Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Losar - One of the Worlds Longest Ice Climbs

Losar is the name for the Tibetan and Sherpa New Year, but it is also the name of a classic ice climb in the Khumbu region of Nepal near Mount Everest.  Although it is not exceptionally steep until the final two pitches, the climb is over 800 meters long which makes it one of the worlds longest ice climbs.  The route is approached by descending around 1000 feet from the village of Namche Bazaar and crossing the Bhote Koshi Nadi River to reach the climb on the opposite side.

Losar taken from the village of Namche Bazaar
Five days ago after we finished instructing at the Khumbu Climbing School Steve Mock and I decided to attempt the route before I headed back to the US.  I tried climbing the route the year before with Dave Weber, another KCS instructor.  But the morning of the climb Dave became sick from something he ate so we were not able to go.  While Dave recuperated, I went down to the river to check out the crossing and discovered that there wasn't a bridge, and without one the cascade was too swift and deep to cross safely.  So this year Steve and I went down the day before we started the climb to build a bridge using a 10 foot section of ladder.  But we discovered that locals had been mining sand from the river banks for concrete construction in Namche and they had built a sturdy log bridge that we could use the following day

Bridge built by sand haulers
We left on February 3rd (which was Losar) to climb Losar and arrived at the ice at first light.  It was unusually warm and the ice was running with water. 

Partway up Losar
Although the first 700 meters were relatively easy Grade 3 and 4, the wet, chandelier ice took time to clear. 

Namche Bazaar and the top of Mt Everest from Losar

We arrived at the steep final two pitches of ice as it was getting dark so we decided to turn around and rappel the route.  I was disappointed to miss out on this last section because it would have been the steepest and best climbing on the route.
We reached the top of the rock bulge on the right below the final steep section
Late that night we arrived back in Namche where our friend Nima prepared a simple meal for us before we went to our lodge for some sleep.  Maybe the third time will be a charm for me on this route!

1 comment:

  1. Steve - it's great to be able to see what you've been up to and read your writing about it. I really enjoyed our conversation at Thanksgiving and have wondered how you're doing. It will be great to be able to follow your blog.

    Also, Joshua is learning about Asian animals right now and he just read today about Hanuman Langurs, monkeys which are supposed to be all over India and seen as sacred by Hindus. It reminded me of the monkey picture on your blog so I showed it to Joshua. Your blog has even been a part of homeschooling! He is also very interested in Mt. Everest, so he loved seeing those pictures too.

    Thank you! Hope you are well :) Rebecca

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