Kyajo Ri Expedition • October 15 - November 9, 2006

Kyajo Ri, while not quite as well known as Everest, K2, or the Matterhorn, is a great peak – pointy, pretty darn high, and considerably harder to climb than, well, lots of other mountains.

Two years ago Andy Latham and Kathy traveled to the Khumbu with the hope of making the ascent of the 6,186 meter peak. Information was sorely lacking and the duo spent much of their time simply scouting the best approach to the peak. Using their hard-won knowledge, we mounted another expedition in the Fall of 2006, with story and photos here. Unfortunately, Andy was unable to join us and was sorely missed, but we did manage to convince the fearsome threesome of Emery Dameron, Jean-Claude Latombe and Matthew Scott to come along.

On this trip we began with an acclimatization trek that wandered through Gokyo, over the Renjo Pass, down to Thame, on to Mende before heading into Base Camp.

Other Recent Trips

This photo was taken in Base Camp, after the ascent, and shows, from left to right; Matt, Thapa (our sirdar and chief cook) our two kitchen boys, Jean-Claude, Kathy, Emery, Pasang (our second in command) and Mark.


Nepalese expeditions invariably start in Kathmandu, as do their subsequent slide shows – and this one is no different. We planned to spend little time in Kathmandu, so the afternoon of our arrival, we took in Swayambhunath, Patan, and Bouddhanath. This photo is of the stupa in Bouddhanath, taken just after sunset.

Full disclosure: This pic was taken after the trip was over, when Kathy and I went to Bouddha on our own. All my photos from the first day in Kathmandu ended up on our computer, whose hard drive died, and were lost (at least I'm not willing to spend the bucks to extract them). But there is a silver lining – we now have a bigger and faster hard drive, I got to take apart and reassemble our laptop (lots of fun, actually) and we went back to Bouddha and took more, and better, photos such as this one.


"Final" at Lukla. There will be no aborting this landing!


Day 1 on the trek, we spent the night in Phakding.


Arriving in Phakding early, Matt, Kathy and Mark wandered up the the hill to visit the local monastery. There we met a young monk who gave us a wee tour. Part of the tour included a view of his personal bedroom.


This year, the Maoists set up a collection post at the bridge in Phakding, taking "donations" for the United Revolutionary Peoples Council of Nepal – 100 Rupees (about $1.50) per person per day. They were quite friendly about it all, and even issued official-looking receipts. Here, they are amused by a photo of themselves that Emery took.

This photo was taken on the way in. On the way out, the post had grown to include a large tent, with many folks milling about. And a week later, as part of the terms of the impressive agreement between the government and the Maoists, such collection posts all over Nepal simply disappeared. Or so we're told.


"Downtown" Namche Bazar in the evening. We spent two nights here, acclimatizing, sending email and enjoying apple strudel and cappuccino at the local bakery.


Our first views of Everest (left) and Lhotse from near Khumjung.


The village of Phortse on day 4 of the trek.


Machhermo in the morning, after a bit of new snow. Day 6.


Gokyo town and lake. The peak behind is Cholatse. We spent two nights in Gokyo, again acclimatizing and enjoying the views.


Between the two nights in Gokyo, we hiked up Gokyo Ri, a 5300m (17,400') fine viewpoint above town. Cholatse and prayer flags from Gokyo Ri.


Day 9, crossing the Renjo Pass. On this particular day, the pass was quite busy, with several big groups making the traverse.


A porter in the afternoon snowfall, between the pass and Lungden, our destination for the night.


Camp in Lungden, the following morning.


Thame. This was taken as we were just arriving, day 10 of the trek.


Buddhist paintings not far below Thame.


Emery, staff and locals in Mende.


This picture was taken in Mende, the morning we finally moved to Base Camp. By this time we have virtually circumnavigated Kyajo Ri, had a great trek, and were well acclimated for the adventure ahead. Gotta milk the yaks before loadin' em up!


Kathy takes a picture of intruders in her tent.


Our Base Camp in the Kyajo Drangka. Behind on the left is the first headwall on the route to high camp.


Emery and Matt enjoying breakfast.


Another view of Base Camp.


After a carry up to high camp, and two rest days in Base Camp, we made the move up. This view is looking back down toward Base Camp from about 2 hours above.


Almost to high camp.


High Camp on Kyajo Ri, looking south down the upper Kyajo Drangka.


Low on the route on summit day, at dawn.


An easy rock step below Kyajo Ri.


Arriving at the col at 5700 meters. Only 500 meters to go!


Looking up at the last 500 meters of the route. Actually it is a bit steeper than it looks here. The majority of this terrain was belayed.


Matt and Emery just above the rock step. We are looking to the west, down towards Lungden.


Kathy and Jean-Claude coming up – about pitch 3.


The final steps to the summit. Unfortunately, afternoon snow and cloud obscured the view.


Emery and Matt on the summit. Jean-Claude and Kathy arrived a few minutes later.


Descending, as the sun sinks westward.


Almost down to the rock step, and easier terrain.


Sunset from somewhere on Kyajo Ri. Unfortunately, all the new snow this afternoon made the talus slopes and boulders below rather difficult and tedious, especially in the dark. We arrived back in High Camp about 8:30 pm.


High Camp the following morning. Kyajo Ri behind.


Hiking back out to Namche.


Seed pod. (I liked the photo.)


Our yaks and loads arriving in Namche.


The trek out to Lukla.


Just before arriving in Lukla.

Epilog: Because we were so speedy in our ascent, we had a few days left over at the end of the trip. We flew out to Kathmandu early. Emery stayed in town to relax, and shop for Christmas, home and more, while Jean-Claude, Matt, Kathy and Mark took a quick trip to Chitwan National Park, spending two nights in the Island Jungle Resort.

Photos of the "Chitwan Rhino Spotting Expedition"

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