Fantasy Ridge: it starts with a steep technical climb and then with an
awkward almost horizontal pitch before some elevation is gain.
Fantasy Ridge is the last major
unclimbed ridge of Mt. Everest. Although there have been more than two
thousand summits of Everest, no summit was ever achieved by way of Fantasy
Ridge. Furthermore, less than a handful of expeditions have succeeded on the
Kangshung side of the mountain.
The ridge presents a formidable
challenge: first, because of the lack of any precise information regarding its
geography; second, lack of evaluation of the make up of rock and snow; and
third, the unknown
but ever-present danger of avalanche. The ridge is also exposed to the full
strength of morning sun which normally amplifies the danger of falling rock
and melting ice which produces avalanches.
Fantasy Ridge was named by
George Leigh Mallory. It is thought that the name refers to the impossible
difficulty of the terrain and the belief that a successful traverse exists
only in “fantasy.” Also referred to as East Ridge due to its position in
relation to Mt. Everest, the name Fantasy Ridge stuck. The ridge presents an
awkward, long, almost horizontal pitch with cornice ridges often on both
sides. Attacking the ridge will require a new, radical approach, including
the possibility of climbing early mornings and at night when the sun is less
of a factor. The ascent is a combination of alpine and expedition style. The
latter style will be employed as insurance against the need for evacuation,
either for injury or because further progress is impossible.
Previous attempts by
classical approach from Kharta had the problem of the two week trek to base
camp during which time expeditions faced delay and exhaustion.
Our approach has never been
half of Fantasy Ridge: Crevasses were observed at this altitude but an
alpine style will be almost certain the choice of ascent.
Acknowledging the reality of
an almost impossible rescue evacuation in case of serious injury, ropes will
be necessary to leave behind an exit strategy. Upon reaching the bottom of the
ridge, a decision will be made based on the ground snow and ice conditions. An
early start of the expedition gives a better chance of avoiding avalanches and
falling rock by climbing in colder temperatures. On the other hand, the
colder temperatures are more likely to produce frostbite and prolonged
exposure. Conditions will be carefully weighed before we choose the lesser
evil. From this point on there will be little permanent fixed rope. Traveling
light and fast will be the goal.
As formidable as it may seem,
the East Ridge ends on the Northeast Ridge at 7800 meters, more than 1000
meters below the summit of Mt Everest. From there the notorious Pinnacles
will have to be overcome. This presents a classic, highly technical high
altitude mountaineering climb. At that time the mountain conditions, the time
left in the expedition and our over all physical and mental condition will
determine how we will proceed for the summit.
Coming in Spring 2006: The
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See here for more.
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