With the new year merely a few days away and the Himalayan spring season only 3 months ahead, it’s high time to set some new objectives for 2017. For me that will bring a return to familiar territory: the “Lobuche massif”. With Lobuche East crossed off this year, I have set targets for the North-Western end of the chain that consist of (East to West) Lobuche East, Lobuche West and Nirekha. A challenging ice climb at 6000m. The plan is to ascend the North summit alpine style and traverse to the South summit before descending back to the Cho La col. A quick pace will be essential with more than 600m vertical distance to be covered for the North summit alone.
Ascent route: East ridge
Difficulty: D- (depending on conditions)
Character: Snow / Ice (60 degrees)
Nirekha being far less frequented than other mountains in the Khumbu region, information is sparse and mostly outdated. This is a common issue even in very popular regions of the Himalayas – as soon as you venture past the usual hotspots, you’re almost down to hearsay. The very volatile conditions mean that even first-hand information can be of almost no value once you get there. One of the reasons is the variation in the monsoon and fluctuations in temperature. A thick snow cover can quickly vanish and expose rock in unexpected sections, changing the character of the climb. Fortunately, last year’s pictures reveal some details of the route – at least from a distance – which makes the planning that little bit easier.
Preparations are in full swing, making for a busy early 2017.