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    Makalu 2009: Final Post with Photos

    Cc I’ve been home from Makalu almost two weeks now and it’s been almost three weeks since I last posted -- time flies. I was able to leave base camp very quickly because Cory Richards injured his knee in the deep snow just a few hours from base camp, the day after my last call. He necessitated a helicopter evacuation from base camp and I was able to hitch a ride out. Two and a half hours of flying at 120 knots sure beats walking eight days when you’re just ready to go home!

    Editor's note: Steve House puts the finishing touches on his Makalu 2009 series today with a bunch of photos from the trip. You'll find links to the rest of the series -- most of which include sat-phone calls from Makalu -- at the bottom of this post.

    [Me on the phone with you at www.thecleanestline.com from 7400 meters (24,270 ft). Lhotse is behind me. What a perfect day! (I needed four of these in a row to climb the west face.) All photos © Steve House.]

    Once in Kathmandu I was able to change my ticket for the very next day. Unfortunately, almost as soon as I landed, I was hit with news of the loss of Patagonia Ambassador Jonny Copp, Mountain Hardware athlete Micah Dash, and young filmmaker Wade Johnson on China’s Mount Edgar. While tragic, it certainly made it difficult for me to feel any self-pity for my own problems. Deadlines, work, trying to get some climbing in; I am happy to be alive and healthy and home.

    What follows is a slide show with a few of the highlights (and low-lights) from my recent adventure: trying to solo the world’s fifth highest mountain, Makalu. At many of these junctures, including at the Makalu La at 24,000 feet, I took you, the Cleanest Line listener, right along with me. I said then that I wished I could send pictures. Well, here they are:

    Continue reading "Makalu 2009: Final Post with Photos " »

    Makalu 2009: Makalu 2, Steve 0

    Westface

    Just as he predicted, Steve House and Cory Richards were not able to summit Makalu via the normal route. The same snow storm that collapsed the kitchen in base camp has halted their progress at approximately 20,000 feet.

    Audio_graphic_20pxListen to Steve House – Makalu, May 29, 2009
    (mp3 – 2:30 – right-click to download)

    This is the second time Steve's been thwarted by weather on Makalu. If you're wondering whether or not he'll be back, consider what he wrote at the beginning of this trip: "Visiting the same peak twice makes it a project. Three times is an obsession." Hopefully Steve will call again before heading home with his final thoughts on Makalu.

    Previous posts from the trip:
    Makalu Again
    Getting Acclimated
    High Altitude Pulmonary Edema
    Back to Normal
    Greetings from 24,300 Feet
    Collapsed Kitchen

    ["The west face of Makalu awaits a direct route up the face and it awaits an alpine style ascent." Photo: Steve House]

    Makalu 2009: Collapsed Kitchen

    CRP-Makalu 09-01124
    [Makalu base camp after the storm, May 2009. Photo: Cory Richards]

    In today's call from Makalu, Steve House describes a tropical storm that dropped 36 inches of wet snow in 36 hours on base camp. The weight of the snow was enough to collapse their cook tent. Undeterred and with time running out, Steve is going to head up Makalu one more time with friend and photographer Cory Richards who kindly emailed the photos attached to this post.

    Audio_graphic_20pxListen to Steve House – Makalu, May 27, 2009
    (mp3 – 5:44 – right-click to download)

    CRP-Makalu 09-01074 Previous posts from the trip:
    Makalu Again
    Getting Acclimated
    High Altitude Pulmonary Edema
    Back to Normal
    Greetings from 24,300 Feet

    [Steve House, Makalu 2009. Photo: Cory Richards]

    Makalu 2009: Greetings from 24,300 Feet

    Above camp2 everest on right 2

    Today Steve House makes good on his promise to call from camp 2 on the normal route of Makalu. From the first few heavy breaths to his attempt at simply walking 10 feet, this call will give you a pretty good sense of what it's like to be at 24,300 feet, in top physical shape, without supplemental oxygen.

    Audio_graphic_20pxListen to Steve House – Makalu, May 21, 2009
    (mp3 – 5:38 – right-click to download)

    In 2007, Steve, Marko and Vince brought us along to the summit of K7 West with their video camera. To put things in perspective, the summit of K7 West is 22,447 feet (6842m) – almost 2,000 feet lower than the elevation Steve called from today and a good 5,000 feet lower than the summit of Makalu at 27,762 feet (8,462m).

    [View from above camp 2 during the 2008 Makalu expedition. That's Everest (29,029 ft) on the right. Photo: Steve House]

    Previous posts from the trip:
    Makalu Again
    Getting Acclimated
    High Altitude Pulmonary Edema
    Back to Normal

    Makalu 2009: Back to Normal

    Camp 2 on normal route 3

    After last week's scary call it was great to hear a spry sounding Steve House on the voicemail this morning. He recovered well from his bout with HAPE and will be heading up to camp 2 on Makalu's normal route tomorrow. Have a listen and you'll hear about the healing atmosphere of a yak pasture, some observations on the style in which the Indian army recently climbed Makalu and Steve's thoughts on the use of bottled oxygen in mountaineering.

    Audio_graphic_20pxListen to Steve House – Makalu, May 19, 2009
    (mp3 – 6:38 – right-click to download)

    [View of camp 2 from the normal route. Makalu, October 2008. Photo: Steve House]

    Previous posts from the trip:
    Makalu Again
    Getting Acclimated
    High Altitude Pulmonary Edema

    Update: fixed caption.

    Makalu 2009: High Altitude Pulmonary Edema

    Proud west face_2

    [The proud west face, October 2008. "My goal for this trip is to assess the feasibility of a route out of the upper most (right hand) ice field in the center-right of this face. The top of the top ice field is about 7,400 meters. I hope to get there and touch the headwall." Photo: © Steve House]

    Steve House called in this morning with the latest news from his Makalu expedition. It's hard to imagine drowning when you're 22,000 feet above sea level but that's what almost happened to Steve the other night in his tent at high camp.

    Audio_graphic_20pxListen to Steve House – Makalu, May 14, 2009
    (mp3 – 11:21 – right-click to download)

    Steve mentioned carrying medicine for High Altitude Pulmonary Edema in a post he wrote back in 2007, but this is the first time he's experienced the condition himself. Our best goes out to Steve for a speedy recovery and hopefully some more time on the mountain.

    Previous posts from the trip:
    Makalu Again
    Getting Acclimated

    Makalu 2009: Getting Acclimated

    Makalu bc_2 With his sat. phone all repaired, Steve House called from Makalu base camp last Thursday. Then it was our turn for technical difficulties here in Ventura. Now that everything's up and running again we're happy to share Steve's first phone update from the base of Makalu's West Face, the fifth highest peak in the world.

    Audio_graphic_20pxListen to Steve House – Makalu, May 7, 2009
    (mp3 – 3:11 – right-click to download)

    Previous posts from the trip:
    Makalu Again

    [Steve's tent at Makalu base camp, October 2008. Photo: © Steve House]

    Makalu 2009: Makalu Again

    Kathmandu from the air 2 Editor's note: After an unsuccessful attempt last year due to foul weather, Steve House is heading back to Makalu for some more reconnaissance and possibly another alpine-style attempt at the west face. Steve sent the following email yesterday from the halfway point on the nine-day trek to Makalu base camp.

    Rock climbers and boulderers attempt their routes dozens, hundreds, sometimes thousands of times over weeks, months, or years. Alpine climbing is a bit different. Visiting the same peak twice makes it a project. Three times is an obsession. Only a very few climbers have ever mounted expeditions to the same peak four times.

    I traveled to K7 three times, Nanga Parbat three times and now I'm heading to Makalu for the second time. Some people call me obsessive, I just think of this as how you get things done. The west face of Makalu awaits a direct route up the face and it awaits an alpine style ascent.

    [Logistics for a trip to Makalu are handled in Kathmandu. Famous city, bad air. Photo: © Steve House.]

    Continue reading "Makalu 2009: Makalu Again" »

    Makalu: The Last Installment

    Makalupostcard_2 The last time Steve House called from Makalu base camp in Nepal, we heard that strong winds had kept he, Vince Anderson and Marko Prezelj from even starting up the West Face. It was a major disappointment after all the team went through to get to the mountain.

    But that's not the end of the story. After hearing about another weather window Steve decided to try climbing the West Face solo on November 4. Today, in his final call of the trip, Steve tells us about his solo attempt and shares some final thoughts, especially how it feels to be back down at a more civilized elevation.

    Audio_graphic_3_2 Listen to Makalu Update 9
    (mp3 – 8:01 - right-click to download)

    Our thanks go out once again to Steve for taking the time to call in with his reports, and to Vince Anderson for his emails and the photo of Makalu 2. Steve, Vince and Marko would like to thank the Mugs Stump Award and the American Alpine Club for their support of the expedition, and all of you for listening.

    [Farewell Makalu. Until next time? Photo: Marko Prezelj]

    Complete coverage of the Makalu expedition can be found here: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11.

    Makalu: Blown Away

    Makalupostcard_2 Steve, Vince and Marko spent last night at the base of the wall but returned to base camp this morning due to extremely strong winds. Attempting Makalu's West Face in less than ideal conditions is one thing, attempting it in a storm of flying rocks and ice chunks is just not smart. Steve House shares the details in this morning's call:

    Audio_graphic_3_6 Listen to Makalu Update 8
    (mp3 – 2:12 - right-click to download)

    We'll keep you posted if the team decides to extend their trip. Otherwise, our thanks go out to Steve and Vince for taking the time to bring us along for the ride. 

    Previous posts from this story: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10.

    [The elusive West Face of Makalu. Nepal. Photo: Marko Prezelj]

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