Cholatse 2018 Expedition Dispatches

Dispatch #7 - November 7, 2018 – Kathmandu

Our team members are now all home, on their way home or relaxing in Kathmandu or Pokhara with friends.

As usual when we arrived at Cholatse base camp, we were the only team present and then others showed up soon after. When independent climbers know ropes will be fixed on this super technical peak it makes sense to show up after all the hard and expensive work is done by a few teams.

We had some very dry conditions on Cholaste this fall season. Our usual snow plod across the glacier was icy with exposed rock on the lower sections. The climbing route was a lot harder than in past seasons due to more technical mixed climbing sections with a lot of steep ice and exposed rock, especially on the steep ridge immediately after the traditional rock section of the climb. I personally prefer mixed climbing, but the route was obviously different to the photos that are posted on the Junkies website from previous Cholatse climbs.

Our weather forecast predicated very high winds starting late on November 1st, continuing until the 8th, and with this in mind we as a team collectively decided to make a push for the summit on the 1st, instead of sitting out a week of winds at base camp. Our teams usually reach the summit from the 31st to the 2nd, so a November 1st summit day was smack in the middle of our usual summit window. In the end the winds actually started later on the afternoon of the 2nd and continued until the evening of the 6th, but that’s easy to see after the fact.

The team members positioned themselves at high camp evening of the 31st and made a midnight departure for the summit. One team member was suffering from a fever so he did not leave high camp and waited for the team to return from their summit push before travelling over the glacier and back to base camp.

Another team member had to abort their summit push half way, due to cold feet. There was no wind on our summit day and the temperatures were warm for Cholatse, unfortunately the manufacturer of the boots temperature rating were well off in this case, although I will not mention the brand of boots publically.

I departed base camp alone and met the team at high camp where we proceeded to head to the summit. The first of our team reached the summit at 6am and were followed by the others shortly after.

A big thank you has to go to Kami Neru and Pasang Nima Sherpa whom had a marathon 22-hour day, the previous day, fixing ropes to the summit. These guys have now fixed the route each fall over the past four seasons, and their experience and knowledge of Cholatse cannot be matched by any other Sherpa in the Khumbu.

The team all descended to base camp the same day and the next morning we were all extracted from base camp by multiple chopper flights by the awesome pilots of Kailash Helicopters and were all back in Kathmandu by 10am.

These were very unusual conditions this year and our team coped well with the changes. As usual I was very proud of our climbers on this expedition.

Phil Crampton

Dispatch #6 - November 2, 2018 – Kathmandu

Cholatse summit November 1st, 6am. Kathmandu airport, November 2nd, 10am. The team are now back in Kathmandu thanks to the amazing pilots of Kailash Helicopters.

Time now to enjoy Kathmandu with our great team members before they all head home. A full report of the climb in a few days.

Phil Crampton

Dispatch #5 - October 31, 2018 – Summit

Our superstar Sherpas Kami “Mad Dog” Neru and Pasang Nima have fixed rope to the summit of Cholatse at 5pm. They are now descending to base camp for a well deserved rest.

Our team members are now at high camp with two of our other Sherpas and will be leaving shortly after midnight for their summit push.

I will leave base camp around 11pm and join the group, and we all hope to summit at first light and descend before the predicated bad weather begins.

Phil Crampton

Dispatch #4 - October 30, 2018 – Base Camp

Yesterday two Sherpa from our team and two from the other team present continued the rope fixing that our Sherpa had started and placed another 800 meters on the route. The route is a lot different to last season and we have a lot more mixed climbing sections this year.

Our team members made the climb from base camp to high camp in great time despite the fact the route is very dry this season, and instead of a snow plod on the glacier, we had several steep ice sections to climb. The headwall into high camp was in great condition with perfect neve snow.

The plan is for the same four rope fixing Sherpa to continue fixing tomorrow and hopefully reach the summit. Our team members and our other Sherpas will head back up to high camp after lunch for the evening. We plan to leave around midnight and hopefully summit around first light. Our weather forecast is predicting some strong winds starting early in the evening of the first, so we are hoping to sneak up before the bad weather begins.

If all goes to plan the ropes will be fixed on the 31st, we reach the summit on the 1st and the team will depart base camp by helicopters on the 2nd and be back in Kathmandu in time for lunch.

Phil Crampton

Dispatch #3 - October 27, 2018 – Base Camp

We arrived at base camp yesterday very early in the morning as we were craving really fresh coffee. The team made the short hike from Machermo in great time and were rewarded by a great lunch cooked by our head cook, Da Pasang Sherpa and his three kitchen assistants.

Today we held our Puja ceremony and immediately after, four of our climbing Sherpa did a carry and fixed ropes to the high camp. Our team members climbed to crampon point and deposited their gear in anticipation of our climb to high camp over the next few days.

The other team that is supposed to be on the hill the same time as us this season have still not arrived at base camp, so our Sherpa crew will have to do the majority of the fixing over the next few days.

Our team members will most likely rest tomorrow and climb to the high camp on Monday.

Phil Crampton

Dispatch #2 - October 23rd, 2018 - Namche Bazar

Everything went to plan yesterday and we had a very easy transition from our hotel in Kathmandu to Namche Bazar. We had amazing views from our respective helicopters and we were all in Namche Bazar by 9am.

First order of business after lunch at our lodge was to spend the afternoon relaxing, drinking coffee and eating amazing food at Sherpa Barista, the best coffee house/cafe in all of Namche. Pasang our host, was as always very gracious and it was great to see his place so busy and Namche very busy with tourists.

Our team members have taken a stroll up to the Everest View lodge this morning but it will be hard to beat the view we got yesterday from the choppers.

Tomorrow we start our trek proper and will head to Dole and then onto Machermo the following day. Our Sherpa crew are already at base camp and we should hopefully be there on the 26th.

The weather in the Khumbu seems to be what we had hoped it would be with clear blue skies and chilly mornings.

Phil Crampton

Dispatch #1 - October 19th, 2018 - Kathmandu

Our climbers are now starting to arrive in Kathmandu and a few of us got together last night for some food, drinks and a lot of laughs talking about old expeditions together. The majority of the team will arrive on Saturday, then rest on Sunday and hopefully on Monday, we are able to take a couple of helicopters to Namche. The weather has been quite sporadic in Lukla this past week and many flights have been cancelled, so we hope that the weather is good in Namche for our arrival.

As usual our Junkies team is a mix of nationalities with climbers from the United States, United Kingdom, Finland, Sweden, New Zealand and our loyal Nepal staff. A lot of the team members have already climbed Ama Dablam so Cholatse will be another great Himalayan peak to add to their climbing resumes.

If all goes to plan, we should arrive at Cholatse base camp on the 26th and start climbing a few days later after we have held our all important Puja ceremony asking the gods for safe passsage on her (Cholatse) flanks.

Our Sherpa crew are already up in the Khumbu heading towards base camp with our porter loads. Immediately after our Cholatse climb our Sherpa crew will head over to Ama Dablam base camp and establish our camp in preparation of our Ama Dablam team members arriving in mid November.

Phil Crampton

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