The road less travelled – ABC

Despatch 29.05.10 – The mountain gods have a formidable sense of humour. Yesterday we returned to our advanced base camp with some more gear and food and settled in for the night. The morning was clear and we were moving by 8.30 in the morning, good going for Tibet which is on Beijing time, despite being several thousand kilometres to the west.

Our plan was to reach a glacier that extended down from the summit of our chosen peak. It doesn’t have a name and it doesn’t have an accurate height either but we were figuring on 6300m. Once we’d gained this glacier, and we didn’t expect any problems, it led directly to the summit. The climbing didn’t look hard and as long as the weather held we felt confident.

Foolish pride. We found the glacier alright, but what we couldn’t see from base camp was a 300ft drop comprising loose rubble in order to access it. Worse, from our position above the glacier, we could see another approach which didn’t have this problem. You simply stepped off the rock onto ice and motored on. We were snookered and had no choice but to return to ABC and clear it.

Now back in base camp, after a huge carry down, my tent is being battered by sand as the wind picks up for its usual evening flourish. It reminds me that to a certain extent we’ve underestimated our objective. We were most interested in exploring this range of mountains, which is barely known, and so we’ve achieved something. But the scale of this landscape is too vast for the fast and light approach we took. Slow and light would have been better. At least when the summer rains come and the yak herders go back up there mountain to graze their animals, they’ll find no trace we’ve been there.

It will take a few days to get back to Kathmandu, and there are some real highlights along the way, so I’ll add some more entries to this blog, before I round off in Nepal.

Ed Douglas

This despatch was delivered via satellite phone to Rohantime using GMN’s

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Rohan Heritage

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