Am researching organising my first greater ranges exped (been on a couple organised by others). Have a competent party of 3 with plenty of Alpine experience at the moment. We were looking at Tharpu Chuli (having already been to the Kumbu), but have heard that it apparently hasn't been climbed for a couple of years due to the approach gully to the base camp and/or the bergschrund above base camp. Has anyone done it recently? As it's the only low and easy peak in the sanctuary, we don't really want to go all that way just to walk in and out, and I'm not willing to bet everything on Google Earth!
Also, any recommendations for in country agents?
Many thanks for any info.
You have mail
I was the expedition leader on an attempt this summer, and I successfully summited in 2016. In 2016, there was an unpleasant descent to the glacier from Base Camp, followed by a windy and up and down marked trail up the glacier (completely covered in moraine), before a loose but easy ascent the other side. We camped there the night.
The next day's ascent to high camp at 5000m was just like a narrow Scottish hill path, and the camp was on a ridge with views of the receding and collapsing upper glacier snout. Ascent day was some easy loose scrambling in the dark up old glacially smoothed rock, then across the crevassed glacier. The bergschrund was crossed at a snow bridge, then there is a steep section of snow and ice of maybe 130m to gain the final main ridge.
Here there was another crevasse which was troublesome, and then the summit ridge which was spectacular, likewise the summit.
I thoroughly enjoyed it, hence my return this year. However it became obvious that there had been little summit success from any teams. We were subject to quite a bit of rumour on the trek in, but nothing definitive. The talk was of the upper glacier being too crevassed, and the bergshrund too wide. We resolved to 'have a look' anyway. What actually happened though was that once we arrived at basecamp, the descent to the glacier looked even steeper and more loose than before, the trace across the glacier far less obvious, and the ascent point not clear at all. The climbing sherpas, keen to not loose face, tried to find a safe way, and wanted to try to fix ropes to allow our party to descend relatively safely, but I was very concerned about rock fall, and even more so about the other side.
What bothered us was the objective danger that would be necessary to risk both on the way, but also on the return, with the nagging doubt that a summit attempt wouldn't be possible anyway. After a lot of soul-searching, we decided to not risk ours and moreover our porters' safety, and called it off.
Even if snow conditions improve the upper part of the route, without regular traffic and an established route, the initial glacier crossing will be only get more dangerous in my opinion as the level drops. A shame, as I said, I really enjoyed it, but that's the nature of change in the mountains eh?
I know operators are still offering it as an option, so maybe folks will still be able to climb it, but I would want to be in a lightly but well equipped team, not with lightly shod porters, lots of gear and lots of possibility of dislodging rocks.
I hope this is of use, and is of course only my opinion, things can change.
This Alpine Conditions page gives a summary of what is being climbed at the moment, what is 'in' nick and what the prospects are...