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.
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