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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. 

The Expe­di­tion, by Alan Rousseau 

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!

The Crew:

Tino Vil­lanue­va

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

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.

Matt Barela

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