The indoor climbing wall was finished, both sections and then I decided to add another section for dry tooling, not using real ice tools, but the awesome Furnace Industries Dry Ice Tools. This obvioulsy put me back some time as the dry tooling section of the wall is huge and it takes time for me to get things done as when it comes to carpentry, I'm very anal about the finished product.
Anyway, the joint is looking awesome but it's still not finished, but I hope to have it ready for the winter ice climbing season in the Catskills.
We climbed Makalu in the spring of 2017, which was an amazing climb on an uncrowded mountain. Even though we missed the actual summit by 14 vertical meters or so due to a dodgy looking cornice on the final ridge that none of us, and none of the other climbers following us (we were fixing ropes on the entire route) decided to try to cross.
Dhaulagiri, Makalu and Annapurna are all uncrowded peaks in the spring and fall and we had hoped to form teams on these peaks over the next few years, but the draw of Everest is still the major peak for most aspiring Himalayan climbers. To this day the three most requested peaks I get contacted about are Everest, Cho Oyu and Ama Dablam respectively.
Anyway I'm now back on Everest after a season off, my 15th time, and I think the break on Makalu was good for me as I'm really looking forward to heading back to Everest in Tibet (last time was in 2012 and 2013 spring seasons) and seeing some my old students from the Tibet Guide School, whom will be in charge of fixing ropes on the route for the CTMA.
We have an awesome team of experienced climbers, looking to make a late May/early June summit when the crowds have gone, even though the north side of the hill is not crowded anyway.
UPDATE: We had a lot of summits on the 22nd May and were the only team on the north side of the mountain going for the summit that day, and were in fact the last team to reach the top on the north side this season.
Fricking amazing summit day, zero wind and possibly 15-20F temperatures combined with amazing team members and loyal trustworthy Sherpa. We were all too strong, too fast, and reached the summit in the dark as we were concerned about a possible storm hitting the hill on our descent to Advanced Base Camp.
We had no problems with our oxygen system, in matter of fact, that's why we were so fast, so a big thanks as always to Summit Oxygen and their reliable oxygen system.
Kami Neru 'Mad Dog' Sherpa, who's got to be one of the strongest guys I have climbed with and myself reached the summit in just over three hours from high camp and were back at camp three two hours later. Our other team members and their respective Sherpa were not far behind and we were all back safely at ABC by mid afternoon.
We will be running another Everest north expedition in 2019 and have already taken several bookings. Let's hope we can do it in a similar time frame to this year, 31 days Kathmandu to the summit and return to Kathmandu.
I cannot say enough great things about this place. Last summer I was so busy with the lodge, refuge, whatever it's called this week, that I purposely only ran one trip to the Ishinca Valley. This year I'm climbing, not doing construction, so I'm looking forward to spending the entire season down there.
We already have three full expeditions and I am honored to finally be working with Jamie H. Quintana, one of the most talented Peruvian UIAGM guides in the business.
Perhaps I can finally knock off that epic traverse of some of the most famous Cordillera Blanca peaks that I have been looking at doing for the past several years.
I'm looking forward to returning once again to Cholatse, hoping to make my fifth summit, on this super technical and beautiful peak. Okay, so we place fixed ropes, but hey, The Junkies are a commercial expedition company, so it makes sense to do so. The majority of the haters, who say fixed ropes are not necessary, wouldn't know where to start to climb on Cholatse without them. Want to be Himalayan alpinists, for the most part have no clue in regards to the scale of these mountains and the conditions encountered. It's so easy to make plans and comment on others in chat rooms. Shut the f**k up I say and get your ass to the Himalayas and show me you can climb, rather than judging those folks whom make the effort to head to Nepal and Tibet and actually enjoy the safety of fixed ropes, guides and Sherpa support staff.
UPDATE: As usual when we arrived at base camp we were the only team present and then others showed up after. When climbers know ropes will be fixed on this super technical peak it makes sense to show up after all the hard and expensive work is done by a few teams. I want all climbers to be safe on Cholatse but they don't all have to claim to be climbing alpine style, when we know they will be using the fixed ropes we have placed. We had some very dry conditions on Cholaste this fall season. Our usual snow plod accross the glacier was ice with exposed rock on the lower sections. The climbing route was a lot harder than in past seasons due to more technical mixed climbing sections with a lot of steep ice and rock. Some of the team topped out at 6am after departing high camp at midnight. The superstar Sherpas Kami Neru and Pasang Nima fixed ropes to the top the previous day in a marathon climb. These were very unusual conditions this year and our team coped well with the changes.
Ama Dablam is a beautiful peak, although it's overcrowded in October and November. When I was last there climbing her in November of 2015, there were too many people on her flanks, that should have not been there, actually they should not have even been trekking, that's how bad of climbers they were. I may sound judgemental, and yes, that's because I am. Anyway we have a team going to climb her in late November/early December. It's going to be colder than a month earlier during the busy season but we may the only folks on the hill, and that's the way I like it.
UPDATE: A very quiet mountain with only two expeditions present, and we worked together well. It was warmer in December on Ama over Cholatse in October, go figure. The mountains were very dry this fall season and there was very little snow on Ama. We had summits in ealry December and were back in Kathmandu less than 24 hours after reaching the top, thanks to our preference to take helicopters everywhere.
We had originally planned to return to Everest in Tibet for the 2019 spring season. Some new rules and additional fees being charged by the China Tibet Mountaineering Association have left us a little concerned to say the least. We have therefore decided to return to Makalu for 2019. No crowds, no unreasonable additional fees, and no politics. Just a classic climb of an awesome mountain. We use helicopters wherever possible in Nepal so we will fly into base camp and fly out of advanced base camp to make the trip as short as possible.