Ama Dablam is the most iconic peak in the Everest region, dominating the landscape with it’s pointy summit and dramatic ridgelines. While it is a fair chunk shorter than Mount Everest, the peak requires a higher level of technical climbing. Our team of four women, including a local Sherpa woman, had set our sights on Ama Dablam, hoping to climb Imja Tse (also known as Island Peak) at 20,305 feet before tackling our main objective at 22,345 feet. A year before we de-boarded the tiny plane at Lukla airport in the Khumbu region of Nepal we had come up with the idea of making a climbing film for and about women, something that we had notice was lacking in the climbing community. As part of our project we sponsored Phurba Sherpa, an early career climbing Sherpa, to be part of our team. Hoping that by gaining experience and developing her climbing skills she will be able to break into the male-dominated climbing industry in Nepal. We included the Nepali word for women, “Mahila” in our team name; as we hope to examine how women can break gender barriers and achieve goals.
It is one month till takeoff, it has been a year since I came up with this harebrained idea of making a women’s climbing film. Not just a film, but a film about climbing a mountain that for me will most certainly be a challenge. Not only is it the highest and hardest climb I have ever attempted, but I am also missing a quarter of my lungs for Christ sake!
Last week, my partner and I made an attempt on the Grand Central Couloir on the North Face of Mt. Kitchener. It would be our first attempt at climbing ANYTHING in the Canadian Rockies. Among many other things, I find going to a new region to be daunting because each seems to have its own climate that requires adapting to. The Rockies are a colder and drier range than the Cascades, Patagonia, or other places I have climbed. We did what I am sure many end up doing – debating our layering and sleeping systems for a good half hour.
I think Jimmy and I were more excited to just be away from life and the computer for a bit, so we both failed to set an alarm. Our plan was to wake up and climb the East pillar in a day, with an intention of returning down Marc Andre’s new descent route.