Saturday, October 15, 2011

Lobuche East Climb

Oct. 16, Pheriche, Nepal, 14,200’
The GMA Ama Dablam team will head to Base Camp, 15 k, this afternoon after collecting high altitude food and gear previously cached in Pangboche. We plan to move up the mountain right away, establishing 2 or 3 camps before attempting the summit. We have until the 26 or 27 of the month to try AD. We don’t expect to be able to send photos, only text updates from now until then.
Yesterday we climbed Lobuche East, reaching a spectacular summit at 20,000’. It was a challenging and beautiful day, and a new altitude record was set for Mike, Kim, and Steve. We had climbed to a high camp at 17,500’ on the 14th. Then we woke at 1 am and began scrambling over snow-covered slabs at 2:30 under a bright full-moon. High stepping, chimney moves and lots of zig-zagging on ledges absorbed our energy as the air got thinner. 
Around 18,500’, we donned crampons and climbed snow up to 55 degrees with big exposure. Our Sirdar Sherpa, Tshering, fixed around 600’ of rope with pickets, working with another Sherpa, Kame, who had 2 clients. We worked through our breathing difficulties and gained the unbelievably scenic summit ridge by 6:30, as the sun shone on Makalu, Everest, Nuptse, Pumori, Mera and countless other sheer Himalayan summits. 
The knife-edged ribbon of snow we followed to the tiny top epitomized mountaineering. We rounded a crevasse with massive exposure and soon celebrated the postage-stamp sized tippy-top.
We reversed the ridge climb, took a photo at the false peak with Everest behind us, and descended carefully on the fixed lines. The Sherpas and I pulled pickets an coiled up the ropes as we dropped down. We came 6000’ down to Pheriche and enjoyed a bottle of wine and a deep sleep.    

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