“We have finally reached the summit of Shishapangma in Tibet, it’s been a very very long and hard way up here. I’m very happy,” Kristina Harila told her team back home via satellite phone after reaching the highest point of the mountain located in Tibet at 8,027 meters today.
It was the 13th eight-thousander for the 37-year-old Norwegian. In 2022, she had had to abandon her plan to climb all 14 eight-thousanders – with bottled oxygen, Sherpa support, on the normal routes – in the same year. The Sino-Tibetan authorities had closed Shishapangma and Cho Oyu to foreign climbers because of the COVID-19 pandemic and made no exception for Harila. This year, she plans to attempt her project again – in her own words, without bottled oxygen, in less than six months. It is not yet known whether she climbed without a breathing mask on Shishapangma.
According to Mingma Sherpa, head of the Nepalese expedition operator Climbalaya, a total of eleven team members reached the summit of Shishapangma today. In addition to Harila, they included as clients the Swiss Sophie Lavaud and the Mexican Viridiana Alvarez. For the 54-year-old Sophie it was the 13th eight-thousander, for Viridiana, born in 1983, according to her own information, the ninth. Both have always used bottled oxygen for their ascents. Mingma, who has very good relations with Tibet, had received the first permits for a foreign expedition in three years.
Entry problem because of stamps from Pakistan
Some Nepalese – among them the experienced mountain guide Gelje Sherpa – had not received entry permits – allegedly, because they had stamps from Pakistan in their passports. According to the German Foreign Office, there have been problems with Chinese immigration authorities for years if tourists had previously been to certain countries. In addition to Pakistan, these include Turkey and Iraq. The Chinese government has not yet given reasons for this restrictive entry policy. However, since the problem is not new, most climbers who were previously in the Karakoram obtain new passports for projects in Tibet.
The Climbalaya team now wants to move on to the sixth highest mountain on earth, the 8188-meter-high Cho Oyu.
Update 27 April: According to information from the expedition operator Imagine Nepal, the successful Shishapangma team also included the Chinese Dong Hong-Juan. She had thus completed her collection of eight-thousanders (with bottled oxygen) and really stood on all 14 “True Summits”, the very highest points, it said. According to Imagine Nepal, Dong returned to Manaslu, Dhaulagiri, Broad Peak, Annapurna and now Shishapangma, where she had previously missed the highest points. In the list of the operator Climbalaya had been spoken of a “Chinese client” and two Tibetan guides.
Update 30 April: Kristin Harila announced on Instagram that she used bottled oxygen above Camp 3 on Shishapangma: “But (I) realized we were using too much time and it was very windy so I started to use my emergency oxygen from C3.”