Departure Imminent

Talung in far Eastern Nepal Stands at 7349m and is yet to receive a successful ascent of its north face despite a few very strong Czech teams making attempts. Myself, James and Gavin hope to make an alpine style ascent of the prominent 1800m North Pillar. Fingers crossed for a good trip!

Tommorow I will be departing for my most epic adventure to date.  Myself, Gavin Pike and James Clapham will be boarding a plane to Kathmandu in Nepal from where we will take another plane ride east to Taplejung. From here a 1.5 day jeep ride to the end of the road at Gopetar.  Then begins the 10 day trek to Ramche which will be our basecamp for the proceeding month and is some 15km from the base of the north face of Talung, our proposed objective for this November.

I have never been on expedition before.  I have never been to a third world country before.  I have never tried to climb a new route and I have never been higher the 4810m (I.e the top of Mont Blanc!). The whole trip should really push my comfort zone and open my eyes to a new world of possibilities regardless of success or failure.  I’m not without my worries about how I will cope with the stresses and strains and extra altitude but I feel I am approaching everything with an open mind and a willingness to learn.  James and Gav have both been to Alaska twice before and they know part of what is involved in the process but for myself my ventures into the mountains have only lasted a few days at most.

This expedition has been a long time in the pipeline and I remember when we first came to the decision we were going to do the trip.  I remember it vividly in fact as I was in a pit of despair in early December last year after fracturing my Tibial Plateau in a ski crash which put me on my biggest layoff from the mountains in 3 years. Towards the end of my week long hospital stay Gav asked me whether I wanted to join them for this expedition.  I immediately agreed.  This trip and the thought of getting back on the ski’s again were the driving forces behind my thankfully speedy recovery.

The metal work that is still holding my knee together.

This autumn has been a total washout so fair with only a handful of good weather days so far and lots of fresh snow to contend with.  Getting out to do anything “big” has been next to impossible.  Its been a haze of sport climbing, drytooling and “Col du Midi Alpine Cragging”.   My hunger for a big route is bigger than ever right and is giving me enthusiasm beyond that that I have felt for any trip into the alps I’ve had so far.

Climbing with Emily on the Tacul Triangle.

I’ve also never had to pack like this for.  You have to think about every thing you’ll need for a big new route and also what you’ll want in basecamp to live in the mountains for 7 weeks.  It’s been a long process of preparing,  packing, repacking, pairing down and adding more and it’s still not over.  I’m also moving out of my current apartment in Chamonix when I leave so there is a lot to sort out over the next few hours!

I’ve also been slightly worried about my current body weight which is perfect for sport climbing but doesn’t give me a huge amount of fat reserves to work with out in Nepal.  So its been melted ice cream, eclairs, cheese and chips to try and pile a bit of much needed bivi fat on in the past few days.

We won’t be in contact with the outside world when we are in basecamp unless there is a  problem (we have a satellite phone but we are planning not to use it).  I’ll be doing a trip report on here when I’m back in mid December.

Still it is with great trepidation that I say goodbye to Chamtown and all its residents and  mountains.  With the recent snowfall and the Season pass bought I’m already looking forward to the adventures that will happen this winter.

Gervasutti Pillar.

Gervassuti pillar

The Gervasutti Pillar is the slender pillar on the right of the obvious ice line (Supercouloir), Three Points Pillar is to the left. Photo taken in June 2012, there is much less snow than this now!

Last week saw James Clapham and I head up to the Gervasutti Pillar on the East face of Mont Blanc Du Tacul.  This is a route that has been on my wishlist for some years and it feels great to have finally laid it to rest.  I think we both underestimated its length and difficulty and it took much longer to climb than we were expecting.

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New Blog for Talung 2012.

I’ve put together a new blog for our up and coming trip to the Himalaya’s this autumn.  Its not much right now but has a bit of information about my team mates James Clapham and Gavin Pike and the objective. It will have more stories from the other guys on training climbs and past routes together and developments in the run up to trip. Check it out here.


Colton/Macintyre, North Face Of The Grandes Jorasses November 2010.

I LIKE UR FACE! Can I climb it?.........But of course.

So after recent successes on the Ginat With Ally Swinton. Myself, Gav and Jim headed up to the base of the Grandes Jorasses. We had our sights set on the Colton/Macintyre which is the prominent ice line leading right to left up the middle of the face.  It features steep thin Alpine ice VI and tricky mixed climbing to join up with the walker spur.  The route is 1200m long and pretty steep. After a slight sketch out at the start of the ladders down to the mer de glace as a couple of northern european type people warned of deep soft snow we plowed on up to our bivy site without any hassle, wondering what they had been on (about). After a bit’o smash and cheese we bedded down, waiting for the call of the alarm…..

Here’s some photo’s of our ascent.

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