October 2018

Expedition leader, Garrett Madison, checked in via satellite phone to provide this Nup la Khang (aka Unclimbed Peak) update:

Today the team flew by helicopter from base camp (4965 m) across the Ngozumpa glacier and by last year’s First Ascent peak, Tharke Khang to our advanced base camp.  Advanced base camp is located just near the Nepal / China border at approximately 6170 m (just over 20,000 ft).  After scouting out the area and base of the route, they spend some time acclimatizing to the new elevation.

The plan will be to launch a summit bid within the next few days.  The weather is favorable, and the team is strong, in high spirits and ready to do this!  Network communications are currently limited, so no new pictures yet.

We are looking forward to a recorded audio dispatch in the next day or so with a detailed update direct from the team.

Meanwhile, our Island Peak team has trekked from Gokyo over the Cho La pass (5420 m / 17,782 ft) into the Khumbu valley and down to Dingboche.  Yesterday, they continued to Chukhung.  Today they will finish the trek to the Island Peak base camp and conduct some additional training.  They should be going for the summit on November 2nd in Nepal.

We are pretty excited to have our two teams going for Himalayan summit possibly the same day!  Join us in wishing them both great climbing success, and we will have another update for you tomorrow.

Yesterday afternoon we arrived in our base camp nestled alongside the 5th of the Gokyo Lakes.  We are the only people around.  It’s a beautiful camp and from here we can gaze upon Everest, Lhotse, Cho Oyu, and many other high peaks.

Today we had our Puja ceremony, where we ask the mountain for safe passage. This ceremony is very important to our Sherpas. We’ve been sorting equipment and food this afternoon for our advanced base camp and summit attempt, which we hope to embark on in a couple days time.

We’ve enjoyed a restful day here in camp, and tomorrow plan to go for an acclimatization hike.

We’ve made it to Gokyo (4750 m/15,580 ft), the last village before before base camp.  After leaving Khumjung, we trekked up the Gokyo Valley.  This area, including the village of Machermo, is remarkably beautiful with stunning views.

Today our team went on an acclimatization hike up nearby Gokyo Ri, at 5357 m (17,575 ft). We had amazing views all around of Mount Everest, Mount Lhotse, Makalu, and could see our objective the unclimbed Nup la Khang! This afternoon we will head to base camp.  There we will spend a few days acclimatizing and training to prepare for our attempt of Nup la Khang.

Our Island peak team will head off today from Gokyo towards Dzongla and will spend several days making their way to Island Peak (Imja Tse). So we are saying our goodbyes to our fellow trekkers/climbers.  We look forward to reuniting with them after the climbing period.

The weather has been stellar the past week for us as we’ve trekked up from Lukla towards these high Himalayan peaks.  We hope it will continue.  But there looks to be some high wind in the forecast. Fingers crossed for calm winds and clear skies!

The team at the top of Gokyo Ri (17,800 ft) today, beautiful views all around! Everest is behind top left.

The team at the top of Gokyo Ri (17,575 ft) today, beautiful views all around! Everest is behind top left.

The village of Gokyo, next to the lake, with the Nazumba glacier, Mount Everest and Lhotse behind on left side.

The village of Gokyo, next to the lake, with the Nazumba glacier, Mount Everest and Lhotse behind on left side.

Close up of Everest and Lhotse from Gokyo Ri

Close up of Everest and Lhotse from Gokyo Ri

In Khumjung, heading out at 7:30AM to trek to Machermo

In Khumjung, heading out at 7:30AM to trek to Machermo

The Unclimbed Peak team is in great spirits and just left Khumjung this morning in Nepal to trek to their first stop in the Goyko Valley: Machermo (4470 m / 14,665 ft).

Team photo at Panorama Lodge, Namche.

Team photo at Panorama Lodge, Namche.

Greetings from the fabulous Panorama Lodge in Namche Bazaar, the “Capital of the Khumbu”. Our Unclimbed Peak expedition team is just leaving Namche to continue trekking after receiving the gift of khata scarfs from our dear friends at the Panorama Lodge. Next stop Khumjung!

We are enjoying our time in the Khumbu valley of Nepal, with spectacular views all around! Our Unclimbed Peak team is currently in Namche, the capital of the Khumbu, at the Panorama Lodge.  We arrived yesterday in good health and good spirits!  This morning we went for an acclimatization hike up to the Everest View Hotel.  With the clear sky we had fantastic views of Mount Everest, Mount Lhotse, and Ama Dablam.  Our goal is to trek up to our base camp at the 5thlake in the Gokyo valley, past the village of Gokyo.  From there we aim to climb Nup La Khang (North Peak) which sits on the border of Nepal and China.  At 6861 meters (22,641 ft.), Nup La Khang is between Mount Cho Oyu and Mount Everest, and is unclimbed!  We hope to make the first ascent of this virgin peak!

After climbing Nup La Khang, some of our climbers plan to head to Ama Dablam (Mothers’ Necklace), a very picturesque mountain in the Khumbu valley.  We have been blessed with great weather so far and are just enjoying the scenery, views, and nice people here.  Tomorrow our plan is to head to Khumjung, where we will stay for 1 night before trekking into the Gokyo valley.  All is well for us as we enjoy making our way up towards the Unclimbed Peak base camp.

We’ve just concluded our journey to the least climbed of the Seven SummitsCarstensz Pyramid located on the island of Papua New Guinea.  About a week ago our team assembled in Bali and completed our equipment checks.  Then we flew to the easternmost province of Indonesia, Papua.  We waited in the frontier town of Timika for the weather to clear so that we could fly by helicopter over the jungle to the Yellow Valley base camp nearby Carstensz Pyramid.

We were delayed by one day in Timika as frequent the rain and thunderstorms passed by.  Then on the clear morning of October 16th we flew to base camp at 4,242 meters (14,000 ft).  From there we went on an acclimatization hike around the valley.  After lunch, we decided to climb partway up the route on Carstensz Pyramid, so that we could familiarize ourselves with the climbing.  At dinner, we discussed our climbing strategy for the following day and went to bed anticipating the climb ahead!

We awoke at 4 AM and had breakfast at 4:30 AM, then departed camp at 5 AM for our ascent of Carstensz Pyramid. As we ascended the first pitches of rock the sun rose and we turned off our headlamps. Much of the route is climbing on 5th class rock up cracks, gulleys, and rock faces until reaching the ridgeline.  By 9 AM we reached the cable crossing, an airy section where a large gap in the ridge exists.  Climbers cross by walking along a 40 ft. cable.  After that, we continued along the ridge until reaching a ‘step across’ where we hopped from one rock to the next.  We then ascended the final slopes to the summit at 4,884 meters (16,117 ft).  At the top, we congratulated each other and took a few team photos, then began our descent.

We rappelled much of the route and reached base camp at 3:30 PM.  That evening we celebrated our success on Carstensz Pyramid.  For one of our climbers, Gary Nelson, this was the successful completion of his Seven Summits quest.  Gary and I climbed Mount Everest together back in 2011, so this was a special way for me to be part of his last of the Seven Summits.  A few of the other climbers on the team are nearing completion of their Seven Summits as well, likely to finish in the coming months!

The following morning the weather cleared and the helicopter was able to fly to base camp and take out three of our climbers, however, that was the only flight for the day.  The two remaining climbers and I waited until the following day to fly out.  As we lifted off from base camp and exited the Yellow Valley we approached a thick field of clouds and fog, the pilots had to maneuver around the sky to find their way down to Timika. We were lucky as only one flight was able to get in!  The weather in Papua New Guinea is often rainy and cloudy, sometimes groups have been delayed as many as 10 days waiting for the clouds and rain to let up so that they can fly out, we were lucky!

After arriving in Timika we went to our hotel and had breakfast, showered and changed, and then went to the airport to catch our flight to Bali.  We have arrived in Bali and are reunited with our other climbers that were able to fly out a day before us.  Tonight we are celebrating our climb and planning to take a surf lesson in the morning before saying goodbye! 

While we are still awaiting some photos of the triumphant team member summits, the message from the island of New Guinea is that the team awoke to fantastic weather at the Yellow Valley base camp.  Half of the team (Richard, Joel, and Gary) were able to jump on a helicopter a day early and head back to Timika.  The timing should allow them to connect with the return flight to Bali and be enjoying the sunset from Bali’s world-famous beaches this evening!

Garrett, Jim, and Chad will follow suit tomorrow morning and met up with the others for a celebration dinner in Bali tomorrow night.

I promise pictures soon!

We received word that 100% of the team reached the summit of Carstensz Pyramid (4884 m / 16,024 ft) at 10:40 AM local time on October 17, 2018 (about 10 hours ago) and have all safely returned to base camp in the Yellow Valley!

We should have some pictures and details to share shortly.

This morning the Carstensz Pyramid climbing team flew by helicopter from the town of Timika, Papua up to their base camp in the Yellow Valley. The base camp is located at an elevation of 4285 m / 14,050 ft.  That’s quite a change from the sea-level beaches of Bali just a couple of days ago! Today the team will spend some time hiking around the area of base camp to acclimatize to the new altitude. The weather is looking favorable and everyone is ready for a great day of climbing.

At 4,884 m (16,024 ft.) above sea level, Carstensz Pyramid is the highest point between the Himalayas and the Andres. As the team climbs tomorrow, they will have views of the nearby Grasberg mine, the largest gold mine and second largest copper mine in the world.

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