Himalayan expedition news 2001
Kathmandu 1 April 2001
by Manuel Lugli (Focus World Expeditions)
From an evermore polluted and chaotic Kathmandu some news about the various Himalayan expeditions attempting to climb the gigantic 8000m peaks. The climate has been particularly good up until now, even if the afternoon downpours have set in with clockwork precision.
There seems to be little point in stating that once again Everest is the most crowded. Every year those who work there believe that the maximum limit has been reached, but evidently the escalation shows no sign of slowing down. To the 18 expeditions attempting Everest from the South (Nepal) must be added the 11 expeditions attempting Lhotse; if one takes into account the fact that from Base Camp to the South Col they all share the same camps, then there are a total of 29 expeditions operating on the mountain. And this staggering number is equalled on the technically more difficult North side (Tibet), where the costs are decidedly less.
Here a list of some of the expeditions, some more famous than others: Russel Brice with his habitual commercial expedition, the Frenchman Bernard Muller from Chamonix, he too with clients and Eric Simonson, the man who led the 1999 Mallory and Irvine Research Expedition which was successful in locating the remains of George Mallory. Simonson has now returned to locate the remains of Andrew Irvine, Mallorys young climbing companion, but above all to find the famous Kodak camera and film which should, according to the optimists, solve the mystery as to whether the two Englishman reached the summit or not. As is well known there are many sceptics, including Conrad Anker who in 99 attempted to free climb the Second Step to check its feasibility; he declared to have encountered great technical and physical difficulties let us not forget that the Second Step is situated at nearly 8600m. And this is without even taking into account the abyssal difference in climbing equipment; these factors combined seem to indicate that it would have been impossible to overcome that obstacle. What is certain however is that it seems hard to repeat the success of 1999, but who knows whether Chomolungma, the Goddess mother of the earth, will once again help the Americans
Once again the hardened Spanish Television expedition (organised by Focus World Expeditions) will attempt to climb the North Crest, documenting their ascent with live broadcasts back home. "Al filo de lo imposible" has already proved to be a great success in Spain and if one thinks that other state television companies invest in programs such as Big Brother or Survivors The team of 5 alpinists, led by the legendary Juanito Oyarzabal who has climbed all fourteen 8000m peaks, will arrive in Tibet on 7 April and plans to leave at the beginning of June. Two camermen/alpinists will cover the ascent to Camp 2 (7900 8000m), and various live broadcasts to Spanish TV have been planned, including one on the possible summit day so as to follow the final stages of the ascent.
With the exception of Makalu there is not much to report about the other mountains in Nepal. Given its technical characteristics, Makalu has unexpectedly become the center of attention with an impressive 10 expeditions. These include, amongst others, the Italian Aquile expedition composed of Mountain Guides from S.Martino di Castrozza and Primiero (organised by Focus World Expeditions). Led by Renzo Corona, the expedition will spend about 50 days attempting to climb the normal route before returning to Italy on 1 April. Other expeditions include teams from France, Japan, Germany and even an official 10 man team from the Islamic Republic.
Kangchenjunga and others
As mentioned earlier the other 8000ers seem practically deserted. There are no expeditions for either Dhaulagiri or Annapurna and just one expedition for Kangchenjunga. This team led by the expert Pole Piotr Pustelnik, author of nine 8000m ascents, is composed of a small Hispanic/American group and includes the Mexican Hector Ponce de Leon and the much photographed Spaniard Araceli Segarra. They will be the only team operating on the immense South Face of Kangchenjunga. As yet we have no news regarding the situation on Manaslu.
The Tibetan 8000m peaks are relatively popular and there are about a dozen expeditions on Cho Oyu. An Italian expedition led by Gianni Rusconi and organised by Focus World Expeditions includes the Himalayan veteran Fausto De Stefani who is already in Nepal working on his project to build a school at Kirtipur, one of the poor suburbs of Kathmandu. The team plans to enter Tibet on 12 April.
by Manuel Lugli
Focus World Expedition
From top to bottom: stupa at Kathmandu, Everest from the north and Cho-Oyu.