Khumbu Autumn 2019

I was in Khumbu last month, spending time with my family, training, and climbing. Maj was able to discover the mountains and the local culture. The weather was quite challenging with lots of snow and precipitation. I had certain climbing projects in mind, depending on the conditions and the weather. In the end it wasn’t possible to finish any of the projects for different reasons, but I truly enjoyed the mountains in spite of the bad weather. During the last days of the month, I was able to do a light attempt up to around 8,300 m using a variation of the route to the summit of Everest that Polish mountain climbers took in the 1980s before I had to turn back due to avalanche conditions. Even though I wasn’t able to make it to the summit, the experience of a very light expedition, of being alone on the mountain, and being able to check out some cool possibilities was truly exciting and powerful.

Family

A lot has changed since I climbed Everest in 2017. Probably the most important thing is that now we have a daughter, Maj. We want our daughter to be raised so that she loves what we also love. This is why we planned a very different holiday this year. Like every year, we went to Nepal, but this time Maj went with us.

It’s a place Emelie and I really like coming to. We’ve been there several times, we’re fascinated by the lifestyle, and the terrain is unique. This is exactly why we want to share this way of life and these experiences with our daughter.

Mountain climb

The acclimatization didn’t go as planned. From the moment we arrived to the Khumbu valley in the first week of September we had bad weather with no sunshine and precipitation every day. That’s why we were mostly only able to go up to 6,000 m on small summits. During this time we took some trips with my friend Andrzej Bargiel and his brother and shared some great moments and meals and we talked with other climbers who were at EBC with different goals: Garrett Madison, Bargiel’s team and the @polskihimalaizmzimowy guys!

A big 60 m serac hanging 1,000 m above the icefall that looked like it could collapse at any moment and the amount of snow were the main reasons all 3 expeditions decided to abandon the climb in late September/early October. The weather was finally looking good in the first week of October (in September we only had 3-4 days of sunshine), so I decided to give a try.

On September 30th Carlos Llerandi and I left Goraksherp and climbed to C1 in very deep snow conditions. We had to open up a track with the snow up to our knees. The next day we reached C2 in the same conditions. The day after that I climbed to 7,500 m in the couloir left of the Geneva spur to get acclimatized and went down to C2. After some hours of resting, at midnight between October 3rd and 4th I started climbing from C2. At 7,400 m, given the large amount of snow and layers due to an avalanche, I decided to go towards the southeast spur since it is rockier and better protected during an avalanche. I climbed to 8,000 m in deep and unstable snow and then I decided to turn towards the normal route, crossing right, to see if the conditions had improved. When I reached the slopes between the South Col and The Balcony I saw that  the conditions weren’t any better. There was a very unstable layer, so before reaching The Balcony, at around 8,300 m, I turned around and went back down.

Link to track

The next day we took down our tent and went down to Goraksherp.

Even though I wasn’t successful in any of my climbing goals, I was able to try out some exciting and positive ideas that I had in mind.

Cleaning up the base camp and all the logistics. Nepal offers a unique possibility since the villages are close to the mountains. By staying in a lodge in Goraksherp and carrying all we needed to climb (and stay overnight on the mountain), this expedition was closer to the experience and climbing style I have back home in Norway or in the Alps. It doesn’t require the logistics of a complex expedition system (tents, porters, cooks…). I only take what I can carry from home.

It was special being alone on the mountain. Carlos was the only other person there on C2. Doing it in a single push is an extremely powerful experience for me. I feel more like an animal trying to climb. I feel closely connected to the mountain and it’s very difficult to have this feeling in other climbing styles, or with different logistics, or during other seasons. Even though the goal is harder to achieve, what I get out of it is much more intense and positive for me.

Now I’m heading back to the lower mountains with plenty of ideas and motivation for the future!