Monday, October 12, 2015

Burke Khang - Climbing Route

The anticipation continues to build as we do a final gear check and pack our bags for our once-in-a-lifetime First Ascent adventure departing one week from today!  In many ways climbing Burke Khang will be even more exciting than climbing Everest, primarily due to the fact that this has never been done before.  This is true pioneering in uncharted territory.  We do however have the advantage of Bill and Garrett's helicopter reconnaissance in April which has enabled us to map out a proposed route from their photos and video footage.

We are convinced this will be a challenging alpine climb, with a greater degree of technical difficulty than nearby Everest. In our last post we described our 10-day trek that will hopefully get us to Base Camp by Nov. 1st.  Here are Bill's thoughts on our best guess of the safest climbing route from Base Camp to the top (once again thank you Bill for the use of the following photos and text from your blog):

Burke Khang is 6,742 meters (22,775 feet) in altitude and presents significant challenges, including technical climbing, crevasse fields, overhanging ice seracs, avalanche prone couloirs, bergschrunds, route finding, glacial travel and ridge climbing.  Moving directly up the South Face of the mountain is out of the question since the approach is heavily defended by crevasse fields and the face of the mountain is far too icy and vertical:
South Face of Burke Khang

Our assault plan is to move up the East Buttress in an effort to gain the southeast ridgeline. The East Buttress is also extremely vertical, and all approaches require moving up avalanche-prone couloirs, made more perilous by overhanging ice seracs. We will fix lines on the Buttress all the way up to the ridgeline where we will establish Camp 1 on the mountain:

Base Camp to C1

East Buttress
Camp 1 through Bottleneck

Once we reach the headwall that leads to the summit ridge, we will set up our second camp on the mountain. Early the following morning, we will make our move to the summit. The headwall is steep and icy, which will require us to fix lines on the mountain for safety. Upon reaching the summit ridge, we will make a sharp left turn and move towards the summit. The pitch on the ridgeline is steep, but, thankfully, free from crevasse and serac risk.
Bottleneck to the Summit

If we are fortunate enough to have the cooperation of the weather, our health, and favorably safe snow conditions, we hope to reach the summit sometime between Nov. 9th - 11th.  Of course lots can and likely will change, but that's our current plan! 

If you haven't already watched the YouTube video of Bill's helicopter reconnaissance of the mountain in our Sept. 14th blog post, I highly recommend you check it out here:
First Ascent of Unclimbed Himalayan Peak!

In addition to video footage of the climbing route described above, it also contains some pretty incredible footage of Everest Base Camp and the infamous Khumbu Icefall shot just two weeks before the big earthquake that devastated Nepal in April.   

We look forward to updating our blog subscribers as this exciting adventure gets underway on Oct. 19th, so thank you for following along on our First Ascent of Burke Khang!
Paul & Denise

No comments: