Sunday, 31 January 2010

Trip Report

Kwangde North Face Winter Expedition January 2010

Members: Vassily Pivtsov (34), Kazakhstan, and David Falt (39), Sweden

We departed our home countries on January 6th and went to Lukla with out any problems. We hiked up to Namch in good but windy weather in two days. We set up BC at about 3650 meters at the top of the hill above the power station under the village of Thame. BC was sunny in the mornings and afternoons. It is not necessary to have a BC in the traditional way, you might as well sty in a lodge in Thame. The disadvantage with stying in a lodge is off course infections and bacterias. Having a BC might be slightly more expensive. If you do stay in Thame its about 20 min to walk to "BC". An other downside with staying in Thame is that you can't view the wall. 

From BC head up the valley for 15 min then turn left and head up a wild gully with lots of annoying vegetation. Then go high and traverse right its super obvious. Try to sty above the top of the waterfalls so you don't have to cross them with out crampons. I strongly suggest you walk up in light hiking boots or running shoes. Its easy to find a porter to help you get all the gear in place under the face. The camp under the wall is a bout 15 min from where the climbing starts at about 4850 meters. You can easily put your camp where ever you want in order to be in position for your route of choice. Its a stiff walk from BC in terms of altitude gained but its only about 4h with a load. 

In terms of climbing there are 7 routes on the North Face and one variation. From Left to right: Pappert/Richards, Extra Blue Sky, British Variation, Japanese, Lowe, Mandala/Spanish, Benoist/Gottardi, Russian. We found none of the routes in condition to climb with out extensive aid climbing the first few hundred meters. There is potential for new lines as well as variations. The wind in winter is predominately coming from west. This might well be a reason for the lack of ice and the dry conditions we encountered. Temp at summit during our trip was about minus 20 degree Celsius as an rough average. Wind speed was about 40 km/h but with lots of wind in the area of 90 km/h. There weather was not an issue, we could have started any day we wanted. 

In terms of getting off the mountain I strongly recommend any one to look at this closely. The decent is long about 2 days and complex. I have lots of detailed information on several of the routes so if any one is keen to go just send me an email. Kwangde is a trekking peak and you are stuck with few options if conditions are bad. I liked winter in Nepal and I will be back next winter. 

Thanks to our sponsors and suppliers 

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Game over

We have decided to pack up and return home. Its sad but the only thing we can do. We cant obtain a new permit in time to try another peak as our window closes on Saturday. We did not get to climb but we have had a great time and a new friendship has been forged. I think we both have enjoyed this trip even though we are hugely disappointed.

Conditions are hard to predict and even harder to cope with. The total absence of ice on the 1300 meter super steep wall of Kwangde was simply not some thing we had any desire to expose our self to. One has to know when to back off in order to get future opportunities to climb in the greater ranges. I will be back in Himalaya in July to try the North Ridge of Latok and Vassy is hoping to go to Lhotse as well as becoming a father in a few weeks.

We want to thank:

Simone Moro, Ines Pappert, Frederic Gottardi, Bruce Normand, Simon Anthamatten, Crux, RedFox, Rab, Patagonia, Clif Bar, Outdoordesigns, nuun and Cho Oyu Trekking for there kind support, advice and help.

Monday, 18 January 2010

Grim conditions Great weather

We have been up to the start of the climbing on the North Face of Kwangde and not one of the 8 routes has any ice on the first 1/3 of the face. And no new option looks likely. Rotten snow or just powder snow on rock makes any climbing impossible. We have pretty much ruled out any chance of doing any thing on Kwangde. Climbing a ED route is a serious undertaking any where in the world and in Himalaya its no less of a task adding winter to this and the equation is not adding up. We are looking at our options as the weather is stable and not to cold or windy.

Its a bummer to in the right spot with great weather but no ice on the entire wall it makes things frustrating. We will get back with an update of what we will do.

Friday, 15 January 2010

Walking up to ABC

Tomorrow Saturday we depart for ABC at 4600m. We will spend two nights at ABC and inspect the start of the Russian route and if needed we will fix our two 60m ropes in the start. Weather looks bad for the next five days so this time will be spent on acclimatizing and understanding if the route is possible given the lack of ice.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

A bone dry wall...

We have reached BC and we have also got a good view of the wall. To our dismay the route we were attempting looks bone dry and seems to be in really bad condition. The route which looks possible and could be an alternative is the new Russian winter route Chicory. Weather conditions up here in BC are windy to say the least.

Monday, 11 January 2010

No Chicken, No Pasta, No Girls.... Season finished!

We have now arrived In Namche and to day is relax and catch up with jet lag. We asked for pasta at the lodge but was informed that , Pasta, Chicken and Girls was all finished since the season was finished. The first two would have been nice to get the last offer was more off topic.

We have great weather but windy. The forecast is for the temperature to drop 10 degrees and its allredy cold. And now we are only at 3400 and inside. Well I guess this will be a reality check not only for us but also for our gear.

When most of you had Sunday breakfast we stopped for a zip of nuun spiked water with a fantastic view of Everest. It was a quite cool feeling and what a beautiful scenery. Hiking in has so far been a real walk in the park not including that its been quite cold.

We are heading for BC tomorrow and the dispatches will be shorter. We hop to be off for the summit around the 20th and onwards. But that's a long way a head.

Friday, 8 January 2010

Dispatch One: Lukla Next

To day we obtained our permit for kwangde from Nepal Mountainering Association. We have had super support from our agent Cho Oyu Trekking. Its off season here in Nepal but still bussy on the streets of KTM. The weather looks stabel but windy.

Tomorrow we depart KTM for Lukla.

Sponsors: Crux, RedFox, nuun, Rab, Outdoordesigns, Clif Bar, Patagonia, Human Edge Tech

Saturday, 2 January 2010

Ready for Take off!

Vassily Pivtsov (33) a member of the Kazakhstan National team project and Iwill attempt the North Face of Kwangde Lho 6187m in Nepal staring in January 2010. From what we know so far we will be the sole winter expedition to the Khumbu region this winter. Its frankly quite amazing that this mighty landscape will ours alone to explore. A far cry from what it will be like a few months later when the hot shoots arrive for there guide work on 8000m.

We are
 aiming to do a pure alpine style calendar-winter ascent of Kwangde Lho(6187m) via the North Face.

We will try a new route on the North Face if conditions permit. If conditions looks to thin on the "project" we will try to repeat the legendary Breashears-Lowe route, ED2, WI6, 1200m, from 1982. This route has never had a complete accent since it was first established.

The Kwangde group lies in Nepal's Khumbu region. The North Face is about 1300 meters in Vertical height and has 7 routes that we know of. They are all very technical and we expect steep ice, rock and mixed. The routes established so far are all ED rated with Ice not easier than WI5 and mixed between M5 and M8.

We want to thank our Sponsors and suppliers:

Crux   Redfox Outdoordesigns

Human Edge Tech Patagonia Rab

nuun        Clif Bar       ETHIAD