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Thread: Sherpani, West and Ampha Laptsa col

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2012

    Default Sherpani, West and Ampha Laptsa col


    I was wondering if anyone had information regarding the three cols between Makalu and Everest. I would like to do these without guides and porter. Is it possible? Is it legal?

    Any information would be appreciated.



  2. #2

    Default Re: Sherpani, West and Ampha Laptsa col

    I did this trek in October/November of 2012. The walk up to Makalu BC is fairly easy although he Shiphton La was all snowed up and icy. Also quite cold (actually the coldest night on the entire trek!). The Sherpani Col is straight forward from base camp to the top but the altitude of 6000+ makes everything hard. The repel down from Sherpani col to West Barun Glacier is not too bad and could be even down climbed without a rope in dry conditions. With snow and ice you need to repel down. Arround 100m on relatively steep ground with small ice section on the bottom. The bergshrund on the bottom is a non issue. West Barun Glacier is solid but after a snow fall roping up to avoid crevasses is a must. Crossing West Barun Glaier in poor visibility would not be possible. The Baruntse climbers set up wands but only from camp 2 to west col. The section from Sherpani col to Baruntse camp 2 is long and crosses a crevasse field. The West col repel is long and steep. The West Col is subject to strong winds and wind gusts. The crazy thing is that the fixed ropes are of poor quality, the anchors are of unknown quality (buried under snow) and there is a danger of them pulling out at any time. The fixed ropes are not climbing ropes but nylon ropes that would never be used for climbing in the west. The porters will climb up on the same rope as you repel at the same time overloading the anchor. The safety is basically non existent and furthermore, the action of porters makes the entire enterprise a high risk. I can see the nylon rope used for low angle fixed rope situation such as slope traverse etc. Using them for repelling is very dangerous. According to my guide the accidents on west col due to broken ropes or failing anchors are common and people die. There was a pool of red snow from blood at the bottom of the repel. Any fall from the upper part of west col (length of slope notwithstanding) would be fatal due to large rocks protruding 50 meters from the base of the slope. The rocks need to be repelled over. One way to avoid this would be to use running belays which is impossible for the porters. This col is used quite frequently by porters for supplying the Baruntse climb. The supply porters have no equipment, no crampons, no warm clothing and no concept of safety for them or safety for others. It was astonishing to see 10 porters going to Baruntse amp 2 fully loaded on one anchored nylon rope putting full weight on dressed the same as you see them on Everest BC trek. The Ampu Labtsa pass ascent from Honku is easy but the altitude again makes it hard. No real dangers from the glacier itself. The shelfs can be ascended with no problems with crampons and an ice axe. The descent on the other hand is very steep. The repels are anchored with snow pickets with another picket as a backup which can bend and are prone to failure. The ropes used are again nylon ropes not made for climbing and definitely not for repelling. As long as they a new it should be OK. I would NEVER use an old nylon rope for repelling or an old anchor (even piton). You must set up your own anchor for repelling to be sure. There are no bolts. This pass is used often by porters returning from Mera Peak. The descent is good 50-100m over vertical terrain (70+ degrees) with a further drop 200-400m to the bottom of the slope directly below the repel without possibility of breaking up the fall if a rope or an anchor gives. After the 50-100m repel, the route traverses the steep terrain to the west and easies off. In snow or verglass it would be very hard and the descent would take on a different quality. If the weather turns between the West Col and Ampu pass, the logical escape route would be over Mera La. I wouldn't attempt this pass is poor weather or in a storm (unless one has ample high altitude real climbing experience). This is by far the most dangerous descent of any passes in trekking areas of Karakoram and Himalaya (even steeper than Ghondogoro La, Skam La or Mesocanto La). I would recommend to camp on the west side of west col and on the north side of Ampu Labtsa. Otherwise the days can be quite long - 10 hrs+). The distance to Chukung is long and breaking up the descent would be more enjoyable (it should be fun after all :-)). The three col trek is wild and definitely worth doing. Many days of camping above 5300m. There is a possibility of rescue from the Baruntse BC or even camp 2 along the way (weather permitting). Small group is better as it can move fast. Acclimatization is key as escape routs are very limited and helicopters do not fly in bad weather. Any altitude related issues in bad weather in that area can have fatal consequences. I would never do this on my own due to safety reasons. Travel in the mountains alone is dangerous enough and here it would be extremely dangerous. A simple accident could be fatal on your own. Having said that, check out the youtube video "the birds fly down" about a solo Russian fellow. But he is Russian after all (strong like a bear :-)).
    Last edited by Kikitardzuak; 14th December 2012 at 10:35 AM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2004

    Default Re: Sherpani, West and Ampha Laptsa col

    Good information supplied from KIKITARDZUAK.
    There is possible and legal without porter and guide support to go three cols (Sherpani, West and Amphu Laptse) passes trekking between Makalu and Everest regions. There need Makalu and Everest National parks trekking entry permits and TIMS card to go. This is the highest and toughest trekking routes of GHT because of Sherpani Col (6180m), West Col (6190m) and Amphu Labtse (5845m) high passes. There are boulders, glaciers, Ice that may make less define trail from Makalu base camp to Amphu Labtse pass. This is camping based trek for 5/6 days. You need well equipment including: enough warm clothes, tent, rope, ice axe, plastic boot, crampon, enough food and fuel etc. Some extra food and fuel in case bad weather a few days. You have to fixed rope at Amphu Labtse pass to take care descending. You need some experience of climbing for these kinds of trekking. If you want to go without guide and porter, please go with a good companion or trekking partner for safe trekking in very high altitude.

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