Attempt and Bivouac on the Northeast Face of Mt Antoine LeCoultre
After making the move to ABC on November 24th, the wind and cold temperatures of late season abated enough for Chris and Geoff to make an attempt on the Northeast Face of Mt. Antoine LeCoultre (or Jobo LeCoultre) circa 6585m, but unforunately the team was not able to complete their ascent. The 1150 meter face had seen earlier attempts by strong Swiss teams who were turned back from the mountain by “sugar snow” conitions, although it was ultimately neither weather nor conditions that forced Geoff and Chris’s retreat. After a long day of climbing ever-steepening snow and ice, Chris and Geoff made their way to a bivouac at above 6000 meters (~20,000′) at the base of the difficult mixed headwall (seen high in the center of the photo). Unfortunately the team was forced to turn back from the attempt due to cold temperatures and Geoff’s feet which resisted rewarming at the high altitude.
The duo took consolation in the face of defeat: “I wanted to see how well we could move with alpine packs at that altitude and we did well,” said Chris “Although I am disappointed we didn’t summit the peak,” He added.
Geoff and Chris were both excited for the opportunity to climb in the Himalaya and gained valuable experience including a first ascent and a first solo ascent on outlying peaks of the Lunag Massif.
Awesome Show Great Job (WI4+ M3 350m) on Peak 5777m, Geoff was able to complete what is presumably the second ascent, and solo, of the Name-As-Yet-Unknown Swiss Route (WI4 M4 650m) on Peak 5855m, and the two are fairly sure they must have authored at least two dozen boulder problems from VB to V4.
Geoff said, “It will be interesting to see what grade and name the Swiss team gives their route. I would rate it WI4 M4. The climbing was great and secure most of the way with only a few rock steps. The ice also got fatter the higher you went. A classic goulotte.”
Back in Lukla, Chris and Geoff are slowly headed home, but are already planning their next trip. Beforehand, they are looking forward to some well desered rest and relaxation with their girlfriends and families over the holidays, as well as perhaps a healty dose of Thai sport-clmbing before heading back to the States.
Keep checking in for more posts from the team as they find time to report in with more photos and details from their climbs.