Pictures: Glacier trotting, Buddi the wonder chef, Annapurna 3 east ridge, Matt assessing the SE ridge.
Today we trotted across the glacier to have a look at the far side of the southeast ridge, the side you can't see from base camp. It was like a war zone! The glacier is a total mess with house size crevasses guarding entry to the initial 1000 meter rock buttress which is loose, broken with very few climbable lines. Last night's snow was quickly melting in the morning sun, turning the sinuous slices of ice we were hoping would be our express elevator to the main part of the ridge, to mush. Snow, water and rock thundered all around, not the kind of ground which you would, or could climb with massive boots and a 10 day rucksack.
The only other feasible line to the right of the centre of the buttress is severely threatened by massive seracs (ice cliffs) which would be likely to carve at any time flushing any wood-be Annapurna 3 suitors down the sewer. Others could use this route if they dared, but we have too much to live for and nothing to die for.
The route Nick Colton and Tim Leech pioneered in 1983 (they are the only climbers to have set foot on the ridge proper) is now totally impassable and is regularly pummeled by thousands of tones of ice from the rapidly retreating glacier above.
In the style we wish to climb, the SE ridge does not look feasible for us and we have made a decision to change our objective the unclimbed East Ridge of Annapurna 3. While being slightly technically easier, several expeditions have tried this route to the summit and have failed. It will be no picnic and has a long and committing 2.5 km section to the summit above 7000m. The total length from the snow line is 7.5km
We came here to have a laugh and climb Annapurna 3. Our dream was to find a route onto the SE ridge and follow our hearts to the summit. Today we realised that our future does not lie in the SE ridge. However we remain sanguine and our minds are now re-calibrating for the East Ridge.
Perhaps with a different approach, more climbers, more gear, bolts, and more rope you could force a route up the lower buttress of the SE ridge, but that is not what we are about. We have small rucksacks and wish to tread lightly on this magnificent mountain. The challenge of the SE ridge still remains for others, and as for it being one of the last great challenges of the Himalaya, well there is no doubt of that, but looking around from base camp, I can see quite a few more last great challenges ..
The Secrets of Buddhi's Base Camp cooking Part One
How do you bake a cake at 4600m in a tent with no oven?
The 'oven' is created in a large pot which has water in it and is placed on the primus stove. The cake is then baked in a smaller pan which is placed in the water sitting on a couple of stones so the cake base is not burned by the direct heat of the stove. Simples.
In the next episode we find out how Buddhi creates such base camp favorites such as cinnamon swirls, thin crust pizza and tuna lasagna.