Ama Dablam Rapid Ascent

14 Days in Nepal / (Skill level: Advanced)

Price per person

$17,950

About this trip

By utilizing Hypoxico tents for 1 month prior to departure (this is required & the tent rental fee is included in cost of trip) and helicopters to and from Namche, we are able to complete this typically 4-week expedition in a mere 14 days.

Overview

  • skill level

    Advanced

  • Duration

    14 Days

No mountain in the world captures alpine climbers’ imaginations like (22,525’ / 6866m) Ama Dablam. It stands alone in the Solu Khumbu (Everest Valley), towering almost (10,000’ / 3050m) over the famous Sherpa villages of Thyangboche and Pangboche. With no easy route to its summit, climbing Ama Dablam is reserved for dedicated alpinists, who have built high altitude skills and experience. The successful climber will have solid multi-pitch climbing experience on rock and ice, and be comfortable climbing technical terrain with a pack on, taking care of themselves in very high alpine camps, and spending days at a time in exposed terrain.

This expedition is in many ways the culmination of Alpenglow Expeditions’ teaching system and mission. On Ama Dablam our expectation is that each climber takes real responsibility for their own success and that of their teammates. Members of the team will assist in setting camps, carrying loads, cooking, and melting snow in high camps. Summiting the peak will be a success you have truly earned, and can be, if you choose, an ideal stepping stone to more independent expeditions on big Himalayan peaks.

On our expedition we climb the route of the mountain’s first ascent, the Southwest Ridge. First climbed in 1961, the route is incredibly varied. It offers every type of climbing along the way to the summit, and from Camp 1 the route is continuously exposed and technical.

From Base Camp to Camp 1, we will climb up a long moderate morainal ridge, enjoying excellent views of our entire route.

From Camp 1 to 2 we encounter the route’s crux rock climbing sections. There are interesting technical traverses combined with countless easy fifth class moves and some short harder pitches of up to 5.8 climbing. On all of this climbing, you will be truly climbing each move, using fixed ropes only to protect yourself. This is not a route of jug-hauling!

Camp 2 to 2.7 offers the route’s most challenging ice climbing, with sustained pitches of steep ice and mixed terrain. The final section into Camp 2.7 is the famed mushroom ridge, a mostly horizontal traverse across cornices tenuously stuck to a knife-edge ridge.

From Camp 2.7 to the summit, the route lessons slightly in technical difficulty, climbing straightforward 50-70 degree ice and snow around the hanging glacier (the Dablam) and up the summit face.

An expedition to Ama Dablam will test all of your mountaineering skills, and a summit is one to be very proud of. Climbing this peak also provides a taste of true Himalayan expedition life. You will be supported by the best Sherpa staff in the Khumbu. After arriving in base camp we will have a full Puja blessing ceremony, and then settle into life in a very comfortable basecamp, complete with cook, heated dining tent, individual sleeping tents, and a private bathroom tent with shower. We have found that these amenities are essential in having a well-rested and strong team of climbers during our summit push. We pride ourselves in our record of safety and success. Beware of operators who offer Ama Dablam climbs with less support!

By utilizing Hypoxico tents for 1 month prior to departure (this is required & the tent rental fee is included in cost of trip) and helicopters to and from Namche, we are able to complete this typically 4-week expedition in a mere 14 days. With extra sherpa support (also included in our pricing), you are able to climb with a moderate weight daypack, allowing you to maintain your comfort and strength. We have had great success with pre-acclimatization in the highest mountain ranges of the world and strongly suggest this method as a way of staying healthy and strong on would-be long expeditions and ultimately, having a greater chance of summit success.

Our Ama Dablam expedition will be guided by one or more of Alpenglow’s AMGA certified lead guides. AMGA (American Mountain Guides Association) certification is the highest possible training available to guides, and only the most experienced and dedicated attain it. Our guides have been climbing in Nepal for more than a decade, and have led dozens of expeditions to Himalayan peaks (including 9 successful summits of Ama Dablam). Their knowledge of Sherpa culture as well as the mountains, combined with their passion for teaching mountaineering skills to others, guarantees that your experience will be one to remember.

Our climber to guide ratio is 4:1, and our climber to sherpa ratio is 1:1. This ensures that we have unparalleled support carrying loads, fixing ropes, and building camps. The guides climb with the members every day throughout the season. The sherpa also spend lots of time climbing with us, and on summit day will be with their climbing member at all times.

We combine our western guides’ and Sherpa experience with the local expertise of one of Nepal’s best logistics operators, and the services of our good friend and local sirdar/guide, Dorji Sonam Sherpa. Dorji hails from the beautiful town of Phortse, and along with at least 6 ascents of Ama Dablam, he has summited Everest 15 times. His management of our local staff, knowledge of the Khumbu, and friendly personality will be essential in ensuring that you stay healthy, strong, and able to enjoy each component of this experience.

Preparation

  • Technical Experience

    Climbers should have experience multi-pitch climbing (rock or ice), be comfortable following grade 4 ice climbs, 5.9 rock climbs, and have climbed at altitude (over 15,000 feet).

  • Altitude Experience

    It is required that climbers have prior experience at altitudes up to 14,000' and it is strongly recommended that climbers have prior experience at altitudes over 15,000'.

  • Fitness

    Climbers must be in excellent physical shape to join this expedition. This is perhaps the most important aspect of high altitude climbing, and cannot be stressed enough. Regular, challenging exercise for many months in advance of departure is the only way to gain the necessary level of fitness that is needed on big peaks. We highly recommend a structured training regime with a gym or personal trainer to assist you in preparing for climbing at altitude. Please contact us for more information on physical training.

    • Day 1 — Arrive in Kathmandu, Nepal (4,600 feet / 1400m)

      We transfer to our hotel, and begin the process of getting over jetlag.

    • Day 2 — Explore Kathmandu.

      Today we explore some of Kathmandu’s most famous sites. These include Swyambunath (the Monkey Temple), Pashupati (Nepal’s largest Hindu temple), Boudanath (Kathmandu’s most important Buddhist temple) and the old city’s original central square, Durbar. We also have our first team meeting, and organize our bags for the helicopter flight to Namche.

    • Day 3 — Fly via helicopter to Namche (11,300 feet / 3444m), trek to Phortse (12,450 feet / 3840m)

      An absolutely beautiful helicopter ride delivers us to the legendary town of Namche Bazaar. From Namche we trek roughly 4 hours to Phortse (12,450 feet / 3840m).

    • Day 4 — Climb to Ama Dablam Base Camp (15,000 feet / 4570m)

      This is our first test in the Himalaya as we hike for 10 - 12 hours until we reach our comfortable base camp.

    • Day 5 — Rest in Base Camp

      After yesterday’s trek, we’ll need to rest our legs and allow the reality that we are about to climb sink in. Part of the day will be spent practicing high altitude skills.

    • Day 6 — Climb to Yak Camp (17,000 feet / 5182m)

      After a big breakfast we begin hiking up along a morainal ridge with spectacular views of the mountain. We eventually join the beginning of the Southwest Ridge, at this point a large plateau, and follow it thirty minutes or so to our tents.

    • Day 7 — Climb to Camp 1 (5639m)

      We pack our gear in Yak Camp and climb up the Southwest Ridge as it turns from a plateau to a true knife-edge. The climb begins on easy sandy trails, but quickly enters a large talus field, where we climb up and over huge granite boulders. The final few hundred feet (200 meters) are on fixed lines up a steep rock slab. The tents of Camp 1 are perched in an incredible airy position on rock platforms at the top of this slab.

    • Day 8 — Climb from Camp 1 (18,500 feet / 5639m) to Camp 2.7 (20,800 feet / 6350m)

      Fun rock climbing from Camp 1 to Camp 2 as we continue on to new terrain. The climb from Camp 2 to Camp 2.7 is mostly ice and mixed climbing, and includes some of the toughest pitches of the whole climb, including the steep and difficult Grey Tower. Just before reaching Camp 2.7 we cross the mushroom ridge, a series of cornices and ice sculptures glued precipitously onto a knife-edge rock ridge. It is a section of climbing you will never forget! We build Camp 2.7 on the Mushroom Ridge in order to avoid any serac (icefall) danger from the Dablam that has endangered the traditional Camp 3 in previous years.

    • Day 9 — Summit day! (22,525 feet / 6866m)

      The climb from Camp 2.7 to the summit is actually technically easier than anything prior to it. However, we will be dealing with extremely high altitude and cold temperatures. Generally we do not leave camp until daybreak, making things warm enough to climb the steep ice and snow to the summit. The views are staggering; we will be able to see six 8,000-meter peaks, including Everest, Lhotse, and Makalu. Depending on the team’s strength we will descend to Camp 2.7, or all the way to Camp 1.

    • Day 10 — Extra summit day

      These are built in days that we can utilize for weather, extra acclimatization or any other reason we see fit.

    • Day 11 — Extra summit day

    • Day 12 — Fly via Helicopter to Kathmandu

      We are greeted in base camp by a helicopter that will carry us quickly over the Khumbu Valley and back to civilization in Kathmandu.

    • Day 13 — Extra day to explore Kathmandu further

      This day is also built in to our itinerary if we need an extra weather day for the helicopter to fly. If we do end up in Kathmandu the prior day, this extra day can be used to explore Kathmandu even further.

    • Day 14 — Depart Kathmandu

      After a final group breakfast, return to the airport to catch international flights home.

    • What sort of experience is needed for Ama?

      Ama Dablam is a technical climb. Climbers should have experience multi-pitch climbing (rock or ice), be comfortable following grade 4 ice climbs, 5.9 rock climbs, and have climbed at altitude (over 15,000 feet).

    • What is Rapid Ascent?

      Rapid Ascent is a unique program developed by Alpenglow Expeditions that combines the relatively new application of hypoxic training with precise logistics and small team sizes to greatly increase the chances of success while reducing the overall time spent away from home on an international expedition.

    • What level of fitness is required?

      Climbers must be in excellent physical shape to join this expedition. This is perhaps the most important aspect of high altitude climbing, and cannot be stressed enough. Regular, challenging exercise for many months in advance of departure is the only way to gain the necessary level of fitness that is needed on big peaks. We highly recommend a structured training regime with a gym or personal trainer to assist you in preparing for climbing at altitude. Please contact us for more information on physical training.

Chad Peele

Chad Peele has been guiding for 15 years and works full time as a mountain guide. Based out of Ridgway Colorado, Chad spends his winters instructing and guiding on some of the best ice terrain the U.S. has to offer. Outside of Colorado he has traveled and guided extensively throughout North and South America with several trips to the Himalayas including Everest and Ama Dablam. When not in the Mountains Chad does clothing and equipment design for Eddie Bauer’s First Ascent outdoor line.

Chad is a AMGA certified Rock & Alpine guide.

Guide Certifications
  • AMGA Certified Alpine Guide
  • AMGA Certified Rock Guide

Logan Talbott

director of operations / chief guide

Logan has been guiding professionally for over a decade in the disciplines of Rock, Alpine and Ski Mountaineering. When not out guiding, Logan keeps things running smoothly as the director of operations at Alpenglow Expeditions. From one day ascents of El Capitan to big Alpine climbs in the Himalaya, from ski descents on Denali to backyard ski tours in Lake Tahoe, he can’t help but smile when out running around the hills. Logan is a fully certified AMGA/IFMGA mountain guide, an Avalanche course leader with AIARE, as well as a wilderness EMT. In addition to guiding, Logan has extensive experience in mountain rescue, having worked for rescue teams in both Yosemite and Denali National Parks, and volunteering locally for Tahoe Nordic SAR. When not out in the hills, he lives in Truckee, CA with his lovely wife Lynette and daughter Maggie.

Guide Certifications
  • AMGA - American Mountain Guide
  • IVBV IFMGA UIAGM - Mountain Guide

Esteban “Topo” Mena

Topo’s formal name is Esteban Mena, but he goes by his nickname. Topo is 28 years old and began his guiding career at 19, when he climbed Aconcagua’s South Face and became the youngest person to accomplish this difficult climb. Topo began guiding in Ecuador and Peru. In 2012, Topo summited Manaslu and in 2013, he summited Everest – both without using supplementary oxygen. Topo again summited Everest in 2016 while supporting his wonderful partner Carla as she successfully summited without supplemental oxygen. He also has climbed challenging new routes in Kyrgyzstan and China and one of his climbs (Kyzyl Asker) has been nominated for the Piolet d’Or (as part of an Ecuadorian team).

Guide Certifications
  • ASEGUIM
  • IVBV IFMGA UIAGM - Mountain Guide

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    Ama Dablam Rapid Ascent