Tag Archives: adventure travel

First Ascent of Southwest Face of Nilkanth

 

 

Climbers Chantel Astorga, Anne Gilbert and Jason made the first ascent of the Southwest face of Nilkanth between 29th September and 2nd October 2017. The following post written by Chantel Astorga is a riveting reflection of their ascent. The journey was managed by Ibex Expeditions.

This blog was originally published in American Alpine Club.

Between September 29 and October 2, Anne Gilbert Chase, Jason Thompson, and I made the first ascent of the southwest face of Nilkanth (6,596m, a.k.a. Nilkanta or Nilkantha).

Anne Gilbert, Jason, and Caro North had planned to attempt the southwest face in 2015, and they climbed most of the peak’s west ridge, which would have formed their descent route. However, the weather did not allow them to set foot on the southwest face (AAJ 2016).

Two years later, Anne Gilbert and Jason were awarded an AAC Cutting Edge Grant for another attempt on the unclimbed southwest face. They invited me to join, and with assistance provided by Ibex Expeditions, we arrived in mid-September at a 4,115m base camp directly below the south face. The monsoon extended well into the month, bringing warm temperatures and heavy rain.

Access to the southwest face involved 1,000m of ascent over gravel-covered slabs, and featured brief periods of exposure to overhead objective hazard. Straightforward glacier travel then led to the foot of the wall. Our only opportunity to acclimatize through the unset- tled weather was to ascend these approach slabs and establish an advanced base below the wall at 5,180m. At that time, the first third of the wall looked in poor condition, with high temperatures melting the ice and exposing loose scrappy rock. Rain only began to turn to snow around 5,100m.

On September 27 a long weather window began, and although not well acclimatized, we decided this would be our opportunity. We left advanced base on the morning of the 28th, finding just enough ice on the lower face to afford reasonable passage. There were a few pitches of mixed climbing up to M5, simul-climbing on steep snow slopes, and a steep WI5 ice pitch. Our first bivouac was at 5,670m in a moat.

On day two we pitched most of the climbing, which consisted of technical mixed ground and some beautiful steep ice. We were unable to locate a tent platform that evening, so we chopped out a bench at 5,944m and succumbed to a sitting bivouac under the stars. On most days the mountain would see convective cloud buildup and light precipitation during the afternoon hours.

Day three was the crux. We needed to find a way to the top of what we’d dubbed the Castle, a steep granite formation. As we got nearer, we saw that our intended route would require big-wall tactics. Instead, we opted to navigate around the Castle’s right side and found a delicate ice runnel leading into an overhanging cave. To exit, we tensioned over a slab and gained access to difficult mixed ground; this was followed by a steep ice pillar, eventually depositing us on top of the Castle at 6,248m. The bivouac here was the coolest ever, the exposure and views unforgettable.

Anticipating more straightforward climbing, we hoped day four would take us to the summit. However, the technical ground continued almost to the top. The rock quality deteriorated and route-finding became more difficult. By evening we had arrived at a false summit. The summit ridge looked steep, difficult, and exposed, so we opted to descend 30m to a flat bench and set up camp at 6,523m, the highest elevation any of us had slept.

After a cold and restless night, we awoke to another beautiful morning, sluggishly melted snow for water, and packed our bags to complete the summit ridge. This turned out to be straightforward, and a couple of hours later we were standing on the summit, psyched. Our route, Obscured Perception (1,400m, VI WI5 M6 A0 70° snow), had overall been of very high quality.

The west ridge was still fresh in the minds of Anne Gilbert and Jason, so we hoped for a fluid descent. We downclimbed névé ridges and made about 10 rappels, with Anne Gilbert doing a great job remembering the locations of the previously rigged anchors. Fifteen hours later, at around 2 a.m., we made it back to our advanced base, rested a while, and then continued our descent to base camp later in the morning.

– Chantel Astorga, AAC

This blog was originally published in American Alpine Club.

Image © Chantel Astorga, Anne Gilbert, Jason

Ladakh: A Photographic Journey to “Little Tibet”

Flying into Leh, the former capital of the Himalayan kingdom of Ladakh, feels more like landing on the moon than landing in India. Its harsh, mountainous terrain is starkly beautiful and very dry, due to its high altitude and cold desert climate. Dotted with stupas and whitewashed houses, the Old Town is dominated by a dagger of steep rocky ridge topped by an imposing Tibetan-style palace and fort.


Our special anniversary edition journey to Ladakh this September will be led by Himraj Soin, an adventure travel journalist who is an avid skier and climber;
studied at Colorado College. He is a National Geographic Student Expedition leader
and photographer and his expeditions have taken him to Tibet, Mongolia, Bhutan,Borneo, Madagascar, Peru, Morocco, Namibia, Argentina, Chile, and Antarctica, and more.

Following a theme of a responsible eco adventure, walking in the footsteps of the  this photo adventure journey will take you to all Buddhist monasteries, trek through breathtaking passes. You will discuss Buddhist traditions, learn about renewable energy projects with conservationists, visit outfits promoting sustainable development and walk along hillsides dotted with chortens and monasteries with exquisite Himalayan vistas.

The journey will take place this September. Send in your queries to ibex@www.ibexexpeditions.com!
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ANTARCTICA MATTERS—JOIN US ON OUR JOURNEY WITH A PURPOSE MARCH 2019

Antarctica has always been a land held with intrigue. The whitest, driest, coldest, windiest continent on earth was collectively decided to be preserved by twelve countries, including Russia, the United Kingdom, Argentina, Chile, Australia, and the United States.

The Antarctica Treaty System was signed in 1959, and an environmental protocol was added to it in 1998.  It states that Antarctica is to be a “natural reserve, devoted to peace and science,” and prohibits all activities relating to Antarctic mineral resources, except as is necessary for scientific research. But the treaty is not set in stone. In 50 years’ time, 1948, the part of the treaty that prohibits mining and resource extraction could come under review.

Keeping the urgency to protect this pristine land in mind, we at Ibex Expeditions, in partnership with Polar Latitudes, will be taking our secondexpedition to Antarctica in March 2019. Led by artist and explorer Himali Singh Soin, this journey with a purpose is meant to turn all participants into Antarctica Ambassadors, pledging to support all causes related to preserving the big white continent.

Previously, our Antarctica journey has been supported by United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNTWO), Ecotourism Society of India (ESOI), Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA), Skal International, and World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC).

Our journeys are never without their share of fun of course! You will witness wildlife you can perhaps only witness in Antarctica. There might be times when you feel like you are on another planet, as is beautifully explained by Himali Soin in this essay titled “Voyage to a White Mars”. There might be a moment when you feel an urgent need to take a dip into the icy cold water, as Himraj Soin had while on his journey described here. 

Join us in our mission to preserve Antarctica.

Details of the journey here: https://www.facebook.com/events/254332385079622/

Email us at ibex@www.ibexexpeditions.com for more details.

Antarctica Matters: Racing to Cross Antarctica

Two adventurers are attempting to cross Antarctica alone, without support, without being resupplied by food, or assisted by any means of transport other than the power of their legs. If either or both succeed, they will be the first to do so. No one has been able to cross Antarctica on foot, unsupported, yet.

The two adventurers are attempting this feat separately, and couldn’t be more different than each other.

Lois Rudd is a 44-year-old British Army captain. He wishes to slide into the record books, tracking two other British explorers—Roald Amundsen and Ernest Shackleton.  Roald Amundsen reached the South Pole in 1911. Ernest Shackleton wrote that “there remained but one great main object of Antarctic journeyings — the crossing of the South Polar continent from sea to sea”. 

Mr. Rudd is a grizzly British Army adventurer, carrying hot chocolate powder, dried porridge, along with the rest of his kit.

The second explorer is a 33-year-old American mountaineer and explorer—Colin ‘O’ Brady. Mr. Brady is a chiselled professional triathlete-turned-mountaineer. He has over 70,000 Instagram followers, a YouTube channel, and brought his own custom-made energy bars called Colin Bars.

While for Mr. Rudd the reason for taking on this journey is a personal one, Mr. Brady wants to win the race, and make history. 16 people have attempted to cross Antarctica so far. All failed. Waiting to see what happens now.

Source: Financial Times

We are going on an epic voyage to this expansive continent in March 2019. The journey aims to create ambassadors for Antarctica, who will pledge to protect and preserve the region from exploitation of all kinds. Check this link for more details of the journey, and send in your enquiries to us at ibex@www.ibexexpeditions.com

 

UPDATE: Colin O’Brady eventually won the race in 53 days. For more, read this BBC story.

Antarctica Matters—Join Us On Our Journey with a Purpose March 2019

Antarctica has always been a land held with intrigue. The whitest, driest, coldest, windiest continent on earth was collectively decided to be preserved by twelve countries, including Russia, the United Kingdom, Argentina, Chile, Australia, and the United States.

The Antarctica Treaty System was signed in 1959, and an environmental protocol was added to it in 1998.  It states that Antarctica is to be a “natural reserve, devoted to peace and science,” and prohibits all activities relating to Antarctic mineral resources, except as is necessary for scientific research. But the treaty is not set in stone. In 50 years’ time, 1948, the part of the treaty that prohibits mining and resource extraction could come under review.

Meanwhile, climate change is playing its part. One of its largest glaciers was splintered off sometime last year, while its sea ice is shrinking at a rapid pace. Recently, scientists, discovered a whistling sound coming from the Ross ice shelf, which many scientists are linking to the decreasing ice. Krill, the main food source for all wildlife of Antarctica is also reducing at a fast pace.

Keeping the urgency to protect this pristine land in mind, we at Ibex Expeditions, in partnership with Polar Latitudes, will be taking an expedition to Antarctica in March 2019. Led by artist and explorer Himali Singh Soin, this journey with a purpose is meant to turn all participants into Antarctica Ambassadors, pledging to support all causes related to preserving the big white continent.

Previously, our Antarctica journey has been supported by United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNTWO), Ecotourism Society of India (ESOI), Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA), Skal International, and World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC).

Our journeys are never without their share of fun of course! You will witness wildlife you can perhaps only witness in Antarctica. There might be times when you feel like you are on another planet, as is beautifully explained by Himali Soin in this essay titled “Voyage to a White Mars”. There might be a moment when you feel an urgent need to take a dip into the icy cold water, as Himraj Soin had while on his journey described here. 

Join us in our mission to preserve Antarctica.

Details of the journey here: https://www.facebook.com/events/254332385079622/

Email us at ibex@www.ibexexpeditions.com for more details.

Adventures in Tuscany with Adventure Travel World Summit 2018

The past few days have been a whirlwind for us at Ibex Expeditions.  The Adventure Travel & Trade Association’s (ATTA) annual Adventure Travel World Summit (ATWS) is taking place in the dreamy, historic, high cultured land of Tuscany, Italy.

The week-long summit, 14th to 19th October at Montecatini Terme has been a wonderfully educational, fun-filled event so far. The best adventurers, explorers, outdoor educators, tour operators from all over the world have gathered here in one space to talk about ethical adventure travel and think about ways of creating a better space for the planet. The theme of summit, “Wellspring” is an apt one, inspiring us to truly understand the richness of our planet. Adventure travel, in its truest, raw form, means going back to the source — the source of our relationship with nature. “The source of vitality and inspiration, the wellspring, that renews our joy in life and our sense of stewardship in this fragile world.”

EXPLORING TUSCANY

Apart from a number of scintillating lectures and workshops, we have also had the opportunity to take out time and explore Tuscany. A bunch of us went on a three-day hike up the Pania della Croche in the  Apuan Alps. On our way, we made organic pasta, peeled hazel nuts, goofed about, all the while soaking in the serenity of our surroundings. The colours of nature are bright and beautiful; they stand out even more in the Apuan Alps.

 

 

The breakfast session with the Adventure Travel Conservation Fund (ATCF) members was an eye-opening event. The ATCF is a non-profit that funds local projects engaged in the conservation of unique natural and cultural resources of adventure travel destinations. We learnt about good conservation projects and practice around the world. As board member, we were fortunate to participate as jury members for the 2018 grant finalists.

On 19th October, Mandip Singh Soin will be heading to Florence to give a talk on his personal experiences and adventures as a traveller and explorer.

This has been a wonderful, fulfilling journey for us!