Thursday, May 11, 2017

Tibet - Lhakpa Ri Base Camp and Acclimatization - Lhakpa Ri Expedition - May 2017

Rongbuk Valley, Tibet | 0916 | 5144m/16,820ft | 12 May, 2017 | Lhakpa Ri Expedition

    Hello from our base camp. We arrived here on the morning of 9 May, using the first day to review multi-pitch alpine climbing skills. We will be climbing 7045m/23,037ft Lhakpa Ri in alpine style as a team of 5. I will be leading the pitches where it is needed and otherwise we will be traveling as a roped team with running belays.  We are Luke Smithwick, Gomba Sherpa, Charles De Courval, Wilmars Mikelsons, and Francis Lawrence.  Charles and I are also carrying skis on our backs to the summit, with intentions to ski from the summit.  Over the past days the weather has continually changed throughout each day. Cloudy mornings, clear afternoons, snow showers, sunny skies. Continually changing. This forecast will continue while we are here. It is manageable and we will be climbing in this weather. We have not had the opportunity to look at Lhakpa Ri this season, but I do know from Kyajo Ri a few weeks ago that we need snow. The snow showers we are getting will help in the icy sections of the route up to the summit of Lhakpa Ri, and may enable a complete ski descent.
    Everyone finally got a good nights sleep last night. It’s a big jump to drive directly into a 5100 meter base camp. For most other base camps you take a slow approach to reach such an altitude.  Each day we’ve made forays onto the hills around base camp here, reaching 5700 meters as a high point.  Tomorrow we will walk to an Interim camp on the Far East Fork of the Rongbuk glacier, and then onwards to our Advanced Base Camp at 6200 meters, very near Everest Advanced Base Camp.  We will have several days to acclimatize around Lhakpa Ri ABC, with plans to ski tour and walk up to the Rapiu La for views of the Kangshung Face of Everest and a walk up to Everest ABC.  When we feel ready and the time is right with the weather, we will walk over to a camp 1 on Lhakpa Ri, and then climb the following morning to the summit. The purpose of a camp is to ensure we have time to deal with in difficulties on the summit day.  Gomba and I will carry tents and some equipment over to the camp 1, giving us an opportunity to check out the upper mountain before we bring the team over for the summit day. Wish us luck. I’ll send an update when we return to base camp, likely on 22 May 2017.

-Luke Smithwick, guide, Himalaya Alpine Guides (