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I wasn’t sure how I would feel coming back to civilization after nearly 8 weeks away.  I’ve been back from my latest trip to Nepal for a week now a I can tell you its good to be home.  8 weeks living out of a rucksack: 6 of which were in tents and 4 of those were on one of the worst glaciers I have ever been on or seen.

The frustrating part is we didn’t manage to do a single pitch of climbing. I wouldn’t blame anyone if they stopped reading this blog post now. It goes against my morals to write about an obvious failure, but for me this trip was so much more than a climbing expedition. It was my first (of many I hope) expeditions so there was always going to be a lot to learn.  Some lessons I learnt the hard way and some were glaringly obvious.

I have heard many stories from my Grandfather, who used to be a trekking guide out in Nepal for many years and who also set up a school in the Annapurna region.  Its been the country I have wanted to visit the most for over 15 years. To finally get the chance to go was pretty special and I feel very lucky to have been given that opportunity. The country and the people certainly lived up to expectations. I feel very refreshed from seeing a totally different culture and way of life which is so far detached from the world I grew up in and inhabit now.

“Why didn’t you manage to climb?” I hear you ask. The short story is that our only chance was hampered by the wind. Had it settled down in time, we would have been in with a reasonable shot of climbing a route on the right hand side of the north face; clearly it wasn’t meant to be.  We had originally planned to climb the North Pillar on the left hand side, it looked in great shape apart from the first 50m which was steep (overhanging) snow ice. The protection looked extremely sparse and the bergshrund looked very dangerous beneath the bottom of the route. We knew the consequences of any mistakes in this remote location were severe, so we soon sacked off this route.

After this we set our sights on the right hand line on the face but the mountain wasn’t having any of it and whipped up some 100mph+ winds to show us.  We spent three long hungry nights at the bottom of the face waiting for the wind to abate which, unfortunately, never happened. We had to get out of there or we’d be missing our flight.  A bit gutting if I’m honest but its easy to dwell on the negatives. As I said earlier, I’m super happy to have had the chance to go to Nepal and also to come back in one piece. I’m super motivated for this winter, which is already shaping up to be a great one for skiing with huge amounts of snow out here at the moment.  I’ve already had some epic days skiing in Verbier and Courmayeur in Italy. I’ve got lots of ideas of stuff I want to do this winter and I’m looking forward to getting stuck in with some big projects and skiing some steep fresh pow.

I’d like to thank Loben Expeditions and in particular Lila (cook) and Asta (helper) for all their hard work and help during the trip.  Without them, it would have been much harder and far less enjoyable trip.  We were all super happy with the service that Loben and his crew provided all the way through out stay and I would defiantly recommend them to anyone looking to do any trekking/climbing in the Himalayas.

Follow this link to See a slideshow of Gavin Pikes Photo’s of the trip. 


South face of Kanchenjunga and the 14km of moraine to get to it. Talung is out of sight to the right.


Rathong and basecamp under full moon.


“Middle Camp” little more than a few tent platforms and lots and lots of rocks. Home for 1 month.


At Yalung Basecamp, first night in the firstlight, but only two of us.

At Yalung Basecamp; first night in the Firstlight for two of us.

Talung and the messy glacier.  No snow even at 5500m

Talung and the messy glacier. No snow even at 5500m.

the cook lila and his makeshift cook tent a middle camp

the cook lila and his makeshift cook tent a middle camp

Dhal Bhat!

Dhal Bhat!

Gav extreme Trekking on the Yalung glacier.

Gav extreme Trekking on the Yalung glacier.

The first pitch of the north pillar. steep.

The first pitch of the North Pillar. Steep.

Got all arty one afternoon and made this archway with Jim.

Got all arty one afternoon and made this archway with Jim.