Himalayan Season Begins: Climbers Head for Annapurna, Dhaulagiri

As the Ice Doctors begin work on Everest’s Khumbu Icefall, climbing teams head to to the early-season 8,000’ers, Annapurna and Dhaulagiri.

Annapurna and Dhaulagiri climbers approach

Taiwan’s Grace Tseng is done with K2 for now but not with mountaineering. She has not even returned home. Instead, she flew to Nepal instead for the next two stages of her 14×8,000m quest. She hopes to climb Annapurna in the next few weeks, then Makalu. Should she succeed, the Instagram influencer might enter summer with seven 8,000m peaks already complete.

Grace Tseng attempted K2 in winter, above. She is now heading for Annapurna and Makalu. Photo: Grace Tseng


Jill Wheatley of Canada is also on the move. The visually impaired climber, who suffered a traumatic brain injury in 2014, was one of those who reached the true summit of Manaslu last fall. Now she wants to tick Dhaulagiri off her list. Check her story here.

Jill Wheatley on Manaslu’s summit last fall. Photo: Vision8000

Everest Icefall Doctors en route

Overall, Everest will be a little quieter this year than in 2021. Despite COVID, Nepal issued a record 408 permits last spring. This season’s estimate suggests about two-thirds of that number. The bigger teams have already staked out their tent sites in Base Camp. The climbers themselves begin arriving in early April.

The Icefall Doctors set off from Namche Bazaar on Sunday. The men in charge of fixing a route through the Khumbu Icefall this year are Ang Sarki Sherpa, Dawa Nuru Sherpa, Pemba Tshering Sherpa, Sonam Tshering Sherpa, Chewang Nuru Sherpa, and Ngima Gyaljen Sherpa, plus BC manager Tshering Tenji Sherpa and kitchen staff Ngawang Thanten Sherpa and Ongdi Gelu Sherpa.

The 2022 Icefall Doctors at their headquarters in Namche Bazaar. Photo: SPCC

Summits and cyclones

Their job ends at Camp 2. Here, the Sherpas from Seven Summit Treks begin rope-fixing on both Everest and Lhotse. In an earlier interview, 7ST told ExplorersWeb that they intended to finish fixing the route to the summit of Everest before the end of April. This should allow climbers several good weather windows and reduce crowding.

Effects of Cyclone Yaas in Everest’s Camp 2 last spring. Photo: Tashi Lakpa Sherpa

Last year, two consecutive cyclones disturbed the typical good weather between May 20-26. The second one caught many climbers in Camp 2 during their summit push. Such storms used to be more common during the monsoon, but as climate changes, cyclones might begin to strike earlier.

Michael Fagin of EverestWeather suggested recently on his blog that the odds of this are increasing, though it’s still too soon to be sure.

“Recent extensive research of weather data shows an increase in cyclones in March to May,” he wrote. “These cyclones coming out of the Bay of Bengal tend to bring heavy snow and strong winds when they get close to Mount Everest.”

Fagin points to the warming of the Indian Ocean and other oceans as a possible cause.