WHY THE SOUTH WEST
Here is what Jonathan
Pratt, from Essex, England has to say about the route:
The easiest way to the
top of Ama Dablam is via the SW ridge, a technical route, and considered
to be the standard route. Although there are several other routes on the
mountain, they are all very much harder than the SW ridge. The route has
been considered to be a safe route, free from objective danger, such as
avalanche. It is a varied and interesting route with loads of superb
climbing - not just a huge snow slog, unlike other Himalayan climbs. On
Ama Dablam, the hardest pitches of technical rock and ice climbing are
not sustained but tend to come in short manageable sections.
Base Camp (4650 metres)
to Advanced Basecamp (5150m): Ama Dablam is one of the few Himalayan
peaks that can be reached without crossing a glacier. We climb a long
ridge-slope, cross a boulder field and scramble up rock slopes to reach
the SW ridge where we will place advanced basecamp.
Advanced Basecamp to
Camp 1 (5400 metres). We scramble across a large ridge system which lies
at the head of the Mingbo valley. The slope is steep here, but the
climbing is not technical. We place our tent at the base of large
boulders on the ridge proper.
Camp 1 to Camp 2
(5750m). We climb along a horizontal rock ridge and around several
pinnacles (Severe, or 5.6) gaining only 350m vertical. The exposure is
huge, with especially massive drop-offs on both sides of the ridge. The
climbing is mostly enjoyable with a good quality of granite. At the end
of the horizontal ridge we climb the Yellow Tower (two pitches Severe,
or 5.5), above which we place Camp 2 on ledges and a rock pinnacle. Camp
2 may also be a bivouac, if the limited tent spaces are already taken.
Camp 2 to Camp 3 (6230
m): A steep snow ridge is climbed through the Grey Tower, a 20m rock
step (Severe, or 5.6). Then 3 pitches in an ice chute are climbed to
regain the ridge and climb the second rock step to the mushroom ridge.
This is followed to the upper face where camp 3 is made on a broad snow
and rock terrace to the side of the Dablam. Camp 3 is traditional
Camp 3 to Summit
(6812m) . 2 pitches of dramatic 40+ degree snow-ice are climbed to the
side of the Dablam to reach the fluted snowfields that lead to one of
the worlds finest summits, with stunning views of the south Face of
Lhotse, Nuptse, Mount Everest and the Khumbu Himal.