KT Baruntse Expedition 2008
by aneel thakuri
On 23rd May' 08, Explore Himalaya's in-house writer met with Bo Belvedere Christensen, leader of the Kipling Travels Baruntse Expedition at the premises of Hotel Marshyangdi. Mr. Christensen, back in Kathmandu after a successful expedition, looked a bit exhausted but nonetheless happy, as he recounted his team's wonderful acclimatization climb to both the Mera peaks as well as the arduous climb to Baruntse. Mr. Christensen disclosed that Baruntse was more technical then he had expected. He as well the members had to contend with bad weather conditions and difficult technical climbing on the last leg of the climb, before reaching their goal. Here we reproduce Mr. Christensen's account of his team's expedition.
Acclimatization in Mera Peak
We did Mera Peak as an acclimatization climb. We made it to both the summits of the Mera peak, all the members. We had a great climb and got good views from the summit. That was quite successful. But we regarded it as an acclimatization climb. Although Mera regarded as a trekking peak, I don't think we should undermine it. Climbing Mera peak is an achievement in itself, and though it was not our goal, we had a great climb. All the members summitted and we had very good views from the summit, which we did not get while climbing Baruntse as the weather had turned bad.
Baruntse: "I did not realize that the mountain had changed within the last few years" Climbing on Baruntse was a little more technical then we had expected. We actually had to go around 5400-4,400m before the real climbing started. We passed the so called West Col before we got to climb. We had some fixed ropes, ropes our Sherpas had fixed. The first came just about the West Col, at 6100m.We went once there to acclimatize and went down again. A few days later, after a little rest we came up to the camp again and stayed up there till we proceeded somewhat up the slope and again we reached camp 2 after which we came down to the base camp to have some more rest. After this we made the first summit attempt.
First Summit Attempt
Our first attempt ended at around 6,900 m. Well, we climbed to reach the summit but it got very unstable and we decided not to continue because we thought it would be dangerous to go on with the little equipment that we had with us. Before we started for our expedition I had a talk with a Sherpa who had climbed Baruntse some years ago. I guess it was in the year 2000. He had found a pretty easy slope going up against the summit. He said it was a pretty easy slope. We tried to climb up from this slope in our first summit attempt, but we realized that the peak had changed during the last few years. The slope was not an easy one, it was awkward and we had to abandon our summit attempt .It was an awkward climb.
Final summit attempt 15th of May 11am
But as it turned out we could return later and make a new summit attempt and proceed from the point we had got to in the first attempt and in that attempt to reach the summit. but from the start it’s a long way up from the base camp to the summit. During the real summit attempt our camp 2 was near a camp was established by some English climbers, somewhat higher then our Camp 2, at around 6,500m, in a small col between Baruntse 2 and Baruntse itself. Baruntse 2 is also called Baruntse south-east. The camp lies between the two summits in a saddle like slope. We made this our camp. On the night we before the day we were to summit we didn't sleep so long .
The very next morning we started for the actual climbing on Baruntse's south ridge, from where we had made our first summit attempt. We climbed for around 3 hrs.Until we reached the high point of our first summit attempt 6900m. From there we proceeded. There were some steep sections. We could see the summit at the distance. This spurred us to on to make the climb, although we were tired. But it was hard at the end. The two other guys , Martin and Jens , who made it to the summit along with me and the Sherpas , were extremely tired at the end when we got up to the summit plateau. The plateau is sort of a big steep slope, sloping against the summit. So around 11o'clock, on the 15th of May we all three together with 3 Sherpas stood on the summit. We were very happy to have reached our goal.
All the time the weather was very bad. Around the day we came to high camp it was snowing heavily and the weather had turned stormy. It was not good at all. We had a pretty strenuous climb and we were tired when we reached the high camp. When we went to the summit on the summit day we had hoped for clear weather but there were clouds coming in all the time but we were so lucky, it did not really break for the bad weather when we had the summit attempt. When we stood on the summit, there were lots of clouds, but not really bad. But half and hour we had turned down it was a little whiteout at the summit. It was pretty bad. But we were happy to have reached our goal.
There was another female member from Norway, but she turned back around pretty early in the attempt. She was tired on the day when we started the final summit attempt and she did not make it to the high camp from where we went up.
Advise to climbers keen on climbing Baruntse
I would say that they have to prepare themselves for technical climbing. On the last 250- 300 meters of altitude, the climbing gets rather technical. They have to take a large amount of ropes to fix the way. I wasn't completely prepared for that, one reason to have given up on the first summit attempt.
I don't think Baruntse is for novices. You need to have some experience at least. The people that were on this trip had climbed peaks previously both in the alps and in the Himalayas. Some of them have been climbing in South American peaks. If you have some experience it is a good experience to climb Baruntse because you gain a lot of knowledge.
On Future Expeditions
Next year I would like to go to Cho Oyu. For long term plan, I am hoping to have a go at Everest sometimes. I have tried before twice, but I haven't succeeded. Most probably, we will try to arrange a commercial expedition sometimes for Cho Oyu next year and if that succeeds we hope to do Everest after 2 years.
On the climbing Sherpas, Porters & Explore Himalaya's logistic
All the people who have been involved in the expedition, both porters and especially the climbing Sherpas has been very good people and have done a great job. I must say our sirdar Lhakpa is really a good guy .He did things the way it should be done and if there were problems we didn't feel them. We did not see it because he solved everything before it came to our knowledge.
Explore Himalaya has arranged our expedition very professionally. It has been one of the best experiences I have had. There was nothing to complain about .Everything was running smoothly.
The names of the climbers are
- Mr.BO BELVEDERE CHRISTENSEN –Leader (Denmark) (Summitted)
- Mr.JENS CHRISTIAN TROLLE NIELSEN (Denmark) (Summited)
- Mr.MARTIN CEDERKRANTZ (Denmark) (summitted)
- Ms.ANNY KVITHYLL (Norway)
- Mr.STEEN ULRIK ULRIKSEN (Denmark)
- Mr.JESPER JOHANNESEN (Denmark)
The expedition members were supported by:
- Lhakpa Dorje Sherpa (Sirdar) (Summitted)
- Dachhemba Sherpa (climbing sherpa)
- Pem Chhiri Sherpa (climbing sherpa) (Summitted)
- Megh Bahadur Sherpa (cook)
- Bal Bahadur Lopchen(kitchen boy) (summitted)
- Mingmar Tamang(kitchen boy) and 12 local porters.
The itinerary followed by the team
17th April: Lukla
19th April:Narjing Kharka
20th April :Chilim Kharka
22nd April : Rest
23rd April: Kothe
24th April: Tagnak
25th April: Rest
26th April: Khare
27th April: Mera base camp
28th April:Mera high camp
29th April: Mera summit
30th April: Seto pokhari
1st May: Basecamp
2nd May: Rest
3 -4th May: Camp 1
5-9th May: Camp 2
10th May: First summit attempt
11-13th May :Base cam