Climbing Amadablam: A Climber’s Guide

Amadablam is a beautiful mountain located at south-west of Mount Everest in Khumbu region. With an altitude of 6856m at the peak, Amadablam expedition is one of the popular and technical mountain expeditions in Nepal. Amadablam literally translates to Mother’s Necklace referring to the shape of Mountain and the glacier accompanying it. Mount Amadablam is also known as Matterhorn of Himalaya for its unique pointed structure. It was first conquered in 1961 by New Zealand and the American team.

The expedition is graded as highly difficult and technical hence it demands excellent physical fitness, previous experience in high altitude and extreme weather conditions, and some level of mastery in rock climbing and ice climbing.  Generally, the expedition can be completed successfully in about four weeks.

Routes for Amadablam Expedition

Once you have arrived at Kathmandu and had your preparatory discussion, you can either take about 30-minute flight to Lukla or drive by vehicle (Bus or Jeep) to Jiri and hike your way to Lukla which can take anywhere from 5 to 8 days. Acclimatization is very important to minimize the possibility of altitude sickness in the Himalayas thus after gaining certain altitude every time, a day or two to acclimatize is necessary. However, acclimatization doesn’t imply staying idle in bed. It is recommended to keep the body moving and get used to the altitude and environment. Once in Lukla you can rest a day for acclimatization or hike to Phakding, a village few hours of walk away from Lukla, and call the day off there.

Next day of trekking begins to reach Namche Bazar, the trading center of Everest Region. Trekking trail goes through the lush pine forests and alongside Dudhkoshi River crossing several suspension bridges. After 5-7 hours of hike, you reach Namche Bazar. Trekkers acclimatize in Namche Bazar for a day or two. During that period one can stroll around the village, visit Sagarmatha National park headquarter, Sherpa Culture Museum and information center, meet and socialize with other fellow trekkers and mountaineers or go to Everest view hotel to have the best possible view of mighty Mount Everest.

From Namche Bazar your next trekking destination, about 3 hours hike away, is Tengboche. From Tengboche, at an elevation of 3860m, panoramic view of mountains like Mt. Everest, Lhotse, Nuptse, Amadablam, Thamserku, and Tawache is possible on a fine clear day. Tengboche is also famous for Tengboche monastery which is popular among tourist and scared among Buddhists.  Next day, from Tengboche you head to Amadablam Basecamp. From there your ascent on a trail; first stop being Amadablam Base camp at an altitude of 4500m. Base camp at the foot of Mount Amadablam is the big open meadow.

While there have been several successful expeditions from different direction of the mountain, the most popular, standard and safest route is the one from the South West Ridge. The first day at the base camp is spent on planning and preparation for days ahead. The expedition team will discuss and brief about how the climbing gears and equipment are to be used throughout the journey from that point forward although it is assumed that climbers know the basics.

Guide and Sherpa fix the rope on route and stock camps with the provision, gears, and equipment. Group gears are carried by Sherpa but personal gears are expected to be carried by climbers themselves. Depending on the planning of the expedition, there can be 2 to 5 camps set up ahead of the Basecamp; usually, there are three. The ascent begins following the standard route to Camp 1 usually set up at an elevation of around 5700m. A night is spent there for acclimatization. Climb from Camp 1 to Camp 2 is where technical climbing begins. The ascent is also the most challenging one in the entire journey. Climbing is difficult but not very steep. Camp 2 is set up at an elevation of around 5900m. Ascent from Camp 2 to Camp 3 is straightforward traverse above mixed rock, ice, and snow. Camp 3, at an elevation of around 6200m, is at the bottom right of the hanging glacier. Summit day that is, the day when ascent from Camp 3 to the peak happens is the longest day. Relatively less technical, ascent comprises of passing through the ice cliffs and arête on to the summit at 6856m.

After successful ascent, you descent to the base camp, celebrate the accomplishment and return back, following the same route, to Kathmandu.

Who can join?

The Amadablam expedition is not suitable for novice mountaineers. Not only does it demand a high level of physical fitness but it also requires some level of expertise in rock climbing and ice climbing. Most part of the ascent from base camp is rock climbing. One needs to be proficient in fixed rope lines ascent and descent.  While proper acclimatization is meant to minimize the possibility of altitude sickness it cannot fully prevent it, especially when summiteers have no previous experience with high altitudes. Therefore it is highly recommended to have some experience with high altitude trekking before attempting this expedition. Being adventurous by nature is not enough to successfully summit the Amadablam; experience and physical fitness is a must.

What to expect on ascent?

The Amadablam expedition is one of the most technical climbs available in Nepal. Not even does the Mighty Mount Everest come close to Amadablam when technicality of the ascent is concerned.

Most part of the ascent comprises of rock climbing and ice climbing. Steep and Exposed ridges are daunting for everyone including the experienced mountaineers. Hours and hours of walking and climbing on fixed rope lines is physically and mentally exhausting. Failing to prepare well might get you in trouble at any time in the mountain.

As the altitude increases, so does the number of deep crevasses. The body gets oxygen deprived as the air gets thinner and thinner. Weather is unpredictable in mountains so plans as per itinerary may need modification along the way. One couldn’t possibly rest enough above base camp as the body doesn’t recover as fast as it would in lower altitudes hence even a perfectly fit body can show symptoms of altitude sickness.

Once at the top of the mountain, the spectacular view it provides of surrounding Mountains is emotionally overwhelming. On a clear day, panoramic view of Mount Everest (8848m), Makalu (8481m), Cho Oyu (8201m), Lhotse (8516m) and Several other smaller snowcapped peaks is possible from the top of the Amadablam which can easily become a memory of a lifetime for any mountaineer or alpinist.

How to prepare for the climb?

The Amadablam expedition is graded strenuous on the level of difficulty. There is a good reason behind that. So preparing well in advance cannot be stressed enough. Any good travel company will put your safety first above all and therefore inquire about your previous experience in mountaineering, trekking, and exposure in higher altitude terrain in general.

Particularly for Amadablam expedition one is required to have basic rock climbing lesson. Preparation also requires training to ensure optimal level of physical fitness which generally includes cardio and endurance training. On top of physical fitness, one needs to prepare oneself mentally as well because mental exhaustion can trigger and accelerate the physical exhaustion in the mountain. Such training needs to begin at least 3 months ahead of the actual expedition. Physical fitness and mental clarity will minimize the possibility of altitude sickness and ensure the ability to keep the body working 6 to 7 hours every day with 14-26kgs of backpack weight during the expedition. Summiteer needs to be careful with their medical condition. Proper consultation with their physician is necessary to prevent HAPE (High Altitude Pulmonary Edema) and or HACE (High Altitude Cerebral Edema). The physician may prescribe certain medication to prevent altitude sickness. This is one of the main reasons why summiteer is better off going on an expedition under the supervision of trained and highly skilled team provided by the experienced travel company.

In addition, summiteer needs to be familiar with all the climbing gears and equipment and work on using them efficiently. Negligence in preparing to purchase necessary gears and equipment suggested by Guide/travel Company can be costly. Gears and Equipment may include lot of things which can broadly be categorized as follows: Climbing gears (Harness, carabineers, Ice axe, expedition boot, helmet, perlon cord etc.), Sleeping Gear (Warm high quality sleeping bag for extreme cold and sleeping pad), Regular upper and lower body attire designed for expedition, Backpack (Bags to carry personal gears and equipment).

Conclusion

Amadablam is arguably one of the beautiful mountains in the Himalayas. It is a must do expedition for any adventurous, committed and experienced mountaineer. Even though the expedition is technically challenging and psychologically daunting, the success rate is rather high. Under the careful supervision of Expedition Himalaya’s highly qualified team, the Amadablam expedition can be successfully completed. Our services in mountaineering are second to none. We use and recommend others to use certified and international gears and equipment of highest standard. The benefit of going with experienced Expedition Company as ours far outweighs saving few thousand dollars by managing everything from logistics, quality foods to safety measures. We, Expedition Himalaya, guarantee satisfaction which is reflected by the high number of returning clients and lots of positive testimonials. Join us for Mt. Amadablam Expedition Autumn 2018.

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