Last spring season, nearly 700 ascents had been counted on Mount Everest. The Nepalese government had issued 325 Everest permits for foreign climbers. This fall, the Ministry of Tourism in Kathmandu granted considerably more – 391 (as of 13 September) – for the 8,163-meter-high Manaslu in western Nepal. Thus the eighth-highest mountain of the world becomes once more the “Mount Everest of fall season”.

Many operators had advertised in advance that this time they would lead their clients to the “True Summit”. It will be exciting to see how this is implemented with the large number of summit aspirants. The summit ridge is narrow and exposed.

From now on only the “True Summit” counts

Manaslu (l.) and Pinnacle East (r.)

The very highest point of Manaslu had been reached extremely rarely in the past decades. Most had stopped on one of the preceding, somewhat lower elevations of the summit ridge and had turned back. In fall 2021, Mingma Gyalje Sherpa, head of the operator Imagine Nepal, had led his group to the “True Summit”. Australian climber Jackson Groves had documented this with impressive drone footage. The Himalayan Database, the chronicle of mountaineering on Nepal’s highest mountains, had announced that from 2022 onwards it would only list ascents of Manaslu as such if the “True Summit” is reached.

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