Saturday, October 27, 2012

2012 Himlung Expedition

We travelled to the Lost valleys of Nar and Phu over the past few weeks (October 2012) to climb Mount Himlung, a 7126 meter (23,379 feet) mountain on the Tibetan border with Nepal.  We nearly reached the top, deciding to turn back for the sake of safety.  We felt very far from home up there on that day, the wind constantly droning and us quite alone in a big place with minimal gear.  Himlung presented an interesting challenge this Autumn 2012.  While there were ~4 teams in base camp, none of us had encountered the mountain in these conditions.
Crevasses were bare and lain open, the route not straightforward as in past years on most of the mountain.  We ended up needing a lot more rope and manpower for breaking trail to get as high on the mountain as we did.  It was 12 pm, and clouds were rolling in that could potentially obscure the entire mountain as it had the two days prior, obstructing our view and the way down.  We had to turn back; and

Saturday, September 8, 2012

2012 Tsomoriri Peaks Exploratory

Our second trip to the high and wild Tsomoriri region, this journey was nothing short of spectacular, with the right amount of exploring, excellent cuisine, and some good laughs in the dining tent.  We're excited to return to this region in July of 2013.
Looking east from the summit ridge of Lanyar peak. The Great Himalaya range in the far distance.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

2012 Upper Zanskar Traverse

The 2012 Upper Zanskar traverse was an excellent adventure.  We warmed up over the Shingo La, headed through a wild upper corner of Zanskar; visiting traditional Tibetan villages, and then began our exploratory of the Lingti region; via the Phirtse La. This trip our second double traverse of the Great Himalaya range for the summer, and a new 6000 meter peak under our belts.  A well rounded trek and climb.
on the summit of the Phirtse La, descending into Lingti.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

2012 GHT - High Passes of Miyar

The 2012 GHT- High Passes of Miyar exploratory was a wild trip.   We got our trekking legs  under us in the flowery meadows of the lower Miyar Valley, exploring some of the side valleys, and then moved onto the Ice.  The glacier didn’t disappoint, with stellar views of the potential climbing routes and fine weather.  We successfully crossed the Kang La into Zanskar, and after some days of rest, went for a climb of an unnamed 6000 meter peak in the Raru valley.  Shut down by snow, we said goodbye to Ron and Jerry at Padum, and headed into upper Zanskar for a visit to 2500 year old Phugtal Monastery, a new traverse of the Great Himalaya range into the Mayar (not Miyar) valley, and a new ascent of an unnamed slightly technical 6000 meter peak in the area.  A solid exploratory, with a double traverse of the Range, and a new peak under our belts.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

2012 Shishapangma Expedition - Tibet

The 2012 Shishapangma expedition was an excellent adventure.  We didn't manage to make the true summit during this particular good weather season window. As a matter of fact, no one summitted the mountain this season, contrary to several reported successes.  Why?  Simply because the mountain was bony with hard blue ice pitches, exposed rock that is usually snow covered, and wickedly persistent winds.  Teams attempted several different routes on the north side of the mountain with no true success.  While Shishapangma is the lowest of the 14 8000 meter peaks, it remains a wild, untamed, and well-guarded summit that few attain; unlike its lofty neighbors.

The team gathers in Kathmandu.

Our Base Camp with Shishapangma in the distance.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

2012 Shishapangma Expedition - Mountain History

 Shishapangma was first reconnoitered by a Chinese - Tibetan team in 1963, who reached 7200 meters on the north ridge before descending in poor weather.  It was the following year, on May 2nd, 1964 that it had its first successful summit, also by a Chinese team.

The North - Northeast Face of Shishapangma (image: Luke Smithwick)

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

2012 Changtang Winter Peak Exploration

Stephanie Schnieder flew in to Ladakh in February with a singular objective to climb to 6000 meters, in winter.  Day one, we quickly began acclimatizing; exploring old town Leh, and visiting with locals.  We developed our objective based on weather for the week, and current road conditions.  Planning ahead for winter 6000 meter ascents in Ladakh can leave you searching for consolation prizes, as passes close overnight, and where you can get in, you may not be able to get out.  After meeting with our local expert jeep  man, Angchuk, we hatched our plan.  We would head in to Tso Kar lake, over 5250 meter Polokongka La, and go for a quick ascent of 6053 meter Tukje Ri.  We knew that the pass could close any day due to wind drifting snow, and made sure the skies kept clear and nothing harbingered a change on the horizon.

A herd of more than 100 Kiang graze on the plains of Tso Kar.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

2012 Peaks of Annapurna Exploratory

summit day on Syagang Ri

The goal on this particular trip was simple; acclimatize, and see how much climbing we could get done.  In the end, we found unstable and late seasonal snow in the Annapurnas, which turned us back from a nice summit on a rarely climbed peak in the northern portion of the range.  Setting out from Kathmandu, we had a Chullu West permit in hand; but when snow for 6 out of 9 days on the Chullu's became a reality while on approach; we opted to look in another less visited portion of north central Nepal.  We climbed some new ice, got to 6000 meters on a nice peak, and experienced the warm hospitality of the Thakali, Gurung, and Manangi people of the region. 

Friday, January 27, 2012

2012 Chadar Expedition

This year's Chadar was excellent; our timing right for having most of the river to ourselves.  On the day we stepped off the ice, more than 100 people were present in first camp, staged to journey the gorge.  Below, you'll find ramblings and images that illustrate the trip.