As Cold Deepens, Winter 8,000m Action Heats Up

Gelje Sherpa, Kristin Harila, and Adriana Brownlee reached Namche Bazaar yesterday. They’ve been taking it easy for acclimatization purposes. They should reach Cho Oyu Base Camp by Monday at the latest.

In addition to their first winter Himalayan experience, they are attempting a new route on a difficult face. Most surprising, Harila revealed that the team will climb without supplementary O2 “if the weather permits”.

“We will need to do far more rotations…above Base Camp,” she said.

Harila walks on a cobbled road in the fog.

Kristin Harila during a foggy walk in Namche Bazaar. Photo: Kristin Harila/Instagram

 

Some skepticism

It is unlikely that the expedition will proceed entirely without O2. Usually, working Sherpas use O2 at least from a certain altitude. For instance, in Alex Txikon’s latest winter attempts on Everest and Manaslu, the Sherpa climbers in his team used oxygen from 7,000m.

The upcoming Cho Oyu expedition has prompted some skepticism from the climbing community about Harila and Brownlee’s lack of experience on non-fixed routes and the magnitude of the challenge — in winter, on a highly technical route, and now without oxygen. Brownlee was on Winter K2 in 2021 with Nirmal Purja and Gelje Sherpa, but didn’t attempt to go far up the mountain. Harila has climbed an extraordinary number of peaks in a row, but always assisted by oxygen and Sherpas at her side.

Gelje looks out of the window to the mountains.

Gelje Sherpa in Namche Bazaar today. Photo: Adriana Brownlee/Instagram

 

Harila has posted some comments on social media about some breach of trust that she suffered during her recent series of 8,000m climbs. She didn’t specify what this was, although everything seemingly went well for her in 2022 except her inability to get a permit to climb in Tibet and thus finish her quest.

Other winter teams arrive

David Goettler takes a morning run around Namche Bazaar. Photo: Instagram stories

 

David Goettler and Herve Barmasse are also in Namche Bazaar. The pair are considering an alpine-style ascent of an unspecified winter 8,000’er, according to the Alpymon blog. It may be Manaslu or Dhaulagiri, or a new try on Nanga Parbat’s Rupal Face, which they attempted last winter via the Schell route.

Simone Moro is heading to Manaslu for his fifth attempt to notch a fifth winter 8,000m summit. Alex Txikon will also make his third try on winter Manaslu. Moro says that he and Txikon will team up.

Angela Benavides

Angela Benavides is a college-graduated journalist specializing in high-altitude mountaineer 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.