Successful Summit on Ama Dablam!
Congratulations to Per and Tulsi for a job well done and a successful summit of the 22,501-foot Ama Dablam! Now that they are back in civilization and recovering from their great feat, Per has had a chance to catch us up on the last 15 days of their expedition. Check out their stories below:
Per negotiating the fixed lines beneath Camp 2. Per Ostberg photo
Days 19 – 25 (Ama Dablam base camp & camp 1)
The base camp is located in a huge meadow beneath the west face, almost 2500 meters of snow, rock and ice mountain face looking down on you everyday. The route to the summit follows the southwest ridge framing the meadow’s right side. A small creek flows through the camp area that is littered with cooking, dining and sleeping tents from various expeditions. It is hard to realize you are camped at 4450 meters! The expeditions are a mix of “hardcore focused” teams and more relaxed groups. I met Chris from New Zeeland and Majic from Poland, both definitely part of the relaxed group! Great guys who summited a couple of days before me. They left base camp as I started my 1st summit bid.
When reaching camp 1 at 5800 meters for our summit attempt a couple of days after our equipment carry there, I woke up the next day with the mother of all headaches. We decided to decend the 1200 back to base to see how i felt the next day… What a bummer! The route to camp 1 from base camp goes along an amazingly long ridge, via advanced base camp and a one hour boulder hopping area… Not something you would like to do everyday!
Classic view of Camp 2 seen from the Great Couloir. Per Ostberg photo
Days 26 – 30 (summit push)
10.30am, Tuesday November 30th, and I heaved my oxygen starved body over the crest… WOW! The ‑30 degrees Celsius, the howling 15 m/s cross wind on the upper snow slopes, me feeling like a goldfish outside the bowl, all disappeared into the past… I was standing on top of Ama Dablam, at 6812 meters!
On the summit of Ama Dablam! Per Ostberg photo
Around me was a painter’s landscape of icy mountain peaks and deep valleys. The wind died away and it was just Tulsi Gurung, me and the flattish summit!
Between deep breaths, I tried to recollect the route we had taken from base camp to the summit: camp 1 was a desolate rock slope with tents perched on built-up platforms at around 5800 meters; camp 2 has been made classic as an eagles’ nest camp seen from above: a rock pillar with space for 5 tents on the ridge leading upwards. It is reached by weaving left, right and across the ridge from camp 1 and is mostly a rock climb with a 15-meter vertical rock face as a grand finale. Here we got stuck for 2 hours waiting for another group to master jumaring and absailing… Our “Cappuccino” ledge was great until the clouds moved in and it got bone chillingly cold. We eventually reached one of the tents at 6200 meters.
Tulsi hanging out above the Great Couloir close to Camp 3. Per Ostberg photo
From camp 2 the route continues weaving along the ridge but now a mix of ice, rock and snow climb. Camp 3 is a classic and beautiful mountain camp. It us located on a snow ridge at 6450 meters, covered by an overhanging and protecting glacier. No wind and space for just 3 tents… Magical site! The exposure between camp 2 and 3 is grand. You walk along a ridge with 200 – 400 meter drops on either side after 60 – 70 meters of a 70-degree couloir of ice and rock climb.
Back at Camp 3 at 6450 meters, sheltered by the Mushroom Ridge,
after a successful summit bid. Per Ostberg photo
Finally, after a good night’s sleep, the summit is reached via a 70 degree snow slope winding around a hanging glacier. The snow field is around 400 meters long but is reduced to: 10 steps, 5 minutes breathing, 10 steps, 5 minutes breathing.… Where did the oxygen go???? The wind cutting across the snow field felt like rough concrete bricks massaging your face’s left side.
And now, only one way to go: down! Same way as up… We reached camp 1 around 12 hours after leaving camp 3, exhausted but happy!!!
The welcoming mess tent at Base Camp. Per Ostberg photo
We left Ama Dablam base camp at 9am and spent some hours in Pangboche to discuss some additional Mani wheels (as part of my project for repairing broken Mani wheels) as well as some “admin”. We reached the warmth of the Rivendell lodge around lunch and shed 2 weeks of clothes in a hot shower in a “deluxe” room with views of Mt. Everest and the west face of Ama Dablam we just climbed. What a feeling!!!! Cold beers and a warm fire.… What else can one want… Well, there is that!
Per, Tulsi and the base camp team. Per Osterg photo
Homeward-bound now, but we still need to discuss the 7 Pungitanga mani wheels with Tenzing tonight and tomorrow, then our expedition is completed.
One question remains: girls, how do you keep long hair from getting tangled? I must have spent 1 hour getting a comb through the tangled mess that was once my pony tail…
The upper snow field. Three climbers can be seen in the middle on the right. Per Ostberg photo
Today has been spent decompressing and meeting the Tengboche Rimboche (the head lama for the whole Khumbu valley. He is the one controlling all things religious here). He gave his approval and blessing for the refurbishment of the water driven mani wheels project so i guess it is now “just” to raise the appropriate funds :-)
The expedition is now winding down. We are heading back down to Namche Bazar tomorrow but will stop at Pungitang to measure and discuss what needs to be dobe with the 7 Mani wheels there with representatives from the monastery and the community.
All in all, an absolutely great day!
Rappelling down the Yellow Tower towards Camp 1. Per Ostberg photo
This has has been the day of contrasts! Starting with Mani Wheel work at Pungitanga with Namgya Lama, a Tengboche Monastery monk (expert of Mani Wheels in the Tengboche area), and ending in the commercial hub of Namcher Bazar where Tracy Chapman live recording from one bar is competing with repeat versions of “Hotel Claifornia” from The Irish Pub across the path while Jhos (not Yaks) rub shoulders with tourists in the shopping lanes… Brings back memories from Khao San Road in Bangkok, 1992!
Puja at Base Camp. Per Ostberg photo
The expedition is winding down and it is only a day’s hike to Lhukla, a flight back to Kathmandu and a couple of days waiting for the flight home left!
My body has not yet adjusted to luxury.… it started ‘pruning’ after 10 minutes in a hot shower this afternoon, who thought that was possible?! Probably need to try that again tomorrow or slowly adjust it to water again :-)
Walking along the Mushroom Ridge. Per Ostberg photo
Arrived back down in Kathmandu from the Khumbu Valley yesterday and managed to change my flight for an early trip! The 4+ weeks spent in Nepal have been absolutely fabtastic with a variety of experiences ranging from trekking, climbing Island Peak, meeting various community members and lamas, climbing Ama Dablam, and meeting the Tengboche Rimboche (head lama) with his special blessing for the Mani wheel project.
And, most of all, meeting, getting to know, become friends with, working and climbing with Tulsi Gurung. A fantastic person with a great spirit and heart that I am proud to call my friend! Without him, this expedition would not have been the experience and success it has been!
I’m now heading home to summery South Africa and to all people who have followed the trip, thanks for your support and encouragements!
~ Per Ostberg