Website- Peak Freak Expeditions

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Everest 2013' Tragedy Story & Current Avalanche Concerns

I Writer Chip Brown with National Geographic has pieced together a very good article after speaking
directly to some of those involved. It's officially released today and we'd like to share it with you.

http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2014/11/sherpas/brown-text

There's been too many avalanche related deaths this year in Nepal.  16 Sherpas lives lost on Everest in April ( Nepal's peak spring season) and currently 38 avalanche deaths + in the Annapurna and Manang region in October (Nepal's peak autumn season).

I found this information on the Canadian Avalanche Associations website today. http://avalanche.ca

There are approximately 150 avalanche fatalities reported every year by the 17 countries that are members of the International Commission for Alpine Rescue (ICAR). 

I wonder what that figure will look like in the years to come. Climate change is making the mountains more dangerous than ever before and this is cause for concern in our mountain town of Nelson, B.C. and surrounding areas.

Autumn is now upon us now here in Canada. I look out the window and the peaks are slowly turning white in higher elevations, indicating the ski and board season is about to begin. Typically mid November the accumulation adds up enough for backcountry skiers to begin testing slopes, well before the controlled ski areas are open. This can be a very dangerous time of year as heavy snow falls will need time to heal and bond to the warm earth underneath.

Where we live it's a backcountry mecca. We have the highest concentration of helicopter and Cat Ski operators in the world and access to some of the deepest untouched-skiable-powder routes on the planet, and all are in avalanche in terrain.

In the weeks to come outdoor enthusiast will start tuning their equipment, theatres start pumping out adrenalin flicks like Warren Miller, and people get pumped. It think it would be safe to say that 80% of the people that live here are ski and board enthusiast. Getting educated in avalanche awareness and skills and sharing your knowledge and daily findings in the snow pack is a way of life in the Kootenays. Just a reminder it's that time of year again to tune your avalanche awareness along with your edges. 



On another note- Peak Freaks has been sponsoring Nepal's one and only ski team with proper clothing. Anyone wanting to donate jackets and pants and lightly used gloves, they would be very much appreciated. The Nepalese people are small people so perhaps some teen or women gear would fit nicely. 


Triple Crown- Mountaineering Safety Course  team are now at base camp at the base of Island Peak. Everyone is doing well and in the morning, NPT they are having their Puja. This will be their second one this season. First the one with Lama Geshi in Pangboche and now the one at base camp where their food and equipment will be blessed.




Saturday, 18 October 2014

Nangkartshang Peak (5,050m) - Summit!


All I received today is this photo from team member Chris Boyce of team Peak Freaks on top of their acclimatization objective above Dingboche. Tim has switched up his check-in time to Nepal mornings (12 hours difference from my time PDT) instead of evenings so I don't have the details of their day yet. Satellite signals appeared to be better in the the morning for reception, but this may change now that usage has settled down post avalanche tragedy in the Annapurna region and weather. 

Our weather reports are what we'd call a mixed bag which is a good thing. In the mountains this means stability. No high winds that typically come with clear skies, no extreme day time melt and flurries with just 1 to 2 cm on the horizon that will bond to the snowpack nicely.

Tim did tell me in his last call that there's already been some summits on Island Peak by other teams and the routes are in good shape here in the Khumbu. Though the snow pack is stabilizing, passing under steep exposed snow loaded slopes or seracs need experienced and professional observations to determine the risks. 

Becky

Nangkartshang Peak (5,050m)
Photo - Chris Boyce



Friday, 17 October 2014

Pheriche-4,371 m (14,340 ft)

Peak Freak members are all checked-in at the lodge in Pheriche.

 They are doing well, just a couple headaches due to the rise in elevation today.  This is considered normal at this point in time of their itineray. To help eleviate their headaches and to push the their bodies into acclimatizing, they will rise above the village tomorrow to approximately 300m/1000m to  the top of a non-technical peak. After lunch in on top and hanging about and shooting photos, they will return to Pheriche to sleep. The "climb high-sleep low" rule for proper acclimatization practices. 

You can read more information on Acute Mountain Sickness- AMS, click on the link.

Day after tomorrow they move up to their Island Peak base camp and settle into the comforts of life on a major mountaineering expedition. Private sleeping tents, great meals, warmth and begin workshops on various aspects of mountaineering.

Our Everest Base Camp trekkers will join in on the fun before moving up to Kala Pattar and the Khumbu ice-fall.

Tengboche Monastery with  Everest and surrounding mountains.
Provided by: Craig Falkenhagen



Thursday, 16 October 2014

Photo Upload from the Triple Crown Team

I would think these photos show exactly how well our team is doing, the weather and conditions they are experiencing in the Khumbu (Everest Region) right now.

Hope this helps alleviate concerns of families at home. They are currently in Pangboche, the home of Lama Geshi who will be preforming a blessing for the team tomorrow. To ask for clear passage and safety for the team.  They are all doing well and looking forward the days to come.

  Becky




List of rescued trekkers in the Manang/Annapurna region

TAAN- The trekking association in Nepal has put up a list of persons rescued so far from the avalanche zone.

You will see it here on their Facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/taan.np/photos/pcb.770296149686020/770295419686093/?type=1&theater

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Nepal Avalanche Hazards- To climb or not to climb?

We are getting asked this question as result of the recent avalanche that has taken life once again in the Himalayas. The answer to that would be that a professional guide outfitter is paid to manage risk and should have all the expertise to back their decision making and make a call to the best of their educated knowledge. We saw this cyclone coming. We wonder if the people in this incident did?

We weren't there and don't have all the details on the situation that these people were in and our heart felt condolences go out to their families. It's a sad sad day. I pray for all those lost in this tragic cyclone event both on and off the mountains and other parts of the world that are experiencing the same thing right now. Global Warming is real, it's here and it's now, and people around the world are living the nightmare.

Last season we were in this situation and responded accordingly. Another non-seasonal cyclone hit the region the exact same day as this year, it covered the mountains in the Khumbu region where our team is right now. Usually we deal with cyclone events formed in the Bay of Bengal in the spring, rarely do they come in the autumn.  Last October we had three peaks to climb on our schedule with both climbers and a group of trekkers. We waited and we watched for two of the three peaks to shed and become stable before climbing. The third peak we cancelled altogether without hesitation.

In both scenarios the first thing a guide would do is pay very careful attention to the accumulation of snow, wind loading the slopes, terrain, and temperatures. Most importantly after the storm, the guide would make close observations on the shedding of the snow load and temperatures before moving up or down, and especially under exposed areas or tight areas. Tim says from what he sees in the footage on the Nepalese televisions there was an accumulation of about 2 feet of snow that would definitely warrant staying put.

When a climber or trekker joins a professionally organized expedition with experience in avalanche evaluation and risk management, potential hazards are addressed on the information provided to the customer- stating that the outfitter reserves the right to change, alter modify and cancel an expedition for many reasons, and especially a snow storm that makes passage very dangerous. We've done exactly this on several occasions. You have to - it's the mountains! They are constantly changing and so should we.

We aren't seeing the snow loads in the Khumbu where our team is right now. However things can change and so will our itineraries if needed to keep everyone safe.

Buyer beware! There is an abundance of amateur- uneducated -operators working in avalanche risks  areas in the Himalayas. The Nepalese government and industry has been sadly damaged the past few years by loss of life and misinformation and they are working hard to make it harder for just anyone to guide people in the Himalayas.  Thank- goodness!!

One of the main components on our "Triple Crown" Everest Training Climb taking place right now, is a section on Avalanche Awareness and Safety Skills. Tim is a professional member of the Canadian Avalanche Association here in Canada and shares his knowledge to both our Sherpa staff and our participants. Far too many people climb in the Himalayas with guides of all walks without even thinking about getting this valuable and life-saving education beforehand for themselves, and instead rely on the guide-outfitter to make the sole decision on their behalf. We urge anyone going into any uncontrolled snow environment to take a course. We can't express this enough - take our course! do it for your family! avalanches aren't going away.


Becky Rippel
Peak Freaks










Meet the Team- Triple Crown 2014' Expedition

Peak Freak members escaped grounded flights in Kathmandu and most of snow that has created deadly avalanches in the Annapurna region. They are safe in the Everest region that did not get the direct hit from cyclone Hudbud as it passed over the Himalayas. 

Their photos coming out of there today are showing sunny skies and no snow on the ground. Tim said the team is watching on TV right now at the Zamling lodge in Namche Bazaar the local Nepal news who is reporting 12 dead so far and at least 50 rescues in other areas, not the Khumbu- Everest region. 



Email from one member just now:

Hi Becky.  Greetings from Namche!

Thank you so much for that completely unexpected birthday cake last night at Zamlings.  It had to be one of my best and most memorable birthdays ever - starting with a great walk up from Monjo, a fun afternoon in Namche and spectacular lightning and thunder in the evening.

Hsrd to believe, but this trip might even be better than my trip last year to EBC.  We have a fantastic group, and Tim is blast to be around.  He really makes things fun.  What a guy.

The weather cleared today and we had spectacular scenery on our day trip up to Khunde and Khumjung.

What a trip!

Best regards,
Craig Falkenhagen


TEAM LIST

Climbers:

1. Sahil Bhagat - USA/India
2. Craig Falkenhagen-USA
3. Philip Stover - Canada
4. John Forestell- Canada
5. Maria Grandberg- Sweden
6. Priya Singh- Canada/India
7. Chris Boyce- USA
8. Adam Mason- UK
9. Dean Gabriele- Canada
10. Romano Mihailovic- Australia
11. Derek Jarvis- Canada
12. Dekel Berenson- Israel
13. Tim RIppel

Trekkers:

1. Colin Evans- Australia
2. Doug Thompson- Canada
3. Karen Jungnitsch- Canada
4. Jason Simons- Bermuda
5. Chris Walbourne- Canada





Craig Falkenhagen photo of Tim on the trail near Namche Bazaar
Triple Crown Expedition 2014'