Saturday, November 14, 2015

2015 Yaphu Ri Expedition

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Views of the Chamlang massif from the Khongma Danda.

We completed the Yaphu Ri expedition for 2015 early.  On the 19th of October, we flew into Tumlingtar, and swiftly trekked into base camp in 5 days, arriving on the 24th in the afternoon to 5300m and the base of Yaphu Ri. 
Unclimbed granite towers in Makalu.

Base camp puja.

Warming up with a coffee and a hot fire after retreating from base camp.
Views from camp 1 on Saldim Ri.
This was our first time in this base camp, and it is truly an extraordinary. I think it is common news now that the peak remains unclimbed, and we simply didn’t get the weather we needed. We were getting clear skies from 11 pm to 10 am each day until the 29th of October, with each day bringing in cloud cover and moderate snow fall.


The hamlet of Khongma Danda in afternoon light.


Yaphu base camp.
Looking out from camp 1.

In the cloud forests between Tashi Gaon and Khongma Danda.
We could have worked with these windows and gotten the summit, but it started to snow on the 29th, and continued until 1st of
Lots of untapped potential alpine climbing in Makalu (!).
November. We could get small hour long clearing spells and we could see that the peak wasn’t
Looking up at the Chamlang Himal from Yangle Kharka.
getting a ton of snow, but certainly
Dawa is now This tall. It's great to see the kids growing higher and higher each year.
enough to give us pause. Winds whipped during these clearing spells, and there was significant
A spectacular apple pie in base camp.
snow loading on the upper slopes of our route, and spindrift avalanche pouring down all aspects.
The cloud forests of Makalu.
            We considered the weather, and upon getting the forecast on the 1st of November, decided to call the expedition. We could have sat in base camp in the clouds for another week, but was that enjoyable?
Looking out of the tent at our route with a new snow load.
There was ice climbing and rock to climb around base camp, but it was serac ice and the rock was wet from the snow. I knew we weren’t going to get our window that we needed, and so Brian and I decided to call it and head out before the snow piled high on the passes that led us out of the region. We will be back, and of course it was a great trek in and out, and a really nice time in the wilderness. -Luke Smithwick (luke@himalaya-alpine).com