It looks as though Shishapangma isn’t going to happen this season, or at least not in the next few weeks, as the border to Tibet remains closed and the proposed opening date of 1 May now seems unlikely.
For the last 2 weeks of March, Julie and I trekked in the Khumbu region of Nepal, acclimatising and gaining our altitude legs, in the hope that the Tibet situation might improve and the expedition could head to Shisha for the first climb.
As that became impossible and the start date for Makalu was put back to 16 April due to the Nepal elections and other internal issues here, Hector, Neil and I headed into the Langtang Valley north of Kathmandu for some further trekking and acclimatising. We returned last night and expect to fly by helicopter into Makalu basecamp either tomorrow or on Wednesday.
Our other team mates, Joao and Jean-Luc, are also here in Kathmandu, so the team is complete and we are eager to get to the mountain and on with the expedition. The helicopter can only drop us at the lower ‘Hillary’ basecamp which is about one day’s trek from the real basecamp. With two tonnes of equipment to carry up the glacier, I expect it will take a week or so to be fully established. Some hard days ahead for us…
I’ll send another despatch once we are at basecamp and have had time to assess the conditions on the mountain.