Taplejung to Jiri (October-November 2012):

7. Crossing of Sherpani and West Cols (1 day)

image004

Back to Taplejung-to-Jiri-trek-2012 homepage

 

We crossed Sherpani Col (6146m) and West Col (6143m) in a single day and put our camp on dry terrain in the Hongu basin at 5450m between West Col and Amphu Lapsta. Sherpani and West Cols are separated by a flat glacier, so that the total elevation gain and loss for the day were modest. Nevertheless, this was a long, tiring day, as Nyima Gyaltshen and Lhakpa had to set up several fixed ropes and carrying loads along some steep sections of the passes took more time than expected. On the other hand, the weather was almost perfect (though quite cold and slightly windy) and the views in all directions were awesome. We were the only group crossing these passes on that day.

map-7-8

 

The Hongu basin is dominated by peak Baruntse (7168m) on its northern side. The 3 passes (Sherpani, West, and Amphu Lapsta) are located on three main ridges of Baruntse: the south-east ridge for Sherpani Col, the south ridge for West Col, and the west ridge which for Amphu Lapsta. This west ridge connects Baruntse with Ama Dablam (6856m) and at 5845m Amphu Lapsta is its lowest point.

3-cols

 

[The Hongu river that flows southward out of the Hongu basin reminded me of my unsuccessful attempt to follow this river down to the trail connecting Lukla to Tumlingtar in the spring of 2011 (during the second half of my West-to-East traverse of Nepal). During that trip I had reached the Hongu river south of the Hongu basin, after crossing Mera La. But the river′s canyon became increasingly narrower and steeper, and eventually turned out too difficult to follow. I had to return to Mera La, cross it back, and follow another route toward Tumlingtar. See here.]

 

The first part of the ascent to Sherpani Col was on an easy, gentle snow slope...

IMG_5196

 

 

...but the final section was on steep loose rocks (on the left side of the photo).

 

IMG_5197

 

Nyima Gyaltshen placed a rope on the lower part of this section. Its ascent was not very difficult, but the loose rocks increased the likelihood of a bad fall. Higher the rock was of better quality, and we climbed it without rope (class 4).

IMG_5198

 

At the pass, with peak Baruntse on the left. The descent was even steeper than the ascent, again with many loose rocks. Nyima Gyaltshen and Lhakpa set up ropes for the group.

IMG_5202

 

 

View from Sherpani Col in direction of West Col, with the flat glacier between the two passes and the start of the South ridge of Baruntse on the right.

IMG_5200

 

 

Lhakpa preparing for the descent.

IMG_5204

 

One of the porters descending from the pass without his load. (Nyima Gyaltshen ended up carrying most of the porters′ loads on this descent. I believe he climbed back to the pass 5 times.) The loose rocks made the terrain potentially quite dangerous, so only one of us was descending at any one time. I heard that a few days later a European climber was killed here by a falling rock.

IMG_5208

 

The porters climbing back onto the flat glacier from the gap at the bottom of Sherpani Col.

IMG_5209

 

Looking back at Makalu and Sherpani Col (the rocky band in the middle) during the traverse of the flat glacier.

IMG_5216

 

Reaching West Col. The descent from the pass starts near the triangular shadow that appears above the rocky section in the photo.

IMG_5217

 

Views of the Hongu basin from West Col. The highest peak in the middle is Ama Dablam.

IMG_5219

 

IMG_5223

 

Nyima Gyaltshen starting his descent from West Col.

IMG_5224

 

West Col seen from below, with two porters descending. The hardest section was a short passage between the rocks in the lower part, where old snow had been transformed into hard ice.

IMG_5231

 

Baruntse (7168m) at the center of the photo, viewed from the Hongu basin. The snowy ridge on the right of the peak is the normal ascent route. However, near the summit, the snow often forms a dangerous cornice.

IMG_5237

 

Other parts of the trek:

1.   Taplejung to Olangchun Gola (4 days)

2.  Olangchun Gola (1 day)

3.  Crossing Lumba Samba pass (3 days)

4.  Tudham to Hongon (3 days)

5.  Hongon to Yangla Kharka (5 days)

6.  Yangla Kharka to Sherpani Col High Camp (4 days)

7.  Crossing of Sherpani and West Cols (1 day)

8.  Hongu basin to Namche across Amphu Lapsta (3 days)

9.  Namche to Jiri (5 days)

 

Back to Taplejung-to-Jiri-trek-2012 homepage