Tuesday 17 May 2011

Snow, snow and more snow in the Hinku

Trying to escaping the heat and humidity of Kathmandu I almost wish I was back in the Hinku valley sitting out another afternoon storm.  Flicking back through my notebook I can count five days out of just over a month we spent in the Hinku valley when we didn’t have any snow or rain, and that unfortunately just about sums up our expedition.

After acclimatizing at the col between Kyashar and Kusum Kanguru we spent two weeks sitting in the village of Tangnag at our base camp, waiting and hoping the weather would eventually settle and allow us to try the unclimbed South Pillar.  We never had a super storm with 72 hours of snow or anything like that but just constant unsettled weather that most afternoons would cover the mountains with a blanket of fresh snow, and the thought of having to climb through or sit out these storms every afternoon at over 6000m on a steep technical face wasn’t exactly appealing or for that matter an option.

The start of the south pillar which on last year’s attempt with Tony Stone we rock climbed was plastered in snow for the entire month we camped below it and coupled with the unsettled weather and ever increasing quantity of snow on the mountain it was obvious we weren’t going to get on the pillar.  A brief lull gave us a bit of hope and wanting to salvage something from the trip we retrieved out gear that had been stashed below the route and decided to attempt the easier west ridge.  This is the line that the mountain was first climbed by in 2003, from the col where we’d acclimatized to a 100m shattered rock buttress leads to a snow/ice ridge eventually finishing up the ice slope of the west face.

I’m just writing a short article on the attempt so I’ll save the story till then and link it to here but it was only an attempt unfortunately that included some of the scariest most dangerous climbing I’ve done in the mountains.  In the mean time Nick has written a good piece on his blog here www.nickbullock-climber.co.uk, and probably a far better read than mine will be!

Although it wasn’t the most successful trip climbing wise (again... thats two in a row for me and three for Nick) we had a good laugh, found some great bouldering around base camp and most importantly back in one piece to do it all again next time!

Panorama of the Hinku, Kyashar on the left to the West face of Mera Peak on the right

Acclimatizing at 5700m at the col between Kyashar and Kusum Kanguru, the west ridge is above Nicks head

The upper part of the South pillar of Kyashar

The calm before the storm

Approaching the col between Kyashar and Kusum Kanguru

leaving the col, with the buttress marking the start of the west ridge above

'a cheval' approaching the west ridge on horrible and deep unconsolidated snow 
(photo - Nick Bullock)

Nick approaching the buttress at the start of the west ridge with 
the 'normal' route on Kusum Kanguru behind him

2 hours after leaving the col we eventually arrive at the base of the 
buttress, something we thought would have taken 15 minutes.... 
(photo - Nick Bullock)

Nick at the belay before the final hard pitch

Leaving the belay for the final pitch 
(photo - Nick Bullock)

Nick approaching the bivi boulder after 18 hours on the go

Sunrise over the Khumbu

Trying to warm the hands whilst Nick constructs the first abseil anchor (photo - Nick Bullock)

Starting the second abseil

 Drying kit back at base camp

Base camp with Kusum Kanguru above

Sun halo above the west face of Mera

Nick and I would like to thank the Nick Estcourt Award, The BMC, Mount Everest Foundation and the Welsh Sports Association for their generous financial assistance, without which the expedition could not have happened.  And for their continued support I would like to thank Mountain Equipment, Black Diamond, Scarpa, Tendon Ropes, Adidas Eyewear and Science in Sport as well as First Ascent for supplying us with MSR stoves.

1 comment:

  1. You really did enjoyed that adventurous expedition!!
    Glad to hear that!!
    I'm looking forward for your next posts..