Good weather, good food, good tents, GOOD TEAM and a big Sherpa party.
Mera Peak, the highest trekking peak in Nepal, wild trek and fantastic views
SHERPA PARTY AT KHOTE, CELEBRATING VICTORY
Swede on summit push, to ski the third highest mountain in the world. The Swedish extreme skier Fredrik Ericsson is trying to become the first person to ski the three highest mountains in the world. This Saturday he started the summit push on the third highest mountain, Kangchenjunga (8586m). The climb up to the summit and the ski descent is expected to take four days. Fredrik’s partner on the expedition is Norwegian extreme skier Jörgen Aamot.
Fredrik Ericsson is one of the world’s leading high altitude skiers with ski descents on some of the highest mountains on earth, including; Peak Somoni, Shisha Pangma, Gasherbrum 2, Laila Peak and Dhaulagiri. “I have already skied on three of the 14 8000-metre peaks, but now the aim is towards the absolute highest. The project spans over three years and I will try to ski the three highest mountains in the world, Kangchenjunga (8586m) this autumn, K2 (8612m) next summer and Mount Everest in the autumn of 2010” says Fredrik.
The first challenge begins now when Fredrik together with his Norwegian companion are starting their summit push on Kangchenjunga that lies on the border between Nepal and Indian state Sikkim. Kangchenjunga was first climbed in 1955 by a British team that included Joe Brown and George Band. Since then, around 200 climbers have reached the summit. But so far no Swede or Norwegian has climbed to the summit and no one has skied off the summit of Kangchenjunga. “This means that we can become the first Swede and Norwegian to climb to the summit and also the first in the world the ski the mountain” says Fredrik
Fredrik and Jörgen has spent three weeks in their base camp on the Yalung glacier at an altitude of 5100 meters. Over this period they have prepared for the big challenge and acclimated to altitude through reconnaissance climbs and skiing on Kangchenjunga.
”We have just returned to base camp after one of our acclimating climbs. So far we have been up to about 7000 meters, just below where we will set our camp 2. It is very time consuming to find a good route since we are the only climbers on the mountain. First of all we need to negotiate a safe way through a labyrinth of Seracs and Crevasses and then there’s only two of us to break the trail in the deep snow ” Says Fredrik
Since Fredrik and Jörgen are carrying skis on their back, have randonneboots on their feet and will not use supplemental oxygen it’s harder for them to climb the mountain than for most other climbers.
“The Mountain looks very good at moment. There is a lot of snow so if we can make it to the summit the chances are good that we will be able to ski all the way down to the snow level at 5500 metres. We are acclimating well and are now ready to make our summit push” Says FredrikThe summit push starts from base camp and they will use three camps at 6200 metres, 7200 metres and 7800 metres. From the last camp the climbing towards the summit at 8586 metres starts at midnight and it will take around ten hours.
The ski descent, which is the highlight of the two month expedition, is expected to take five hours. The descent has a vertical of almost 3100 metres and has very steep sections of up to 50 degrees inclination.
“To ski at 8000 meters is not easy. It’s extremely hard work and in the beginning we have to stop to rest after only a few turns. After four to five turns I’m as exhausted as after skiing 1000 vertical meters in the Alps” says Fredrik
For Fredrik the challenge is to take skiing one step further and to ski where no one has skied before. After ten years of preparations he’s now ready for his greatest challenge
2008-10-24: Base Camp LifeAt the moment we are stuck in base camp and all we can do is to wait for the weather to change. I’m getting a bit of déjà vu from last year on Dhaulagiri. Acclimatization climbs passed by without any problems but as soon as I'm ready for the summit the weather changes totally. Last year it was a week of snowfall that stopped me, this year the jet stream has taken over the mountain. For about a week now it’s been around 90 km/h wind up on 8000 meters and that is no place for us to be in those conditions.
Instead we get to hang out in base camp. So how is life in the camp? My home is a big four man tent that I got all to myself. My down sleeping mattress is possible to convert into a nice and comfy chair. That’s where I spend most of my time. Either listening to music, reading a good book or just enjoying the amazing view from my tent. Our tent site is not very exciting. It's made up of ice, sand and rocks and it’s very uneven. But the mountains surrounding our camp are very impressive. It's an amphi-theatre of beautiful peaks, from "The Fake Jannu" in the north via Kangbacken, Yalung Kang, Kangchenjunga to Talung and Kabru in the south. They are all rising 2000 meters higher than we are. That view is hard to beat.
When I'm not in my tent I'm eating food. Jörgen and I have our own kitchen crew here in base camp. Buddhi, Kansha and Mon are making sure we are stuffed after breakfast, lunch and dinner. They are a good crew. Not only are they cooking good food but they are also laughing at our jokes (we paid extra for that).
Anyway after a week in base camp I’m getting restless and I’m hoping that the wind will calm down soon so that we can pack our gear and head up on the mountain again. This time we will try for the summit of Kangchenjunga (8586m).
Lat N 27° 40’ 24”
Lon E 88° 05’ 43”
Altitude: 5163 meters
Favorite Norwegian story:
"Why do the Norwegians leave the door open when they go to the toilet"? "So that no one will look through the keyhole"
Book that I'm reading:
Tissot: The story of a watch company by Estelle Fallet
Music on my MP3 player:
Dio - Holy Diver
Skiing at last
Back in base camp again after a second acclimatization climb on Kangchenjunga. This time it took us only eight hours, instead of four days, to climb the 1000 vertical meters up to Camp 1 at 6250 meters. Being better acclimatized and having a trail to follow makes a big difference.
The weather has been identical to last week. We've had sunshine in the morning and clouds and snowfall in the afternoon. We are happy that we have marked the route with willow wands (bamboo sticks), that way we could easily find the way to C1 even if it was bad visibility almost half the way up there.
The route from "The Hump" (C1) up to "The Great Shelf" (C2) goes down for about a hundred meters then up what we call "The Second Glacier", a steep snow slope with lots of Seracs and Crevasses. Very similar to "The First Glacier" that goes up to C1.
Being a bit lazy and too comfortable in our sleeping bags we were not very quick out of the tent in the mornings. That way we didn't get far before clouds and snowfall stopped us at lunchtime. To our defense: we can feel the winter coming and the nights are getting colder ;). With this pace it took us three days from C1 to 6950 meters (almost "The Great Shelf") where we found a nice ridge to set camp on.
At this moment the weather changed and it got very windy. According to Meteotest, that are doing our weather forecasts, the wind was 90 km/h at 8000 meters. Maybe a bit less where we were, but still enough. After a stormy night and when the wind didn't decline the next day we decided to return to BC.
After four days of uphill it was then time for skiing. It felt good to step into the bindings after a long summer and a lot of uphill on this trip. "The Second Glacier" is a nice slope for skiing. It has everything from low angle traverses to 50 degrees sections. Unfortunately the snow wasn't great this time but the scenery made up for that. Anyway, skiing on the slopes of Kangchenjunga was a special feeling.
Both Jörgen and I are in good mood and are acclimatizing well. We are now ready for the summit push and as soon as we get a weather forecast giving us four days of nice weather we will go for it.
Stay tuned for more news from Kangchenjunga.
N 27° 40.909'
E 88° 06.958'
Altitude: 6278 meters
N 27° 41.215'
E 88° 07.912'
Altitude: 6959 meters
Book that I'm reading: Everest: The West Ridge by Tom Hornbein
Music on the MP3 player: Eddie Vedder - Into the wild (Soundtrack)
Fredrik’s sponsors: Dynastar, Osprey, Tierra, Hestra, Adidas Eyewear and Grivel
Supporters: Tissot, Giro, DHL, Exped, Dynafit, Loben Expeditions and Jamtport
2008-10-12: Route to Camp 1!