Saturday, September 24, 2011

FTA Satopanth 2011 - Back in BC with Champagne!

Spantik update - Safe in BC and headed out tomorrow!
Ben called in from BC to let us know that Gavin pulled out a stash of champagne and they had a great toast to the success of the trip last night! They will enjoy a final day today at BC getting packed up and ready to go when porters will arrive on the 25th. They will be out to Gangotri on the 26th and back in Delhi on the 29th if all goes well.

We will look forward to seeing all the photos from the climb and post a bunch here in a weeks time!

Next Trips for FTA
Already we are getting prepared in Nepal as we head to the Khumbu with Island Peak, Lobuche, Ama Dablam and more in the months ahead! We have some space still on out Oct & Nov trips so let us know if you fancy a challenging climb on a high peak or if you want to undertake one of the great treks to Everrest Base Camp!

We are already filling up our February Aconconcagua False Polish trip and have comfirmed Polish Glacier climbs in January and February as well. We are nearing confirmation of Ecuador trips and have spaces in January and February.

Farther Ahead
We have had a lot of interest in our  new Noshaq trip for next summer as well as a confirmed trip to Stok Kangri next September. Along with our usual Cho Oyu in April/May, Broad Peak & G2 in June/July and Spanik in August we are hopeful to add Nanga Parbat and a host of new "prep" trips to our lineup.

Prep trips
Heading to a high peak and want  a specific prep trip without the delays and challenges of high altitude? Join FTA guides for 8000m & 7000m prep trips in the Cascades (USA). Add a little more altitude and join us in Ecuador , Alaska & Argentina for prep trips as well. Watch our site for more info in the weeks ahead or drop us a note and we'll add you to our mailing list!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

FTA Satopanth 2011 - Summits!!!!

from Stu in the USA office
Sept 22, 2011

Ben has just called in with the good word from C2 - he and Nicole and Scott all topped out at 1:45pm!!!

They left C2 at about 5am and after nine hours of fantastic climbing and great view they reached the top and enjoyed great views of Shivling, Bhagirathi, Nanda Devi and more! The descent back to C2 took them about 4 hours of careful climbing on the sharp ridges and they were "a bit shagged" by the time they plunked down in their tents.

They were welcomed back by the HAP's Suresh and Sawan who had waited in reserve at C2 in case of any troubles on the summit bid. Ben said that aside from a few clouds and bit of wind they had a perfect day for the summit and Scott has already proclaimed it to be one of the best trips he's ever been on!

Ben has been on quite a few peaks (including Ama Dablam, Cho Oyu & Broad Peak) and sadi the route was as spectacular as anything he's been on. There is no doubt that this is one of the best remote and exciting climbs we have in the FTA lineup and we look forward to coming back in 2012 for a third successful trip!

When Ben gets back into Delhi in a weeks time we'll put up  a bunch of pics from this years exped and in the meantime you can enjoy  a few from our 2009 trip!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

FTA Satopanth 2011 - Summit Bid Ahead!

From Stu in the USA office
Sept 21, 2011

Satopanth Update
Ben called in just a few hours ago from C2 at 6000m to let us know that they are in position to make a summit bid tomorrow!

The route has been fixed out across the ridge (which leads to a sometimes used C3 at 6400m) and they plan to make a push from C2 to the top along with a Dutch team that is on the hill. At this time we have Ben, Suresh, Sawan, Nicole and Scott ready to leave at 4:30am for the top! Gavin is down at BC and doing well and ready to cheer them on as they make the push.

As they plan to leave from the base camp on the 25th or 26th at this time they have some room for a second attempt but this will be likely their best moment. The weather is perfect and it has not snowed in some days so the conditions are quite stable. They have the steep part of the ridge prepared and have a strong number of climbers to push the route where needed!

C2 vs C3 for a summit bid?
Making a push from C2 on Satopanth is akin to making a push from C2 on Ama Dablam. The benefits include being able to move lighter on steep sections without tents, sleeping bags, food, fuel and sleeping a bit lower means a better night of rest before the push.  It does make a for a longer day and without a higher camp they may feel the altitude a bit more. So their acclimatization and fitness will be tested for sure but they feel that the effort to push all the gear up to a C3 is not worth it for them as they feel they have the speed and strength for a summit from C2. The Dutch team is feeling the same way so that is good!

Ben plans to call in at the end of the day and let us know how the effort and we'll post the news as soon as we have it.

Earthquake not felt at Satopanth
I asked about the earthquake and Ben said they never felt anything at all and had not seen any unusual avalanche activity. I shared the news of the event and the damage to life and property in India, Tibet and Nepal and he was sad to hear the update. He and the entire team share their condolences to everyone affected by the quake.

Next for FTA
Ben will come out from this trip and head right back to Nepal to lead our Oct 5 Khumbu Peaks & Passes trip and then our Nov 4 Ama Dablam. We have spaces on both trips still with last minute discounts available so let us know!

Monday, September 19, 2011

FTA Satopanth 2011 - Update from C1

from stu in the usa office
Sept 19, 2011

Satopanth Update
Everyone at Satopanth is doing well and the route has now been pushed through to C2! Ben is at C1 and headed up to join the HAPs Suresh and Sawan in C2 tomorrow. Suresha nd Sawan are working on the route above C2 and Ben will join them and hopefully establish a high camp for a summit assault.

Nicole and Scott and Gavin are all at BC after the round of acclimitzation runs. Gavin has decided to give up his summit attempt as his ankle simply is not healing up quick enough to manage the demands of uneven surfaces constantly torquing an old injury. He does however plan on  enjoyig some day walks near BC in the meantime and joining the team for the walk back out to Gangotri. Scott and Nicole have already had nights at C2 and are ready to go for a summit bid on the 22nd if all goes well. They have  a great stretch of weather right now and they have an excellent window for  a summit bid ahead!

Earthquake in Sikim
There has been a very serious earthquake with an epicenter in Sikkim which has shaken Kathmandu and Delhi and caused damage and fatalities in India, Nepal and Tibet. We have many friends in the region and we are very concerned for their safety and still getting word from around the region. We know that the quake was felt very severely in Kathmandu and it caused a lot of damage including a large wall on the British Emnassy that collapsed.

 In 2009 our team was on the summit ridge when they felt the mountain waver under them due to an earthquake that was quite close to them.

Ben plans to call in later on and we'll have the latest from C2 shortly. At that time we'll also find out of they felt the effects of the earthquake. Ben's latest dispatch was after the earthquake so we know they are all fine.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

FTA Satopanth - C1 Established!

from stu in the UA office

Satopanth Update
Ben has left an audio dispatch (see below) which unfortunately is a little garbled in spots due to the bad connection with the Thuraya satellites and we'll have him put up another tomorrow and hope it connects better!

Fortunately Ben also called into the office and over two phone calls we were able to catch up on all the news from Satopanth!

At this time Nicole and Scott are up for the night at C1 and enjoying some pretty good views from up there! All of the FTA ropes and tents and stove and gear has been taken up to C1 and tomorrow Ben, Gavin and the HAP's hope to get their first night in C1 as well. Yesterday the entire crew took a good walk up to C1 and made the main load carry. Ben says it is just  a 3 hour cruise and gains about 200 vertical meters. Above C1 the real climbing starts and at this time there are a few other teams above that have been pushing the route through to near C2 so hopefully when our turn comes we'll have some of the route set and we can finish off any pieces needing more attention. Tomorrow when Ben is up in C1 he'll have a good check in with the other teams on the hill and we'll begin to formulate a good plan.

As long as the weather holds there is a good chance our team will not return to base camp until they are done with the attempt! Nicole and Scott are a very experienced pair and will be moving as strongly as they can on the hill and likely ahead of Ben, Gavin and even the HAP's!  Gavin is nursing a flare up in an old ankle injury so there may be an extra rest day or two built into the schedule and we'll hope it does not slow him down too much!

We'll have more news in the days ahead of the progress so check in often!

Birthday Gift - Satopanth Expedition
Birthday's on expedition are quite special and I am sure Nicole will not forget this particular one in Gangotri with Satopanth awaiting her just around the bend! I have been lucky enough to celebrate a few in Nepal and can see each one quite clearly (including three on FTA Ama Dablam expeditions with cakes made by our famous disco-chef Ratna Man Gurung!) Ben has now had a few in Pakistan under the flanks of Broad Peak and K2 - not a bad spot either! We would all recommend that you look for a great expedition during a birthday and enjoy impromptu cake in a remote environment! Let us know if one of our trips fit and what kind of cake you like!

Satopanth History

Satopanth had an early attempt by a German group in 1938 during the period of when German and Austrian expeditions were in full swing and included the first ascent of the Eiger's Nordwand by a group including Heinrich Harrer (Seven Years in Tibet ). The German team reached 20,000ft but were barred by the rocky ridge and the fact that they had only 2 climbers. The exploration and climbs that they dod accomplish on their trip make a great read!

In 1966 there was another attempt by a team consisted largely of a group of "Calcutta" climbers as they called themselves and had a supporting cast of Sherpas (including Everest summiteer Karma). They began too late in the season and ran into winter conditions and the climb was abandoned in mid Octoberr.  The team moved on from Satopanth to climb nearby Bhagirathi II with four members reaching the top on Oct 20. During the descent there was a tragic fall and in the end three of the summiteers succumbed to injuries on the mountain.  The full report can bea read below and is quite heartbreaking.

The peak was finally climbed by a Swiss team in 1947 and then it was another 33 years til it ewas climbed again! A report from a team in 1998 has quite a good history of many of the climbs and is a worthwhile read for anyone wanting to know more about the history of the area.—-the-mountain-of-good-faith/

Shivling next?
As this is our second expedition to Satopanth we are interested in expending our offerings in the region and Shivling and Kamet loom large. If you are interested in joining us in 2012 or 2013 let us know!

FTA Satopanth 2011 tean in Gangotri © arun chowdhury

Birthday for Nicole in Gangotri © arun chowdhury

Satopanth from near C1 © veronika bartova

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

FTA Satopanth - Gangotri rest day!

from stu in the usa office
Sept 7, 2011

Team update

Ben called in at the end of the day today to let us know that the team had had a great walk from the small town of Gangotri (3050m). Along the way they gained about 400m and enjoyed great views and

They celebrated Nicole's birthday today with a cake Arun had somehow managed to secretly bring along from Uttarkashi. How it survived intact is one of the new miracles of the Ganges but survive it did!

Tomorrow they will hope to get off by 9am to head to Bhujbasa at 3700m  and enjoy a first day on the trek to base camp!

Ben will plan to send in an audio dispatch so stay tuned!

Photos so you can follow along!

In 2009 on our last trip to Satopanth we ha a lot of great images taken by Veronika Bartova and i have put one below. To view the entire gallery you can go to her great site! Veronika is heading off on our Khumbu Peak and Passes trip starting October 5th so we'll look for some more amazing pics!

Gangotri Temple © Veronika Bartova

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

FTA Satopanth - Uttarkashi today Gangotri tomorrow!

From Ben in Uttarkashi
Sept. 6, 2011

The drive up from Rishikesh was quite amazing. The road was in poor shape
and we had to stop a number of times to wait for landslides to be cleared.
Having said that, it was fun and everyone was in good spirits. The drive is
very scenic, passing by a huge dam (26km long), according to our Liason
Officer, it is the largest in Asia and still not expected to be full until

Monday, September 5, 2011

FTA Satopanth under way - Rishikesh!

from Stu in the USA office

Ben has sent in two dispatches and I have them below. We'll be adding some pics along the way from our archives and fresh shots after the trip so come back often!


September 3

Greetings from New Delhi,

Today we received our climbing permit for Satopanth, meaning we are now pretty much set to leave Dehli tomorrow morning. Gavin arrived yesterday and got to experience true Delhi with a crazy rickshaw ride conveniently ending up at a large persian rug shop offering what was said to be the
"most spectacular deals on the highest quality rugs". (I bet!)

Nicole and Scott arrive tonight, rounding out our small team and will be met by Arun, our local agent here in Delhi.

The plan is to depart early tomorrow for Rishikesh, aiming to get in around mid-afternoon, giving us time to have a stroll around and take in the culture. The drive itself will likely be an experience in itself, and those of you that have experienced Indian traffic understand that it can be both terrifying and exciting. Somehow the chaos works!

All the best for now and check back for more updates.



From Rishekesh
Sept 4, 2011

We got into Rishikesh an hour ago. Had a great lunch at a roadside restaurant that put the high-end Indian restaurants at home to shame. I forgot how much richer the spices are here.

Everyone is doing well. We lodged our insurance details with the IMF this morning so as far as I know we've covered everything we needed to from their point of view.

About to watch the floating lamps down the river!

Group dynamics is great. Scott, Nicole, Gavin are all doing great and we are enjoying the entire staff - especially our LO Rakesh. He is an amazing young man - he's climbed Bhagarati 3, so he's probably the strongest in our group!


[note: Rishikesh is the location of the ashram of the Maharashi Mahesh Yogi which the Beatles famously visited in 1968 for an advanced transcendental meditation training
While they were there they wrote (or co-wrote) at least 30 songs and by some counts 48 songs in 7 weeks including Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-D, Back in the U.S.S.R., Blackbird, Dear Prudence, Revolution, Rocky Raccoon. If you are looking for a place to revitalize your creative instincts we can recommend it!]

FTA Spantik 2011 Recap

From Tim in Kathmandu
5th September, 2011

FTAs 2011 Spantik expedition got off to a flying start, literally, with all members directly connecting their international flights with the domestic flight to Skardu bypassing Islamabad altogether!

The trek in to Spantik is really spectacular, the highlights being camping in the green fertile Valley by Arandu Village and the trek across the amazing flat expanse of the Chogo Lugma Glacier.

We arrived in Base camp to find the joint Australian /Pakistan Military team packing up in preparation to leave the mountain the next morning, which they did in a Mi18 helicopter! While it was a little annoying for us having to restrain our camp from being blown down to the Glacier under the down draft for the chopper, it did leave us the mountain all to our selves which was really cool!