Tuesday, April 15, 2014

2014 Makalu 6000's | First Ascents | Saldim Ri Expedition

We are two weeks from landing on the tarmac in Tumlingtar and beginning our approach to a 6349m alpine style first ascent attempt in Nepal's remote Makalu-Barun National Park.

Similar terrain just across the valley from our objective. This is Peak 6.
  In our trademark style, we are a small focused team, with three climbers (one Nepali, two Americans), and a support staff of four mountain porters, a cook, and a kitchen helper. In the coming weeks we'll have a new post where you'll get to meet the members of the expedition, and then ensuing updates.

Our first crux, the approach road to Num from the airstrip in Tumlingtar. Quite muddy post monsoon, we'll see how it fairs in the spring season.

Our camp on approach in the quiet village of Sedua, headquarters of the national park.

A mother holding her infant daughter in the numerous millet fields surrounding the village of Num. Many youth here don't have access to adequate clean water, and we'll be bringing in water filters (via Waves 4 Water) to work with them in eliminating this problem.
We will approach the peak along the Arun and then Barun rivers, planning to make quick work of the approach while still having time to visit end enjoy Nepal's middle hills.  Mountain porters will help on approach to carry extra food for the climb, along with tents, stoves, and fuel.  Once we are on the mountain, we'll be on our own.  We work with a local cook who cooks in the lodges along the way, learning over the years that working with someone who knows the needs of western climbers can make the difference in avoiding gastrointestinal disaster, a critical element in team health and climber strength on approach.
Climbing dreams?  There are many unclimbed alpine (and giant) objectives in the Makalu region, this one being spectacular Chamlang.  This expedition is our first in a series to the Makalu region for alpine style climbing.

6349m Saldim Ri

We are excited to get back into the area, with conditions currently far better than what we encountered on an attempted traverse of Sherpani Col (with a meter and a half of snow) in November 2013.  Our plan is light and simple, climbing the route in alpine style.  The only photographs of the peak we've found were via a Google Earth rendered image.  This is true exploring, and we are going with the proper gear and time to work with what we find.
    Our style is lean, carrying only light summit sleeping bags for bivies, and two stoves (one back-up) to make water from snow and mountain meals.  While most of commercial climbing is going the opposite direction in the Himalaya, we are pushing for simplicity in our alpine style climbing trips, and clean ascents by fair means. With first ascents (new routing), you have to go with all the gear you could potentially need, so we'll be bringing snow, ice, and rock gear to protect difficult sections, and gear to build anchors for rappelling off the route.  We will simul-climb, and pitch out sections that require a belay.
     Once we've arrived in ABC we will be able to determine what to bring on the peak by using binoculars and organizing our kit. Stay tuned as the expedition begins and evolves. Wish us luck!