Alpine-Style Teams Struggle in a Washout Season

While commercial teams flock to Ama Dablam and the trekking peaks, and over a dozen Sherpa rope fixers battle winds on the south side of Cho Oyu, some smaller alpine-style teams try to salvage something from a dangerous and difficult autumn where the monsoon never ended.

Langtang Lirung

Topo Mena, Roberto Morales, and Joshua Jarrin of Ecuador are tackling the highly difficult Langtang Lirung. After exploring the mountain and considering all possibilities, they found a line that seems safe for a reasonable attempt up the east face. “It’s one of the most impressive walls I have ever seen,” said Roberto Morales.

Climbers look tiny at the feet of the rocky, snow-powdered face, covered in clouds behind them.

The Ecuadorian team at the base of Langtang Lirung. Photo: Roberto Morales/Instagram

 

The team set off from Base Camp on October 14. “At approximately 5,800m, [we] had a chance to…simul-climb some of the wildest and coolest sections we had done,” Mena recalled.

“Unfortunately, when the sun started to hit the face, we were still in the midst of the crux section and had a couple of hundred metres of thin and delicate madness above us.”

They had no time to finish that 200m but had to get immediately to a safe place where they could wait out the daily avalanches. So instead, they rappeled down the face with “lots of flying ice” around them.

climbers looking to a mightly face of rock , ice and snow.

Topo Mena, Roberto Morales and Joshua Jarrin last week on Langtang Lirung. Photo: Roberto Morales

 

“Some pieces hit us, but luckily the big ones didn’t,” Roberto Morales recalled. “At around 11:30 am, we were back in Base Camp, looking at this giant wall that we fell in love with.”

climber on a vertical ice section climbing in the night, at the light of his headlamp.

Climbing before the sun warms the eastern face and makes conditions too difficult. Photo. Roberto Morales

 

“The mountain made it clear to us that next time, we have to try in much colder temperatures,” Mena concluded.

The team has given up on Langtang Lirung for now but is not ready to go home. While resting in Kyanjin Gompa, they set their sights on another peak.

“We believe it can give us good chances…with the conditions and temperatures we have this year,” Mena said.

Annapurna IV

A large (14-member) Russian team led by Oleg Afanasiev reached Kathmandu yesterday to climb Annapurna IV, Russianclimb reported. Details to come on their chosen line.

Annapurna IV is usually approached from the north and shares part of the route with Annapurna II. To the west, there is a steep drop to a major col, according to Wikipedia. Across the col lies Annapurna III’s Southeast Face, climbed by the Ukrainian team in 2021.

Satellite image.

Annapurna IV from space. Photo: Wikipedia

Dengue fever strikes Jost Kobusch

The German solo climber is facing unexpected problems. First, his recent climb to Chulu West was not his original goal. “I had bigger plans in mind, but the conditions in the mountains were too loaded with snow and the avalanche risk was too high,” he told ExplorersWeb.

Also, like many other climbers this wet season, he has contracted dengue fever. Dengue comes from infected mosquitoes.

Jannu

The American team has also given up on Jannu’s North Face because of dangerous conditions. They are leaving base camp today, Namgya Sherpa of Grand Himalaya Expeditions told ExplorersWeb.

News is still expected from the Spanish team attempting Jannu East. They already had a member evacuated last week with dengue fever.

Manaslu West Face

While not confirmed, it seems that Helias Millerioux, Charles Dubouloz, and Symon Welfringer have canceled their attempt on Manaslu’s West Face.

“This season, the Himalaya have been untouchable,” Millerioux wrote on social media, where he is apparently recounting the expedition in installments. “The monsoon did not stop from mid-September to mid-October.”

Garhwal

The two Polish teams have ended their explorations in the Indian Himalaya, with mixed results. The group featuring Adam Bielecki, Kacper Loda, Damian Granowski, Mateusz Grobel, and Mateus Bieckowski called their expedition off last week because of too much snow on all the peaks that they were considering.

But Ondrej Huserka and Wadim Jablonski summited an unclimbed wall rising above the Kedar Tal Valley on October 16, after three days of climbing. The route follows a 600m-high rocky pillar on the face of the 5,602m Phaalkan Meenaar Tower. The Polish climbers called their 18-pitch, 6c+ M6 A0 route “Gangotri Gambling”.

Climber on a mixed terrain ridge, a shart rocky spite in front of him.

The Polish climbers at the top of the pillar, with Phaalkan Meenaar Tower looming behind.

Pakistan — Shimshal

Last but not least, Pakistani guide Karim Hayat reports two first ascents in the Shimshal, together with a team from the UK’s Alpine Club.

“We named those peaks Ingo-Issagun Chish (5,745m) and second one KNN,” he wrote. KNN stands for Karim, Nick, and Nigel, the first names of the three climbers. Its altitude is 5,830m.

Collage shared on FaceBook by Karim Hayat (in red on the lower right photo).

Angela Benavides

Angela Benavides is a college-graduated journalist specializing in high-altitude mountaineer and expedition news. She has been writing about climbing and mountaineering, adventure and outdoor sports for 20+ years.

Prior to that, Angela Benavides spent time at/worked at a number of local and international media. She is also experienced in outdoor-sport consultancy for sponsoring corporations, press manager and communication executive, and a published author.