Spring Himalaya Update: Off We Go!

In Nepal, commercial expeditions on Everest have set out on their first acclimatization rotations and the Spring Himalaya season has begun in earnest.


Many Everest expeditions start with a flight from Kathmandu to the airport at Lukla, so a tragic accident on April 14, in which a special high-altitude plane veered off the runway and into a parked helicopter, made for a jittery start to the season. Thankfully, other news from the mountains has been positive.

Since early April, guides and their clients have been shouldering packs through the Khumbu valley, acclimatizing on their way to Everest Base Camp. Meanwhile, Sherpa teams have opened the route as far as Advanced Base Camp at 6,400m.

Camp 1 from above. Photo: Maidson Mountaineering

After completing the trek to Everest, climbers have been relaxing in busy Base Camps on both sides of the mountain. This past weekend, the weather improved enough for their acclimatization rotations to begin.

Alan Arnette has been totting up the permits for 2019, and Everest’s popularity hasn’t waned in the slightest: “Nepal has issued a record 374 climbing permits to foreigners as of 16 April and, while not confirmed, the Tibet side has 364 total people, made up of 144 foreigners, 12 Chinese and 208 Nepalese Sherpa.”

In 2018, Everest enjoyed an incredible 11-day stretch of low winds and clear skies, resulting in 802 summits. If Arnette’s figures are accurate, a similar period of good weather in 2019 could shatter that record.

Acclimatizing isn’t without risks. Recently, members of a commercial team had to carry out a crevasse rescue. Photo: Madison Mountaineering

With the better weather, commercial teams moved up to Camp 1 over Easter weekend, and many will have reached Advanced Base Camp (ABC) by now. Meanwhile, the task of setting the route above 6,400m seems to have fallen to a team from Madison Mountaineering. Madison have reported that they helped deliver some 700kg of rope-fixing equipment to ABC on April 20.


Over on Annapurna, ex-Ghurka Nirmal Purja Magar is looking to knock over the first peak in his audacious attempt to climb all 14 8,000’ers in a lightning-quick seven months. The previous record for all 14 is held by Korean climber Kim Chang-ho, who managed to complete mountaineering’s elite tick list in seven years, 10 months and six days in 2013.

Magar on a previous climb of Lhotse. Magar will use supplementary oxygen on all his climbs. Photo: Nirmal Purja Magar

Magar is climbing with a large group from Elite Himalayan Adventures. Yesterday, they made it to Camp 4 at 7,100m, and their summit push begins today.

Adam Bielecki and Felix Berg are also eyeing Annapurna, but first they have focused on an unusual warm-up: Langtang Lirung (7,227m). This has not been successfully climbed since 1995 and dwarfs the surrounding peaks of the Langtang Himal range. Most climbers would consider it a worthy goal on its own rather than a mere tune-up. It remains unclear exactly when they will move over to Annapurna.


As reported yesterday, Peter Hamor, Horia Colibasanu and Marius Gane arrived at the 4,200m Japanese Base Camp on Dhaulagiri after six days of trekking. The weather has not been ideal, but the trio can now rest before starting their summit bid in mid-May.

Dhaulagiri and the relative position of Japanese Base Camp. Photo: Peter Hamor


South Korean climber Hong Sung-Taek’s sixth crack at Lhotse’s South Face is underway. Hong started his latest climb on April 15 and is now breaking trail between Camp 1 and Camp 2.

A yak caravan en route to Lhotse. Photo: Korean Lhotse Expedition

Kangchenjunga & Makalu

Permits have been issued to a number of teams on both Kangchenjunga and Makalu, but the serious climbing is not yet underway.


Himalayan Spring Roundup: Everest, Annapurna, Jannu