Paul and Mick got back from an excellent trip to far West Nepal. They managed to make the first overall ascent of Gave Ding (6571m) via its very impressive north buttress.
Paul Ramsden reports: The trip was unusually exploratory in that we had no picture of this side of the mountain before we departed and based the whole trip on satellite images from Google Earth (Gave Ding had the biggest shadow in the region).
The trip got off to a poor start when my bags failed to turn up on the flight and the Indian fuel blockade of Nepal threatened to bring everything to a premature holt. However the bags showed up later in the day and some black market fuel got us onto the 16 hour road to Nepalgunj. We flew into Simikot, then the walk into base camp was another four days. The mules stopped a days walk short of the face but near enough for our purpouses.
Once we got a good look at the north side of Gave Ding, we knew we were potentially in for a 'good one'.
The east and west sides of the north face were threatened by avalanches slopes and serac bands, leaving only one feasible line, pretty much up the centre of the north buttress. The lower section had a lot of steep mixed climbing (wore two teeth of my ice axe picks!) and was quite complex, weaving a route through overhangings and up grooves. A bit reminiscent of the Eiger in the complexity of the route finding. The upper third was more a of a classic steep ridge line, similar to the Peuterey.
The conditions were unusually cold for this time of year and we both suffered minor cold injuries. The route required five days in ascent and two in descent, initially down the south ridge and then down a colour on the north side (25 Abolakovs).
Overall it was a real pleasure to climb a virgin summit, via a hard route that offered the only feasible line of ascent from the north side. Grade ED+ 1600m.