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  Ama Dablam Spring 2004

Namaste from Island Peak Basecamp!!

No were not at the base of the wrong hill, we are about to summit Island Peak  20,305' (or Imja Tse) in order to be better acclimatized for Ama Dablam.

We expect to be at Ama basecamp and commencing with Cybercasts  on the 17th of April.

Here is our Team:

Matt Szundy-          Lead Guide

Heather Rowland-    Assistant Guide

Scott Carrlee-         A hardy Alaskan with a penchant for cinematography. Scott will be climbing both Island Peak and Ama Dablam.

Lynell Lacey-          Our Peace Corps cultural liaison. Lynell speaks fluent Nepali and is climbing Island Peak.

Lars Svens-            A quiet strong Swede. Ama Dablam and Island Peak

Laila Ojefelt-          A loud strong Swede. Ama Dablam and Island Peak

So far our expedition is going smoothly. Aside from a few bugs that folks have kicked quickly, we are all healthy and strong at this point. We are poised at basecamp allowing proper acclimatization and good weather to go to the summit. We are all pretty psyched to get up this beautiful "trekking peak".

Last week our team installed a solar panel system for light in the Rongdong Monastery on our hike in. For a little background, The Ascending Path works with the Himalayan Light Foundation on all of our expeditions. The installs both support renewable energy use in rural Nepal and allows for team building and an up close cultural experience for our climbers. The warm Nepalese hospitality cannot be beat. Ask Scott about Chang, a locally brewed barley "beverage"!!

Our morning jokes and evening "gross stories" add a certain flavor to every meal.... is Yak Dung a flavor?

Stay tuned for the highlights and climbing updates from Ama Dablam Basecamp !!

Matt Szundy


Ama Dablam, Nepal 22,493ft/6,865m

Ama Dablam

This Expedition peak is located in the heart of the Khumbu region; Lhotse, Nuptse, Island Peak and Everest surround it. Ama Dablam is often sited as the most beautiful peak in the world. From far distances, Ama's steep slopes and curving ridges draw ones eyes up toward its spectacular summit. Our route, the South West ridge, requires exposed granite ridge walking, ascending fixed lines on steep buttresses and snow and ice climbing at high altitudes.

The Climb: This trip is combined with our Basecamp Trek.

As one team, we will journey into the Khumbu region. After our acclimatizing trek to Island Peak Base Camp, (and optional summit bid) we climb to the scenic Ama Base Camp near Mingbo. At Base Camp we will enjoy the comfort and reassurance of Satellite and email communication with the outside world, hand-held radios for daily team interaction and a spotting scope to view the route up close. From here, we say goodbye to our Island Peak Team and begin the climbing process. We will have the assistance of an experienced, fully insured High Altitude Climbing Sherpa for moving camps up the mountain. We utilize 3 or 4 camps on the mountain, depending on how everyone acclimates. Our Summit day client to guide ratio will not exceed 2:1. The "A" team will summit first, with "B" to follow the next day. This method guarantees the best opportunity for climber safety, service and success.

 At Basecamp

The Itinerary:
Days 1-3: Kathmandu
Upon arrival you will be met at the airport and taken to the classy Nirvana Hotel in the busy Themel district. A welcome dinner with other team members will launch our expedition. Days two and three will be spent visiting the numerous sights around Kathmandu, including The Himalayan Light Foundation, the crazy Hindu temple complex of Pashupatineth, the Buddhist Monkey temple Swamayabhu, and the magical Stupa of Bodnath.

Day 4: Kathmandu to Phakding, 7,200'
We fly from Kathmandu into the famed and exciting Lukla airstrip meeting Cam Su and our trekking support team. Loading up our Zopkios and porters we begin our ascending path up the Dudh Kosi to Phakding. We will strike camp by the raging river and enjoy our first of great expedition feasts together. Our cook Lobsang seems to be the best in Nepal, he can whip up a pizza at 17,000'!

Day 5: Phakding to Namche Bazaar 11,300'
We enjoy a lush river-edge walk through Himalayan Pine and Deodar Cedar forests to a steep and dusty hill leading to the celebrated village of Namche Bazaar at 11,300'. Drinking lots of water, hiking slowly and being mindful of our breath will help us acclimatize better.

Day 6: Namche Bazaar 11,300'
A day for acclimatization is necessary here, and what a place for it! This famous and interesting trading village is located in a giant steep cirque. At the top of the cirque, prayer flags and views of the major Khumbu peaks, including Everest, dominate the horizon. There is plenty to do here, shop the local Nepali/Tibetan marketplace, go for a day hike or even eat a pizza if you miss home!

Day 7: Namche Bazaar 11,300'
Today we head to the villages of Khumjung or Kunde for some exercise, both villages are just a short day hike from Namche. Our extra day here will help tremendously with our acclimation. We can visit the 4 star Everest View Hotel for some good coffee, grab an apple strudel at Herman's Bakery or even play a game of pool in the pub. The day is yours to explore.

Day 8: Namche Bazaar to Tengboche 12,680'
Climbing up to the most revered religious and cultural center of the region brings a sense of tranquility as the magical views grow to encompass Nuptse 25,843', Lhotse 27,883', Everest 29,035', Ama Dablam 22,487', Kwangde 20,293', Kangtega 22,235', and Thamserku 21,674', Tawachee 21,457' to name a few. Cam Su will lead us through the world renowned Monastery, explaining and describing its interesting history and Buddhist practice. We will have the option here to sit in the colorful prayer hall early in the morning and just Be.

Day 9: Tengboche to Dingboche 14,200'
Moving on from the Monastery we descend and cross the Duhd Kosi again as we climb past and around the majestic Ama Dablam. At Dingboche/Pheriche there is a fork in the valley, one way leads towards Everest the other, Island Peak to our East.

Day 10: Dingboche 14,200'
In order to be able to go higher with maximum comfort we will have a rest day here. As a team we will attend the HRA (Himalayan Rescue Association) high altitude clinic and meet the volunteer doctors. There is plenty to do in addition, climb the beautiful ridge above to Dingboche, hike up to Dusa or soak your feet in the chilly river water.

Day 11: Dingboche/Pheriche 14,200' to Lobuje 16,175'
This short distance, but 2000' elevation gain, will surprise everyone as we struggle in the thin air of high altitude. We travel across glacial moraine and gain better views of Pumori, Nuptse and eventually Everest. There is a climber's memorial we will visit along the way as well.

Day 12: Lobuje to Gorak Shep 16,925'
At this altitude it is mandatory to breath mindfully, drink many liters of water and be aware of our individual physiological responses. For those interested, an evening ascent of the hiking peak Kala Pattar (18,185') is achievable from our Gorak Shep camp.

Day 13: Gorak Shep to Everest Base camp 17,200' (back to Gorak Shep)
A longer but flat day takes us further up the winding moraine to the sites of Everest Base camp. The exact location of Base camp changes from year to year, and it will probably be empty. Most climbers ascend Everest in the spring, however if we are lucky, there will be a fall expedition on the mountain. We can spend a few hours poking around and get a good look at the famed Khumbu ice fall before we return to Gorak Shep.

Day 14: Gorak Shep to Dingboche 14,200'
Fully empowered and acclimatized, going down hill will be a breeze. Great views of Island Peak, Makalu and Ama Dablam (our next stop) abound. The Snow Lion teahouse will be our camping spot for the night.

It should be noted that an optional ascent of Island Peak is available and recommended for Ama Dablam climbers ($500). This trekking peak offers a great technical review and added acclimatization. Please see our Island Peak page for a route description.

Day 15: Dingboche to Ama Dablam Basecamp 15,200'
Having spent several nights above 15,000', hiking directly to Ama's Base camp will be undemanding. From Dingboche we descend to Pangboche, pick up our additional expedition equipment, cross the river once again, and climb the 2000' to the comfortable glacial meadow. We will have a special farewell dinner as tomorrow the Base camp trekking support team says farewell to the climbers.

Day 16: Base Camp to Camp 1 19,200', Back to Base.
Trekkers descend to Tengboche. Climbers carry to either Advanced Base camp or Camp 1. This is a long rocky day, we follow the winding ridge as it evolves from grass to scree into talus and finally to car sized boulders. We will climb the slabs to gain the ridge at the cramped and beautifully exposed location of Camp 1 to establish our cache. This is traditionally quite a long day.

Day 17: Base Camp to Camp 1, 19,200'
Both Team A and B will depart from base camp for the move to Camp 1 with our High Altitude Sherpa. We will establish our camp in three tents, two people in each. Living here is cramped and difficult but the morning sun and amazing views previously hidden to the East are put to show. We will continue with 8AM/PM radio checks each day with our base camp manager for weather information. They will be watching us through our spotting scope while we climb as well.

Day 18: Camp 1 to Camp 2, 19,800'
This day requires delicate ridge walking and short snowfield crossings all while attached to fixed lines we have previously approved. When there are lines that look slightly dubious, they will be replaced immediately. Camp 2 is even more cramped, but we will eat well and get to sleep when the sun sets.

Day 19: Possible rest day/ weather day.

Day 20: Camp 2 to Camp 3, 20,100'
Our most technical day involves overhanging fixed line jugging, gully climbing and spectacular ice and snow climbing. Most of the day at this altitude is on snow. We will use the traditional lower more sheltered High Camp, just below the giant ridge based snow mushroom.

Day 21: Summit Day, 22,493'
Leaving camp just before the sun hits will allow us to keep warm and move faster. We must climb slowly and mindfully as we ascend the snowy headwall to the right of the Serac. Up past the Dablam, we must cross the Bergshrund, continue up the 65 degree snow wall until we gain the diagonal sloping ridge, and climb that directly to the Summit. This is such an aesthetic line! From the Summit, views of Everest, Lhotse, Nuptse, Makalu, Island Peak and many more surround us in all directions. What a place to be! Summit times from this camp have been under 5 hours. We will descend the fixed lines carefully and slowly. The client to guide ratio will be 2:1 for this day.

Day 22: Summit day for B Team. A-Team can descend with our Sherpa to Camp 1 or wait and watch the B-Team Summit.

Day 23: Possible rest day, Possible Summit day.

Day 24: Possible rest day, Possible Summit day.

Day 25: Possible rest day, Possible Summit day.

Day 26:Possible rest day, Possible Summit day.

Day 27: Everyone descends to either Camp 1 or Base Camp.
Celebration dinner a la Lobsang!

Day 28: Base Camp to Tengboche

Day 29: Tengboche to Namche Bazaar

Day 30: Namche Bazaar to Lukla

Day 31: Lukla to Kathmandu
The Nirvana awaits us. Team celebration dinner.

Day 32: Kathmandu to ?????

Day 33: HOME

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