After Yala Peak, I awaited for Samie Vu to arrive from Singapore. Having just finished Yala Peak, Norman and I took time to rest thoroughly, having good massages and proper food in Kathmandu.
On the 22nd of December, the time woukd come for us to take a mini jeep directly to Chame. It took about 12 hours and about US$24. The plan was simple; Samie and I would trek around till Tulsi, our guide arrived on the 26th, while Norman was headed to Manang where he would plan to run at high altitudes. Then finally when Tulsi arrived, we would head up to base camp and high camp and subsequently, to the summit of Pisang Peak.
Pisang peak is considered one of the technical climbing peaks among of the climbing peaks in Nepal. The peak rises above from Pisang village and yak pastures in a uniform slope of ice and snow to the final summit pyramid.
On the 26th, we met Tulsi for the first time, only to find out that he had brought an assistant guide, called Naren. He was one of the rare mountaineering guides that spent 6 months a year in Chabonix and another 6 months guiding in Nepal.
On the 27th, we headed for Base camp. The path ascended through sparse wood and pasture to a Kharka at (4,380m) which is considered the best place for setting up the base camp. We had an early night and the guides told us that they would head down to Pisang Village for proper food and sleep. That was kind of unusual since it was the first time that guides said that they just vanquish all their duties as guides and leave us to cook and prepare for the next day.
On the 28th, we woke up to a still and unrelenting cold morning that whistled through the camp. We only came to understand that the winds had come to greet us. It was the real start of the winter ascent.
We made our way slowly to high camp and it was a short walk of less than 4 hours and we started to set up high camp at 5000 metres. Usually, High Camp is set up at (5,400m) where it climbs to a shoulder on the South-West Ridge. However, my guides actually suggested setting up high camp at 5000 metres.
Even as we were setting up camp, the winds blew unrelentingly and it seemed like a premonition of what was to come. Samie and I went into our tent and started packing and getting ready for the summit push. Important things like wearing the correct layering and having the right food for the summit.
I wore a down bib that I bought in Kathmandu for US$45 and my Down Jacket while Samie wore her Goretex waterproof Bib and also her Rab Jacket together with her Marmot Down Jacket. After packing, we had a great dinner mainly Korean spicy noodles together with Earl Grey Duck.
(THANKS TO SAMIE, NOW MY EXPEDITIONS WILL ALWAYS HAVE DUCK AS PART OF THE NUTRITION!!! THANKS SAMIE!!!)
29th morning, we awoke at 1am and I looked at my sleeping bag and saw that everything had frozen solid. Then, I tried finding for my spectacles and finally found it hidden in my fleece jacket. We started preparing for the breakfast of Instant Mash Potatoes, which is Samie’s favorite and has kept since day 1. But, something was wrong. She wasn’t eating as much and she seemed to be in a daze. Then Samie said that she did not feel very well and that she had a slight headache. I was concerned but then our guide told her to take some medicine and see if she still wanted to push for the summit. She decided to push on.
We got everything ready and made sure everyone had warm water. I carried one 800ml m thermal flask and inside my down jacket, there was another 400ml water bottle. I put some snack bars in my jacket and then proceeded to put on my harness and gaiters. After that, then it was the boots. All these may seem rather easy but at altitude and in the winter cold, nothing was easy. I actually had a mental plan of what to do when I woke up. Adding on, I did not really sleep but instead it was just a rest and constant looking at the watch and seeing whether it was time to go.
We set off into the oblivion and started shining out headlamps into the darkness. 2 hours later, Samie decided to turn back since she really started to feel unwell.
I continued with Tulsi to the summit where I ended up at the last rock pitch before the summit. It was already 12pm. Being extremely tired and understanding that the way down would involve a lot of abseiling since I literally fixed rope from the where the ridgeline to the summit pyramid started, I decided to head down.
Looking back, I was 110m away from the summit but it would have taken me another 2 hours. The route from the High camp follows the ridgeline till a spot where the route becomes pretty narrow. After that, the fixed rope starts to form up and mixed terrain of snow and rock and ice take hold of the ground. Extra care and steps must be used to negotiate the route to the summit.
I must say that for this second part of the expedition, Samie has really been an integral partner to have. She is great logistically and provides holistic knowledge of climbing. Without her, I would not have been able to come so close to the summit.
Lastly, I’ve learnt a few more lessons about myself and I look forward to the next climb in June. For now, its time to study and secure some sponsorships. Its not gonna be easy but I’ll need all the help I can get. If you have any contacts of any sort, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
To end off,
Enjoy the video that I’ve created!!!
Next adventure coming soon!!! It’s back to India!!!