The trek from the
Please click on the links below to see the story of my summit day on
Following my expedition in 2009 I got to know the
For our Spring 2011 we had twelve people booked onto our Makalu to Everest trek with most of them having already been on a trek with The Mountain Company on a previous occasion. Our
Selecting the right time of year is very important for this trek in order to maximise the chance of successful crossing the passes. While I was on expedition to
The other factor that has prevented groups crossing these passes is the amount of time spent acclimatising to the high altitude and therefore during the planning stage we incorporated into our itinerary plenty of time before crossing Sherpani and West Col. As our Spring 2011 trek was billed as a recce the itinerary was flexible and in the end we decided to have three nights at Makalu Base Camp, two nights at Sherpani Low Camp and one night at Sherpani High Camp. Not only is spending this amount of time important for the groups’ acclimatisation but also for the porters and crew who are of course carrying much more weight than us!
The group flew into Tumlingtar as planned on April 24th and we were very lucky as we heard that flights were cancelled for the next four days due to weather, that would have been a bad start to the trip having drive for 24 hours in a bus and of course losing valuable days from the trek. The landing at Tumlingtar is on a wide grassy plateau so easy and not too scary compared to the hairy Lukla airstrip, in fact they are in process of adding a hard surface of tarmac to Tumlingtar so will be even smoother next year.
After meeting our kitchen crew in Tumlingtar we had lunch then took Landrovers along the jeep track through the market town of Khandbari and onto Chichila where we camped for the first night. That evening there was heavy rain and in fact throughout this trek we experienced far more rain compared to 2009 (after returning to
For our first day trekking we were mainly walking along the jeep track to the
From Tashigaon we walked through the lush cloud forest to Khongma where we stayed for two nights to acclimatise before crossing
On the next day the crossing of Shipton La went well although we had no views along the way as it was a cloudy day (very common to get poor visibility on crossing Shipton La...). There is one steeper section on the climb up to Shipton La before the lake called Kalo Pokhari however it was not too icey so group and porters managed this without fixed ropes. It is worth pointing out that the maps are very inaccurate for this section of the walk, for example Nepa Maps shows three passes after the lake when there is only one (Keke La). After crossing the passes we camped at Debotay where there is one small hut, this place is not marked on the maps however there is more space and better water source than Mumbuk further down the trail.
From Debotay we descended into the
We were very lucky with the weather on our day trekking to Makalu Base Camp, the views of Peak 6 & 7, Chamlang, Honku Chuli and of course
In the end we decided to stay three nights at Makalu Base Camp to help with acclimatisation, on the first day we gave some mountaineering instruction to the group for ascending and descending fixed ropes and other useful tips for crossing the passes. On the second day the group went for a walk on the slopes to east of Makalu Base Camp where they reached an altitude of 5,300m with good views of
After three nights at Makalu Base Camp everyone in the group was sufficiently acclimatised to ascend to Sherpani Low Camp at 5,200m where we also spent two nights. This trail starts from Makalu Base Camp and stays to left (west) side of
The trail to Sherpani High Camp is also on rocks involving lots of boulder hopping followed by a loose scree slope as one turns the corner to enter the valley leading to Sherpani High Camp (a good idea to wear helmet here as there is some risk of rockfall in this section of the trail). Sherpani High Camp is located an altitude of 5,700m just before the glacier, from here the trail to Sherpani Pass starts on moraine to the right and then after passing the icefall descends onto the glacier and follows this to the base of Sherpani Pass.
After arrival to Sherpani High Camp myself and the climbing Sherpas went to have a look at Sherpani Pass and to fix ropes before the group's crossing tomorrow. Following the glacier to the base of the pass we then fixed ropes to the top, the route starts on a snowy gulley traverses left on a rock step then follows easier ground to the summit of the pass. The view is superb from the pass with the flat West Barun glacier and West Col visible and also Baruntse, Chamlang and Honku Chuli. There is a 50m or so rapel/ abseil from Sherpani Pass to the other side descending onto West Barun Glacier.
Our plan for the next day was to cross both Sherpani Pass and West Col to get to Upper Baruntse Base Camp (5,700m), of course this would be a long day however the other option of camping between the passes at over 6,000m did not sound like a good idea as altitude sickness would be very likely at this height. We left Sherpani High Camp at 1.15am and made good progress to Sherpani Pass with dawn appearing as the group started the climb to the pass. Luckily at this point our porters were ahead of us and after a waiting for an hour or so all of the porters had lowered their loads and started their walk across the glacier to West Col.
As this Trip Report is longer than usual I have decide to write in two parts, hopefully this level of detail will be helpful for others planning to do this trek and of course this trek is likely to get more traffic in the future as Makalu to Everest is the crux section of GHT. I will write Part Two of this Trip Report shortly covering this trek from West Col, Amphu Laptsa to Khumbu region.
At this point you might be interested to see some of the photos of this trek please click on link below to see Part One with photos from Tumlingtar to Sherpani Pass:
The Mountain Company is planning to organise our Makalu to Everest trek again in Spring 2012 so please get in touch soon if you would like to join this group.