A Handful of Climbers Prepare to Retry Kangchenjunga

In the waning days of the spring season before the monsoon, a small number of climbers will try to summit Kangchenjunga. One of them also hopes to ski down it.

Bartek Ziemski, the skier, and Oswald Rodrigo Pereira — who is there to film Ziemski — are trying to duplicate their recent success on Makalu. Here, they summited on May 12, and Ziemski skied most of the way down. On Saturday, the pair heads to Kangchenjunga Base Camp for another ski attempt.

From Makalu to Kangchenjunga

“Makalu was our first ‘high’ 8,000’er, so we expected it to be tough,” Pereira told ExplorersWeb from Kathmandu. “Still, the summit push was surprisingly long and exhausting.”

The climbers had to abort a first summit attempt but gave the peak a second try some days later and succeeded.

The skier peers from the edge of a nearly vertical snow cornice, in a foggy day
Definitely a double black diamond. Bartek Ziemski skis Makalu’s upper sections. Photo: Oswald R. Pereira

 

Back in Kathmandu, they are recovering from the effort and consulting Billi Bierling of The Himalayan Database.

“[According to The Himalayan Database] Ziemski’s ski descent from Makalu on May 12-13 is the first…from the very summit without supplementary oxygen during ascent and descent,” Pereira said.

Bartek Ziemski put on skis at the very top (8,485m) and only removed them in the French Couloir and on the next day, on a short ice wall below Camp 1. He then skied again until the snow ended.

Said Pereira: “Both of us suffered some upper respiratory irritation and still are feeling the consequences, but it is getting better at low altitude. We still want to try Kangchenjunga.”

If they succeed, Kangchenjunga will be the fourth 8,000’er the Polish team has summited and skied in their MAD Ski Project. Last year, they did Annapurna and Dhaulagiri.

The Poles will find a quiet but not completely deserted Base Camp.

Basic and VIP clients

After the sherpas’ failed attempt to fix the ropes from Camp 4 to the summit of Kangchenjunga last weekend, a handful of climbers remained reluctant to quit. They still hope to use a summit window expected during the last 10 days of May. Yet not all these climbers have the same experience during the wait.

“When you are a basic client, you wait in Base Camp and have no information about anything,” Uta Ibrahimi wrote on her InReach. “When you are a super-VIP, you wait in Kathmandu and a helicopter [picks] you right after the ropes are fixed.”

Ibrahimi wants to become Albania-Kosovo’s first 14×8,000m summiter. She turned to Kangchenjunga this spring after China declined to open Shisha Pangma.

Close shot of Uta Ibrahimi as she speaks on a video, with sun glasses and helmet
Uta Ibrahimi. Photo: Uta Ibrahimi/Instagram

 

Sajid Sadpara of Pakistan should be on Kangchenjunga, too. On his previous summit push, he turned around at 7,700m but vowed to try again. It is unclear how far the rope-fixing team reached on that attempt, but rope-fixing work remains on the 8,586m peak before the next attempt.

In addition to Ziemski and Pereira, helicopters will likely bring other climbers in the next few days. For example, Allie Pepper of Australia, with Mikel Sherpa and Nima P (Ngima Wangdak) Sherpa, planned to attempt Kangchenjunga after topping out Annapurna and Makalu.

Sasko Keved of Macedonia will fly to Kangchenjunga in the next few days, outfitted by Imagine Nepal. Kedev summited Makalu earlier this season, and last Monday, he also reached the top of Lhotse.

Where are Meroi, Benet, and Hamor?

In a new InReach message today, Uta Ibrahimi shared some interesting news. She hiked to the base of Kangbachen, 400m lower down the valley, where Slovak Peter Hamor and Italians Nives Meroi and Romano Benet are trying to open a new route. “They weren’t there,” Ibrahimi noted.

Track showing Uta Ibrahimi and the surrounding mountains: Kangchenjunga, Kangbachen, Jannu
Uta Ibrahimi’s tracker shows her location today at Kangchenjunga’s Base Camp, and the location of Kangchenjunga’s summit, Kangbachen, and Jannu.

 

The Slovak-Italian climbing team has not updated since May 10, when they said weather conditions were not good. They said they were waiting at the mountain’s base, “shoveling snow around.”

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