LOUBUCHE EAST. 6,145M & the Cho la Pass

April 2009

I was loving mountaineering and wanted to do more.  I was working as a special events rep which allowed me to get a good fix of the outdoors and do the sports I loved in great places, but I wasn’t earning enough money to save up for big trips.  Having climbed both Mustagata and Cho Oyu with Summit Climb I had got to know the company.  The team there were great and in order to help me with my skills and enable me to do more they agreed I could come on a discounted trip to Loubuche East in exchange for co- leading it.  It was a great opportunity for me.

Cho La Pass

The first part of this expedition was to make our way to the stunning Cho La pass for snow and ice training.  Our team had assembled in Kathmandu.  Although only my second time there I was already taken in by this city of crazy chaos.  Dusty and grubby but brimming with charm.  Kathmandu is the gateway to the mountain ranges, stunning scenery and trekking expeditions.  We made the notorious flight into one of the world’s most extreme and dangerous airports, Lukla, so busy as it is the place where most people start their climb to Everest Base Camp.  The runway is a mere 527m long, 30m wide with a 11.7% gradient!  It was definitely a heart raising moment coming into land.

From Lukla we trekked over 10 days to Phakding, Namche, Pangboche, Dingboche, Dzhongla finally reaching the Cho La Pass, 5420m.  The route was busy until Dingboche because we were on the Everest Base Camp trail but as soon as we headed off to the pass we barely saw another person and it was like another world.  We spent a day on the pass itself learning new skills and brushing up on existing ones.

Loubuche

As we’d spent 11 days gradually gaining height and acclimatising we trekked straight into Loubuche high camp which sits nestled into the mountain at 5,400m.  The next day we would make our summit push.  It was a big day almost 800m to 6,145m.  We woke up early today, around 1 am to have our breakfast before beginning our climb.  Using my experience gained on higher peaks I was able to organise myself quickly and help the other members.  For me it’s all about knowing exactly where my kit is and having systems and routines.  It’s vital not to waste time or energy and not to get cold before setting off.  Good communication is required within the team so everyone is dressed, boots on and ready to leave their tents at the same time.  We needed to reach the summit before noon because typically in the afternoon strong winds and weather would come in.  It was a mostly rocky surface to about 5,700m and afterwards we were on ice and snow.  We used the team rope and fixed rope because there was plenty of crevasses.

Lobuche East offers more panoramic views of the mountains than any other trekking peak.  From the summit we had magnificent views of Everest, Lhotse, Nuptse, Ama Dablam, Cholatse, Pumori, and many more.  We spent some time at the summit before descending back to the High Camp.  The day we summited was Easter Sunday and I’d managed to hold off eating some mini Easter eggs that I had kept in my rucksack so we enjoyed a summit chocolate egg before heading down.  Amazing how much sweeter it tasted having worked so hard to get it.

 

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