MM Guides Depart For Himalayan First Ascents
Over the next month and a half, MM Gudies and Helly Hansen Ambassadors Matt Barela, Tino Villanueva and Alan Rousseau are heading deep into remote regions of Nepal to complete some personal missions. On this expedition the crew of experienced mountain guides will be going after first ascents of peaks, waterfall ice climbs and technical mountaineering. We will be receiving full updates from the team until they go completely off the grid as they enter the Rolwaling Valley, Sat Phone communication will keep us in tune with their progress. Since this blog was first written, Matt has had to head back to Kathmandu after his hand got crushed by a basketball-sized rock. Luckily, nurse Alan was able to set it so that he could get back down. Below is an introduction to their trip, stay tuned for more as they check in!
Alan preparing with some quality food.
Matt Barela, Tino Villanueva and I are leaving for Nepal in just a couple of days. Our long awaited trip to the remote Rolwaling Valley is practically here! The three of us are all Mountain Madness guides and work throughout the year as full time guides. We get to travel from place to place chasing the seasons and getting to climb in a variety of venues from skiing deep powder to sunny rock climbs. Now the three of us have decided to spend our shoulder season in the Himalaya attempting first ascents.
Satellite image of Rolwaling Valley
We are taking this trip to find and attempt to climb those lines, which for one reason or another have not seen a successful ascent. I am going there for the adventure. The most essential characteristic that defines adventure in my mind is uncertainty. Nothing in climbing has more uncertainty than attempting routes that have not been climbed before. People ask me how hard the peak we are going to climb is, I say, “I don’t know, no one does. It might be easy, but chances are it’s going to be pretty tricky.”
Matt getting ready to take off
Our expedition has two objectives:
1) Climb the North Ridge of Tengi Ragi Tau (6938m)
The entrance point to this ridge is via an unclimbed peak Langmoche Ri (6611m). After summiting this (to date) unsurmounted high point we travel along a knife edge ridge for slightly over 1 mile to the summit of Tengi Ragi Tau (only summited once by the SE face). With only satellite images for reference the exact technical difficulty of this ridge is impossible to know.
2) Continue with the exploration of waterfall ice climbs in the Rolwaling Valley.
Of the 50 + flows of ice in the valley approximately 15 have been climbed. With waterfalls as long as 700 meters this region has potential to be one of the best venues in Asia to climb ice. We hope to climb and document the ice in this valley to show other climbers what is there.
Our 45-day expedition will commence in Kathmandu, where we will ride in a jeep for around 12 hours till the road ends in Gongar. From here we will walk for about 5 days through the Rolwaling valley to the seasonal settlement of Na. Once we reach Na we will only be 10 miles from the base of the north face of Langmoche Ri. We expect roughly 10 days after arriving in Kathmandu we will finally be at our base camp. Wish us luck and clear skies. Keep checking in for updates.
Thanks to Helly Hansen for keeping the guys warm on their trip!
Tino Villanueva — Tino is a northwest native and calls the Cascade Mountain Range his home. After graduating from the University of Oregon, climbing became an avenue for adventure and exploration leading him not only throughout the West but also to Alaska and Asia. Tino is well versed in all forms of climbing, whether on rock, snow, ice or skis. He is also a seasoned professional ski patroller and accomplished backcountry skier, being one of the first to mountaineer and then ski down Pontoon Peak in Alaska.
Alan Rousseau — An initial passion for backcountry skiing pulled Alan into the world of climbing, and led to his current obsession of long routes in alpine environments. During the summer months, he can be found climbing the cliffs of index, or planning the next adventure to the remote big walls of the northwest. Alan is also working toward a Master’s Degree at the Ohio University and his full IFMGA guide certification.
Matthew Barela — Matt has been climbing for more than 12 years, covering the continental US and Alaska. He has also worked as a mountain guide for the past 5 years, guiding often in the large mountains of Alaska, Washington and Colorado. Matt has pioneered new ice routes in Colorado and has conquered amazing alpine routes in Alaska but has not had the opportunity to climb in the Himalaya. The massive ice climbs and extremely technical lines in Nepal originally drew Matt in to test himself on a grand scale.
Alan’s Helly Hansen ambassador video on how to dress for their expedition