Leaving Kathmandu -Enroute to Arughat

Now that Ben and Sophie #2 have joined us we were keen to get on the road. Ben landed yesterday and, after the fastest shopping quest in the history of mountaineering, he was kitted out with millet 8000 metre boots, down suit, 2 new sleeping bags, crampons, harness, soft shell pants, new sock, down booties and a few other bits and bobs. Sophie found out at 6pm that we were leaving the next day so she sorted her gear quickly.

RIMG0031So, with barrels loaded and duffel bags stuffed full, we bundled into an old landcruiser at 7:30 am. Less than an hour later we were pulled over on the side of the road with the bonnet up and the tools out. Hydraulic issue with the clutch – luckily our driver had spare parts on hand. Truck all fixed and away we went towards Gorkha. After a while we headed off up a side road and stopped to buy some batteries. Back in the trusty cruiser – oops won’t start! So we all got behind and gave him a push and away we went again, No one really knew how long the trip was going to take to get to Arughat, the end of the road. Somewhere between 8 and 10 hours….

The road quickly turned to rugged 4wd terrain interspersed with some pretty gnarly deep slipping mud ruts. We got stuck a couple of times but the trusty (???) landcruiser made it through until…

RIMG0049A particularly deep and slipping section with a nasty wash out and steep drop into a ravine was the final straw for our driver. He rolled his t-shirt up over his belly and said that’s enough, no further for him. Hmm what now? Sidi Mama (yes that is really his name) got on the phone and announced that they would send another jeep from Aragat to pick us up. "Jeep coming 1/2 an hour – you can walk a little"

We left all our gear in the cruiser and wandered down the road expecting to see a jeep coming our way…1/2 hr walking and another hour sitting by the side of the road and still no jeep. Jeep coming? A couple of phone calls in nepali that we couldn’t understand. No..Truck coming, 1/2 an hour. OK sounds good…another half an hour and no truck. Truck coming? No..Tractor coming and jeep is here to take you to Arughat. OK great.

We loaded ourselves into a super sturdy jeep/truck and headed off down the bumpy road, We passed the tractor which was headed up to get all our gear from where the landcruiser stopped. Despite a few pretty hairy sections on the road we were getting there and could see the lights of Arughat in the distance. Then we got to the river.

Mal – "wow look at the river"

Sophie #1 – are we crossing it?

Sophie # 2 – do you think we’ll make it?

Driver – "look at the truck!" (downstream a little way a truck sideways in the river)

Answer to Sophie # 1 question "yes"

Sophie # 2 question "No, we are not going to make it"

RIMG0084As we started the crossing water started coming up under our feet then over the bonnet and then into the engine and then it all came to a pretty quick halt. Fast flowing river outside – truck rolled over down stream…#$%^E#^ now what? Safety Mal jumped out, discovered it was fast but only knee deep so we all linked up and got the hell out of the river.

20 minute later a big tractor arrived and they hooked up big wire cables and pulled it out..

How long to Arughat? 13 and a 1/2 hours today…time for bed

We've just gotten back from the West Coast.  Dugald is going to be writting up a tale or two shortly (and we have a few from the trip) but in the mean time please enjoy our short teaser video and Image Gallery!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

West Coast Speedflying  – Image Gallery
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I have just been lucky enough to find and image of the face that we intend to fly as well as showing me the general landing area we wish to use.  This image is taken looking from the NE in the vicinity of the proposed landing area – the standard route ascends from the col on the right hand side of the picture.

Our launch site will be from the main summit over the top of the hanging seracs on the upper face.

I've got goosebumps …..

 

 

The weather and time off work is aligning itself so that Dugald and I can get into the west coast neve's this weekend for some alpine training / ski touring and speedflying!

The Recent weather has potentially put down over a meter of new snow and conditions up high will be nice for a few days.  Feels great to finally have a mission that will work with the weather and have time available to make use of it!

Some NW or SW winds will also be fine as we can use our wings like kites to drag ourselves around on the glacier.

 

 

 

We'll be based at either Pioneer hut or Centenial Hut and make use of the surrounding peaks for some flight attempts. These include ;

  • Triad
  • Aurora
  • Minarets
  • Glacier Peak
  • Grey Peak
  • Mt Drummond

Out of all these the pick for me would be to getup the west Face of the Minarets and fly off!  Check back soon for more updates

After a beautiful climb up Single Cone to inspect one of the future winter missions, we moved on to double cone and discussed the possibility of a launch from the summit by tossing the gliders above us and checking them in the air before stepping off.  This time the decision was made to move to a lower more suitable take off and practice some rope skills on the short descent to it.  After several attempts during the short moments of clearance we received from Queenstown Air Traffic Control we again decided to move down the West face to an area less effected by wind rotor.  From here we both launched for a great gully flight!

The forecast for the coming week looks nasty so the Alpine training trip that Dugald and I were going to do has to be postponed until after the 24th of April.  It's funny that as a mountain guide I have to choose time off to go into the mountains for a personal trip …. then only to have the weather pack out and be unable to do what I want to do!

Our alternate plan is to go up the Remarkables on Saturday and do some training for Dugald there as well as make a flight attempt off either Single Cone or Double Cone.

Bad Weather coming – Monday

Tuesday

Thursday

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Attempt Window
May 15 – May 31st

 

Trip Length
3 Days

 

Open to Speedflying Pilots with Alpine Experience

At 2819m Mt Ernslaw is a fairly stylish peak to do from the Valley floor (about 350m).  We'll be heading up to Wright col and esquilant Bivvy to climb and fly from the summit.  Depending on the wind and weather conditions we may try to fly down the mighty South Face or simply down the North face and into the Rees Valley.

 

Mt Ernslaw as seen from the road to Queenstown.  The South Face is the obvious large glaciated face in the middle of the two summits.  The launch site is the highest peak on the right.

A jaunt into the New Zeland Alps to climb and fly.

 *The weather forecast is too bad to go into the hills from 12-16th April – trip postponed *

12th April to 16th of April – Open to other speedflying pilots with alpine skills

Dugald and I will be heading into the NZ Alps near the start of April to Tasman Saddle hut.  The objective of this trip will be to do some alpine training with Dugald and to climb a number of nearby peaks and fly off them.

Objective 1

Hochstetter Dome.
A good easy alpine training hill with a great summit from which to launch from

Objective 2

9144 – Mt Annan Ridge
This area offers a number of different locations to climb and fly from  – either along the ridge line or from the summit of 9144.  Gaining the summit during winter is via a snow / ice gulley – in summer conditions it is a great alpine rock adventure.  The summit offers a great place to launch from again

Objective 3

Walter Peak
Probably a little to ambitious for this particular trip but if you don't try you don't do.  Walter Peak combines some interesting glacial travel with moderate alpine slopes to bring you up onto the main divide.  If the treu summit of Walter gives no joy there is an awesome Plateau from which to launch from about 100m below the main summit