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.
Wenzl’s tenth strike?
Thursday morning local time may also be the first time this spring climbers from commercial teams will stand on the 8,091-meter-high summit of Annapurna in western Nepal. According to Chhang Dawa Sherpa of Nepalese operator Seven Summit Treks, all climbers and Sherpas have now reached Camp 3 at about 6,400 meters, and tomorrow Camp 4 at about 7,100 meters will be the destination.
Among those ascending is reportedly Austrian Hans Wenzl, who, unlike the vast majority of clients of commercial teams, is climbing without bottled oxygen. The 51-year-old – not a professional mountaineer, but a foreman for a construction company – has already scaled nine eight-thousanders without breathing mask: Broad Peak (in 2007), Nanga Parbat (in 2009), Gasherbrum I and II (in 2011), Manaslu (in 2012), Cho Oyu (in 2013), Makalu (in 2016), Mount Everest (in 2017) and K2 (in 2019).
On Makalu, the rope fixing team from Seven Summit Treks is also expected to arrive on Thursday morning at the highest point at 8,485 meters. Makalu is not far from Mount Everest and is the fifth highest mountain on earth.
Update 27 April: The summit attempt on Kangchenjunga was apparently abandoned today due to bad weather. The climbers have returned to Camp 4, it is said.
Second update 27 April: “Our Team had to turn back from around 8450m due to the bad weather,” Dawa Sherpa of Imagine Nepal wrote to me. “Our team is safely back to Camp 4.”