Shisha Pangma Delays, Uncertainties

Shisha Pangma could be one of the busiest 8,000’ers this season…if climbers are actually allowed into Tibet. Nearly 50 Nepalese and their foreign clients are currently waiting in Nepal for the go-ahead from the China-Tibet Mountaineering Association (CMTA). But the paperwork remains unresolved.

Meanwhile, the new rules in China that require previous experience before attempting Everest and the mandatory use of oxygen could spoil some members’ plans.

Permits delayed

So far, two teams have confirmed Shisha Pangma expeditions: Climbalaya and Seven Summit Treks. The two separate teams will share the rope fixing, a Climbalaya spokesperson told ExplorersWeb.

He also confirmed that the permits and Tibetan visas will take longer to process. Meanwhile, their group is limbering up by trekking in Langtang. Seven Summit Treks is doing the same thing.

Climbalaya has a small team of four clients, two from India, one from the U.S., and well-known Nepalese climber Dawa Yangzum Sherpa. She will head to Shisha Pangma after climbing Jugal I and II on the expedition led by Um Hong-gil of Korea. If she summits the Tibetan peak, Dawa Yangzum will become the first Nepalese woman to complete the 14×8000’ers.

Record seekers

In contrast to Climbalaya’s modest group size, Seven Summit Treks has a huge team of 14×8,000m hopefuls. Many of them have national records at stake, including Adriana Brownlee of the UK, Uta Ibrahimi of Albania-Kosovo, Naoko Watanabe of Japan, Grace Tseng of Taiwan, Moeses Fiamoncini of Brazil, Afsaneh Hesami Fard of Iran, Arjun Vajpai of India, Adrian Laza of Romania, He Jing of China, Mario Vielmo of Italy, Shehroze Kashif of Pakistan, and Csaba Varga of Hungary.

Among the Nepalese bound for Shisha Pangma, Sanu Sherpa will, as usual, support Naoko Watanabe. Once they finish with Annapurna, SST owner Chhang Dawa Sherpa, guide Pasang Nurbu, and the young Nima Rinji are expected as well.

Here’s a video of Arjun Vajpai with some of the team before leaving on the Langtang trek:

The team comprises at least 25 members. For some of them, Shisha Pangma is the last of their 14 peaks.

The race for records ended in tragedy last autumn. On Oct. 7, 2023, most of the climbers now on this spring’s Shisha Pangma expedition reached Base Camp only to discover that tragedy had aborted the season. Two separate avalanches killed Gina Rudzilo and Anna Gutu, competing to become the first American woman to complete all the 8,000’ers. Their sherpa guides, Tenjen Lama and Mingmar Sherpa, perished with them. The CTMA then closed the mountain for the year.

Kristin Harila will also travel to Shisha Pangma, although it is not clear whether she still intends to try and find the bodies of Tenjen Lama and Gina Marie Ruzidlo. There is also no further news about the second recovery mission led by Nirmal Purja. He announced some weeks ago that he had obtained permission to retrieve the remains of his 2023 client, Anna Gutu, and her sherpa guide from Camp 2.

Silence about oxygen

Finally, there remains uncertainty about whether going without supplementary oxygen will be allowed. Several climbers want to climb without bottled gas, but the CTMA has insisted that everyone use oxygen on its 8,000ers this year.

Climbalaya confirms that its entire team will conform to the new regulations. Seven Summit Treks has made no comments on the matter, and those team members who usually climb without oxygen are likewise staying silent. They will have to choose between losing the no-O2 category on their accomplishments or gaming the regulations somehow.

Angela Benavides

Angela Benavides graduated university in journalism and specializes in high-altitude mountaineering 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.