The Ganesh Adventures Ama Dablam South West Ridge expedition is a perfect introduction to hard alpinism above 6000M and the ideal stepping stone to our Broad Peak 2012, Cho Oyu 2012 or Everest 2013 North Ridge expeditions. Although the SW Ridge of Ama Dablam is a very technical climb, we will fix the entire route from Camp one to the summit. This is the definitive classic climb of the Himalayas and a must for any high altitude mountaineer. Some of the worlds top alpinists list Ama Dablam’s SW ridge as their favourite climb. Additionally, past members have come to Ama Dablam to prepare for Mt Everest and some have come to Ama Dablam after summiting Everest. Anyone who has trekked into the Khumbu region of Nepal will tell you that the most beautiful mountain in all of Nepal, if not the entire world, is Ama Dablam. It’s that good.
AMA DABLAM SOUTH WEST RIDGE INTRODUCTION
Our guides have extensive experience on Ama Dablam and together have climbed to the summit over ten times. The technical challenges of Ama Dablam’s normal SW ridge route present the climber with varied climbing on granite, snow and ice. Don’t miss the detailed route description lower on this page.
The Ganesh Adventures Ama Dablam expedition aims to provide members with the best possible chance at obtaining the 6856M summit of Mt Ama Dablam. That said, this is a mountain and in the end, Ama Dablam will decide if we stand on top or not. Regardless, we will spare no expense in ensuring the best possible return on investment for our team members while ensuring a safe and healthy learning environment throughout the expedition. Climbing Mt. Ama Dablam is not only an investment of time but also money. For one to commit this many resources to a single goal may seem folly to some; but to us, it is the fulfilment of a dream that only a climber can understand.
All of the Ganesh Adventures staff have been there before: telling the boss, the partner, the family that you will be away for nearly three months on the side of a mountain. It is never easy to realize a dream and climbing Mt Ama Dablam is no exception. Ganesh Adventures believes in the dream and we will help you in any way we can in the months and weeks leading up to the start of the trip. Please take the time to read the information on this page thoroughly as it will not only answer many of your questions but moreover, help you to decide if this expedition is right for you. If you dream of climbing Ama Dablam, we have a very comprehensive preparation schedule that will prepare you technically, physically and mentally for the Ama Dablam South West Ridge expedition.
THE SOUTH WEST RIDGE OF AMA DABLAM 6856M
The expedition begins in Kathmandu, Nepal after which the team will fly (weather permitting) to Lukla in the beautiful and hospitable Khumbu Region of Nepal and the start of the usual Everest Base Camp Trek. Our Sherpa staff will already be hard at work checking equipment, packing loads and ensuring everything is in place for the adventure that lies ahead.
The trek to Ama Dablam Base Camp is one of the classic treks of the world. It follows the standard Everest Base camp trek route up the Khumbu Valley, through Namche Bazzar and detours to Ama Dablam base camp just outside of Pangboche. After arrival at Ama Dablam base camp, we will acclimatize for a couple of days while the guides and Sherpa team begin to fix the route and prepare camps on the SW Ridge. This will allow for optimal adjustment to the new altitudes and environment and permit the team to progress very slowly and safely. Now, the climb begins and everyone becomes really excited for the challenge ahead. We will use 2 camps above the 4600M base camp:
- Camp One – On snow, or rocks 5650M
- Camp Two- On snow and rocks, 6000M
After an appropriate resting period, we will venture towards camp one with no loads on our backs save for some water, food and camera for the days climb. The climb although relatively easy, will be a challenge for everyone on the team. Our Ama Dablam acclimatization has only just begun and we will all be feeling the effects of the thin air up to over 5600M. The Sherpa team will carry all of the ropes, hardware, group sleeping and cooking equipment for the high camps the leaders and members will aim to spend at least two nights at camp one and one night at camp two. Pushing any higher at this point would only serve to weaken everyone and risk complications associated with extreme altitudes. Therefore, we will slowly descend all the way back to base camp or Pagboche for an extended period of rest. During which time, our Sherpa team will ensure the climbing route is in place and also prepare and stock all of the high camps for our summit push.
A NOTE ON CAMP 3 AND CAMP 2.9 ON AMA DABLAM
The SW Ridge of Ama Dablam has been slowly changing over the years. Historically, climbers would sleep at camp 3 below the “Dablam” at 6350M and make a bid for the summit from there; returning to either camp 3 or camp 2 to sleep. We at Ganesh Adventures feel that it is no longer safe to sleep at camp 3 on Ama Dablam due to nearly constant ice fall and avalanche danger. In 2007, commercial expeditions started consistently using a slightly lower and safer camp that became known as camp 2.9, only 20 minutes climbing from the traditional camp 3 and literally chopped into the side of the mushroom ridge. Although stunningly situated, this camp is prone to high winds and very cold temperatures. Not to mention overcrowding and hygiene issues from other climbing teams. Therefore, we choose to climb directly from camp 2 at 6000M.
The choice to make a summit bid from camp 2 is not only a safer and healthier option but also serves to save the time and energy required to move the team up to another high camp. This methodology allows up another chance at the summit of conditions on the route do not permit us to top out on the first try. Regardless, an 856M summit day is hardly extreme for any Himalayan giant such as Ama Dablam. Once a favourable weather window is predicted, the team will advance with the Sherpa team at a rate of one camp per day. If all goes well, we will be standing on the summit of Mt Ama Dablam three days after leaving base camp. If the weather and/or conditions on the mountain fail to co-operate, we will have ample opportunity to make another bid for the summit.
MT AMA DABLAM SOUTH WEST RIDGE EXPEDITION ITINERARY & DETAILED ROUTE DESCRIPTION
Day 1: Arrive In Kathmandu
Members are met at the Kathmandu Airport by a one of the Ganesh Adventures expedition leaders and transferred to a four star boutique hotel in Kathmandu. Each member will have his or her own room to unwind and relax after the long flight and time zone difference. The expedition leaders will also check out all of your equipment to ensure you have everything you need. If something is missing, we can plan an a shopping excursion for the next day.
Day 2: Personal Day In Kathmandu
This is a great day to explore the Thamel district of Kathmandu, update your website, do some shopping or just sit beside the pool and read a book. We are about to embark on an expedition to Ama Dablam so there will surely be a lot on our minds and this is a great day to get your head in the right place. In the evening the Ganesh Adventures Ama Dablam South West Ridge team will have a fantastic BBQ dinner and all start getting to know each other.
Day 3: Fly To Lukla Trek To Phakding
The flight to Lukla is weather dependent. If a flight is not possible we will need to stay in Kathmandu and wait for the weather to clear. We have very good local contacts and if there is a flight, we will be on it. After the short 45 minute flight, we will have a snack and start the walk to the small village of Phakding. We will stay at a very comfortable tea house located near the Dud Khosi River. 4-6 hour trek.
Day 4: Trek To Namche Bazzar
This is very exciting day. We really start to feel that we are in Sherpa country now. After entering Sagamarta National Park, we descend to a lovely lunch spot where our cook staff will prepare us a hot lunch while we talk about the climb ahead. After lunch, the ‘big hill’ brings us, usually short of breath, to the Sherpa capital of Namche Bazzar. 4-7 hours.
Day 5-6: Active Acclimatization In Namche Bazzar 3550M
This is a crucial part of proper acclimatization for the Ama Dablam expedition. Although most groups choose to spend only one day here, we spend two full days and three nights resting and acclimatizing. Based out of a comfortable tea house in the heart of Namche, we will embark on morning walks that offer not only stunning scenery and culture but also serve to acclimate our bodies to new altitudes and environments. Ama Dablam, Lhotse south face and Everest will be revealed here and drop the jaws of everyone on the team. Now you will know what all the hype is about. Namche is also the last stop for a game of pool, beers and some dancing if that’s your thing.
Day 7: Trek To Tengboche And Debouche 3900M
This 6 hour trek broken up by an excellent hot lunch will bring us into the height where proper acclimatization really starts to make a difference. The trail is well travelled and very straight forward. The main challenge of this day is staying out of the hot sun and keeping hydrated. Slow and steady wins the race on this expedition. We will spend a few hours in Tengboche visiting the world famous Monastery. Here we will have the chance to experience a true Buddhist cultural sensory overload. This is something that should not be excluded from any excursion into the Khumbu region of Nepal. After we visit the monastery we make the short 20 minute walk down the hill to Deboche where we will stay in one of the many Ama Dablam lodges in this area. Ama Dablam continues to grow in front of us and by now, people usually start looking away. It’s big, steep and wonderful. 5-7 hours.
Day 8: Trek To Ama Dablam Base Camp 4600M
We are really starting to get into the mountains now. We pass Kantega, Tawoche and many more while breaking this big day up into manageable chunks. If required, some members may stay in Pangboche and depart to Ama Dablam base camp early the next morning. 6-8 hours.
Day 9 And 10: Rest Day And Ropes Course In Ama Dablam Base Camp 4600M
After the big height gain of the previous day a rest will be welcomed by all. We spend this day sorting our gear, eating, drinking and doing what ever needs to be done to prepare for the challenge ahead. Our second rest day will consist of the usual base camp life plus an extensive training session on the sure of fixed ropes and jumaring on vertical terrain. This is a mandatory part of the expedition and also helps the guides assess the skills of all team members.
Day 11: Puja And Height Gain To Ama Dablam Camp 1 5650M
After the customary Puja ceremony at base camp. The guides will lead the group on a crucial day of height gain and acclimatization. The Sherpa staff will be busy hauling loads of tents, ropes and other equipment up to camp one where they will begin to build and stock our high camps. After a height gain of approximately 1000M we will all be feeling the need to rest for another day and will return exhilarated to Ama Dablam base camp. 7-10 hours return trip.
Day 12: Active Acclimatization Day At Ama Dablam Base Camp
This day is included to allow everyone the time to prepare for a move to camp one. By this time, the Sherpa staff will have the camp in place and likely already be stocking our camp 2 at 6000M depending on the condition of the route. Today, your guides will sift through your gear with a fine toothed comb to ensure you are not bringing anything unnecessary or redundant.
Day 13: Climb To Ama Dablam Camp 1 5650M
Apart from your personal climbing equipment and clothing the Sherpa team will carry your food and equipment to your tent at camp one. Regardless, we will still need to carry a load of about 5kg on our backs and at this point in the schedule, we will really notice the difference of a few extra kilos. Something to note for future expeditions. We will all sleep in camp one if possible. This is a moderate climb over moraine, grass and eventually a large talus field leading to the slabs before camp 1. We actually gain the SW ridge from the east by climbing around the base of the ridge and in a series of left turns eventually reah a large talus field consisting of large flat boulders of which we pick our way through to the base of the rocky slabs directly below camp one. This is where helmets go on and we usually clip into a fixed line to ascend this 45 degree rock slope. This 4th class exposed scramble is about 150M in length.
Day 13: Height Gain To 5900M And Return To Ama Dablam Base Camp
Today is a short 2-4 hour climb up to just below camp 2. We depart early and are on the fised lines right out of the tent. This is a technically challenging day and doing it as many times as possible is not only great fun but also really helps one get to know the route and the ropes on this very exposed terrain. Ama Dablam is right there the whole day and as we approach base camp, out route comes into full view. It’s a long way off but by now we all know that our acclimatization is starting to grow and our bodies have a chance of making the top. Our Staff will already be hard at work building tent spots for our personal tents as well as out excellent base camp. We’ve made it! Time to get to work.
Day 14: Rest Day In Ama Dablam Base Camp Or Sleeping At Camp 1
Regardless of what we do here, we are taking everything very slowly. This will not only help us stay healthy on the climb but moreover ensure proper adjustment to the ever increasing altitudes.
Day 15:Move To Camp One On Ama Dablam
Day 16: Move To Camp Two On Ama Dablam And Return To Camp One
This is the best part of the climb. Right out of the gates we traverse on broken granite in a slow rise to gain the apex of the SW ridge. There are many exposed traverses on rock with a couple short 80 degree steps. At the top of the second of these steps we reach the apex of the ridge and can look over and down to base camp nearly 1000 vertical metres below. Huge exposure throughout the entire day will definitely get you comfortable with this airy exposed climb. The route then zig zags to the other side of the ridge crest and we consistently have 1200M of air beneath our feet.
Dont look down! After a few zigs and zags we surmount a short mixed step and traverse to the base of the infamous “Yellow Tower” at about 5900M. It is possible to free climb this barely off vertical section and on the Yosimitie Decimal rating system it is a 5.9. Keep in mind though; at nearly 6000M with a pack and in mountain boots, this is nothing like a 5.9 on a sport crag or climbing wall. Good, efficient climbing technique will make this section easier and much more enjoyable. Or, you can do it like the Sherpas and just the line in a series of short jump moves. This is enough to make anyone cringe as the exposure below the Yellow Tower is about 600M. Once the Yellow Tower in climbed, about 30 minutes of enjoyable mixed climbing brings you to the stunning and unforgettable camp 2, 6000M. Camp 2 is situated on a large rocky pinnacle and offers amazing views and sunsets.
Day 17: Move To Camp 2 And Sleep
Day 18: Height Gain To 6250M And Return To Base Camp
This is a good day to get used to your systems and also get proficient and efficient at descending the fixed lines. We will leave camp 2 early in the morning, crampons on and traverse up and over to the base of the 200M“Grey Tower”. This used to be an exciting mixed climb on ice and rock but in recent years it has become a steep rock climb up loose granite. The key to this section is not to kick rocks down on the people below you. After a few pitches of steep rock barely in the fifth class range, lets call it 4.11, the route usually becomes caked with snow and ice. We will then climb to the base of the mushroom ridge and turn back, rapping all the way down to camp one and on to base camp.
Day 19-20: Rest Days In Ama Dablam Base Camp Or Down To Pangboche.
We may decide as a group to descent to Pangboche to rest, have a beer and get ready for the upcoming summit push. It is only about 1 hour down to the village and for some, it is a welcome change from base camp. We can easily walk back to base camp in about 2.3 hours now that we are acclimatized properly.
Day 21: Move To Camp One On Ama Dablam
Day 22: Move To Camp Two On Ama Dablam
Day 23: Summit Day On Ama Dablam 6856M
This day will begin at 1:15 am. After reaching the base of the Mushroom Ridge we will climb steep snow and ice to the ridge proper. After about 1 hour of insane exposure and scenery we will reach the site of camp 3, usually at first light. It will be very very cold here and it is crucial to keep moving and protect ones self from the unrelenting winds that blow early in the day. We will quickly move out of the path of the Dablam and climb 50 degree snow and ice until we round the Dablam at about 6500M. From here, the route varies year to year but it usually consists of steep snow climbing up a large fluting directly to the summit! No false promises here. The climb us the final 45 degree snow slope leads directly to the summit. We will then descent to camp 2 for some much needed rest.
Day 24 – Descend To Ama Dablam Base Camp And Celebrate
Day 25 – Packing And Relaxing After The Climb Of Ama Dablam
Day 26 – Trek From Ama Dablam BC To Namche Bazzar
Day 27 – Fly From Lukla To Kathmandu
Day 28 – Onward Flights
note: This itinerary represents only one possibility for our expedition schedule during the trek as well as on the mountain. It is possible that the schedule may be changed as a result of weather or other circumstances beyond our control.
Ganesh Adventures is offering the Ama Dablam southwest ridge expedition as a fully guided ascent. Your guides have been on dozens mountains over 6000M including over ten ascents to the summit of Ama Dablam. Both leaders have outstanding climbing resumes and qualifications and know the normal route on Ama Dablam very well. This experience and knowledge will ensure your investment is sound and your expedition an amazing learning experience. Please view our about Ganesh Adventures page to learn more about your ‘big bosses’ for this excellent Ama Dablam South West Ridge expedition.
THE SHERPA TEAM
We believe strongly that success lies in support. If this is your first Himalayan expedition, you will be amazed at the amount of work and planning that goes into an expedition of this magnitude. The Sherpa staff of Ganesh Adventures works as a team. Our experience has taught us that the Sherpa prefer to be given a set of tasks and to execute them as they see fit. There is no need to micro manage these awesome guys who have more experience up high that all of us put together. We require each member to have his or her own personal Sherpa to assist them in carrying loads and ensure constant support whilst on the hill. Please be aware that the boys will be working very very hard during the initial stages of the expedition and that they are not your personal assistant for all of your daily needs. We all need them to establish and stock our camps, fix lines and work the Sherpa politics that is so prevalent on Ama Dablam. Don’t worry though, when the time to climb comes, your personal Sherpa will be there right at your side for the entire ascent.
The Ganesh Adventures Ama Dablam South West Ridge expedition is open to competent alpine climbers looking to test themselves on the challenging terrain of Ama Dablam’s southwest ridge. If you feel that you are qualified to participate and meet the qualifications below, please contact us for an application to join the expedition. Ideally, members will have the following experience:
- Extensive mountaineering & technical climbing experience
- Previous high altitude experience at or above 5000M
- Previous use of fixed lines on exposed terrain
- Mental fortitude and strong motivation
- Extensive expedition and outdoor experience
If you do not feel that you are currently qualified for the Ama Dablam expedition, Ganesh Adventures offers a very comprehensive training and preparation program. Ama Dablam isn’t going anywhere and we believe that experience is the key to success and safety on any mountain. Get the skills and use them rather than just throwing your hard earned money away to constantly attempt one mountain. Aconcagua is a great place to test ones self up to nearly 7000M.
WHAT YOUR AMA DABLAM BASE CAMP WILL LOOK LIKE
Climbing any Himalayan peak is a major investment of time and money. Spending an entire month on an expedition is enough to crack even the most seasoned mountaineer. It is very important when choosing your Ama Dablam expedition to ensure your personal needs will be not only met but exceeded throughout the climb. Ganesh Adventures offers first class base camp facilities that will ensure you are very comfortable, well fed and healthy during your Ama Dablam expedition.
AMA DABLAM BASE CAMP FACILITIES AND STAFF
We will have the following facilities at Ama Dablam Base Camp and ABC for all members at all times:
- Cooks and cook assistants to prepare and serve meals.
- Heated dining tent with tables, chairs, drinks, condiments, snacks & lighting.
- Three full meals per day consisting of imported and local food.
- Hot Shower
- Equipment storage and packing tent for members and staff
GANESH ADVENTURES EQUIPMENT ON MT. AMA DABLAM
Included in the cost of your expedition is the following high quality, professionally maintained and tested equipment.
MEDICAL AND FIRST AID
Ideally, we will have a medical doctor experienced in high altitude medicine on our expedition. The reality however, is that it is difficult to find doctors that are experienced with the unique set of conditions presented on a high altitude expedition such as Ama Dablam North Ridge. Although we will try our very best to include a medical doctor on our expeditions, we can not make the guarantee of having one. Weather a doctor is not a member of the expedition or not, Ganesh Adventures provides all of the following on all of our expeditions:
- 24 hour on call Canadian or American emergency room doctor prepared for high altitude emergency consultation
- Wilderness first responder certified base camp manager
- Wilderness EMT certified mountain guides with very extensive high altitude medical experience
- Extensive trauma medical kit at base camp
- Extensive airway medical kit with oxygen at base camp
- Fully stocked medications kit at base camp
- Portable Altitude Chamber (Gamow Bag)
- Stretcher with spinal immobilization equipment at base camp
- Emergency response plan documented for all contingencies
- Direct line contact and personal relationship with helicopter evacuation provider
PERSONAL SHELTER & SLEEPING AT AMA DABLAM BASE CAMP AND ABC
To minimize the metal strain on our members, we provide individual private sleeping arrangements while at base camp and ABC on all of our expeditions. Each member of the Ganesh Adventures Mt Ama Dablam South West Ridge expedition will be provided:
- Personal tent
- sleeping mat
COMMUNICATIONS AT AMA DABLAM BASE CAMP AND ABC
We will have a dedicated communications or ‘comms’ tent. This comfortable, heated space will be your office away from home and house all of our communications gear along with a comfortable workspace for members to use at their leisure. Please feel free to bring your own laptop but make sure it has a standard ethernet port, we won’t have wi-fi up there. On all of our Himalayan expeditions Ganesh Adventures provides the following communications infrastructure to all of our members to keep in touch with family, friends and business:
- Thuraya Satellite
- radios for communications on the mountain and between camps
- DVD player for movies at night
- Solar power grid with battery bank
MOUNTAIN TENTS & STOVES
Ganesh Adventures exclusively uses Marmot tents and MSR Reactor or Jetboil mountain stoves. Depending on the configuration of the camps and members, either Marmot Thor 2 or Thor 3 tents will be placed at all high camps by the Sherpa staff. Additionally, each tent will have a minimum of one MSR Reactor or two Jetboil high altitude stoves. We have used both of these cooking systems up to and above 8000M and feel they are the best option for an expedition such as this. If you have your own system you would like to bring please feel to contact us to ensure we have comparable fuel for your kit.
ROPE FIXING & OPENING THE SOUTH WEST RIDGE ROUTE OF AMA DABLAM
The rope fixing is a collaborative effort between all of the teams on the route at a given time. Every year the rules change and a different entity takes over the fixing and preparation of the route. Well before the start of the Mt Ama Dablam season, we will co-ordinate with other expedition outfitters and guides on the equipment and staff needed to safely prepare the North Ridge route on Ama Dablam. We will aim to be self sufficient and prepared to fixe the route from top to bottom independent of other teams on the mountain if need be.
MT AMA DABLAM SOUTHWEST RIDGE PERSONAL CLIMBING EQUIPMENT
All personal climbing equipment is the responsibility of the member. Please look at our Ama Dablam equipment list page for exact details of what you will need for this climb. Ganesh Adventures also offers its members discounts on nearly everything on the gear list through our partner companies. A note of caution: it is always best to properly size and test all of your equipment thoroughly before an expedition of this magnitude.
NUTRITION AND HYDRATION
Your Ama Dablam South West Ridge expedition cost includes all food and non-alcoholic drinks for the duration of the expedition outside of Kathmandu. While in base camps, our experienced Nepali cooks will prepare a high quality hygienic set of meals consisting of imported and local foods. After you enjoy a slow start to your day, the usual banging on a pot will signal the start of breakfast. Typically, a breakfast will include cereals, porridge, eggs toast, hashed browns and baked beans. We also do our best to keep a constant supply of fresh fruit available. Lunch will usually start with soup followed by a heavy lunch of chips, a meat dish, rice, curry or some other creation by our fantastic cook. There is always an afternoon snack of soup and some finger foods followed shortly after by dinner. We strive for variety and dinner can be anything from an amazing Pakistani feast to Pizza, fried chicken, ribs and much much more. Soup is the standard and also a great way to stay hydrated. There will be boiled and treated drinking water available at all times in the dining tent with a selection of coco, teas, juice mixes and coffee. We also try to keep a stock of soda drinks on hand. While on Ama Dablam itself, above base camp, all members will be provided with a large selection of boil in a bag meals along with soup mixes, coco, chocolate, power bars and candies. It is the responsibility of each member to go through the stores of food and choose their own food for that days excursion. The Sherpa team will be responsible for delivering all members food and equipment to the higher camps on the mountain.
We require all members to have comprehensive travel medical coverage. This coverage must include coverage for high altitude climbing involving the use of ropes. Policies and plans vary greatly from country to country so please contact us for a list of recommended and trusted providers in your area. Additionally, we strongly recommend and in some cases require all members to have trip cancellation and lost equipment coverage for the duration of the Ama Dablam expedition.
PAYMENT AND BOOKINGS
Ganesh Adventures requires a usd $2000 deposit to reserve your place on the climbing team. The remainder of the balance is due 90 days prior to the commencement of the expedition. Payments can be made via electronic bank transfer to our Canadian US dollar account. Upon receipt of your initial deposit we will email you a detailed trip file that will help you prepare and train for your upcoming adventure. In addition to the online bookings form we will also request that you complete a medical history form and detailed questionnaire for our records. At this time, we will launch a personal website for you stored on our servers under a sub-domain name of your choosing.
INCENTIVES AND SPECIAL CONSIDERATIONS
Any expedition to Mt Ama Dablam is bound to attract attention from a variety of media and charitable sources. If you feel that your climb is unique in some way of wish to raise money for a charity, Ganesh Adventures is prepared to offer you a discounted price on the Ama Dablam South West Ridge expedition. Choosing a guiding company that offers the level of support that we do will definitely make your sponsors sleep easy knowing you are in good hands and your chances of making the summit Ama Dablam safely are high.
YOUR PERSONAL AMA DABLAM BLOG WEBSITE FROM GANESH ADVENTURES
As a service to all of our Ama Dablam expedition members, Ganesh Adventures will build and host a personal blog website for your use before, during and after the expedition. This blog style website will present your personal profile, something about your project, photos, supporters and sponsors and of course a blog section to keep family, friends and sponsors up to date on your personal quest for the top of Ama Dablam. You will be free to add, remove and modify all of the content on your personal Ama Dablam climbing blog. Included in Cost: