Thursday, September 1, 2011

Establishing Advance Base Camp

The South Face of Sasser Kangri II sits above the South Shukpa Kunzang Glacier that eventually drains into the Shyok River.  During the summer months, the major rivers in the Karakoram, including the Shyok, become swollen with snowmelt - increasing flows to their yearly maximum.  To approach Sasser Kangri II  via the Shyok, we’d have to walk up the river gorge for days, trying to wade the swollen river channels each time they zigzagged between the cliffs on either side of a half-mile-wide floodplain.  We were told that this would be an impossible trek in the summer when the water would be too deep to wade.  In 2009 when we made our first attempt on SKII, we looked for a way to approach the mountain up a valley off the Nubra River and then cross over a high pass onto the South Shukpa Kunzang Glacier thaat would avoid having to come up the Shyok River.  In 2009 we explored side valleys above the Skang Lungpa Glacier where no one had ever been and discovered a 20,000 foot pass that took us over onto the South Shukpa Kunzang Glacier below Sasser Kangri II.  This year we followed that same route except that this time we brought skis to make the travel on the glaciers quicker and easier.

Col (pass) we crossed to get to Advance Base Camp

Once we crossed over the pass we placed a camp up the South Shukpa Kunzang Glacier below Sasser Kangri II that we called our Advance Base Camp (ABC).  We would operate out of ABC for our climb of SKII and any other acclimatization peaks we might attempt in the area.

Advance Base Camp

Sasser Kangri II from ABC - Route goes up rt side of giant couloir to half height - up ramp system on rt wall to summit .
One of our permit requirements for the Eastern Karakoram is we need to be a joint Indian=Foreign expedition.  To do a climb like Sasser Kangri II alpine style without fixed ropes and camps we cannot take Indian climbers with us who we don't know and do not have the prper experience.  We have challenged this rule with the permitting authority, the Indian Mountaineering Foundation along with a number of other issues that discourage climbers from coming to this region - so far to no avail.  So we engage a number of Indian citizens to be on our team as members who end up being there to help us carry loads places but don't actually climb on the mountain with us.  We try to give them opportunuituies to climb with us on smaller acclimatization peaks.  But they were an integral part of our team and included: Tinless, Dansing, Chirring, Pemba (aka King Kong), Tashi, and Palden.  Most of them were Sherpas from Darjeeeling, but also they are from Ladakh and Kaumon - all mountain areas in India where the locals are well suited to this environment.  These guys helped carry all the supplies and equipment from our base camp over the pass to ABC and when we were climbing over there they kept us supplied and watched over us in case we had an emergency or needed anything.

Pemba (aka King Kong for his legendary load carrying capacity)

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