Day 25: Crossing the Lumba Sumba Pass through deep snow

Posted on 22 Mar 2017

Yak Kharka 2700m. 22 March 2017.

With the snow abating for a short period we left Olangchunggola and headed NW towards the Lumba Sumba base camp, two days walk away.

Heading over Lumba Sumba Pass

The snow resumed a few hours into the first day and a potential lunch site was hastily forged into a makeshift campsite. With the first day curtailed the following day would be a longer than planned day to get to base camp. With no visible path due to the 2 or 3 foot of fresh powder snow the trail was hard going with the, by now, usual leg traps hidden beneath the snow.

There was a long steady climb over moraine to what appeared to be a snow covered lake which we all assumed would be our campsite for the night, but that wasn't to be and we had a further precarious climb and traverse up a steep snow slope to the eventual spot where the base camp for the pass would be situated. This climb and the subsequent pass crossing would not have been possible if not for Chandra, Tsering, and Lakpa navigating a route and breaking the trail through the deep snow and the superhuman efforts of the porters carrying loads in such challenging conditions.

The following morning after overnight temperature of -12C we awoke to clear skies and promising conditions for the ascent over the Lumba Sumba pass at 5150m, leaving the Kamchenjunga region behind. We first had to ascend and follow a lateral moraine ridge then move across to the main steep snow slopes towards the pass, Chandra and Lakpa broke the trail, with us and the porters struggling in their footsteps through the deep snow behind. Once the pass was achieved we discovered that the next target was a further pass at a similar level that necessitated a further tricky traverse to set us up to descend into the correct valley.

The subsequent descent took us through more deep snow gradually turning more patchy as we lost around 1,000m altitude to the site of our overnight camp. Arriving there it started to snow again and we had overnight lows of -12 to -15C once again, accompanied by strong winds. By now, after 13 nights camping on snow and striking camp before the sun hits us we are all suffering with damp gear and longing for an opportunity to thaw/dry out in above zero temperatures.

Lunch on the way to Lumba Sumba PassThe following day we descended further passing through a small village of Thudnam where we stopped, in sunshine, by the river for lunch enjoying the warmth. Luckily the weather held and an early arrival at our camp did allow for airing/during our gear. It was the first day of spring and the weather seemed to have reacted accordingly.

The following day we ascended from our camp and followed an elevated and exposed path along the valley side (Nepali level - roughly equal amounts of ascent/descent - 600m today) through bamboo and rhododendron forest. We have now arrived at a Kharka for our camp and the constant jangling of Yak bells tells us that we will have company for the night.

We are all missing the opportunities that a phone signal would bring and feeling the isolation in this very remote corner of Nepal.

Tomorrow we will descend further to Chamtang and a welcome rest day.

Baixem i baixem del Coll del Lumba Sumba de 5150 m. la neu ens envolta, del fred viu passem a la calor xafogosa de cop I sense avisar el cami arribar a dalt de un mirador...ressonen trompetes d'oracio i lames voladors omplen el cel...a l'horitzo hi ha la resposta...muntanyes i muntanyes nevades I per sobre de totes la piramide final del Makalu...no es necessari parlar tot esta escrit en la historia dels temps.

Ian, Campru, Matt, Jordi, Martin & TL- Juddha Rai.

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