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  Tibet - Chomolonzo Expedition 05: The "48 hour window seems to have arrived"


 

 

Update 5/19/2005: May 19th, 4:00p.m. local time, direct from base camp with Christophe Moulin:

 

This morning, it was beautiful and clear skies, if a bit cold. No wind at altitude. After almost 40 hours stationary at  6,850 m and much indecision, the team Christian Trommsdorff, Yannick, Graziani, and Patrick Wagnon have finally been able to continue their progression. At 1:00p.m.  they were spotted by base camp binoculars on the  North summit and were seen descending in the direction of the 7,000 m col separating Chomo-Lonzo Nord and Chomo-Lonzo's central summit.

 

At 8:00p.m. local time Christian Trommsdorff declared "All is well. We are all in good spirits. The rocks above the bivouac might prove a bit tricky, and so tomorrow we will leave early in order to attempt the summit all in one day." Profiting from favorable conditions, they have installed a relatively  comfortabl bivouac at the foot of the rock ridge.

 

The long awaited for "window" seems finally to have arrived. It'll be

short; the wind is predicted to pick up Sunday afternoon, but we can expect good conditions for the next 48 hours.

 

 

Update 5/18/2005: Expédition Chomo-Lonzo 2005

Worrying, waiting, and hoping on Chomo-Lonzo

May 18th, 8:00p.m. live report from climber Christian TROMMSDORFF at 6,850 meters.

«Last night, the bivouac wasn’t destroyed as we had feared. The wind really did die down overnight; but, at day break, the violent westerly gusts came back with a vengeance (probably attaining 80 to 100 km/h). In these conditions, it was impossible to leave the tent - the risks of frostbite and losing balance were too great. But we didn’t lose the entire day; late afternoon it finally became possible to fix three rope lengths to get a jump-start on tomorrow.

For the three of us, today was a day of inactivity and indecision… it’s a little disheartening to have come so far, just to wait and wait some more…..

Yan Giezendanner, the weather forecaster, seems positive: he promises calm weather is on its way; he even says he’s 95% sure.

We are chomping at the bit, but we don’t have a crystal ball. What if we go beyond the point of easy return and we hit that 5%? Easy to mull over all the possibilities with so much time on our hands…

Tonight will hopefully bring some answers.

In any case, come dawn tomorrow, we’ll have to make a decision  after all we don’t have a never-ending supply of food and gas.

Should they stay or should they go now?......... suspense continues on Chomo-Lonzo; tomorrow will crucial.

Update May 17th: At 6:00p.m., on Monday, May 16th, culminating 3 days of effort, Stéphane BENOIST and Patrice GLAIRON-RAPPAZ  reached Chomo-Lonzo's North summit (7,199m) thereby opening a new and direct route on the West face.

 

Well-supplied with weather predicitons by Méteo-France's Yannick GIEZENDANNER, the team left their bivouac installed near the rimaye at 6,000m at dawn, May 14th. Saturday night they bivvyed at 6,700m and Sunday night at 7,000m near the ridge joining the North summit with Chomo-Lonzo's central summit. Today May 17th, they have redescended by the NW ridge, which the team TROMMSDORFF, GRAZIANI, and WAGNON opened ten days before.

 

Although accustomed to this kind of climb (Tauliraju 2002, Thalay-Sagay 2003), this is a magnificent success for the team, definitely a degree above all their preceding experiences; this time they've opened a new route of 1,200m in pure alpine-style (without preparation, fixed ropes, or pre-installed camps) on a 7,000+m peak with serious difficulties. The obstacles they encountered at such high elevations (including vertical ice goulottes and delicate mixed passages) are of the highest difficulty realized to date in the Himalayas at similar altitudes.

 

Undoubtedly key to the team's success is the combination of being perfectly acclimated for such an effort at altitude as well as the kind of strong determination normally associated with their high level of technical experience.

 

The team Christian TROMMSDORFF, Yannick GRAZIANI, and Patrick WAGNON is now in position for the final act of the Expedition Chomo-Lonzo 2005 - the ascension of Chomo-Lonzo's central summit, a virgin summit of 7,540m.

 

This morning May 17th our friends set off from 6,100m and, in only 6 hours, have already reached the serac crowning the first rock band of the NW ridge (definitely a record with respect to their arduous ascension 10 days ago). The weather remains clear, but the wind is picking up again with strong gusts prevailing during the afternoon; the tents could be in danger with predicted wind speeds of over 100km/h... fortunately the calm is forecasted to return sometime during the night.

 

They report excellent morale and physical condition: they want this central summit!

 

At this point, we have a reasonable idea of what is to come:

 

Wednesday May 18th: finish climbing the N summit, descend approximately 200m, and continue along the horizontal ridge in the direction of the rock band which links the North ridge with the Central summit. Ideally, they want to install their bivouac at the base of the rock band. From information gleaned from the group BENOIST, GLAIRON-RAPPAZ, heavy snow accumulation may slow their progression.

 

Thursday May 19th: overcome the rock band (about 200m). Uncertain of its condition and difficulties, maybe 2 days will be necessary.

 

Friday May 20th or Saturday May 21st: climb the central summit (if the weather holds) - the final push to the summit doesn't appear to hold any major obstacles.

 

Then the crucial choice: which way down? Most likely the same as up, but the decision is still open.

 

On-going suspense, the pressure is mounting on Chomo-Lonzo! We'll keep you informed of the latest.

 

 

Update 5/16/2005: After May 8th's success on the NW ridge of Chomo-Lonzo's North summit, and the storm-induced retreats of the other two teams on the W face, all expedition members regrouped at base camp for a well deserved rest, conveniently necessary due to continuous high winds in altitude. Due to a knee injury, Christophe Moulin, will remain at base camp for the time being.

 

May 13th, the team Yann Bonneville and Aymeric Clouet set off to retrace the steps of the first group along the NW ridge to the N summit, with the plan to continue on to the central summit (7,560m). But arriving at the bivouac site on May 14th, they were greeted with an unwelcome surprise: the tent and other stashed equipment had blown away; all that remained was a rope stretched between two ice walls. Armed with only one sleeping bag for two, they had a very difficult night. In the morning of the 15th, they realized they were no longer in a position to attempt the N summit and would have to abandon their goal. Tough decision to make after over a month and a half of preparation, but that is what alpinisme is also about - knowing when to turn around, knowing how to learn from your mistakes. Leaving some equipment at the 6,800m bivouac site for the benefit of the other group, they were forced to descend.

 

Today, Monday, May 16th, the team Christian Trommsdorff, Yannick Graziani, and Patrick Wagnon have set off with the same  goal to climb the central summit via the North summit, and weather permitting attempt the huge traverse to Chomo-Lonzo's main summit.

 

Simultaneously, the team Stéphane Benoist and Patrice Glairon-Rappaz have returned to the W face. Although our radio connection Sunday night May 15th was barely audible, it seems the tream erected their bivouac at 1:30a.m at 7,000m just below the rock band which joins the North summit with the central summit. Exhausted, they will try to rest a little before making

further decisions.

 

And so, suspense is mounting on the Chomo-Lonzo. With a lot of

uncertainties yet to be resolved, the upcoming days will be crucial. One amelioration: the winds are forecasted to lose their intensity. But the clouds are returning, bringing snow under 7,000m. The monsoon is coming... Will they make it in time?

 

Saturday, May 7th: Mission accomplished. Opening a new itinerary on a virgin summit of more than 7,000m is a rare exploit in the Himalayas. Today the team Christian Trommsdorf, Yannick Graziani, and Patrick Wagnon reached the summit of Chomo-Lonzo's North peak (point marked 7,199m on maps) at 7:OOp.m. local time (1:00p.m. Paris time) after 13 hours of continuous effort.

 

After a difficult night at 6,850m due to violent winds and freezing temperatures, the team left at daybreak, reached the summit at 7:00p.m, and having decided to descend despite night fall, regained their bivouac at approximately 11:00p.m. local time.

 

The climb was difficult and hardwork particularly in overcoming the smooth rock steps at 6,950m and 7,000m. Having expended much energy in the descent as well as the ascent, the team will spend the night at the bivouac and will probably redescend to base camp sometime Sunday.

 

The other two teams attacking the west face (team Christophe Moulin, Yann Bonneville, and Aymeric Clouet and team Stephane Benoist and Patrick Glairon-Rappaz) were forced to turn around without reaching their objectives, but will most likely be ready to climb again after a couple days of rest at base camp.

 

 

French Expedition to Chomo-Lonzo: From Jean-Claude MARMIER, chairman of Himalayan Committee

 

Some information on the French Chomo-Lonzo expedition

 

The Himalayan Committee of French Mountaineering and Rock Climbing Federation is organizing the expedition to Chomo-Lonzo this spring. The peak, located in Tibet, is a subsidiary peak north of Makalu and has been only climbed twice : first in 1954 from the Nepalese side by the French team Lionel TERRAY and Jean COUZY on their reconnaissance trip to Makalu and second in 1993 from Tibet by a Japanese expedition. This year we have a very strong and experienced eight member team :

Stephanne BENOIST

Yann BONNEVILLE

Aymeric CLOUET

Patrick GLAIRON-RAPPAZ

Yannick GRAZIANI

Christophe MOULIN

Christian TROMMSDORFF

Patrick WAGNON

 

Our goal is to climb both virgin peaks : N and central summits (7,199 m and 7,560 m) It is a lightweight expedition, without camps or fixed ropes. They are climbing as three independent parties :

1 - Christophe MOULIN, Aymeric CLOUET and Yann BONNEVILLE

2 - Stephanne BENOIST and Patrick GLAIRON-RAPPAZ

3 - Christian TROMMSDORFF, Yannick GRAZIANI and Patrick WAGNON

 

The groups reached base camp in the Kangshung valley on April 13th. After three weeks of acclimatization and reconnaissance they are now ready for the summit attempt. Today, Christian Trommsdorff's group is at 6,800 m on the NW ridge of N peak; they hope to summit within two or three days; The Christophe MOULIN and Stephanne BENOIST teams are at the foot of central peak at 6,100 m. Their intention is to open two new routes. All groups are summiting in a single push and they will probably attempt the complete traverse of Chomo-Lonzo up to Sakietang La. Mountain conditions are not perfect.  Their first intention to climb the tremendous NE face had to be revised due to heavy snowfalls and avalanche danger; the decision was made to go with the safer W face. Climbing two virgin seven thousands peaks is very exciting and challenging. Further information will be delivered very soon.

Members:

No NAME IN FULL Nationality
01 Mr. Christian Trommsdorff French
02 Mr. Benoist Stephane French
03 Mr. Wagnon Patrick French
04 Mr. Bonneville Yann Nicolas French
05 Mr. Glairon Rappaz Patrice French
06 Mr. Clouet Aymeric French
07 Mr. Moulin Christophe French
08 Mr. Graziani  Yannick French

Nepali Staff

01 Mr. Karma Gyalzen Sherpa Guide
02 Mr. Ong Chen Sherpa Cook
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