American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Asia, Nepal, Manaslu, Dorje Lhakpa, West Ridge, Attempt

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1997

Dorje Lhakpa, West Ridge, Attempt. It was our objective to climb Dorje Lhakpa (6966 m) by the west ridge. Ours was the first British attempt. We approached from the Jugalrnal side in the south. Dorje Lhakpa can only be climbed as a joint Nepalese venture; permits and permission had to be obtained from the Nepalese authorities. Alan Kay, Club Treasurer and nominated Expedition Coordinator for the YRC, took care of the formalities. Rimo Expeditions acted as our agents in Nepal. We arrived in Kathmandu on October 1. On October 4 we left Kathmandu for Chatura, 60 kilometers north of the city. Porters were organized there. We approached the higher ranges of the Jugal Himal by a series of ridge systems high above and to the west of the Balephi Valley. From Chatura our caravan took us through the village of Gangland up to the Rhododendron Forests and leech-infested scrub of the Kamicharka Danda to Panch Pokhari (“Five Lakes”). From the sacred lakes of Panch Pokhari we left our trekking team members and traveled the so-called “five combs” high above the impenetrable gorges of the Balephi River to the eventual Confluence of the Balephi and Lingshing Rivers below the mouth of the Lingshing Glacier.

At the “Confluence Camp” on October 11, we made a comprehensive exploration of both west and east sides of the Linshing Glacier. The west appeared absent of avalanche threat from the slopes of Dorje Lhakpa II above. Unfortunately, access to the Glacier was impossible. The Ablation Valley on the east side however hosted a very promising site and access to the glacier proved relatively simple. Tins and other artifacts were evidences of a previous camp.

Base Camp was established at 4500 meters on Friday October 13 with marvelous views of Dorje Lhakpa from the crest of the lateral moraine of the Lingshing Glacier.

From Base Camp, the Ablation Valley was followed to an eventual descent to the Lingshing Glacier. Our Advanced Base Camp up the Lingshing Glacier was established October 15. Camp I was established on October 16 at 5300 meters just below Tilman’s East Col that marks the start of Dorje Lakpa’s west ridge. From Camp I we ascended the gradual snow slope to the right of the ridge. Access to the ridge proper was gained via a 45° slope initially christened the “Scottish Grade II.” From the top of this, the ridge rose broadly and then crested with large cornices overhanging the Lang Tang side of the mountain. We were mostly forced on to the southern side of the crest on steep ice- and snow-covered ground. Ropes were fixed on the steeper sections and by October 24 Camp II was established on the section of the ridge at 6100 meters where the ridge levels out before rising sharply again.

On October 24 and 25, exploration began on the ridge above Camp II. Snow conditions began to deteriorate substantially. There appeared to be no reasonable way forward. On October 25, the decision was made not to go on. On October 28, the expedition left Base Camp. The entire journey to Kathmandu took six days. The expedition flew home to England on November 10.

Ged Campion, Yorkshire Rambler’s Club

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