Himalayas is a (the) place that makes dreaming all adventurers. Hight mountains, deep valleys, nature-close cultures, exposition and remoteness from communication are some of the ingridients that excites us to travel there. The stories of Reinold Messner, Chris Bonnington, Doug Scott…or more recently Tomo Cesen, Iñaki Ochoa, Dennis Urubko or Ueli Steck transport us to ideals that we wanted in our steps be sealed. But if we look a bit deep on Himalayan expeditions is only a very little few who has been really light.
Against the big mass of commercial expeditionsIs, dozens of porters to carry our occidental confort to the camps, installing fixed ropes to the very top of the summits (an not only for 8000m peaks, but also for trekking peaks as Island Peak, Mera…) is quite common (in alpine style) to see light expeditions as Dynafit team in Shisha Pagnma, Cho Oyu, Gashebrum II, Andrzej Bargiel on Manaslu, Ueli Steck, Urbuko and Moro and (some) etcetera. But also this expeditions that are really light and fast from Base Camp to the summit, operate normally on a “heavy way” expedition to the base camps, with some porters, big team of tents, cooker… It has been a few of really light expeditions that says that is possible to do lighter without a big budget (because yes, porters, base camp rates, cookers, permits…are expensive) Goran Kropp, Fernando Garrido, Jordi Tosas are some exemples of that.
I has been traveling to Nepal for a short holidays after the trail running season. We had only 15 days to enjoy those mountains, it was a very short time to feel deep on those big mountains, so we decided to pack a 40L backpack with all we coud need for do (almost) all we wanted:
- 1 iceaxe
- 1 carabiner
- 1 sling 120cm
- 1 icecrew
- 40m rope
- tent (Mountain Hardwear Direkt 2)
- mat ( Thermarest NeoAir Xlite)
- Sleeping bag (Wilsa light – 300gr)
- Jet Boil
- 3 gaz
- Dryfoot (x6)
- headlamp (petzl tikka)
- 3 socks
- down pants
- 2 teeshirts
- down jacket
- goretex jacket
- small and down gloves
- pharmacy (tape, bacterial gel, sun and lips cream, aspirine, ibuprofen, scissors)
With this 11kg of gear we started walking from Lukla and after two days we was in Chukhung, at 4700m on the feet of the big mountains, surrounded by Lhotse, Ama Dablam, Nuptse and Cho Polu. Disobeying the rules of acclimatization the fourth day we climb a 6100m peak on fresh snow, deep steeps to the upper knees that mades me feel slow. If just a week ago I finish SkyRunning Vertical Kilometer world cup running close to 30 minutes for 1000m now I need almost 20 minutes to get over every 100m!
After that we leave all the climbing gear in a lodge in Chukhung (Khangri Resort) and just with some clothes we run for some days, following the 3 passes trekking up to Chola Pass and Goyko Ri. Feels good to leave our backpack and the deep snow on unexplored mountains to feel fast and run up to 5000m passes. We discover how easy is in Nepal to run between lodge and village to village without needing nothing. The confort is excellent, and for 1000 rupies (10 euros) a day you can sleep and eat (2000 rupees if you want to eat lunch and dinner 😉
Back again in Chukhung we forget about the overcrowded normal route to Island Peak and we climb on a nice goulotte of 1000m on the day. From the lodge in Chukhung, starting light on the morning with the first lights and back to the lodge on the afternoon. The convenience of having lodges not only close to the mountains but in the mountains gives the possibility to do some big summits and interesting activities from the confort of the lodge, sleeping warmer and with more space that in a tent and without needing to carry food and gaz. Thinking about that, the last day before run down to Lukla and fly home I wanted to try how hight we can go from the lodge. Starting in Chukhung at 6 in the morning, with a light backpack with some warm clothes and one snicker, I follow the glacier of Nuptse Lhotse reattaching the place where normally alpinist make the Base Camp less than one hour after. From there I start climbing on the big face (and say big is to small) just to feel there, just to feel what Kukuzka, Twight, Bavanov, Cesen… felt. At midday I reach the 6800m on a small ridge on the face and I turn around, 2 hours later I was on the lodge eating the last Dal Bhat before fly home.
I come back with lot of new projets in the mind, Nepal is a perfect place for running, climbing, exploring and it don’t need necessarily be expensive. Just the fly ticket, the TIMS permit (20e) and giving a freedom and endless possibilities for light mountaineering in full confort.