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Asia, Nepal, Baruntse

Baruntse. Our expedition was a commercial one. The members had a wide variety of experience in the mountains. The climbing team of nine was accompanied to Base Camp by ten trekkers. We flew to Lukla on April 19 and headed up the Hinku valley. After a night on the Mera La at 5400 meters, ten people on April 28 climbed Mera Peak (6654 meters, 21,830 feet), the high point for the trekkers and good acclimatization for the climbers. We arrived at Base Camp on May 1 by following the Honku valley. On May 4, the trekkers crossed the Amphu Labsta Pass (5780 meters) and dropped into the Imja valley. Craig Seasholes and I helped them and their porters over this technical pass. Some of them had never rappelled before! Meanwhile, the climbing team ferried gear to the base of the west col and fixed ropes up steep ice (40° to 50° with a stretch of 70°) to establish Camp I on the col at 6100 meters. On a commercial expedition, the issues of climbing teams and climbing styles can be rather complex. This was not a guided climb. People paid to be part of the expedition, not to be guided. I chose to take the strongest client, David Mondeau, and we put in the route to the summit. The rest then had steps kicked and ropes fixed for their attempt. We two bivouacked at the foot of the fixed ropes and on May 6 climbed to the col, picked up supplies and established Camp II at 6500 meters. On May 7, we left Camp II at 2:30 A.M. and were on the summit (7129 meters, 23,737 feet) at eleven A.M. The climbing above Camp II on the southeast ridge was straightforward, most done on the west side of the cornice, all snow and ice and no rock. There were stretches of 70° and great exposure. We fixed some 500 feet of rope for the subsequent climbers. A second team of Wesley Krause, Craig Seasholes and Dale Kruse followed. They spent a night at Camp I, two at Camp II and on May 9 climbed to the top. On May 10, they cleaned all the ropes and camps from the mountain and returned to Base Camp.

Scott Fischer