NEWSLETTERS - Ama Dablam 2013

The Daily Moraine - 7th edition30 October 2013

Digging down deep on the North ridge

Climbing up the North ridge

After breakfast, Greg, Shinji, Katharina, Hiro and I set out to reach the Col on the bottom of the ridge on Monday morning. We headed out of the camp following the diligently made footsteps of the Sherpas imagining what it must have been like a week ago, when the snow was knee-to-waist-deep. Just the thought of it was exhausting. After about 45 minutes, we reached the bottom of the fixed line, where we put on our harnesses and crampons and attached our jumar (ascending device) to the rope.

Climbing up the North ridge

The saddle did not seem far away, but the mixed climbing was a bit of a challenge, especially with the rock being pretty loose. “This is certainly no walk in the park,” said Greg as he put his hands on a solid looking handhold only to find out that it was completely detached from the mountain. Once we reached the saddle, a whole new world opened up before us and we had a magnificent view of Pumori, Tawoche and Cholatse .

View from the saddle

The North Ridge seen from saddle

Despite the beauty, we couldn’t really enjoy the panorama for long as the winds kicked in and it got cold very quickly. We rappelled back down to crampon point, where we left our harnesses and crampons and rushed back to camp, where lunch was waiting for us. With the sun disappearing at 2pm, the rest of the day was spent inside our sleeping bags with snoozing, reading, relaxing or, in Greg’s case, with watching a film. We only crawled back out into the cold for dinner but were all safely tucked up again at 8pm to spend the next 12 hours horizontally waiting for our breakfast call.

Coming down in the wind

The Yeti’s visit

High altitude often brings on a dry cough, which – in the Himalaya - is often referred to as the “Khumbu Cough”. Apparently, Katharina was suffering from it last night but as some of us were fast asleep we did not hear a thing – until my tent door flung open and something resembling the Yeti was standing in front of me. It took me a second or two to realise that it was Russell carrying some cough medicine. “Ooops,” the confused Yeti said. “I need Katharina’s tent as she has been coughing all night and I have some medicine for her.” Katharina was in for a similar surprise but gladly took the Yeti’s medicine, which eventually helped her fall asleep. “It was a bit of a relief and I think I am slowly adjusting to the altitude,” she said.

On Tuesday morning, our eighth climbing member Naoki arrived at base camp. They had been trekking through the Arun valley to Makalu base camp for the past 20 days and were caught in the middle of the Indian cyclone that had also brought all the snow masses to the Everest region about 10 days ago. “We were walking in the pouring rain for more than a week, which was tough at times, especially when the leeches attacked us,” said Naoki, who is the protagonist of this episode for an adventure series for Japanese national television.

The film team will stay with us for the remainder of the expedition and will be following Naoki, who has climbed Lhotse, Manaslu and Everest from both the North and the South side with Himalayan Experience. In 2001 aged 23, Naoki also became the youngest person to complete the Seven Summits at the time.

On Tuesday morning, Hiro, Tashi and Nawang went back up the ridge to fix some more rope, but just as in the previous days, progress was still difficult. “We are digging a tunnel at the moment,” Hiro told Russell over the radio. “Well, this could be the invisible ascent of Ama Dablam if we all end up reaching the top through the tunnel,” Russell responded with a cheeky smile.

Looking up toward the mountain, we could see the spindrift coming off the North ridge. “It looks very cold up there,” said Shinji remembering his trip up a couple of days ago. “My hands were so cold and once your gloves get wet it is almost impossible to warm them up again,” he continued.

Spindrift coming off the ridge

Spindrift coming off the ridge

The rope-fixing team came down after exactly 12 hours on the mountain and even though it must have been tough going, Hiro thought it was not as bad as he expected. “I thought it was worse, even though we were shoveling snow for four hours. The snow was about two to three metres deep,” he said. They reached about 6,050m, which Hiro thinks is just below Camp 1.

For everyone else, Tuesday was yet another rest day and other than emptying the contents of our tents outside into the sunshine and putting it all back in again just before the sun disappeared behind Ama Dablam at 2pm, we did not do much - apart from marking more things with our names. In order to save water, we have now personalised our mugs and napkins, which means we can reuse them without them having to be washed three times per day.

To find out more about the progress we are making on the North ridge of Ama Dablam check out our website for the next edition of the Daily Moraine.

Billi Bierling