Two For Kangchenjunga, Others for Dhaulagiri

Among the climbers heading to the Himalaya in the next few days, Carla Perez and Topo Mena of Ecuador are on their way to 8,586m Kangchenjunga. It’s exciting news: First of all, Mena and Perez never use supplementary oxygen, which will be tough on the third highest mountain in the world. And they will, it seems, be the only ones on the mountain.

Rather than release details of their route, they are posting mysterious little crumbs on social media:

Topo Mena and Carla Perez’s IG post


The IG Story does tag Sherpa climbers Paldem Nangye, Pasang Sherpa, Dorji Sonam, and Pemba Gelje Sherpa. ExWeb has reached out to Mena and Perez, as well as to Adrian Ballinger and his Alpenglow Expeditions company, which is outfitting them.

Gelje Sherpa, by the way, belongs to a new generation of Nepali athletes and certified IFMGA guides worth keeping an eye on. Besides high-altitude guiding, these young climbers are setting new local standards with original lines, off-season ascents, and alpine-style climbs (not always with clients). Pemba Gelje is even opening new rock climbing routes in the Roshi Khola River area, a one-hour drive from Kathmandu.

Dhaulagiri climbers

In 2019, Szilard Suhajda of Hungary summited K2 without O2. His climbing partner David Klein retreated. Previously, on Annapurna, their roles were reversed: Klein summited and Suhajda did not.

This time, on Dhaulagiri, they will try to reach the top together. They have hired logistics but will climb independently.

“We are carrying up our equipment and supplies all the way up,” they told “Of course, we may use the ropes, but we are ready to cooperate on that issue, including fixing some ropes ourselves.”

Their strategy is to climb as high as possible before anyone else in order to acclimatize completely. Then they are ready when the first summit window opens. “Going without O2, you must either go ahead of the rest or wait to summit until after the bulk of climbers have returned,” they explained.

Szilard Suhajza and David Klein. Photo: Mozgasvilag


Among those who attempted Dhaulagiri last spring, the first to confirm his return this fall was, not surprisingly, Carlos Soria. Now 82, Soria has attempted the mountain a dozen times and insists that he feels ready and fit. He will climb with Luis Lopez Soriano, one of his two partners from last spring.

Carlos Soria training on the hills near Madrid some days ago. Photo: Carlos Soria

A growing winter market?

Seven Summit Treks is offering a winter climb of Ama Dablam. They seem to be announcing one winter trip after another, determined to corner the winter market. They reportedly are ready to guide other winter 8,000’ers, if clients are interested.

But so far, the only confirmed winter attempts are those of Alex Txikon, Iñaki Alvarez and Simone Moro on Manaslu, and Jost Kobusch on Everest. This will be Kobusch’s second attempt on West Ridge/Hornbein Couloir. But as he mentioned in an interview with ExplorersWeb, he expects not to summit but to explore the Hornbein Couloir further. This time, his target is 8,000m. His previous high was 7,366m.

Unclear COVID measures

While cases have decreased since last spring, the coronavirus has far from subsided in Nepal. There remain no clear rules to prevent contagion among international climbing teams and expedition staff. With a new government in the making, there are no updates from the Ministry of Tourism. Airlines require either negative tests or vaccination certificates, but Nepal has no official policy about further testing or quarantines.

Companies and clients are doing their best to protect themselves via vaccination. Outfitters are trying to have all their crew either vaccinated or at least freshly tested. The norm seems to have reverted to the old, familiar one: Officially, ignore the situation and let local companies and each individual climber shoulder the responsibility.