Carbon neutral expedition to Nepal Changla Himal in October 2022.
Celebrating the 125th anniversary of Akademischer Alpenclub Zürich.
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Please note: The text and pictures are sent via Iridium SatPhone which limits the resolution.
Map of the expedition area
In the last two days, the team returned to Kathmandu. Due to limited availability on the flights, the crew had to split up. On day one 12 expedition members left from Simikot. However, only four were able to continue by plane to Kathmandu. The others took the bus from Nepalganj. The remaining seven left one day later.
Tonight, another farewell party took place. In the next days, there is still time for some sightseeing, laundry, shopping and enjoying a cosy and soft bed before everybody is returning back home to Switzerland or continues traveling.
With this Group picture, taken at the Friends Home Hotel, we will say Good-Bye and thank everybody for following our journey to remote Changla Himal.
This is the last entry.
Today was the 4th and last day of the trek down to Simikot. We again crossed a lot of villages and were approached by many locals who were curious about such a big group of foreigners.
In the afternoon, we gathered all remaining food which we donated in part to the snow leopard preservation program leader Rinzin Phunchok Lama and in part to the women shelter in Simikot, as well as medical supplies which were donated to Simikot hospital.
Since flights out of Simikot to Nepalgunj are quite limited, we had to make a lucky draw to designate the members who will stay one more day in Simikot.
Tonight however the atmosphere remained very festive and we celebrated the return to Simikot with another cake prepared by our fantastic kitchen crew. Speaking about our kitchen crew, Bruce performed a “special thank ceremony” as they have been indeed outstanding and helped all of us keeping the morale high throughout the expedition.
During the more than three weeks at Basecamp, many thing went different than expected, resulting in challenging conditions for the expedition. The cooking crew, however, has been one of the highlights and they deserves a huge tribute!
Today was already the third day of our hike back to Simikot. While following the Dozam Kohla river down the valley, the river remains the same. The season, however, changes now continuously and we feel the warm temperatures again while strolling through colorful forests as we hike directly into nepali autumn. The upcoming night we are going to spend in a small village, expecting to arrive back in Simikot by tomorrow afternoon.
23.10.2022 – Days 22
The time at the basecamp and thus, the core activities of our expedition, have come to an end. Today we are sharing some more impressions of the two large summits climbed.
Time to say goodbye to our beloved Basecamp. This morning we packed all our gear and started our journey back direction Simikot. Together with out great cooking crew we fought through a thick layer of snow and eventually found the snow line at 3700m where we pitched our tents for the night.
On the right: Andi is leading on the ridge close to the summit of O10. Javi and Max are following.
22.10.2022 – Day 21
As anticipated, today not much happened as most expedition members were having a rest day at base camp.
The trio of Andi, Charlotte and Javi, who attempted O4 yesterday returned to BC in the afternoon.
The potential problem with the mules has resolved itself: we were relieved to see the mules arriving at base camp, in spite of the snow, late afternoon. Otherwise, we would have to carry the whole basecamp down to the snowline at 4000m.
21.10.2022 – Day 20
Groups are still active in the North valley
Bruce, Sarah, Christian and Alex who wanted to climb O10 as well, changed plans and decided instead to climb a peak closer to N-ABC. One of the reasons for this is that it seems the mules will not be able to come to base camp and we might have to carry all our gear 300-400m below in the coming 2 days… to be confirmed tomorrow…
Andi, Charlotte and Javi who wanted to climb O4 made the attempt today but they turned back at 5’950m, i.e. 250m below the summit due to the snow conditions. They will spend another night at the camp at 5400m and walk back to base camp tomorrow.
In summary, now everyone is back to BC except the aforementioned O4 attempt group.
Today’s picture shows the impressive North Face of O1 which has been tried climbing by Gedas, Hansueli and Daniel. They head off last Wednesday, knowing that it was only feasible to reach the summit if the conditions were good. On that day, they went through deep powder snow until 5300m, where they spent the night. On Thursday they targeted to reach the rock face through steep couloirs. However, at an altitude of 5600m, they needed to turn around because of objective danger.
20.10.2022 – Day 19
Lots of teams, goals and activities, it busy these days… thus, let’s see who can follow today’s report. It might get confusing so let’s get started.
The South valley team (Manu, Yoann, Ven, Ulla) walked back to BC were they found Max and Yannick R. who were just back from the N-ABC. Yesterday they had been preparing the trail for O4 but decided not to pursue.
Gedas, Daniel and Hansueli also arrived in BC late today; after having climbed one third of O1 North Face. However, They found the conditions too dangerous to continue and turned back.
Bruce, Sarah, Christian and Alex departed today towards O10, which they weren’t able to summit with the main group last Sunday.
Andi, Charlotte and Javi will attempt O4 tomorrow. They are sleeping at 5’400m at the base of the climb. Steve might join them but he is still at the N-ABC which he shares with Felix and Yannick W who plan to climb an easy trekking peak tomorrow.
As late delivery we are posting a picture showing Andi, Charlotte, Felix, Yannick W, Yannick R, Max, Javi, Gedas, Hansueli, Daniel on the summit of O10 (6122m).
19.10.2022 – Day 18
The South Team summited today O1 (5986m) via a beautiful and quite technical route. Equivalent of a “D” in the Alps, but at 6’000m!
It was a very long day and the team arrived exhausted but very happy at the camp at 5300m. Tomorrow, they will return to BC for recovery.
18.10.2022 – Day 17
The South Team continued their attempt to climb O1. On the photo, taken by Manu, you can see Ven and Ulla climbing the south ridge yesterday. Overall, the approach was difficult and demanding by the large amount of snow and moreover the route itself was too long to finish in just one day.
Today, Ulla and Yoann returned to S-ABC to fetch food which they brought up to camp 2. Ven and Manu broke trail on the approach to O1 to save time and energy for the summit attempt tomorrow.
Unfortunately, no update to share from the rest of the team today.
17.10.2022 – Day 16
Some more details about yesterday’s summit of the North Team: A group of 10 reached O10 for acclimatization after 5 days of trenching teamwork. The climb featured a 55° snow/ice wall and a nice ridge. Today, they all returned to Basecamp to rest and recover.
The South Team made an attempt to climb O1 via the South ridge, however it is a very long route and due to the deep snow on the approach we weren’t able to finish it. A new attempt is planned on Wednesday.
In the late afternoon, the team witnessed a massive “double avalanche on the huge south face of Gave Ding.
16.10.2022 – Day 15
North Team: Summit day for the team! Today they successfully reached O10 (6122m). After this success, they returned and sleep tonight at a place marked as N-ABC 2. Unfortunately, there is no Iridium phone around so that no photo or further details are available but we are all happy about this first success.
South Team: The team had another hard day to move the camp to 5300m. They are now located at the foot of Gave Ding and O1 and still smiling. Tomorrow, they plan their first attempt on O1.
15.10.2022 – Day 14
South Team update: The team brought the last gear from a depot to S-ABC and started to break trail towards Gave Ding and O1 south faces.
North Team update: The team pitched up a high camp at 5615m and slept there yesterday. Today they were breaking trail as far as they could with light packs. Plan is to summit O10 tomorrow.
Today’s picture has been taken in the South Valley showing peak O9 in the middle with lots of snow in its west face.
14.10.2022 – Day 13
Greetings from the South valley advanced base camp!
Today, the South Valley team consisting of Ulla, Ven, Yoann and Manu also established their camp. Tomorrow, there is still gear to fetch at a depot and finally they will be operational for climbing.
In the meantime, the N-ABC team reported that the group had made progress toward the “O10”acclimatization peak, however very slowly due to the quantity of snow.
13.10.2022 – Day 12
Yesterday was a though day for the North-Team! Everybody went off from Basecamp towards N-ABC bringing gear in higher altitude to start climbing in the next days. Everybody had to carry approx. 30 kg of gear up the mountain. The massiv amounts of snow didn’t make that easier. Eventually the whole sub-team managed to reach the high camp where we all camped the last night. In the night we were rewarded with a beautiful full moon and star shine upon our camp and the beautiful mountains surrounding us. This morning we woke up to a freezing cold but beautifully sunny day. The picture shows Gave Ding north face with its massiv amounts of snow in it. This was, by the way, Christian’s morning view out of his tent.
12.10.2022 – Day 11
The Basecamp starts to look empty as the big group of 15 members is sleeping at the North Valley ABC (see map).
Ven, Ulla, Yoann and Manu had a very long day completing the trail to the South Valley ABC. They will spend one or two more nights at the main BC before moving to their advanced camp for a week.
Today we realized that the quantity of snow above 5000m is enormous. This leaves a big question mark for any climbing plan in the south valley sector.
In today’s photo update we would like to pay a tribute to our amazing cooking crew. Yesterday night they had prepared a cake to wish all of us successful and safe climbs. Bruce enjoys cutting the cake.
11.10.2022 – Day 10
The whole team is excited and in the preparation phase to take advantage of the nice weather window starting this Friday.
The activities of today have been dominated by trail breaking to both advanced base camps (N valley and S valley) and carrying material to the intermediate depots.
A group of 3, comprising of Christian, Alex and Yannick R have decided to already make their way to the North Valley ABC, which was considered as the original base camp. Most expedition members will stay there from Wednesday on.
The team going to South Valley ABC has still quite a bit of trail breaking to do and will therefore reach the advanced camp with all their gear on Thursday night.
Before the team is breaking up into two groups a nice team picture has been taken today showing everybody in great mood, in anticipation of the days to come.
10.10.2022 – Day 9
After 4 days of heavy snow, the weather is finally forecasted to improve gradually until Friday.
The expedition members are now projecting themselves towards the end of the week and have started to think about their adjusted climbing plans.
A group of 4 comprising of Ulla, Ven, Yoann and Manu has decided to make its climbing plans essentially in the «South valley».
The remaining climbers, organized in different groups, will finally establish the elevated base camp at 5’000m, and start with an easy acclimatization peak before undertaking other projects.
The main activity of yesterday, today and the next couple of days is TRAIL BREAKING. Different groups have teamed up, taking turns to prepare the trail in deep and heavy snow.
We all are looking forward to finally enjoy real October Himalayan conditions.
08.10.2022 – Day 6
Today looks very much like yesterday in the sense that it is snowing all day. Expedition members share their time between «Indoor» activities and hikes, however with reasonable goals due to the deep snow hindering progression. A group has also been building an igloo in the best civil engineering fashion.
Highlights have been a great poker game which saw the victory of Ven, followed by Manu and Daniel. The great chess tournament is still ongoing, we are now at the grand final stage with Javi, Felix, Yannick W. and Bruce fighting for victory.
The latest weather forecast doesn’t show sign of improvement and it seems the promise of real good weather has been postponed to next Friday. However the team remains in a very good spirit.
06.&07.10.2022 – Days 4&5
Bad weather has finally arrived. Thursday the whole camp woke up to thick clouds and pouring rain. In the meantime the rain turned into snow. Unfortunately the weather report only gets better from next Tuesday on.
This is what we have to deal with the next days. Weather bad, mood (still) good.
05.10.2022 – Day 3 at Basecamp
Despite the bad weather forecast, it was nice and mostly sunny, and we could still go hiking around base camp. The big front has now arrived and we will need to be patient for the coming days. There is a big unknown how much snow will fall and how the plans and objectives will be affected.
Yesterday, most people went to see the “south valley”, to have a first view on the south side of Gave Ding and “O1”. There is also a nice peak called “O6” which we consider for acclimatization.
Picture on the right: Alex is taking a rest on the way to the Trekking Summit (5470m). Gave Ding North and South summits, and the steep rocky peak designated “O1” (v.l.t.r.)
The Basecamp has been finally installed at an altitude of 4300m above sea level. Not to be missed are the tibetian prayer flags which have been set during a traditional Puja-ceremony.
Day 2 in basecamp started with a better weather situation than expected. We woke up to a sunny sky and enjoyed breakfast outside the team-tent.
As some team members already reached 5400m yesterday, most of them use today as a rest day. Others continue exploring the area around base camp to find spots to set up high-camps.
The 4th day of our trek started under heavy rain. Due to the late arrival of the mules the day before, most of us were sleeping in our small high camp tents which aren’t designed for this. This heavy rain episode was not really planned and our gear was totally soaked in the end.
Another source of concern was the logistics for taking us to base camp. The guide in charge for the mules informed us that there is a steep rocky slope on the way which is unsuitable for mules loaded with 60kg each. Thus, tough discussions started. However, for different reasons and in particular the fact that 5 days of rain or snow are forecasted from next Tuesday, in the end the decision was to declare this 4’400m camp our base camp. This means the climbing goals will probably be adapted. The areal view on the right, taken by a drone, shows the situation. The original camp at 5000m is marked with an arrow. The current situation is also shown on the map.
The team will settle now at the new camp location and prepare for bad weather in the next days.
Days 2 and 3 of our ascent to the Basecamp.
The expedition went up the Dojam khola (khola meaning “valley”).
Although Dojam is the last village that the expedition will see on its way to base camp, we have witnessed a lot of human activity as the upper valley’s grazing lands appear to be exploited by many yaks, sheep and goat shepherds.
Today, however, the trail looked like a one-way street which the expedition caravan took in the wrong direction. There were indeed countless caravans of yaks and mountain sheeps coming from the opposite direction on a pretty narrow trail. We didn’t count but we must have crossed over a thousand animals with their shepherds.
All the way, expedition members kept chatting in pairs or small groups while walking, the approach trek being a perfect opportunity for getting to know each other better.
On day 3 up to the next camp at 4000m wander along beautiful valleys which remind us of Engadin in fall.
Always on our side is the nepali kitchen crew. They make sure that we all have enough energy to make it to the next camp.
As from to tomorrow we leave explored terrain and will probably be the only humans in this valley.
Today, the expedition team left Simikot for this first stage of the 4-day trek to approach base camp and established the campsite in Dojam on a terrace in front of the monastery.
Dojam is the very last village going up the valley. Slowly but surely, the expedition is drifting away from civilization.
After leaving around 10:30, the caravan crossed a few villages, making quite an impression especially to the children who were excited to see such a large group. Unlike Everest or Annapurna region, the valleys in the northern Humla receive extremely few visitors, let alone big groups like the AACZ 125th anniversary expedition team.
Today, we took some time to visit a few places and people. It started with a visit to the RIDS office, meeting with the project coordinator. She described current projects in e.g. the Syada village, and the next project, in Durpa, starting this December. It was a great opportunity to meet the locals, have a peek at their logistics, e.g. stoves ready to be installed. We support the Durpa project and still accept donations!
Thanks to a local connection, the expedition team could visit the Humla District Hospital. We meet the doctor currently in charge and get a tour of the facilities. Due to the shortage of medical supplies and trained medical staff, the hospital can only provide basic medical services. However since 3 years, the c-section can be practiced and helped drastically reduce the rate of child loss at delivery.
Our expedition doctor Sarah Marti could also help by leaving them some of the medical supplies we brought.
Last but not least, we visited Rinzin Phjunjok lama who is running a project on monitoring snowleopards in the upper humla region. With the aid of photo traps they have been able to estimate the number of snow leopards to be around 50 in the area. They also have projects on other local wildlife. The project was awarded the Rolex price in 2021 and was able to fund his project for another two years. See ukali.org.
Arrival in Simikot! We filled a propeller plane twice, with luggages strapped to the seats. Views from the windows where stunning, with us flying at low altitude, close to the hills. Depicted is the landing strip, where we are making sure all luggages made the trip with us.
Simikot street view. A typical street and some inhabitants. Simikot (2980m) is the district capital of Humla, and the departure point for our trek to base camp (approx. 5000m).
Shopping day in Kathmandu. This was a bigger exercise involving quite a few people. As you can see, food for 19 hungry mountaineers fills some shopping carts.
It was a special concern of the expedition team to return more to Nepal than just what you spend in the country during the expedition. Sarah Marti established the contact to Ek Ek Paila and today, the team had the opportunity to visit the community health center of Ek Ek Paila. In a fund raising activity, the expedition team members managed to raise a total of more than 16’000Fr from their own money and largely supported by AACZ club members and friends. We feel very happy to support the valuable work of Ek Ek Paila.
Happy faces when presenting the permit. In the meantime, the whole team has arrived in Kathmandu and is fully engaged in the final preparation steps before departing to Simikot.
Yannick W, Christian, Javi, and Max are departing from Zurich.
Manuel and his wife are already exploring the region. The picture on the right shows Langtang Himal. The most visible peak at the center is Lakpa dorje. Right behind is Shishapangma, the 14th highest mountain in the world (8’027m).
A few more days to go until departure….
There is quite a bit of logistics involved when 19 members of the expedition team are traveling to Nepal. While some are still getting ready to leave from Switzerland, others like Manuel have arrived already at Kathmandu.
The picture shows Pasupatinath, a major hindu temple, located near Kathmandu.