Six to Attempt Everest No-O2, Including Grace Tseng

Some familiar faces have reappeared in the Himalaya this season. Carlos Soria, 84, still tilting away at Dhaulagiri after a dozen unsuccessful tries, remains a favorite. And Grace Tseng of Taiwan wants to prove the skeptics wrong by climbing Everest without oxygen.

Everest no-O2: six and counting

Suhajda Szilard of Hungary has already stated his intention to climb without O2 or personal Sherpa support.

Those attempting a non-O2 climb with support include:

Stefi Troguet of Andorra, a client with Nirmal Purja’s EliteExped team.

Carlos Cannellas, who will try to become the first Brazilian, GoOutside Brazil reported.

Nepali-born mountaineering instructor Asmita Dorjee of India. She reached 8,700m on her first no-O2 Everest climb last year.

Dabuti Sherpa of Nepal, who is a member of Marc Batard’s small team. Batard, a French former speed climber, is trying to open an alternative route to Everest’s Camp 2 around the dangerous Khumbu Icefall. “My second priority is to allow Dabuti Sherpa to become the first Nepali woman to climb Everest without artificial oxygen,” Batard, 72, told ExplorersWeb.

Finally, there’s the controversial Grace Tseng. “Climbing K2 without O2 gave me the confidence I needed to try,” she wrote on social media.

Tseng says her main goals this spring are Shishapangma and Cho Oyu. But while she waits for a climbing permit for China — unlikely to be available until autumn — she will go for Everest.

Tseng poses backwards, showing the design on a black t-shirt: the shillouette of Everest.

Grace Tseng. Photo: Grace Tseng


The need for witnesses

Some of Tseng’s 2022 climbs were better known for their controversy than for their achievement. This is especially true of her Manaslu speed ascent last fall. She claimed to have gone from Base Camp to summit in only 13 hours without bottled O2, an elite time from someone not known as an elite athlete. This unexpected climb occurred right after all the other teams on the mountain went down because of excess snow and avalanche risk. Doubts also surround her GPS tracks and heavily filtered pictures.

Tseng’s 2019 Kangchenjunga summit was also disputed and eventually proven false by the team some months ago. She now admits she mistook the route to the summit and says she will re-do the climb.

On Everest, Tseng hopes to reach the summit with members of other expeditions, who can confirm her feat. Some of her previous controversies featured no witnesses, apart from her hired Sherpas. As we previously wrote, these days, photos, videos, and even GPS tracks may be digitally altered. In the case of extraordinary claims, these may not be enough. Increasingly, impartial witnesses (not Sherpas in the climber’s employ) are necessary to lay all doubts to rest.

The Sherpa factor on no-O2 climbs

Although official stats only reflect whether a climber has or has not used bottled gas, having one or more Sherpas carrying loads and doing all the chores, from melting water to short-roping a tired client, makes a difference. Most often, the Sherpa assistants may carry a spare oxygen bottle and a mask for their clients to use if things go awry.

Every Everest climber this season, with or without O2, will also use the fixed ropes. No one plans an alternative route to the summit. Even Batard’s projected route joins the main line between Camps 1 and 2.

Tseng waves to the camera, her nose covered in tape but with no O2 mask, on K2's final ramps before the summit. The sherpas are in front and behind her, with O2 systems on.

Grace Tseng and her Sherpa team on K2, led by Nima Gyalzen. Photo: Grace Tseng/Facebook


Carlos Soria back on Dhaulagiri

On Dhaulagiri, 84-year-old Carlos Soria will try to defy the passage of time by summiting his 13th 8,000’er. Dhaulagiri has already thwarted him a dozen times before. His last successful 8,000m peak was Annapurna, which he summited at age 77.

The Spaniard only has Dhaulagiri and Shishapangma’s main summit left to complete his list.

At the Madrid airport on his way to Nepal, Soria admitted to Desnivel that he’d had some health issues a month ago but is better now. Soria will climb with regular partner Sito Carcavilla.

Carlos Soria's clse shot, the departure area of Madrid's airport in background.

Carlos Soria at the Madrid airport last Friday. Photo: Screenshot/Desnivel

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.