|Posted on April 26, 2009 at 1:43 AM|
We are now in Namche Bazar and heading back to Kathmandu soon.
After Ama Dablam we spent a few days resting and then carried your gear over to Dughla at the foot of Cholatse. We were running out of time, so we knew that we only had one attempt on Cholatse.
We started from the the house at 3 in the night at began the climbing around 6 in the morning. While I was leading the first pitch a huge spindrift avalanche roared close by and nearly covered Jim, but we kept going at found a good way up the gully splitting the North Face. The climbing was interesting and very technical mixed with a long distance between good protection because the gneiss was compact and did not have many cracks. The ice was sporadic and usually so thin that we could only use our 10 cm ice screws.
We both found the climbing similar to what is found on the North Face on the Eiger in terms of difficulty and protectability, but Cholatse was much more sustained.
We also had a close encounter with a large cornice that broke off from the summit and fell a 1000 metres before crashing down on our route were we had been only and hour before.
After a long day we found a place were we could bivy relatively sheltered by a overhang 500 metres up the route and started to chop a seat were we would sit out the night. While I was finishing the bivy, Jim was setting up the Jetboiler so we could melt some snow. Suddenly something was rolling out of the pack and was soon gone over the steep face. He had accidentally dropped our only gas canister!
For a moment we thought about continuing without, but we expected three or four more days on the route so it was out of the question. We had to descent.
I was really concerned because I had noticed how difficult it was to find protection and considered it a one-way trip. I was terrified with the thought of having to abseil over this steep and difficult ground, but there was no alternative. We sat down and waited for dawn. I probabably had two hours of sleep that night, no so much because of the biting cold but mostly because of the though of the next day. We had a beautiful view over a cloud covered valley and could so Lhotse and Everest as the sun set, but we were not in the mood to enjoy it. All night there was spindrift and falling stones hissed close by, once hitting our packs.
Finally dawn came and we started down. I took no chances and left all the best gear we had as anchors. My expensive new ice screws were first to go and the pitons and nuts. At last we reached the base of the route and the safety of moraine were stone fall and avalanches could no longer reach us.
All in all it was a fantastic experience and although we did not climb the route we had a real adventure, which is what climbing is all about.