In my last post I guided the route to the summit of Mera Peak. Next the route will descend to the remote Hunku Valley and follow it all the way to the Baruntse basecamp. From there will the culmination of the trip begin… but first you have to get there.
The trek to the Baruntse basecamp from the Mera Peak basecamp takes three days. Even though the Baruntse basecamp is 300m higher than the Mera Peak basecamp, you’ll first have to descend over 400m meters down to the Hunku Valley and follow it steadily ascending all the way to the basecamp. The route is quite similar to the section from Tuli Kharka to Khare, but the valley is very remote and offers no facilities of any kind. Well, that is not entirely true as there are two “teahouses” on the way, one some about 3km East of Mera La and another at Satho Pokhari in the middle of the Hunku Valley. Don’t know how much of teahouses these really are, but according to the pictures there is something there and you can even see one of them in the Google Maps. I’ll tell you how it is when I “see it in me own eyes”.
From the Mera Peak basecamp you plunge down to the Hunku Valley where the route is quite level with some ups and downs to the Rato Oral. The views are great as they are through the whole Hunku Valley, although the landscape is mostly just rocks. The route offers little other excitement here except the mysterious teahouse halfway in a place possibly called Khongmading or Kongme Dingma as it is marked in one Everest region trekking map. Not really sure of that.
The route between Rato Oral and Satho Pokhari is even more uneventful than the previous leg. It is quite steady ascend up the valley for the whole 6km of it. On the way, though, you get to see great views of the surrounding mountains including Peak 41 and Chamlang. Ok, you can see the Everst and Lhotse too, but I don’t see what is the big fuss about them 😉
This part of the route ends at the second mysterious teahouse. If the previous teahouse was in wondrous place, this is way beyond that. In my wildest dreams I can’t imagine enough trekkers to pass here to make it in any way sensible to keep a teahouse here. But anyway, there is something there and I’m going to find out what.
The last approach leg from Satho Pokhari to the Baruntse basecamp has also quite steady incline, although a bit steeper than the previous section as here the route starts to climb the bank of the valley instead of just going at the bottom. At the end you have again climbed to over 5400m, about the height of the Mera La, so the basecamp is bit higher now, but acclimatization should be pretty good by now, too.
The end part is mostly circling the last mountain on the right hand bank of the valley until the huge Baruntse West face rises before you. Over 1km of vertical face standing in the distance. After you have managed to shake yourself back to reality after being awed by this image for a while, you’ll descend down to the valley floor and walk next to the small lake which will be the site for the basecamp.
The basecamp will be the home for us for up to a week, including the spare days for multiple summit attempts. Or actually, to be more precise, at least two nights are spent in Camp 1 and one night at Camp 2. Weather conditions will determine how many nights will be spent above the basecamp. Hopefully as few as possible. The basecamp will have plenty of facilities as every one will have their own personal tent and there are also dining, toilet and shower tents available. This is the same in the Mera Peak basecamp, altough I did not mention it.
From the basecamp we will climb to Camp 1 at 6120m and after a rest day to Camp 2 at 6400m. From there the summit push will be made and after that every one will descend back down to either Camp 2 or 1 or even down to the basecamp depending on their physical condition and the weather.
I came across with an interesting article from the Alpine Journal issue from 1997 in which was an article of a Russian team climbing Baruntse West face in 1995. It is very interesting reading and very much recommended.
Even though my training during the last few weeks has been rendered into nothingness by my climbing accident, I haven’t been fully idle. Today was the last day of the yoga course I’ve mentioned and it has helped the ankle get back into condition. The swelling has now mostly gone, and although the moving range of the ankle still isn’t at its max, it’s getting better every day. The only problem still remaining is descending the stairs as the ankle does not give in yet for the normal stepping flow. I’m sure though with the swelling ceasing, that also the movement will get better rapidly.
I have also been weighing things to see how much I really have to carry and if they fit into the airline limits. Now I have most of he stuff weighed and my luggage weight is about 21kg and about 6kg for handbaggage (though most of that consists of clothes that I will wear) plus about 6-7kg to be bought from Kathmandu. In addition to that will come the 2-4kg of snacks, which I will grab from Kathmandu too. Probably I won’t be needing all of the stuff counted here – especially all of the things I’ve been planning to shop in Kathmandu – but probably there will be 2-3kg worth of random small items coming along. That would add up to something like 33-34kg, though several kilos of that I will be wearing, but it is still quite a burden to carry in the heights.
For today evening I have planned to do a packing exercise to see if all the gear will fit into my North Face duffel and the backpack which I will use for hand package in a stripped down mode. I’m bit worried about how all the gear will fit, but I’ll let you know how it turned out.