Monday, October 1


It is our considered but humble opinion that conditions are now perfect for the weather trap - whereby the weather opens sufficiently to entice frustrated, impatient and eager climbers up the mountain only to close again making descent difficult if not dangerous. We believe such a limited window should only be used to retrieve gear and equipment from the higher caches. Jamie has demonstrated great sagacity and perspicacity in his summing up the current situation (See his website report of 30 September). His caution should not only be heeded but deserves to be quoted in full here:


30 Sept - Mark coming down
The weather improved but if a team of Sherpas couldn't make Camp 2 then Mark wasn't going to try, so he is returning to ABC.

30 Sept - Decisions
After breakfast we had a healthy discussion about our possibilities. This season has been rather abnormal, the average precipitation for the month was reached before the month was even half over, I am guessing that we have had easily double, perhaps triple the normal amount of snow. Officially the monsoon usually leaves the region around the middle of September, even if some occasional moisture remains. This year, a tropical storm (not quite a full cyclone) rolled over in late September and, while it didn't hit us directly, it really brought real dumps of snow all the same, loading the mountain, so that climbing conditions are still terrible.

The future could be better but our weather forecasts from Michael Fagin are not particularly positive for the next week or so. While the weather should improve and the wind should drop a bit for a couple of days - and there should be less snow - there is still no summit window; the snow is too deep to get high. Then the winds will return and seem set to stay, strong winds but luckily not the jet stream. The shame of it is that the winds still haven't loosened the snow high on the mountain, see the photo below.

What should we do? We could trek around the region, there really are some beautiful spots (see the lakes that Clive, Walter, Hans and myself explored last year), or we could try to climb a smaller mountain close by. However, regardless of the chances of success most people want to focus on Shisha Pangma. So there really is only one way to work out how realistic that is, and that is to rub your nose in it, or push a trail up it.

Our plan is to do an acclimatization run up to Camp 1 and then see if conditions will improve, see if that elusive summit window will appear. Most of the team have headed up to Depot Camp to sleep the night there and tomorrow, with assistance from the Sherpas, will plug a trail (or perhaps find an existing one) up to Camp 1 and spend one, or perhaps two, nights up there. We can assess conditions from there.

The team sleeping at Depot Camp tonight is Eric, Jan, Anne, Tristan, Joe C, Joe F, Martin and Ursula. Tomorrow they will move to Camp 1, and Clive, Francis, Janet and Gordon will move up direct from ABC to Camp 1. Alan and perhaps myself will remain at ABC.

Other mountains
How are others faring on our semi-neighbour Cho Oyu, a mountain surprisingly similar to Shisha Pangma? So far as we know only the Singapore Women's team made it up - just before the storm hit (well done Jane!) and then got spanked on the way down. All the other teams are still waiting (or have bailed) and I am guessing it will take some daring trail breaking to open up the route. Perhaps it will take a little more time, and a hard push - just like ‘our’ mountain.

We also have friends on the south side of Shisha Pangma… I don't like their chances unless all this snow has avalanched as it fell and, regardless, the wind will still be horrible.

Ultimately I feel it will be a waiting game, or a game of dare. However very few teams have enough time just to wait and wait.

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