Wednesday, May 16

Day 23 - 16 May - Shishapangma/Yebokangjial - First draft - How to climb

Over 50 summits on Everest as reported on Alan Arnette site!
As already stated on May 14th, the conditions for a summit attempt on Shisha were not going to be possible for me. Now even more so, with the news that the professionals Juanito and Carlos did not reach the the summit. 

If you read Alan's information, you can see that in fact there is significant coordination with teams and the "Ice fall Doctors", in putting in place the infrastructure that is required for humans to get to the summit. Teams contribute funds/ropes to Sherpa's who in fact will connect ropes for the entire route up the mountain. Until this is done, climbers have to wait, or in only a very few cases, take the risk of going "unconnected"

Perhaps due to the less popularity of Shisha, this does not occur. Teams seem to think that they have the ability to climb it on their own. Over the many years (other than some truly great climbs - Inaki Ochoa, Andrew Lock, Ueli Steck) that I have been to Shisha, I'm surprised by the lack of coordination. Even simple things, that would make life (approach trekking/climbing) easier, safer, faster and hence more efficient, do not occur. Remember, its a multi-day endurance event. Efficiency is key.

As an unsupported climber, these would obviously help perhaps I'm biased? Why though do climbers approach similar obstacles in different ways - obviously ignoring the "unique" attempts aka Inaki Ochoa...

ABC to Depot
Not that critical, but 2 hours of slog and 200 meters of ascent. Its a stony icy gravel path, on which route finding, especially after a snow dump can be treacherous. A single attempt could easily mark the ideal route which could easily be maintained as the conditions changed

There must have been at least three routes this year. Even one that included an additional rappel. If a little more time was spent on the initial recce, every climber would save time and energy and have reduced risk of injury. How about removing some of the the previous seasons (stubborn) incorrect wands?
GPS comparisons show that the 2012 route, was at least 20% less efficient that average of all my previous attempts.

Crest - Camp I
Ok so its better to have every one rope up and bear the consequence of having to drop to the lowest common denominator (slowest) rather than properly mark and set fixed ropes for the crevasse section. That or face the risk of popping the lid (snow bridge) and having an icy cold dark experience

Approach to Camp II slope

Camp III
The climb from the "valley" to camp III is always complicated by deep snow. Yes this does make fixed rope maintenance a nightmare, but it still is possible, especially if correctly setup in the first place.

Camp location
Shisha's weather does impact camp location. The problem of incorrect camp location occurs, using camp I as an example, is that, as one reaches the "crest", the icy head wind forces one to start thinking about getting into ones tent as as soon as possible!
One therefore pitches early... Albeit you may have had a long day already, all that one does, if repeated, is make the next even longer. 
This years camp I was probably 800m short in distance and 140m to low. This obviously impacts the climb to camp II. From Camp II, the "valley" to the slope up to camp III can be awfully long - this is earlier camps have not been correctly located.

Often its the Sherpa's who reach the "locations" first. Again clear communication and instruction are required.

Working with two fairly fixed points, Camp III is located at 7,500m and Depot (before Penitentes) is at 5,800m. 
Therefore ideally you want Camp II to be at 7,000m and Camp I at 6,500m

Which one? The true summit is extremely difficult to achieve. It is such a pity that Elizabeth Hawley does not record attempts and successes for the true summit of Shishapangma.
The ratios of successes must be extremely low! Depending on your reason for climbing, then the central summit may be a complete waste of time! Its not the top!

2012 - just a note to say that there were some fixed ropes and markers - unfortunately though they were not maintained and often poorly setup initially. So much for my portion paid towards this activity...

In essence then, I strongly believe that a similar coordinated attempt (similar to that on Mount  Everest) would significantly improve climbers chances of reaching Camp III. (The funny thing is that all the equipment and resource is on the mountain - its just a matter of communication). 

Then the fun could begin as to how committed climbers were to reach the true summit.

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