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. 

Agnieszka Pilarczyk - climber

                                                                            Tserku Sherpa - local guide

                                                                   Luke Smithwick - trip organizer and guide

We passed through the village of Koto on our way to base camp, and encountered happy local kids celebrating the color and paint infused Hindu festival of Holi.  Agnieszka got tagged, I managed to avoid the onslaught by keeping my poker face.

Moving up valley  over a period of ten days, we passed through the beautiful upper Marsyangdi Valley.  With all the negative talk, I wasn't too excited to see what had happened to the valley I'd first visited in 2001.  I was content to see that while the road is progressing, the valley still retains its wild feel just five minutes off the trail. The Annapurna Trek is still quite worth a go, and allows for some fine exploring.  Pisang Peak in the background in image above, note the seasonal snow.

Choughs circle in view of Annapurna II

 We climbed some new ice in the upper headwaters of the Marsyangdi, on a weather day that kept the trekkers in doors playing cards and watching the fire glow.  Good day out.

Moving up valley from Manang to Base Camp.

Tasty veg momos on a weather day.

 Chullu West from a reconnaissance point.  The standard route on the northwest flank follows the skyline to the summit; with crevasse terrain, some low grade 4 rock,  and a long summit day.  Gyu Ba will return here, a nice Himalayan peak with great trekking on approach; and potential for a wild finish through the Lost Valleys of Nar and Phu.

fine views of the Dhaulagiris and lesser peaks west of the Kali Gandaki. There is a lot of untapped potential in this range. We completed our trip here at Tatopani Hot Springs. Get out there!

 A brocken spectre on a ridge while out on a walk on a rest day..

Gangapurna (7454m) from High Camp.

Gangapurna from high camp.

Thakyakang (6484m) at dawn.

 Purkung, Purbung, Jinjang peaks.  6000 meter peaks that are rarely visited in the range, mostly because the south faces entail scree slogs to broken ice falls.  The north sides hold potential.

The sun burns through passing clouds as Yakwakang (6352m) towers above.