Chamlang traverse 2010

By Australian Geographic Adventure 8 November 2013
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The first Australian grand traverse of Chamlang in Nepalese Himalayas is underway.

AUSSIE MOUNTAINEERS STUART MORRIS and Theo Kossart have managed to file some updates from their Chamlang Traverse Expedition (see Australian Geographic Adventure Nov/Dec issue, on stands October 20). Keep an eye on Australian Geographic Adventure’s blog pages for more updates from the team as they attempt this world-first traverse of Chamlang.

Late September, 2010
Chalem Kharka (3600m)
After a couple of days in Kathmandu to sort out formalities – and surviving an exciting flight into Lukla airstrip (2600m) – we’re six days into the 15-day trek to base camp. The group is travelling well and being supported by 25 friendly, competent Nepali staff. We’re all acclimatised and ready to move into the high-altitude terrain of the upper Hinku Valley.

October 6, 2010
Tagnag (4300m)
Now in upper Hinku Valley and soon to go over 5400m Mera La into Hongu Valley to establish Chamlang base camp. Arrival of base camp porters and staff now sees us with 35 support crew. The group is still travelling well despite some minor ailments. We have covered some tough days of walking. This has been softened by spectacular and varying Himalayan terrain and fine weather.

Mera high camp

October 12, 2010
Chamlang Base Camp (5320m) finally!
After a couple of days of reconnoitring a location for base camp – wading across the icy Hongu River – we have discovered unexpected potential difficulties in accessing lower parts of the route. Further exploration of rarely accessed East Hongu glacier revealed a stunning cirque of the lesser mount’s icefalls and potentially exciting route up on to Chamlang glacier. We said goodbye to trekkers two days prior, who hope to climb Mera Peak. Weather is still variable but currently snowing. Last of supplies should arrive tomorrow. 

October 18, 2010
Champlang Base Camp (BC)
The last of our climbing supplies arrived last Friday after unforseen delays. With no info to assist us up the East Hongu Glacier it was after a couple of hours’ difficult route-finding across moraine with poor visibility and falling snow that we established Advance Base Camp (ABC) at 5600m just below the glacial headwall, which we intend to climb to gain Chamlang Glacier. We returned to BC after uncomfortable nights in similar difficult conditions and increasingly heavy snow which lasted a few days. 

Stuart and Theo

October 23, 2010 
Champlang Base Camp (BC)
Back in BC after three hard days exploring, we’re reconnoitring and pushing route up the East Hongu Headwall. With no previous info, it has involved a lot of route-finding. The snow has been soft and unconsolidated and visibility intermittent making the going slow. Gales still persist up high. We have now discounted accessing SW face and concentrating our energies and supplies on gaining the Chamlang Glacier. Only 9 days until porters arrive to collect our BC equipment. We now have a couple of days of rest before a final five-day push.

October 24, 2010
Champlang Base Camp (BC)
Tomorrow, we’re planning to head up for one last five-day push up Chamlang. Strong winds persist up high, which are clearly visible on the summit from BC. Traverse unlikely due to time and conditions but will attempt to gain either upper ridge or minor summit. Hopefully it’s not too blowy. Overall health is good and positive spirits endure, despite our isolation with no one apart from our cook and his assistant at BC.

October 30
Champlang Base Camp (BC)
Our last SMS from BC as porters will be arriving in the next two days to carry our gear out to Lukla airstrip and back to KTM.

We’re unable to attain summit this time. There was combination of obstructions: difficult route-finding in unchartered territory; deep, steep and unconsolidated snow; cold gale-force winds; and lack of time and weather window. The last few days have been spent achieving the top of East Hongu Headwall (6230m) in very tough conditions with fantastic views of windswept Chamlang and the glacier below. It involved a retreat in darkness. Returned to BC exhausted, but well.