In the second attempt it obviously worked. After a first summit attempt by a commercial team narrowly failed last week, the first summit successes were reported today from Kangchenjunga, the third highest mountain on Earth. Exactly how many climbers reached the highest point at 8,586 meters is not yet clear. The Nepalese expedition operator Seven Summit Treks initially gave a total of six names.
Among them was the 31-year-old Nepalese photographer Purnima Shrestha, who thus scaled her fifth eight-thousander – with bottled oxygen. Probably also wearing a breathing mask was the 20-year-old Shehroze Kashif, who was the first Pakistani ever to reach the summit of Kangchenjunga. For him it was also the fifth eight-thousander. He has now already climbed the three highest mountains on earth: Mount Everest, K2 and Kangchenjunga. In his native Pakistan, he is called “Broad Boy” – because of his first eight-thousander success at the age of 17 on Broad Peak.
Van Rooijen turns around
Dutchman Wilco van Rooijen, who has been climbing with his compatriot Cas van de Gevel without bottled oxygen, abandoned his summit attempt at 7,800 meters. “It was too cold and we tired,” wrote the 54-year-old on Facebook. Wilco has so far scaled five eight-thousanders without breathing mask: Shishapangma (in 1998), Mount Everest (in 2004), Broad Peak (in 2006), K2 (in 2008) and Cho Oyu (in 2016). He also managed the “real” Explorers Grand Slam: He stood on the Seven Summits, the highest mountains of all continents, and reached the North and South Pole each from the mainland – and not, as many who claim the Explorers Grand Slam, on a last-degree expedition from the 89th degree of latitude.
Summit wave expected on Everest
A stable good weather window is on the horizon for the coming week on Nepal’s eight-thousanders – with only small snow showers and little wind. According to information I received from Everest Base Camp, the rope-fixing team around Everest record holder Kami Rita Sherpa plans to reach the summit at 8,849 meters on 7 or 8 May. For the 52-year-old, it would be the 26th ascent of the highest mountain on earth. Afterwards, Kami Rita and Co. also want to fix the ropes on the neighboring 8,516-meter-high Lhotse. The first summit wave of commercial teams is then expected between 9 and 11 May.
Göttler’s third attempt
Almost all summit aspirants will ascend with bottled oxygen. For the few who want to try it without breathing mask, it will be doubly important to avoid traffic jams, especially on summit day in the zone above 8,000 meters. Among those forgoing bottled oxygen is again German high-altitude climber David Göttler. The 43-year-old has not yet announced when he will attempt the summit. For David it is the third Everest attempt: in 2019 he turned back at 8,650 meters, in 2021 – then together with the Spaniard Kilian Jornet – on the South Col at just below 8,000 meters.
More than 300 permits
According to its own data (as of 4 May), the Nepalese Ministry of Tourism has issued 316 climbing permits for Mount Everest this spring, 92 fewer than last year, a drop of 22.5 percent. In 2021, the government had issued a record 408 permits despite a rampant corona epidemic. At the base camp, there were reportedly around 150 COVID-19 cases in the previous season, which to this day have been hushed up by the Ministry of Tourism.
Due to the good weather window, summit successes of commercial teams are also expected on the eight-thousanders Makalu and Dhaulagiri for the beginning of the week.
Update 6 May: According to information today, more than 20 climbers reached the summit of Kangchenjunga yesterday (Thursday). Among them was the Italian Marco Confortola, who thus scaled his twelfth eight-thousander without bottled oxygen. The Taiwanese Lu Chung-han is also said to have reached the summit without a breathing mask. Regrettably, there was also one fatality: Indian climber Narayan Iyer died at around 8,200 meters. He had shown symptoms of high altitude sickness but refused to descend.