top of page
  • nzalpineteam

The West Face of Changabang – Following in the footsteps of Boardman and Tasker

Updated: Dec 30, 2023

Two plus one equals four, five six or maybe even seven. Basic maths right, you can't argue with the result. Anyone who has played team sports might understand where I'm coming from. A highly functioning team is greater than the individual sum of its members. Or to put it another way, an all-star team will always beat a team of all stars.

Mountaineering (excepting the solo mountaineer) is a team sport and team dynamics plays a vital role in any successful or failed ascent. As mountaineers we take teamwork to a new level compared to most sports. Select the wrong team with the wrong motivations and you are not only setting yourself up for failure on the mountain, you might not come home at all.

"F**k it's cold!". When climbing on the West Face of Changabang I think I said that on several occasions. I can honestly say that I had the coldest hardest days of my mountain climbing career on that face. Leading through the rock tower with temperatures around -30' was one of the hardest days climbing I've ever done. It wasn't the difficulty of the movement that made it hard, it was the cold. At the time it appeared pointless. We were a long way from the summit and the top of the mountain seemed unreachable at our slow measured pace. Matt patiently belayed me as minutes stretched into hours and I slowly inched my way up the wall. By the end of the day he was so cold he could barely function, and was in urgent need to get into his sleeping bag to warm up with a hot drink.

Daily afternoon storms and the West Facing aspect made for a suffer fest. The moments of warmth and pleasure were few and far between. Our shared commitment to each other and our egos drove us forward, there was little else to keep us going. On day six while sitting in the tent together Kim said, "I would only do this kind of route with you or Matt, as I knew you wouldn't bail. There's too much to invest in these kind of trips to chance your luck on people with no proven track record, as far as I'm concerned."

I've never had frostbite or even frostnip, but as I write this with numb fingers and tingling toes, I came as close as I ever have to being injured by the cold. All of us came off the mountain with some degree of frost damage on our fingers and toes. Even with all our modern gear, the early wake-ups each day to beat the afternoon snow storms really punished us. I doubt we had morning temperatures above -20', and on several days it was easily nudging -30'. Morning wind added another layer to the suffering.

The only way to cope was to focus on one day at a time. During the load carries we never thought of what came next. Every carry was hard. We focused on that day and said as long as we get the gear to where we planned, tomorrow is a new day. We reminded each other not to think too far ahead. None of us thought we would summit. We never imagined it could be possible until the final one hundred metres. Every day we simply did our pitches and moved our gear, never thinking how far we had to go, just the objective for the day. We knew that on an ascent and descent where you have planned for ten days there is no point worrying about what is to come. The sheer amount of effort required on a route like the West Face can wear you down mentally if you worry about the future.

We were leading one day each in rotation and it was paramount for each of us not to fail the others on our allocated day. This placed a lot of pressure on you when your turn came around but it also acted as a great motivator, as you knew the others had suffered equally. As luck would have it we seemed to get the right day for our various skill sets when the time came. No one failed on their day. Our team functioned well with one person in charge of setting up camp each day and melting snow for drinking, while the other two pushed our ropes and gear higher up the wall. For this kind of route a three person team is efficient, with one person leading, another hauling the bag, the third person cleaning gear and helping when the haul bag gets stuck. Sometimes the leader would set out on self-belay while the other two dealt with the haul bag or set up camp. We were busy from the moment we woke till the time the portaledge door was zipped up and we fell asleep.

It's been hard to figure out exactly what to say about our ascent This is despite the fact that after forty six years we made the first repeat of the famous Boardman Tasker route. There is such a weight of history surrounding this route. Peter Boardman and Joe Tasker were the shining lights of British mountaineering in the 1970s and their climb has attained legendary status. Chris Bonnington commented before they left." It's a preposterous plan. Still, if you do get up, I think it'll be the hardest thing that's been done in the Himalayas." Their audacious ascent took them twenty five days and their use of big wall techniques on a Himalayan face was revolutionary. Boardman's classic book of the ascent "The Shining Mountain," rings with drama and hardship, and the overlying feeling is of two young men who had cut ties with the world, who seemed happy to keep pushing on Changabang for as long as they were able to put one axe and hammer placement in front of the other. It's a romantic story that gives a glimpse into the world of stepping outside yourself and not caring if you die.

Did we want to reach those dizzying heights, an almost transcendental high? No, not even close, coming home is always more important than completing the climb. To be in the right mind set I had said my goodbyes to family and friends before leaving. It puts you in the zone you need to be to preform on a route like this. That being said prior to the trip we promised each other there would be no epics on our expedition. We were going with plenty of gear food and clothing. Whether it was success or failure, the ascent would be smooth and safe. It's one of the key things I enjoy about climbing with Matt and Kim, we rarely get strung out. In comparison to Boardman and Tasker our ascent was a rather smooth affair. Yes, we had the daily storms to contend with, one of which was intense.

We were just under the icefield and the storm which wasn't in our forecast came late morning. There are few places to be avalanched off the West Face, but as luck would have it we were hanging under the ice field, in the middle of a large snow storm. Spindrift poured down the mountain and we fought to establish a safe spot to hang our portaledges to escape the onslaught. During the night Kim's portaledge frame snapped and he was left hanging in a sagging mess.

We had other minor dramas. On the final bivvy our tent started to slide off the small platform we had created on the edge of a 1000m drop. We didn't really sleep that night. It was a hard ascent due to the cold and physicality but smooth because of the strong teamwork and commitment to each other. All the hard work eventually paid off and we were rewarded with a fine summit morning and on the final pitches of the climb a rare moment of warmth and sunshine. What then was the magic formula to this smooth ascent?

I have always believed the right pairing of climbing partners on the right day is potentially unstoppable on a mountain. I feel like I have tested and proven this theory over the last twenty three years as I hopped from one expedition to the next. It took a while for me to get it. That my success on an expedition had more to do with my partners than my own ability. But once this clicked, I set about building a collection of long term climbing partners who in a strong collaborative way would help me realise my climbing goals, along with their own.

The story of our successful ascent of the West Face of Changabang began over ten years ago. These were the very first expeditions I started to undertake, with both Matt and two years later with Kim. We all met as a group for the first time at the 14,000 foot camp on Mt Denali. I was on a trip with Steve Fortune and Matt, along with two young members of the New Zealand Alpine Team (NZAT). Kim and another soon to be friend and climbing partner Owen Davis were also at the camp and we quickly bonded, sharing many days climbing together. It may sound simplistic, but try camping in the snow, with temperatures well below freezing for a month and you quickly discover who you align with and who might be a good future expedition partner.

Matt, Kim and I went on to share many future trips together. With Kim I have spent over a year of my life camped in a tent on the glaciers of Alaska, at the foot of mountains in Nepal, or hanging out in El Chalten and Chamonix. Those trips, either as a three or with one of us climbing with the other spawned many successful ascents from the North Face of Cholatse, Cerro Torre, the North Face of the Grandes Jorasses to Taulliraju. Each expedition and successful climb sowed the seed for the next adventure together. Each success or failure built trust and resilience in our shared partnerships and abilities. When we failed, we failed well. Never a bad word was said, there was never a second guess when someone asked to turn back, never an accusing statement about any perceived weakness or inability. We took the time to discuss our mistakes, analysing where we went wrong and how we could improve for the next trip, then moved on. I've never felt that by failing, the partnerships were ever at risk.

Two years ago when I first proposed an ascent of Changabang, Matt who would have preferred to go on an 8000m peak, summed it up when he said, "Well, Kim and you are the climbing partners for my life, so if you are going then I'm going." Simple. My mates are off on an adventure, I better not miss out. It's one of the key ingredients that makes a strong team, commitment to the trip and the objective. When Matt and Kim said they were going to Changabang, I knew they would never back out, they would find the money, the time and they would be fit and motivated on the day we landed in India.

Commitment means being physically and mentally fit for the route. Not just any kind of fitness, but a level that is comparable to the people you are climbing with. We all have our strengths and weaknesses but we shared a promise that we would aligned to each other's fitness level at the start of the expedition. This involved around three months of specific pre-trip cardiovascular training along with regular climbing. We then agreed to meet for five weeks in Chamonix prior to leaving for India to pre- acclimatize and get some mountain days. We needed to re-acquaint ourselves with the big mountains after a two year COVID enforced break from climbing outside of New Zealand and Australia. This was the key to getting us onto Changabang fast when we arrived in India. With only six weeks scheduled for the expedition we did not have a lot of time to acclimatize and be in a position to attempt the West Face. Having already climbed the south face of Mt Blanc before starting the expedition we could move quicky to base camp and begin carrying loads to Advance Base Camp (ABC). With the pre-trip training aside, we were looking at a three month commitment away from family and friends for Kim and six weeks away from family for Matt and myself. (Our partners and kids were in Chamonix with us).

When we analysed why the twenty odd attempts on Changabang's West Face failed, the best answer we came up with was, they failed due to poor planning and logistics. Plenty of good technical climbers had tried the route, but we doubted it would be the difficulty of the climbing that would stop us. Weather, the extreme cold, poor acclimatisation strategy, low morale, fatigue from load carrying from base camp to the start of the climbing, animals eating your food. These were things we hoped to avoid by having a solid plan for the expedition and the ascent. It wasn't easy to come up with a plan for a valley and mountain none of us had visited before. We had plenty of robust debates via email. Matt who had been stuck in the Blue Mountains for the past two years was frothing more than a shaken bottle of coke. Every week he would email ideas, plans and theories. One of the most important of these was we would not climb to the easiest col at the start of the West Face.

Matt's master plan was to start closer to the North Face and climb to a higher col than the main Bagini Col, thereby saving us carrying haul bags and portaledges along the easy ridge traverse. This cut at least a day off our ascent time, and a lot of effort. I was still debating the pros and cons of the idea right to the base of the mountain, as from afar climbing to "Matt's Col" looked difficult. However, after climbing the first pitch I knew Matt was right, as it was straightforward. I thanked him later that day, he had put a lot of time into thinking over this part of the plan.

Our time in India was full-on from the get go. Even getting into the country was stressful. When we booked our flights, India was still closed to tourists. But a friend of a friend working at the New Zealand High Commission lobbied on our behalf and before you knew it visas arrived. There were strings attached. On arrival we were hosted for a welcome dinner at the High Commission. It was surreal that our team of five climbers were staying in a fully catered private residence on the Embassy grounds and receiving an official welcome by the Ambassador and various Indian dignitaries. Nothing like having to talk about your plans to a bunch of people in advance to make you feel uncomfortable, especially when the likelihood of success seemed low. We did our best to talk down the chances of us succeeding, whilst trying not to look like a bunch of bumblies.

The approach to Changabang from Base Camp (BC) was our first taste of the pain and effort to come. Its nearly 10 kilometres of moraine travel from BC to the foot of the mountain. Most of this terrain is above 5000m. We had approximately 180 kilograms of equipment and food to take to Advance Base Camp (ABC). Which was enough for ten days on the wall and five to seven days at ABC. This meant around three load carries up and down the glacier. In spite of this we found ourselves swinging our ice axes into the side of Changabang for the first time just eight days after arriving at BC. We fixed the ropes we had on the start of the col, and after climbing up to around 5800m returned all the way back down to Base Camp for two days rest. We stuff yourselves with onion bhajis and any other food we could find. We had decided that we would only have one shot on the mountain and seeing as it stormed basically every afternoon we were in India timing was not that important. There was no point waiting for perfect weather as it was unlikely to eventuate. We had decided that as soon as our gear was in position at ABC and we had explored the col we would go for it.

We planned to acclimatise on the route. This meant we could afford to move slowly and at various points of the ascent we would spend two nights at the same camp. This was more for the first few nights when we moved up to and above 6000m. This strategy worked well and while we were slow and unacclimatized no one suffered from any of the usual altitude headaches. Most days we only planned to move between 200 - 300 meters up the wall. The exceptions were the first day where we moved from ABC at 5150m to a camp above the col at 5950m and our second to last day on the route where we moved from the base of the 'Upper Tower' referred to in Boardman's topo to 6650m and our final camp under the summit.

In The Shining Mountain, Peter Boardman describes a wall devoid of good bivvy spots. We therefore chose to take two portaledges and a tent. We hoped we would find some tent platforms but just to be certain we took the ledges as well. The ascent was a bit like that. We went prepared for the worst case scenario and hoped for the best. Our triple rack of cams, full aid climbing gear, spare rope, large piton rack and several sets of wires along with fifteen cans of cooking gas and ten days food made for a heavy haul bag. We knew this could be difficult to haul over broken loose terrain, but both Kim and Matt have a wealth of big wall climbing experience and all obstacles were overcome with relative ease.

It was Matt's day to lead as we climbed to the summit. He is the strongest of us at altitude and it was fitting that the last pitches of the climb would fall to him. We had been expecting to be able to unrope and walk the final ridge to the summit. The route though remained steep and sustained right to the final pitch. I followed the last lead side by side with Kim, I could feel the emotion and tension of the last weeks and months starting to well up. On the summit, all three of us embraced, tears flowed freely. An ever-expanding view greeted us. Not quite as far as Tibet, but we did manage to see the famous Nanda Devi in all its glory. We had given our best for each other and the route. It was a real relief that we could finally begin to abseil down the same way we had come up and make the first steps towards Base Camp, warmth and safety.

The above story was kindly edited by Allan Uren. Thanks for fixing up all of my spelling mistakes!!

A big thanks also goes out to Rani and Shashank along with their team from Ruck Sack The expedition would not have been possible without their hard work and excellent service. If your planning an expedition or treck in India we highly suggest you get in touch with them. Or visit

The following is a day by day account of our time in India

It was written on my phone each night and will be full of spelling and grammatical errors. More as a guide for anyone wanting to go to the valley and figure out timings for various parts of the trip.

Touching down in Delhi on the 6th of April we head straight to the IMF to get our permits before being dropped off to the NZ high commission. We are lucky enough to be hosted for the night at the embassy where there is a reception to welcome us and a very nice house and swimming pool for us to enjoy. It felt a bit surreal to have a fully catered house and welcome laid out for us and we all enjoyed a night with the embassy staff and Indian guests who had been invited along.

April 7th we depart the embassy early and begin our two day bus ride towards the mountains. None of is particularly enjoy these two days sitting but time passes and eventually we are in the foothills of the Himalayas. Saturday 9th 2800m road head at Ruin village. After a bumpy jeep ride we are pitching tents and making camp. A short walk after lunch up to 3200m and our acclimatizing has begun. In general we are in good spirits and healthy. I have a small cough as does Tim. It rains from 5-9.30. We are a large group now joined by 42 porters. All up 50 people are making the trek to base camp.

Sunday 10th From the road head we hike and make camp above Dronagiri village 3600m. Dronagiri is still empty with its local inhabitants not yet arrived for the summer. The landscape is stunning and wild. Pine trees cling to the hillsides like miniature Japanese Bonsai. Our path weaves up through gorges with flowering Rhododendrons a beautiful hike. Approx 3 hrs to Dronagiri village including breaks with approx 850 vert along the way. As the porters are in good form and we have a long day tomorrow to reach base camp we push on for a further 1.15 reaching a lovely grass plateau on the banks of the river and glacier moraine at 3900m. Quite a big height gain for a single day and we are all happy for the pre trip climbing and acclimatizing in Chamonix which makes days like that a bit easier. Everyone has really enjoyed the hike so far. We are the only people in the valley and it's great to be alone in such a stunning mountain landscape. The North West Face of Monal standing imposingly at the head of the glacier. There are plenty of new routes waiting to be climbed on this face.

Monday 11th An unsettled night for me and a restless sleep. No doubt the altitude taking its toll. We woke up to find one of our bags open and one of our porters helping himself to the contents. Namely a new down quilt which was returned covered in feathers and smelling rather rank after he slept next to the fire in it. We will need to check and patch it today. Slightly frustrating as now we need to check all our bags and gear. The morning is cold and windy but the sun arrives early 730 and we warm quickly walking towards base camp. The hike to base camp takes 3.5 hrs gaining around 750m with some ups and downs. We arrived at 4609m and a lovely spot with great views of the surrounding peaks. Some camp boulders to climb on and most importantly very sunny! With tents up we packed our first load for the glacier. It is 10km from base camp to abc and we estimate two weeks work to have our abc set up along with gear at the base of the West Face.

Tuesday 12th 3.5 hrs up to stash with two good breaks. Stash height 4920m 450 vert with the up and downs. 6hrs 24 mins overall. We knew before starting that this would be quite a different expedition to many others we had been on. The share distance from base camp to Abc and then onto the wall itself over moraine in and glacier would mean at least two weeks or arduous load carrying just to be in a position to climb. Then on top of that we had ten days food and gear to drag up the west face. This sheer volume of work would require a constant daily grind and today was the real beginning of that. Once we returned to camp sorting food and packing for the next carry took up the whole afternoon. Ready for the 430 am wake up the next morning. Snow conditions in the sun were brutal so it was early starts while the glacier still had a freeze. Walking back from our first load carry in snow shoes and still punching through to our waist was all the motivation we needed for an early start.

Wednesday 13th What a difference a day makes. 1hr 50 up 397 vert 3hrs 33 return. We have the route up the glacier sorted now and are more acclimated. 3 hrs faster than the day before.

Thursday 14th Tim James and myself take a rest day today while Kim and Matt take our final loads to the glacier gear cache. We are now ready to start moving gear from there to Advance Base Camp (abc) at the base of Changabang (approx 3-4km from our gear cache ) Unfortunately Matt James and myself all come down with diarrhoea today which is somewhat annoying. We had hoped to avoid this by arriving to base camp healthy and ask the cook to be extra careful boiling water from now on. Friday 15th ahh so cold. I'm sleeping in a winter sleeping bag thermal leggings down pants and an insulated jacket ! Hard to imagine being 1500m higher in the portaledge. Tomorrow we head up the glacier for four – five days to establish ABC and hopefully climb to the col at the base of the West Face

Saturday 16th A bitter cold night and morning. It's hard to imagine climbing when it's this cold. We leave base camp around 630 and head up the glacier to our gear cache. From here we pick up a load of rope and food and shuttle this up the glacier to 5100m. It's brutally slow and we are suffering a bit with the altitude. 8 hrs of hiking today and we camp at our gear cache approx 4800m

Sunday 17th we double carried this morning to 5150 on the bank of the glacier under the North Face of Changabang. We moved at twice the speed of yesterdays load with heavier bags approx 1.30 up and 48 minutes down.

Monday 18th we consolidate our three loads into two massive loads and make two trips to our ABC location under the North Face of Changabang. The afternoon sun is sweltering and we struggle to function on the glacier in the full heat. Tomorrow we plan to head up the col and hopefully see the West Face for the first time.

Tuesday 19th we were unsure which col to climb to. There are two options to reach the West Face the right hand col being easier but then we would have to take all our gear over a ridge or the more direct left hand col which is steeper and harder. We didn't know if people had used this one in the past. After much debate we settled on the more direct route. Leaving the tent at 3 am we head up under the North Face and cross the shrund at approx 5550m. We then fixed our ropes to 5850m just under the col. We had a 100m 8mm 2 x 60m lead lines 1 x 60m 10mm static and a 60m tag line. Reaching a new height for the trip is always hard work but we found good conditions and by lunch time we had our lines in place ready to begin hauling our portaledges food and equipment to attempt the West Face. First though we needed some rest at Base Camp the first 10 days of the trip had been quite full on and we were happy with the progress to date.

Wednesday 20th if you had told me 3 days ago we could walk from ABC to BC in under 3 hours I would have thought you were smoking crack. After a restless night no doubt in part from the affects of pushing our bodies at altitude the day before we rose early at 3am to make the most of frozen conditions on the glacier and headed back to base camp for two days rest. We arrived in time for breakfast and swapped storied of the last few days with Tim and James. Tim had come down two days prior due to some chest infection problems and was taking a few days to get this under control. James was using the extra base camp days to build a dam in the glacial stream near camp in an attempt to create a frozen pool to wash in.

Thursday – Friday 21-22nd resting at BC, bouldering and sorting gear for our attempt on the West Face. Primula flowers are bursting out all around our base camp as the snow recedes it's great to see summer coming and the bees and birds returning to the valley. Thursday afternoon till Friday morning it snows hard. We have to dig our tents out and remove snow in the night to stop them collapsing. Saturday 23rd we wake up early after a night of heavy snow and leave BC for ABC at 4.15. A grinding 6 hr 15 minute walk which starts freezing and ends sun baked on the glacier. Then it?s sorting gear melting snow and getting ready for a 1 am wake up. Tomorrow we take our porta ledges food rack and other equipment up towards the col.

Sunday 24th a gruelling load carry to half way up the col. Lots of fresh snow. We took 30-35kg each basically all our food portaledges climbing equipment and carried this up to the face under the col. Then we hauled four pitches before turning around and heading back to abc to rest and get ready for starting the route properly tomorrow. 8.30.

Monday 25 th depart ABC at 245 am we stopped at 5950 on the west ridge around 1pm. By the time camp was made one tent and one porta ledge it was 415 and snowing. Climbing not to hard and the pitches ahead don't look so bad but we will see.

Tuesday 26th A day if extremes. We woke at 3.45am and began the process of heating water and sorting gear. It was so cold. I could barely remove my hands from my mitts long enough to wipe my bum before they started to go numb. We climb fixing 400m of rope above camp to 6150m and returned around 1130 just as the sun came onto the face. It then began to snow but in our tent the temps reached 40 degrees and sun and snow beat down on it. A day we would happily forget.

Wednesday 27th. Wind and snow delay our departure. Our tent wasn't quite sealed up and snow covers our sleeping bags making for a grim wake up. It's bitterly cold again with the wind chill and you have to question your sanity to be climbing here. We persist hauling our gear up towards the barrier. Eventually the sun rises and hits the west face and we can enjoy a few hours of warmth. Today is the only day with no afternoon storm so we make the most of it reaching the overhang called the barrier. We find a nice ledge approx 100m below the roof for a portaledge camp and fix two ropes above. Stunning sunset and views over the valley somewhat make up for the desperation of the last two days. Finally it feels like we are climbing and making progress.

Thursday 28th. Another windy cold morning. We are in full suffer mode as we haul our gear up to the barrier. Kim leads two pitches of mixed aid and free climbing through the roof. It then starts to snow and all of a sudden in between lightning and thunder, spindrift avalanches and wind we are looking for a safe place to hang the portaledges and escape the storm. Kims ledge breaks in the night. Snow soaks his gear and boots. Tomorrow will be another hard day. We leave his ledge behind and hope to find a tent site. Friday 29th progress is slow after a rough night. Matt has a tricky lead onto the ice field which has clearly receded and now was powder snow on smooth granite slabs. We make two more pitches then bivy in a safe spot at the base of the rock tower 6370m to wait out the afternoon snow storm which arrives early at 1 pm. One portaledge and one tent. Saturday 30th finally a bit of luck and the afternoon storm arrives late. We manage to fix our ropes on the rock tower approx 150m which we climbed in 5 wondering pitches. The morning was the coldest yet my hand and toes just survived. Tomorrow we will aim to climb to either a bivy or the summit. We will see.

Sunday 1st May. What a brutally hard day. We began with a physically draining 150 jummer up the ropes that we had fixed yesterday. We carried enough food and gear for two days / one night. This was jt. We we didn't make the ramp today and find a suitable tent platform the climb was over. It was Kim's day to lead and instead of following the original Boardman Tasker line we head up some steep ice and mixed terrain. M5 and 80 degree ice at 6500m I can tell you it's bloody hard even when your just following and resting every few moves on your micro traction. A small storm caught us at this moment and the next four hours we got dumped on. Still temps were ok and we continued on to around 6650 where we decided to bivy rather than risk getting caught out in a str with nowhere to pitch the tent. As it was jt took us almost two hours to chip a ledge in the ice using our snow hammock to build a platform on which our tent could sit.

Monday 2nd. Well, if your going to use a snow hammock make sure it's not sloping down hill. In the middle of the night with almost a 1000m drop under us our tent starts to creep off the edge. Needless to say we didn't sleep much. At 3am we give up the idea of sleep completely and start to brew up for the summit attempt. After a couple of hours drinking coffee and electrolytes we are ready. The morning is cold but clear and it's Matt's day to lead. We head up several nice mixed pitches wi3 -m4 always expecting the climbing to ease but it never does. Over the past few days we have often taken a different line to the original Boardman Tasker route. Today was one of those. Around 11am we saw what we assumed to be the summit. Clouds were gathering on the horizon and we pushed to ensure we arrived in the sun. It had been a freezing morning on the shady western side. Before we knew it Matt was swinging his tools up the final 10 of blue ice and we summited around 12pm. It was a pretty emotional top out. After putting so much into the past few weeks , months training and years climbing together we were all pretty chocked up and it was awesome to spend a few moments together on the summit. Changabang is not an easy or quick mountain to get off we would be abseiling for 2-3 days depending on the strength of the afternoon storms. We were racing a big snow storm forecast for Tuesday afternoon so even though we were tired and hungry we pushed on and made it to the top of the ice field around 6pm. We had left some gear and a portaledge here. Unfortunately we had no food for dinner just some energy bars and a hot drink.

Tuesday 3rd. Safe , somewhat warm and not really dry but we made it to ABC at 7pm just as it went dark. Lost in a white out and completely poked we were running on fumes. We had woken up at 5am and slowly packed up our bivy under the rock tower. Rapping down went fairly smoothly we left a rope on the barrier roof to speed up the traversing rappel with a big haul bag. Hopefully future ascensionists won't find it to much of an eyesore. We were trying to get off the mtn before a large snow storm hit. As it turns out we copped it fair and square as we got close to the col. The avalanche slopes at the base of the col had been on our mind and we knew that getting across these and the glacier before to much snow had accumulated is very important for a safe descent. However nothing goes quickly with a big haul bag so we suffered on through. Conditions on the glacier were horrendous we were breaking through all over the place the clouds rolled in more snow and we are wondering where on earth our two barrels were and the arbitrary position of ABC. Eventually we found it and could finally relax. Harness off Jetboil cranking and hot food for everyone. 3 of us for one last night in the small 2 person tent. But we were safe and almost back to base camp. Sleep would be easy tonight Wednesday 4th. Amazing the alarm goes off at 4am and I don't think any of us have woken up. For me the first full nights sleep of the trips crazy how good it feels to be relaxed in the tent listening to music. Hopefully the load carry to BC won't be to brutal. We are not there yet still a couple of rock fall gullies but basically the brain can turn off after almost 10 days of full focus on not dying. It's been a great testament to our team that we have had epics no mistakes over the climb and every day though incredibly hard and usually somewhat dangerous was delt with one step at a time and everyone has all their fingers toes and motivation. Listing to AC/DC in the tent at abc I say to Kim it's pretty fun to do to hard core shit. he agrees I wonder how long the beast inside us will be fed after this one? 3 months ? 6 months ? It's a hungry fucker.

Wednesday 4th and we thought it was over. But, we had forgotten the 120-140kgs of gear we needed to take back from ABC to BC. If you have read along you would remember me saying how easy it felt to walk from ABC to BC well turns out after spending 8 days on Changabang your quite tired. Strap two 50l packs or an over packed haul bag or in Matt's case a 70L 50l and a portaledge to your back and through in some soft snow , boulder hopping on moraine and generally speaking poor travel conditions and it's going to be a very very hard walk. In fact I'd probably say the hardest 8 hours walking of my life. Amazingly Tim had come up to ABC and taken down our big tent. This really saved us as that would have been the straw that broke the camels back. He also walked up to meet us with hot tea and orange juice as we came close to bc. It's those kind of selfless gestures you never forget. Thursday 5th. bc resting packing gear drying sleeping bags and getting ready to leave first thing tomorrow.

Friday 6th May the walk out is a little tough with numb toes but it passes quickly as we watch over the large range of wild flowers and stunning scenery. The valleys have greened and it's a very beautiful mountain gorge. Before you know it we are in ruin waiting for the Jeep's to take us to town.

Saturday and Sunday bus to Delhi. Monday embassy and dinner then 4am flight Tuesday 10th.

Rack beta double rack to 3 and single 4. Single set of nuts. 8 ice screws 1 -2 snow stakes ( only one above col ) 4 pins 2 blades and 2 angles) if your bringing 3 ropes and plan to portaledge and fix take an extra set of cams and more quick draws. Snow shoes and poles are essential for any attempts on Changabang.

With the daily afternoon snow storms east facing objectives would be quite nice Rapping down we left a snow stake on the summit. Then v threads to top of rock tower. Then fixed rapes 30m cam wire , 35m two pins, 55 m from bollard takes you to a good bivy ledge suitable for tent and portaledge at the base of the rock tower.

From there a mix of v threads and rock anchors takes you down to the Col. Col 8 pitches 400m 60 deg M3, one pitch easy rock to good tent platform on the ridge one pitch above the col where we hung a porta ledge and had a tent camp. Then 380m of moderate ice and mixed to a good ledge for a portaledge and ok for tent with some construction work. This is just off to the right of the original Boardman Tasker Line. (approx. 90 odd meters under the barrier)

Barrier 3 pitches of rock or easy aid from bivy 6a-6b takes you to the barrier overhang. Probably free we 6b but would require sun or warmer temps than we had to free climb. 50m but we broke this into two pitches to split the traverse. From here approx 2 pitches takes you to the ice fields a mix of moderate rock and easy aid. We got caught in a snow storm here so easy slabs became desperate mixed climbing. Once gaining the ice field 3 pitches of easy snow / ice takes you to a good tent / portaledge camp at the base of the rock tower.

From the rock tower bivy climb 4 pitches weaving your way towards the tower staying more to the west and nearing the top moving back north. Some loose rock short pitches probably better. If you find our anchor a nut and a .5 cam also and old BT pin and hex from here move left towards the NF 50m m3 60 deg. From this belay we climbed up ice and mixed for 2 pitches then followed a sunning ice gully m5 80 deg that trended right. Follow the right leading ramp a further 2 pitches to where we bivied under a small rock using the ice hammock. Approx 6650 At top of the first ice field bt went up and left we went up and right for 3 pitches to our bivy spot ( two pitches up ) then re joined their line for the two pitches up to the barrier roof. We had to traverse up and left from our bivy to join the cracks leading to the roof.

644 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All



Subscribe to our blog

Thanks for submitting!

bottom of page