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Lossar Sept 18

follow Lossar Valley Expedition 2018

And in the beginning, there were enough people interested to plan two expeditions, the first to Spiti with Raja for three weeks (the original objective being the unclimbed Lynam peak 4700m) and the second to Langtang, with a trekking option.   Those with the time and energy could travel from India and do both.    A variety of reasons let to many cry-offs, and the Nepal one was deferred until 2019, but we had 5 for Spiti, visas arranged, flights booked etc.

buying clomid uk online Alas, three days before take off, we were down to two, with Raja in a panic, having paid deposits, contracted porters etc.

Just Jack and I at Dublin airport then, and a couple of days later we were in Manali, sitting in Johnston’s Hotel drinking beer, and looking out at a thunder storm.  The crossing of the 4000m Rotang La, and 4500m Kussum La, were completed without too many problems, and we stopped at the Shambala Guest house, Lossar village, at the base of our valley.   The next day was a tough acclimatisation exercise, doing a carry up the steep sided valley to base camp, 4000m to 4500m.

Our 3 porters arrived after an 8 hours bus ride from Manali, to carry food and gear to BC, which they did the next day.  We had a rest day, and went to see Ki Monastry, climbing back up to BC the following morning.

The plan was to explore and climb in two subsidiaries of the main Lossar valley, doing a second ascent of peak 6015m in the first, and hopefully a first ascent of one of the 3 unclimbed summits at the back of the second valley.  Two days later, we were sitting on top of 6015m, having also bagged Larimo 5800m, en route. The plan was going perfectly.  Back to BC,  move house to ABC, at the entrance to the second subsidiary valley, and then up to our second high camp on a glacier. 

The problem was that we would have needed to establish a further camp to climb any of the peaks at the back of the valley, and we were short of porter power having only Lackpa and Pasang.  Mighty men they are, Pasang having summitted Everest 3 times (including escaping from camp 6 in 1996- see ‘Into Thin air’) Kanchenjunga, Cho oyu, etc etc, but due to the reduced numbers, Raja had not enough funds to hire more Sherpas without making the cost prohibitive for Jack and myself.

The two more accessible 6000m peaks had both been climbed, (Dom Rimo and Lossar Peak), but we decided to give one of them a go, and come down a day or two early, and perhaps enjoy a day and a half in Manali to shop and relax, before going home.   The plan was to climb to the col in between, the two peaks, and decide which to tackle when we got there.

 We barely did!  A huge steep hillside of sliding stones drained our legs, lungs and ultimately, willpower.  Lakpa and Raja went a bit further but turned back.  We returned to base camp and sunbathed, looking forward to another rest the following day, before the porters arrived from Manali. 

About 6.00AM it started to snow, and this continued all day, all night and the following day.  It became clear that things were serious, and this was not just a snow shower as we had originally thought.   We had to get out, and whilst we were fortunate to be back at BC, and not at a higher camp (that might easily have been the case), to traverse across the steep valley loaded with 3-4 feet of fresh snow on a bed of shale, with god knows how many thousands of feet of it above, was not for the faint hearted.  We left carrying what we could, the rest packed up into the last standing tent. I left with less than half my stuff, Jack travelled even lighter.

Also, we had no idea whether this weather was local, or whether the porters would have been able to get over the passes from Manali, or indeed our jeep would arrive at Lossar.

We got out safely, thanks mainly to the brilliant route finding of Lakpa, to find the village also under a couple of feet of snow and, (as it never rains in Spiti), the stick and mud flat roofs in the houses were no match for such weather, and were leaking copiously.  Still, we were safe! Safe and trapped, as both passes were closed towards Manali, and the connecting road to Shimla closed due to land slides.

We learned that we were fortunate, as about 50 tourists were trapped in vehicles at lake Chandra above 4000m, and many others caught between the two passes, including possibly our porters and our jeep driver.   There were local army in our village, but they appeared to be happy drinking tea and awaiting orders, rather than trying to rescue anybody.  And still it continued to snow!

Now the concern was whether we could get out to Delhi in time for our flight.  With no sign of the passes opening in the near future, Raja turned his attention to the long way out, and made use of his numerous contacts to learn that the landslides near Poh (the base for our last expedition) were being cleared.  We moved to the local capital Kaza, and waited for news.   We were there in the queue, when it opened at 6.30 on Wednesday night.  Got to Pio at 1.30AM, bus left at 6.15AM and 21 hours of continuous bus and taxi travel later, we were in bed in Delhi at 3.00Am.  Up at 5.30 for the flight home.

I have to say that, as usual, without the help of Lakpa and Pasang, and particularly the spectacularly resourceful and positive Raja, we would have little to show for this trip, other than a crash course in weight loss (Jack and I lost 8Kg between us in three weeks).  ,

 

Ostirol 2018

Ostirol and Bavaria.

There were just three of us who went in the end, me, the line manager, and Fergus (Aoife couldn’t get off work).  Flight to Munich, car hire, drive to Lienz and first day’s trek cut short due to weather and cows- we went to the Lienzer hut rather than the higher Wangenitzee. The next day was grand, and we managed a Klettersteg (via Ferrata) up the Glodispitze, one of the highlights. A second night at the Lienzer and we were off to the Elberfelder Hut (overnight), then over the Boses Weibl 3131m to the Glorer Hut.  Forecast looking dodgy for our planned Grosglockner day, so M suggested we descend, take a bus to Lienz, retrieve the car, have an overnight in Kals, and then go back up to the next hut, the Salmhutte.  Ludicrous I thought, (but maybe not, and definitely better than Aviemore, her other suggestion), and so, it came to pass, with a nice lunch in Lienz, the world cup final and some beer and yodelling in Kals ( Fergus unimpressed with the latter, the yodelling that is). 

 

Back up to the Salmhutte, pausing only to photograph some Edelweiss, overnight stay, and then M went down, while Fergus and I went up a very wet and cold Klettersteg to the Erz Johanne Hutte, which we literally walked into in the mist.  Conditions were horrible, the sort people in Glencoe or Glenmore Lodge would avoid, so we were absolutely amazed that guides were still taking hoardes of clients up the Glock.  We decided to sit it out, and it was a long day, but the forecast was better for tomorrow…..

Tomorrow it was worse, with serious Cairngorm winter conditions outside.  We sat in turmoil. Go down or up?  The guides were still going up, but they were getting paid, and knew the mountain.

 Go up! It got better, the visibility improved from zero to about 10m, and the wind dropped.  It is a great climb, despite the fact that we saw sweet FA.   It must be wonderful on the 25 out of 31 good days in the month of July.

Having bagged the Glock, we went to Bavaria and did the Corkscrew route on the ZugsPitze the highest peak in Germany, part via ferrata, part protected path, but a big climb of just less than 5500 feet, just getting the summit before a thunderstorm.  Restaurant on top for a pint and a big sausage and a cable car down- great!

Then 2 rest days, one at Garmisch for a fireman’s festival, much oompagh music and beer, and one at the castle modelled from the one at Disneyland.  (Valli might have something to say about this!!)

What to finish off with?   Perusal of the map revealed a peak called the Wankspitze, with a via ferrata called the Wank Klettersteg (much juvenile sniggering).  Well, you would HAVE to climb it wouldn’t you?  Margaret, having christened it the Wankhorn (more juvenile sniggering) would have nothing further to do with it, so it was just me’nfergus who set off.   It was a very ‘hands on’ affair, with the first section in particular, but I will make no further comment other than ………

Midsummer Island Trip 22-24 June

Midsummer camping and climbing on Gola Island 22nd- 24th June.

Sabba is the boatman (phone: 0872245881), whose ferry departs from Magheragallon Pier, Bunbeg.  According to his facebook page here boats leave 11.00 AM and 2.00PM daily, but he seems to post on the page regarding next day’s sailings. Best to ring him and check, as this may change due to tide and weather.

Camp site marked on the map below.

Image result for gola island map

Midsummer Gola Island Trip 22-24 June

Midsummer camping and climbing on Gola Island 22nd- 24th June.

Sabba is the boatman (phone: 0872245881), whose ferry departs from Magheragallon Pier, Bunbeg.  According to his facebook page here, boats leave 11.00 AM and 2.00PM daily, but he seems to post on the page regarding next day’s sailings. Best to ring him and check, as this may change due to tide and weather.

Anthony was planning to arrange a 7pm ferry crossing on the Friday night, check the CC Facebook page for info on that.

In additon to ropes and gear, bring food, plenty of drink and some firewood for the campfire, if you have any lying around.

Camp site marked on the map below.

Image result for gola island map

Everest 25th Anniversary Expedition

Phuletate and Pulele

Kathmandu is still a great place.  A lot of work is still be done to restore the damage caused by the earthquake, but the tourists are back, and some of the shopping area of Thamel have even been pedestrianised.  The Pilgrim book shop, destroyed in a fire is now back up and running too, gear shops abound, with cheap versions of all the expensive labels.

Domestic departures at Tribuvan was full of excited trekkers, and large groups of commercial expeditioners, towering over their sherpa guides, easily identified by their brand new expedition boots, and united only by their group tee shirts.

 Then there was us.  Worn men with worn gear.  This was the 25th anniversary of the successful first Irish Everest expedition, and the deputy leader of that group in 1993, Irish adventurer and mountaineer par excellance, Frank Nugent was our leader this trip.  Paddy O’Brien, his partner in manys an Alpine and Arctic venture, Gerry Galligan the IMC’s most prolific expeditioner, and myself, made up the party.

The Lukla flight is great, (if you can ignore the fact that it is supposed to be the most dangerous on the planet), and soon you have landed and reclaimed all your gear.  Most of ours had gone on the previous days flight.  There followed two days uphill struggle through the crowds of trekkers to Namche, which is now sporting numerous cafes, expensive gear shops and even an Irish Bar (god help us).  The amazing load carriers are still there, still gobsmacking the visitors, but now they are on mobile phones.

We had to visit the national park office to sign documents to agree to take out everything we took in.  Over tea, the official told us that there were 25 expeditions on Everest, two on Lohtse and one on Nupse.  Our rubbish would be weighed back in Namche, and it would cost us 400 Rupees per Kilo to recycle.  Good for them.

Two days later we were camped at the back of a house in the, almost deserted, high village of Mende, preparing ourselves for an 850m climb to Kyajo Ri  base camp, while our Sirdar Dhana ( also from 1993) got directions from the lady of the house, as to where the path went.

It was tough, (and a lot harder for our porters), but we got there, with Paddy first and then me, to find a couple of tents belonging to a Russian Kyajo Ri expedition.  The three porters had been there a few days, and were cold and miserable in the low cloud.  Our 9 porters romped in and soon we had base camp up and running. The Russians returned that evening and dismantled their camp, disappointed that they had not reached the summit due to deep snow.  The leader was Yuri Somethinchenko, winner of the Piolet d’Or, and summitteer of many 8000m peaks.

BC Day 1.The next day was sunny and beautiful, and although it was supposed to be for rest and acclimatisation, three of us decided to carry loads up to the bottom of the gully above.  When we got there, we could see the Russian fixed ropes up the cliffs above, so we went up for a look, eventually going up them and continuing to the snowy valley above, the proposed site of ABC at 5000m.  I was up first , then Gerry then Paddy, who was suddenly struggling with the altitude.  Frank had stayed below to rest.  

BC Day 2. In the morning Paddy was ill, and Gerry and I did another load carry to ABC with the porters, we put my tent up and came down.

BC Day 3. The next day was a rest day to try and give Paddy a chance, but his health continued to deteriorate

BC Day 4. Paddy went down to Namche to seek medical help, while Frank, Gerry and myself moved to ABC.  I was up first and put the kettle on for the others, but only Gerry arrived, telling me that Frank didnt feel he had the strength to make it. Now there were 2.  That evening I broke trail up the hill above ABC in soft snow to see if I could see a feasible route.  Higher up, I ran into very deep snow, but could see a possible route to a col, from where the ridge looked do-able.  The summit ‘Crown’ was another matter.  We needed to start early while the snow was frozen, that was it!

ABC Day 1. Early start was 5.00 AM. It was brutally cold and my hands were numb from trying to boil the kettle from lumps of ice. The tracks from the previous evening were much easier being frozen, but the deeper snow above had only the crust frozen, so we stood up on it, only for it to collapse, and then we had to climb out, pulling our feet out through the crust,only for it to collapse again.  My estimated time to the col of about an hour and a half was eaten up in a couple of hundred metres.  Exhausted, we had to come up with a plan B.

A traverse to the right would take us to a short climb to the top of the big rock tower which dominated our base camp.  We felt that we could have a rethink, and try again tomorrow, but lets get something in the bag.  Floundering our way across a boulderfield (‘ a la Fairhead’ only covered in deep powder) we got to the base of the West Pillar, where upward progress was mindset V gravity, but we made it to the bright side where the snow had melted, and it was easy to the top of this huge rock monolith. “Oh look, there’s Frank leaving base camp”!  The views were immense, but Phuletate still looked like, well anything but a foregone conclusion.

Care was required on the descent, but on reaching ABC we met Frank who was delighted (and relieved) to see us. He advised us that the porters were anxious to leave, but we had another day at ABC.  He descended to BC, and we spent the snowy/cloudy  afternoon in the tent.

ABC Day 2. Sunshine and euphoria as usual, but let’s pack up before it snows (and it did) about 10.00 AM.  we decided to take a walk up through the misty Kyajo Ri valley for a few hours.  On the way down we came across Yeti Tracks, which Gerry wanted to follow across a frozen lake (to rule out a snow leopard you understand).  The thought of following a snow leopard or yeti, in fog, across thin ice did not particularly appeal to me, and fortunately I was able to remind Gerry  of his redunancy package, so we went back to ABC.

 Plain sailing to BC one might have thought, but not so, alas. as thick, driving snow made finding the top of the Russian fixed ropes problematic.  We made it ‘heroically’ to base camp early afternoon with big packs, but to our amazement, and awe, the porters decided to go up that evening and retreive the rest of the stuff ( ABC having been equipped for 4 for three days), which they did fairly effortlessly as the weather had cleared, and being very keen to be back in the comforts of Namche, I  would imagine.

BC Day 5. Exodus.  We left with all we could carry, wondering how on earth the small group of porters would manage to divide the mountain of stuff we had left.  They overtook us, with much good humour and laughter before the monastry above Mende.

The remainder is about a days rest and overindulgence in Namche. and 3 days descent and ascent to Pulele for a function ( the second day was 8 hours of the ‘path from hell’ ( this drizzly’  La ‘was 30% rock. 30% slime, 30% horseshit, and 10%  horsepiss). 

We were received royally at the Irish Nepal Education Trust school in Pulele, in time for the school prizegiving (a type of event in which I had never been previously involved for some reason)which went on for some hours.  Largely compared by Dhana (who had left our expedition early), and involved our chief guest Dawson Stelfox, with Margaret Stelfox , Chris Avison and Mary Solan.  Even I was asked to present one of  the school prizes. My grasp of Nepali is rudimentary, but I think it was for truancy.  The euphoric evening of culture dancing and music, ended on a downer when our porters gave our tips back, which they must have considered derisory.  Red faces and a futher donation may have helped, but expectations are different, especially in the Khumbu, where a recent group of Hong Kong businessmen tipped our porters $300 each.

The short trek to the road head was wonderful,  unspoiled Himalaya, but the 4 + hour jeep trip to ?? as tough a test to vehicle and driver as I have ever experienced, and our accommodation by the airport was probably also the most unsavoury, but the flight back to Katmandhu a delight, as ever.

As I write this report I am listening to a CD of Nepali music.  After a fine indian meal in the Third Eye Restaurant in Thamel, where I informed the head waiter that my last meal here was in 1994 (the year before his birth apparently) we went to a bar where there was a live Nepali loyalist band ( 5 drummers and one musician).  We applauded wildly, -perhaps too enthusiastically, thus the CD.

Climbfest 2018 Info

http://arteaurecuperation.com/a-propos/ Climbfest 2018 May 4th -7th

The venue is Malinbeg, and there is camping down by the harbour, near the crags GR 494 798 ( OS Sheet 10). A limited number of campervans could park there, but there is lots of room at the nearby
carpark for Silver Strand (Trabane), if you don’t mind a slight slope. (Also a new coffee shop there).

There is a hostel at Malinbeg which sleeps 29 in a variety of rooms from single room with double bed and ensuite, to rooms with up to six bunks, and prices vary from €15 upwards. Ring Frank at 0749730006 or email malinbeghostel@oceanfree.net. We have spoken to him and he knows about the event.

Malinmore is not far away and there is a bigger hostel there, Aras Ghleann Cholm Cille Tel 02035644853. We had our AGM there a couple of years ago.

A short drive away are Skelpoonagh Bay, An Port, Sail Rock and Muckross Head, see CCC online guide book for details, if you don’t have Iain Miller’s rock climbing guide to Donegal.

There will be a registration fee of some sort, depending on whether or not we are able to rent the house down at Malinbeg as a wet weather base for campers.

Escape from the Beast

It’s usual for the club to arrange a sport climbing trip to Spain in march or February but this year was a little different, for me at least. An old friend had returned from India after ten years and suggested a trip to the Costa Blanca even though he hadn’t climbed for 12 or more years.

Straight off the plane we walked from our Altea apartment up to Toix Oueste and managed 3 routes before the sun went down. The next day we went to Guadalest where the weather was considerably warmer than last time I visited. Rob astounded with a lead of the very pumpy Margallo 6a+. We bumped into another friend that I hadn’t seen since the 80s here who recommended Montesa so that’s where we headed next and it did not dissappoint. The very best crag we visited with an amazingly rough, pockety limestone which we liked so much we came back a day or so later. Two of the best 5+ ever were the rockfax guide was a litel difficult to read here as they had opted for a very wide angle photo for the topo, making it difficult to read.

The following day it rained lightly most of the dsay so we declared a recovery day.

The next crag on the list was Sector New Year’s Day in Sella, which Gerard O’Sullivan had suggested [thanks!]. This was another great crag with plenty of good holds although quite busy. Trying to avoid the crowds we were thoroughly sandbagged on Perlita.

Alacalali was the next stop. Here the sun was shining but the wind was approaching gale force when we arrived. As it dropped we were able to head up to the left hand end of the crag for some shelter. An excellent couple of 6as and some very steep 5s were our reward.

The final trip was a return to Montesa. There was no sun this time, but we met a German couple at the end of their year long road trip and we discovered they had a wicked sense of humour. We grabbed a couple of lines before the rain came and we retreated to the Cafe Aurora. Once more the Costa Blanca welcomed us as we avoided the beastly weather at home. Adios until next year.

The thing about ice climbing..

George, Finbarr and self set off to Cogne via Ryanair and Sicily Car hire, and it all went quite smoothly, meeting Jack Bergin, (who had driven out), within an hour of our arrival.

George, a veteran of previous Cogne campaigns, rightly felt that we should start off with something not too difficult, particularly due to the age profile of his comrades.  The handiest best known route of this type being Cascade Lillaz, we headed there, only to find that there was a substantial queue at the bottom.  This came as a surprise as there was little sign of any other ice warriors in the village of Cogne.  Undeterred, we headed off through the woods to come upon a much more daunting affair which George identified as Tutto Relativo, a 4, which looked like a Rjukan 5+.   Not having ice climbed for about 10 years ( Finbarr has only done one route in Ponte Di Legno) we left Jack to belay George, and warmed up on a much smaller piece of ice to the right, placing and removing screws, and practising technique.  This proved worthwhile, as when it came out turn to climb the first pitch of the route (which George had ably led following his ‘Point 5’ practise route), we managed better than a ‘ring rusty’ Jack.  The second pitch was overhanging icicles, so we abbed off and went back down to Lillaz.  Quiter, but now beginning to melt in the late afternoon, I led the first 60m pitch, Finbarr the second, and me again the third and forth.

George had taken the steepest possible line on the first pitch, burning out Jack, so when we finished, we joined them in the café bar at Lillaz village.  Great first day.

Day 2 took us up a different valley and to the bottom of a grade 3 (looked like a Rjukan 4) called Thule.  I had a notion to lead the first pitch but cowardice set in, and when I watched George struggle, I thanked the craven gods.  Actually it wasn’t too bad on a top rope, and I began to feel comfortable on ice again.  George was belayed far back, about 20m below an ice curtain. Jack and Finbarr took a look at it and abbed off, while I belayed George.  When he reached the icicles, he was concerned lest he hadn’t enough screws, and decided to belay in a cave underneath and bring me up.  Cold water ran down his neck and the curtain looked frail, so he decided to abb off, but the screws were way off to his left, so he belayed me as I climbed up and took them out, before he lowered me back to the belay.  Some French climbers arrived at the belay and explained that it had been very dry, so what normally would have been a solid block of ice was now just a curtain of icicles, and thus harder.  We bailed!

Day 3.  Poor forecast, and heavy snow. Rest  and rugby.

Day 4.  Low cloud.  A long walk into the ‘Money’ area in poor visibility (after our initial objective was considered very avalanche prone)  sounds of many climbers led us up to the bottom of one of the most attractive routes called Cascade Di Patri 3 ( more like Picadilli Di Circuso).  What did we expect on a Sunday?  They disappeared quite quickly, and Jack and George led the first lovely pitch.  I seconded Jack and led the short second and third pitches, catching up with the hoardes on the big fourth.  Casting caution to the wind, I decided to lead, beginning a catalogue of incompetence, which I shall describe.

 A. First screw, handle gets entangled in my wrist loop- delay. B. Second screw won’t go in, as blocked with ice. C. Drop replacement screw. D. Next attempt cracks a piece of melting ice, and it has to be relocated. E. Finally get second screw in, but Elvis leg now in evidence, right glove soaking, and hand numb. F. Just as wondering if this was a good idea, Finbarr points out that he thinks my crampon has come loose.  Get lowered off. Follow George up.

Day 4.  Every day starts off with a quandary, but seems to work out.  This is no different.  Clear but brutally  cold, but at least we can see everything, everything that is buried in new snow, or has a queue.  Across the valley there is a big route, Cool Couloir, still in shadow and with only 2 climbers on it.  On reaching the bottom, we realise that it is big and steep and graded 4+, and the guys onit are not finding it easy.  George, (he of Point 5), is keen, not having climbed it before, so Finbarr belays him while I decide to take photos.  Camera drained by the -20 temperatures.  George gets up it, and I learn that I will have greatness thrust upon me as Finbarr has cold feet ( and cold everything else).   A sustained 60m pitch has me up with George.   The second looks shorter and easier so we decide to give it a go.  It is neither. The first two thirds of this 60m pitch is fine , but the top George described as Knarly.  It was that, and a few other things, but worse, I got soft snow on my glasses, couldn’t see me feet, and couldn’t let go my axes to clear them.  Somehow I got up.  2 abbs and we were down.

Day 5. Injured knee, and Achilles tendon.  Cleared up the room while the others went back to retrieve a screw dropped the day before.  Drove to Bergamo, while Jack tried to unfreeze his diesel.  Overnight in Bergamo, and home to meet the Beast from the East!!

 

 

Kyrgyzstan – Endless Summits

The Jetim Bel range is remote and little visited by outsiders, never mind climbers.  So remote are these areas that only the very highest peaks are named. Nomadic herders, tending horses, cattle and yaks are still the only people to be met. As we arrived in mid September the higher valleys had already been emptied and the lower yurts were being packed away.
We climbed four peaks in total with one probable first ascent and all First Irish Ascents.

The first base camp in the Naryn Valley at an altitude of about 2950m, was reached by the versatile Kamaz six wheel drive vehicles in about 6 hours from Bishkek. After an acclimatisation visit to the twin lakes at 3500m we were ready for our first ascent. During the night snow had fallen and the start felt like a Scottish winter. Soon the sun came out though and the climb to the romantically named Pt 4327 improved. This was a relatively simple peak, up snow to the col but the final shale slope was tiring after the 7km approach. By the time we returned to camp the sun had cleared most of the snow.
The next day we moved camp, driving some 50Km east to the confluence of Naryn and little Naryn rivers. In the afternoon we ascended Pt4069 to recce the next day. Pt 4343 was a slightly more technical Peak but easier to ascend (1300, F) once the snow was reached.

This area was visited by a French Party in 2004, but there were no records of them climbing this peak, nor was there a cairn.
Camp 3 was a further 10km east at a shade below 3000m. Again we ascended to a summit above camp (pt 4005) to spy the route opposite.

The final peak, Pt 4624, was almost entirely on snow but the recent fall made going a little difficult,  (900m PD-). The final summit ridge dropped away dramatically, making the summit rocks a challenge.

go Summary: Within a few hours flight of Dublin is an extremely remote area with loads of potential for exploration. There is positively loads to do here without much technical difficulty or the need for extensive acclimatisation, meaning a trip can easily be fitted into annual leave.