Kwangde Shar Expedition
"This expedition was the toughest adventure of my life."
First ascent of a new route - Himalaja/North Face Kwangde Shar 6.093 "Cobra Norte" ED+, M8, WI5.
On their first attempt to climb the 6.187 m high Kwandge Lho in Nepal Ines Papert and her two comrade female climbers from Canada barely failed. While her female friends had to return back home, Ines decided to try the neighbouring Kwangde Shar, which in spite of bad conditions turned out to be a great success.
Setting the Stage
After the failed try at Kwandge Lho early in January spirits weren’t exactly high. Cold temperatures and frosty winds dominated the basecamp. Audrey Gariepy and Jen Olson were plagued by frostbite on their toes and decided to return home. Ines felt excausted and was missing her son. What now?
Stay and try again!
Time for a helpful and well meant piece of mind. The Italian top alpinist Simone Moro is in the region to try the first winter ascent of the Makalu. He visited Ines at the base camp and just knew the right thing to say: "If you leave now, you won’t be happy because you won’t have given it your all... stay and try again...!".
Trying the Kwangde Shar
No sooner said than done. Together with Cory Richards, who originally "just" came along as a photographer for the lady's expedition, Ines on 8. January made their way up over 1400 m from the base camp to the base of the Kwangde Shar (6.093m). This time the two person team started with equipment and food (one noodle soup and a small portion of oatmeal per day) for 5 days plus the ambition, to set up a new route.
Nevertheless they became a little nervous. Trying a new route, in spite of the harsh conditions?
On 9th January, Ines and Cory are starting their way up the wall. The ice is thin and difficult to protect. The choppy and frosty wind with temperatures down to minus 25 Degrees ist taking it’s toll on the two climbers. The nights hardly bring any recovery and the steepness of the wall doesn’t allow for pitching the tent. Placing gear is calling for a maximum of creativity. Ines is free climbing, mostly on lead, and for the steep granite of this wall uses pitons and a variety of camming devices. The ice is too thin to place any of the ice screws. Technically demanding mixed-passages are constantly challenging the german climber from Bayerisch Gmain.
But for all that: "I really begin to enjoy this type of climbing", Ines is writing in her expedition blog www.winterinnepal.blogspot.com and on the third day the summit is nearing. But the two climbers decide to wait another night, because abseiling in the dark is an unneccessary risk they don’t want to take. "Our decision to return down to 5900 m to our last camp and to give it another try after sunset was quickly made."
"Tears of joy are freezing to ice drops in my face"
This yet another night at this height was draining even more strenght rather than bringing some badly needed regeneration. "The morning can’t come soon enough", Cory Richards describes the sleepless waiting for daylight.
Just after sunset Ines and Cory are making their way up the fixed ropes on the passages they climbed the day before. After this some difficult pitches were to be mastered and after six hours of demanding climbing they finally made it to the top. On 12. January at 2.30 pm the two climbers reach the summit of Kwangde Shar (6093m) and in spite of the freezing temperatures are absolutely thrilled.
Ines describes this moment as follows: "Tears of joy are freezing to ice drops in my face. Cory and I are speechless and are just falling into each others arms."
Richards feels depleted and is just yearning for satisfaction of elementary needs rather than being overwhelmend by the triumph of this summit: "Nothing about this moment seems distinctly special, nor does it feel as though anything of any significance has occurred. All I feel is exhaustion... I want to eat a cheesburger... I want to drink a beer."
After yet another uncomfortable and cold night they also safely make the difficult descent and a few days later Ines Papert is back home in Bayerisch-Gmain.
The professional photographer Cory Richards decides to prolong his stay in Bad Reichenhall indefinitely. He really likes the region and the upper bavarian climbing scene.