/ Nepal: Late autumn climbing season?
I've been checking out a couple of expeditions in Nepal recently, and I noticed that some of them start quite late in the season. For example I saw that Ama Dablam, or Baruntse (a 7000er) are sometimes summited as late as mid to end November. Is this usual? Wouldn't the cold or the weather become an issue at that time of year?
Thanks for your advice!
I think there are a few reasons. Firstly, these peaks are lower and shouldn't be affected by the jet stream. Secondly, ama dablam is very busy in October and early November and should be quieter by then. Thirdly, the weather should be cold but very settled. Also, I reckon that sherpas etc are available after the main 8000 m season.
i am going to ama dablam with Tim mosedale for a late Nov trip, and hope the weather is good, but I do expect it to be chilly!
>Secondly, ama dablam is very busy in October and early November and should be quieter by then.
Yes that seems quite likely... I saw that Jagged Globe offers a trip there even late as December for that reason.
> Thirdly, the weather should be cold but very settled.
So you would consider the weather is not more of a risk later in the year? Do you think that this would apply for (low) 7000er peaks too? For example I saw a trip planning to summit Baruntse (7129 m) mid November
The weather 'should' be settled for November and early December, but there is sometimes a big dump late October or November. I think this could badly effect Baruntse which I think is more avalanche prone than the normal route on Ama Dablam. But these are high mountains and nothing is a given. Generally most days in November and December are beautiful but getting very cold once the sun is gone.
Both times I went to Nepal were late November - late December and the weather was very settled, in the Annapurna and langtang regions. Cold at night but never been in October so not sure how much colder, and our max altitude was 5500m.
I'd agree with the other posters above, and add a few points:
- Octobers can always be affected by a late monsoon, and occasionally by a large dump of snow, and this has been the case for decades (at least)
- too much 'good' weather renders some routes too dry, not enough ice for climbing, so it depends on your route
- the high winds of late November and early December above 7000m can sometimes start in mid-October and affect summit days at 6500m
- last October (2017) in the Khumbu was perfect right through November and many routes got done, whereas the previous couple of Octobers it was too dry for some routes
- at the same time last year, the weather in the Annapurna-Dhaulagiri area was much less settled, and had some rain and snow.
- and at the same time in the Manaslu region, 500 people summited Manaslu in weeks of perfect weather, but that weather rendered lower mountains dangerously dry with stonefall
- Sept-Oct 2013 was very clear and 8000ers were summited late Sept but then a big dump of snow second week of October ruined things for two weeks, then it was good again through Nov. This pattern has happened a few times in the last decade.
- the Khumbu in Oct-Nov is now very busy, and this will affect things like flights, accommodation, prices, helicopter rescues, itinerary changes etc that all impact an expedition there
- Ama Dablam is fixed ropes all the way, so many of the regular factors don't apply so much, as you're not routefinding, climbing and protecting like a normal climb - but your tactics and progress will be affected by crowding issues. Baruntse usually needs a strong/Sherpa team to climb the upper ridge or most teams won't get up it, and is more prone to avalanche than Ama Dablam etc and is a much more serious approach/retreat.
Lots of good advice above, particularly from Damo.
Baruntse is hard. It took me three goes to get up it. Lots of problems with snow conditions on the ridge.
For a first expedition I would suggest Ama Dablam because of the fixed ropes and obvious route.
If you have some experience you might consider the SW ridge of Pumori. You would need good climbing sherpas, not just load carriers, but it is a lot safer than the ordinary route.
Thanks for all of your advice! So it seems as if the conditions don't necessarily become worse or better later in the year for 6-7000er peaks, they simply have different advantages/disadvantages? (with November being cold, but stable and October being less stable but warmer)
>Baruntse is hard. It took me three goes to get up it. Lots of problems with snow conditions on the ridge.
>For a first expedition I would suggest Ama Dablam because of the fixed ropes and obvious route.
I would probably not be organizing the trip myself, so the route would most likely be fixed on both mountains. And assuming that both are fixed, Baruntse is probably less technical than Ama Dablam right?
IMO Baruntse is a more serious proposition than Ama Dablam for a number of reasons. It is, as Damo pointed out, much more remote than AD. The summit ridge is long and prone to cornices and avalanche conditions after snow. It is a long day! There can also be problems with crevasses. As Damo says, you need a strong Sherpa team. From experience I would also say that you need excellent weather to ensure good conditions on the top ridge. Fixed ropes only go so far to address all this.
AD, on the other hand, is much less subject to all the above. It is certainly more technical but all the hard bits are well protected and the objective dangers, IMO, are much lower; although a friend of mine, who was at the top camp when the Dablam partly collapsed, might not agree!
We've always gone to AD late season. When I was there (in 2006) we had perfect weather throughout and our summit day was 1 December. It wasn't actually very cold. Colder in base camp!
I heard that last year there were 500 permits for AD. I'm not sure how it works in October, but it doesn't sound like much fun given the nature of the route and camp sizes.
Our team summited Cholatse (SW Ridge) 4 November last year and it was very cold (they all reported numb toes in the early hours leaving Camp 1 on the col). On 11 November Adele Pennington (lots of experience on 8000ers) said that temps at Mera Peak high camp were -30c.
We schedule Dhaulagiri VII late September-October and wouldn't want to be there in November.
Agree with everything Cliff says ref Baruntse. We got up it once and it was sketchy.
We backed off Baruntse about 6800m due to a crevasse which split the ridge which would have meant us traversing on to a loaded slope. We elected to not risk it. We didn't fix ropes on the summit day only up the gully to access camp 1. We bailed from our high point and stripped the mountain back to base camp the same day which was fortunate as it dumped over a foot of snow at base camp that night. It could have been interesting cleaning the mountain with that amount of new snow!
>We bailed from our high point and stripped the mountain back to base camp the same day which was fortunate as it dumped over a foot of snow at base camp that night. It could have been interesting cleaning the mountain with that amount of new snow!
You were pretty lucky then I suppose! Well it certainly seems that Baruntse can be rather treacherous when it comes to conditions...
>Our team summited Cholatse (SW Ridge) 4 November last year and it was very cold (they all reported numb toes in the early hours leaving Camp 1 on the col). On 11 November Adele Pennington (lots of experience on 8000ers) said that temps at Mera Peak high camp were -30c.
I get the feeling it collects weather more than AD but also the summit ridge is in the perfect angle range for just holding on to snow until it decides to purge.
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