After a long cold winter, spring is in full swing. Hundreds of mountaineers will be hitting the trails up new and old routes, including the well-trodden paths to the world's highest peak. Many of the mountaineers are women aiming for new records.
Like every year, dozens of commercial expeditions will attempt Chomolungma, from both the Nepal and China sides. The north side will have to wait till the Chinese open the Tibet border at the beginning of April.
And like every season, there will be several attempts to break records, including on the slopes of Chomolungma. World record holder Apa Sherpa will be heading for a 20th summit.
American mountain guide and climber Melissa Arnot is also back on Mt Everest to become the first American woman to summit it without the use of supplementary oxygen. Only four women have done that, with New Zealand mountain guide Lydia Bradey becoming the first in 1988. Arnot has already stood on the summit twice before.
Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner from Austria will also be attempting Everest without artificial oxygen. The 39-year old will be climbing the treacherous North Face with her husband Ralf Dujmovits. If successful, Kaltenbrunner will be the first woman to reach the top of the world via the difficult Hornbein Couloir, which was first climbed by an American expedition in 1963, and she will only need to summit Pakistan's K2 to have climbed all fourteen 8000m mountains in the world.
There are currently three other women who have almost achieved this goal. Kaltenbrunner, however, has repeatedly emphasised that she does not see this feat as a race. What is more important to the former nurse is the satisfaction of summiting via interesting routes, without the help of Sherpas or supplementary oxygen.
South Korean climber Oh Eun-Sun is currently on her last 8000er, Annapurna I. This is the tenth highest peak and is considered one of the most treacherous due to the danger of avalanches. Oh was on Annapurna I last autumn but failed to reach the 8091m summit due to bad weather. If she reaches the top this time, she will be the first woman to have stood on top of all fourteen 8000m peaks in the world.
Edurne Pasaban is also attempting to climb Annapurna I, her penultimate 8000m peak. If successful, the Spanish climber only needs Shishapangma in Tibet to tick off her list of 8000ers.
Annapurna I could see a few other 'firsts' this season, with South Korean's Park Young-Seok trying to establish a new route on the massive South Face of the mountain. Park is an old hand at Himalaya climbing and has already summited all 8000m peaks. Meanwhile, Joao Garcia is aiming to become the first Portuguese and 19th person overall to stand atop all 8000m peaks. The first person to do so was Italian Reinhold Messner in 1986.
The world's fifth highest peak Makalu will see expeditions climbing the North-West Ridge, the route taken by Frenchmen Lionel Terray and Jean Couzy when they became the first to climb the 8463m peak in 1955.
But two American climbers, Marty Schmid and Chris Warner, are hoping to climb a new SW Ridge and SE Ridge route to the summit this year.
The 2010 spring mountaineering season in the Nepal Himalaya has just started, so get ready for the records to tumble.