Ama Dablam Expedition

31 days

Please contact us


Maximum ratio:
2:1 maximum ratio
Maximum group size:
4 climbers with 2 guides

Namche Bazar and the Kwande Peaks.

Ama Dablam is the most beautiful mountain in the world. Though it feels odd to say it (we have had the pleasure of climbing among many outrageously beautiful peaks) We have to admit, that if we were forced to choose one peak in a beauty contest, this fantastic Nepalese summit would have to be it. This 6,857m/22,490ft peak is one of the best climbs in the Khumbu, and not to be missed!

On this expedition we will trek in the Khumbu area, climb one or two acclimatization summits before moving up to the Ama Dablam Base Camp. From Base Camp we establish two or three camps above (depending on how we feel), before summitting.

There are many different strategies for climbing high mountains. All of them require some time spent acclimating. Ama Dablam is quick to access, too quick for unacclimated climbers to simply to head to Base Camp and continue directly on up. Some days are needed for adequate acclimatization. Over the years, we have come to believe that it is more fun to spend time acclimating on lesser summits than it is to try an acclimate on the final objective. On some peaks, such as Aconcagua, there are not many other good objectives on which to acclimate. However, because Ama Dablam's Base Camp can be reached in only 4 days fly/hike from Kathmandu (for acclimated folks) we think it makes good sense to acclimate while visiting some other areas of the beautiful Khumbu area. For this reason we have structured our trip with trekking and climbing prior to even arriving at Base Camp.

Our trip begins with a flight into Lukla. From there we trek toward Mount Everest, through Namche Bazar and Tengboche. We will spend a bit of time acclimating at about 14000 near Dingboche, climbing Chuukung Ri and then crossing the pass of Kongma La to descend into Lobuche. A brief trip to Kala Patar (the classic view of Everest) and then to Lobuche Peak Base Camp. We will climb the SW Ridge of of the east summit of Lobuche East—a fun route on exposed snow and winding ridge, before descending to Pangboche and the short hike to Ama Dablam Base Camp.

Like the vast majority of Ama Dablam ascents, our route is the SW Ridge, first attempted by Sir Edmund Hillary in 1961. Above Base Camp we will plan on placing 2 camps. Some climbers prefer to place three camps above Base, but our more thorough acclimatization in the first half of the trip should make the third, uncomfortable camp unnecessary. The itinerary is described in more detail below.

The climb has become justifiably popular and as a result is now usually completely equipped with fixed rope from Camp I to the summit. The fixed rope is both a good and a bad thing. The good news is that the rope makes the climb feasible for guiding, and a reasonable objective for a 3 to 4 week trip. Without the rope the climb would be much too difficult and dangerous for the vast majority of climbers. The bad news is that the fixed rope alters the character of the climb, and most definitely reduces the otherwise considerable difficulty. We will use the fixed rope both for security and as an aid to climbing in the ascent, as well as for rappelling during the descent.

Sunset on Ama Dablam from Dingboche.

Even with fixed rope, this is not an easy climb. There is considerable 5th class rock, with the steepest section being vertical and quite strenuous. The upper part of the climb, from Camp II on up involves convoluted snow ridge climbing and a steep ice face. In the fall of 2003, there were several near vertical ice sections.

On our climb of Ama Dablam, we will have Sherpa support only up to Camp I, which can be reached on non-technical ground. Above Camp I we will need to move all of our camp and climbing gear ourselves, as the terrain is quite technical.

During the trek, we will stay in both local tea houses and our own staffed camp which will travel with us. Anyone who has trekked in Nepal knows how pleasant the day to day trekking life can be. Days are sunny and enjoyable, wandering among spectacular peaks and wonderful remote villages. Our overnight gear is carried by yaks and porters, leaving us to hike with only our lightweight daypacks.

Sunset on Ama Dablam from Lobuche. Pokalde Peak on the left and Kangtega on the right.

Skills Required

Ama Dablam from Base Camp. Camp I is easy to reach, though a long way up. Camp II is not much higher than I but much technical climbing is required to get there.

This climb is appropriate for alpinists with previous illness-free high altitude experience (excluding minor AMS) on peaks of about 6000 meters or more. The climbing on Ama Dablam can be difficult and strenuous. Those who are comfortable following 5.8 rock in rock shoes should qualify. The ice climbing involves many hundreds of meters of frontpointing. Climbers who have a varied history in alpine climbing, including many technical ascents and good experience at altitudes higher than 6000 meters are qualified.

Because of the nature of the route and the fixed lines, climbers will typically climb independently, unbelayed except for their attachment to the fixed rope. On descent climbers will rappel independently, again attached only to the fixed rope. This style of climbing requires a high level of reliability and responsibility on the part of climbers. Though the systems are simple, and when done correctly keep climbers well attached to the mountain, errors and brief inattention can be deadly.

We will spend time reviewing all the specialized techniques (there are not many) for climbing fixed rope.

A high level of fitness and overall health is a must.

If you have any questions as to your suitability as a member of the team please contact us.


Chris Kulp on summit day during our successful 2002 climb. Our small green tent of Camp II can be seen on the ridge below.
Chris rappelling down not far above Camp II.

Ama Dablam Expedition

Because of the very small size of our team (maximum of 4 climbers with 2 guides) we enjoy a great amount of flexibility. The itinerary can easily be adjusted to accommodate the individual preferences of the climbers. If you have visited the Khumbu before, we may be able to trek to areas new to you. Let us know if you have any particular interests.


Day -2 Depart USA
  Day -1 In transit
  Day 0 Arrive in Kathmandu

Day 1

Relax, sightsee and organize in Kathmandu.


Day 2

Fly to Lukla at 8200 ft, trek to Phakding, 8650 ft.


Day 3

Trek to Namche Bazar, 11,300 ft.


Day 4

Rest, acclimate in Namche. A walk up to Khumjung is a good outing.


Day 5

Trek to Tengboche, 12,700 ft.


Day 6

Trek to Pangboche, 13,000 ft. Here we will divide our loads. That which we need only for Ama Dablam will remain in Pangboche, the rest will continue with us, up the Khumbu valley.


Day 7

Hike to Dingboche 14.300 ft

  Day 8

Acclimatization hike on Chuukung Ri, return to Dingboche.

  Day 9 Hike over Kongma La, possibly climbing Pokalde Peak, 19,000 ft, descend to Lobuche, 16,160 ft.
  Day 10 Trek to Gorak Shep 16,960 ft.
  Day 11 Climb Kala Patar 18,190 ft, return to Gorak Shep.
  Day 12 Trek to Lobuche Base Camp on south side of peak.
  Day 13 Climb East summit of Lobuche East, back to Base Camp.
  Day 14 Trek to Pangboche.
  Day 15 Trek to Ama Dablam Base Camp, 16,400 ft.
  Day 16 Rest in Base Camp
  Day 17 Move to Camp I
  Day 18 Rest in Camp I (carry part way up to Camp II)
  Day 19

Move to Camp II

  Day 20 Summit and return to Camp II
  Day 21 Descend to Base Camp
  Day 22 Extra weather/rest day
  Day 23 Extra weather/rest day
  Day 24 Extra weather/rest day
  Day 25 Extra weather/rest day
  Day 26 Extra weather/rest day
  Day 27 Trek Base Camp to Tengboche
  Day 28 Trek Tengboche to Namche
  Day 29 Trek Namche to Lukla
  Day 30 Fly Lukla to Kathmandu
  Day 31 In Kathmandu
  Day 32 Depart Kathmandu
  Day 33 Arrive USA

Mark takes a self-portrait on the summit. Mount Everest behind.

Ama Dablam Expedition
Guiding Fees

1 climber with 1 guide

Approx. $15000 per climber
2 climbers with 1 guide
Approx. $10000 per climber

Program Cost Inclusions

  • UIAGM and AMGA certified guide, Mark Houston or Kathy Cosley
  • Three nights lodging, on a shared basis, in Kathmandu
  • Airport - hotel transfers
  • Trekking staff, group camp equipment and meals on trek
  • Peak and Liaison Officer fees
  • Dinners and breakfasts in huts as per hut menu
  • Mechanical lifts
  • Kathmandu - Lukla round trip flights
  • Emergency oxygen in Base Camp

Program Cost Exclusions

  • Airfare to Kathmandu
  • Tea house extras on the trail
  • Meals in Kathmandu
  • Personal insurance
  • Visa entry fees
  • Airport tax

Booking info

Traversing across rock slabs between Camps I and II.

Kathy Cosley & Mark Houston
UIAGM Internationally Licensed
Mountain Guides

AMGA Certified • SNGM members

All images, layout and text ©2003 Cosley & Houston Alpine Guides, All Rights Reserved