Expedition: Nov 2015 Khumbu Valley - supported by Climbing Fund
Jon Gupta and Will Harris have recently returned from a five week trip to Nepal’s Khumbu Valley. After acclimatising on Lobuche East they unsuccessfully attempted new routes on Kangshung (6061m) and Kyajo Ri (6186m).
Upon reaching their basecamp on Kangshung they were met with three days of unseasonably heavy snowfall, resulting in a change of objective from the mountains rocky south-east ridge to its snowy west ridge. Unfortunately the fresh snow remained unconsolidated on the western aspect, giving dangerous conditions and resulting in retreat from approximately 5750m.
Following several rest days the team relocated to the village of Machermo. They had hoped to attempt to make an ascent of an unclimbed line on the north face of Pharilapcha, but the mountain looked to be in far drier condition than in photos previously seen. Instead, they attempted the unclimbed north ridge of Kyajo Ri, accessed via the mountains north-east face. From their camp at the base of the mountain they climbed ice to access the hanging glacier which dominates the face, with progress slowed by unconsolidated snow. From here they ascended steep snow slopes and mixed ground, enjoying a character-building bivi on a small ledge chopped at 5800m. The next day they climbed steep mixed ground to a junction with the north ridge at 5900m. Shortly after this a dropped rucksack, containing the teams stove, led to the decision to retreat. The North Ridge remains unclimbed, and would make and good objective for a future trip.
It is worth noting that after April’s earthquake it was business as usual in the Khumbu, with trails and lodges back in action. Visitor numbers were roughly half of normal levels, giving pleasantly quiet trails but having a negative effect on local businesses. By Will Harris