Monday, November 24, 2008

New route on Ama?

Some have been calling it a new route. Some more accurately a variation to the standard SW ridge on Ama Dablam. Personally, after only being up there three years in a row and far from an expert, I believe the route below the Dablam is just inching it's way to the right every year.

The Dablam is no doubt getting smaller and with that, the face below it is becoming more scoured. Far more rock and hard ice are now exposed but the line is essentially the same. I've never seen such a mess of old, older and ancient lines before. The photo hardly does it justice.

In the future I foresee more of the same. It will take a strong collaboration between teams to push a line around the Dablam. Hats off to to boys who did it this year. Very strong climbing indeed.

With all that said. The SW ridge on Ama Dablam is about as classic as a route can be. The variation of climbing. Rock, ice, snow and mixed; combined with the mental exposure on one of the worlds most beautiful peaks makes Ama Dablam a must climb. All of the worlds peaks are are slowly falling apart, that's why they are so beautiful. The question is: How do we get up to their top's and back down safely? Care, teamwork, skill and most of all, a small ego. Maybe walking before one runs?


November team back at base camp...

...and we summited!

(photo: James Bingham rounding the dablam in blistering winds)

Zangbu Sherpa, Damian, Neal, James, Chris & Lahkpa Sherpa summited 6856m Ama Dablam at apx 12 noon on November 23.

Everyone is now back at base camp feeling exhausted but elated at the success of our big climb. The route was tough this year. High winds, bullet proof ice and cold temps made for an exciting push from the new camp 3. (see 'New route on Ama?' post)

After acclimatizing on Island Peak, we rested for a day in BC. We then moved to c1 and slept. Next we carried some gear to c2 and descended back to c2 Then up to c3 and to the summit the next day and back to c3. Yesterday we descended to base and here we are.

I have to mention once again how important and necessary the help of our local Sherpa staff was. Tsering, Pasang, Zangbu & Lahkpa worked so hard and without them, the climb would have been a totally different story. I'd love to hear more praise for these guys and girls. These unsung heroes always seem to get the generic "...and Sherpa" mention. Also, Nima Sherpa, from Su Swagatam trek, our local operator who runs our local logistics and so so much more. Hats off to anyone who climbs without Sherpa support on these big hills. Very proud indeed.

Anyway, Neal, Dale, Damian, Noel & James are headed over to climb Lobuche in a couple of days with Lahkpa & Zangbu in the lead. My seemingly endless drive seems to have ended. And, along with a few frozen digits, I am in desperate need of some rest below 4000m. Nothing serious, just a sign that after 6 months on expedition, it's time for some, pardon the pun, down time.

Chris from Ama Dablam base camp.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Island Peak Summits and on to Ama Dablam

photo: Dale Cottam approaching the summit of Island Peak 6186M (Chris Szymiec)

The November Ama Dablam team summited Island Peak yesterday morning at about 8am. Everyone is feeling great and we are now headed for Ama Dablam base camp. Island Peak was a very busy place yesterday and despite a lot of egos, inexperienced climbers and territorial sherpas, we managed to stay focused and have an amazing day in the hills. Leave the egos at home people, have fun and play safe. And, for future reference, when you decide to take down a fixed line, please be sure no one is rapping on it!!!

We are now acclimitized and hope to make a swift and safe summit push after a day or so of rest. We have camps 1 & 2 established and will be also setting a camp 3 in a safer spot lower on the mushroom ridge. I likely wont be able to write again until we are back at BC so please stay tuned.

Chris from Dingboche.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Team in Ama Base camp, headed for Island Peak

Hello from Ama Dablam Base camp.

The November FTA Ama Dablam team arrived at base camp this afternoon. We plan on spending tomorrow packing for our acclimatization trip to Island Peak and sharing some skills on the fixed rope course I've set up.

Three Polish climbers summited today and according to their Sherpa, the AD route is in great shape. There are only a few small teams here right now and base camp is more beautiful than ever.

Everyone is healthy and happy. Damian, Neil, Noel, Isabel, Dale, James and I are all excited for the fantastic days to come.

Stay tuned...

Chris from Ama base camp 4550M

Saturday, November 8, 2008

November Team Headed for Ama Base Camp

Hello from Namche Bazzar.

The November team is headed for Ama Dablam base camp and everyone is doing well. We will first go to Ama base camp then on to Island Peak once again (my 4th trip there) for an acclimatization climb. We are having some technical difficulties with our COM gear but i hope to iron this out in the days to come.

I will do my very best to keep all interested parties up to date in a timely and accurate manner.

We have a excellent team and we are all getting along great. I have a good feeling about this group. It's just one of those things. A bond between strangers that forms in times of challenge and adversity. Working together to build a team of brothers and sisters who will be there for each other on the hill and beyond. These bonds last forever and for some, the friendships formed in these high and dangerous places are some of the most steadfast and lasting of all.

Chris from Namche.
Climb on!