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Asia, Nepal, Ama Dablam, New West Face Variant in Winter

Ama Dablam, New West Face Variant in Winter. Glenn Dunmire and I made an alpine-style winter ascent of a new variant on the west face of Ama Dablam. The face has three main features, two of which are gullies overhung by hanging glaciers. The left gully was climbed in 1985 by Japanese and the right one in 1986 by a Czech-Swiss group. The third feature is a rib of rock and ice that separates the gullies. Leaving our 17,400-foot camp on December 18, we ascended the glacier to the base of the rib. The snow was poorly consolidated and steep, from 55° to 70°, often resting on a pocket of air and not adhering to the rock. Small rock bands criss-crossed the route. At nightfall, we carved a ledge from the 60° snow at 19,000 feet above a prominent orange rock band. The second day began with a 150-foot rock band (5.4), laden with loose blocks. Five hundred feet of mixed climbing took us to the base of the lower sérac band. Climbing 60° to 90° snow and ice led us around the left end and onto the top of the séracs, where we dug a bivouac ledge at 21,000 feet. Above a technically difficult bergschrund, we climbed two mixed pitches (5.6) through the rock band below the uppermost hanging glacier, the “Dablam.” We climbed the left side of the Dablam to carve a bivouac ledge at 22,000 feet in a bergschrund. On December 21, we ascended the final 500 feet, following the snow arête at the top of the southwest ridge. We summited at 11:15 A.M. and descended that afternoon to Camp II on the normal route. We were back at Base Camp on December 22.

Chris Warner, Baltimore-Chesapeake Bay Outward Bound