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Mountains

All of mountains attempted on the expedition were between 4100m and 4400m high. Most of the peaks formed part of a high-level ridge and therefore the prominence of most of the peaks was not particularly large. In this report, we use 'peak' to refer to a prominent summit, while 'point' refers to a subsidiary summit. A sketch map can be found below to aid interpretation of the descriptions of individual mountains.

The moraine began immediately above base camp at 3000m. The moraine was old and grass-covered in the main, but did include some rocky sections to catch out ankles. The edges of the moraine were unstable, steep and unpleasant to travel up and down. Higher up, the grass covering stopped, leaving stable rock moraine in flatter areas. This got progressively more unstable and more mixed in size higher up. The east side valley (known by us as the hanging valley) followed a similar pattern, although it was steeper, giving almost no grass-covered moraine and much more unstable mixed-size moraine. The west side valley had a long stretch of evenly sized unstable scree that was simple in descent, if hard work to ascend.

The main valley had a long moraine walk in to the glacier that took around two hours. The glaciers were rock-covered until around 3400m and dry until 3600m. They were heavily crevassed in places, but most of these crevasses were avoidable. The snow was generally soft and did not freeze fully at night. On the summits and ridges white snow was generally very crisp, but most snow had a red tinge and this snow became soft very quickly after sunrise. As a result, most of us put a foot in a crevasse every time we were out. There were occasions when both feet went in, up to knee or waist height, but a full fall into a crevasse was never a concern. Most of the routes attempted involved snow slopes with a gradient between 30° and 50°. Often these were long and unprotected. In the late morning the snow melted, leaving glacier ice that was difficult to protect and nasty to descend. Peaks occasionally had rock outcrops on the summit and the teams climbed a number of sections of I or II (UIAA rock grade). The rock was generally slate and, although it was loose, there were plenty of larger blocks and solid cracks for protection where needed.

A number of routes were identified for future expeditions. Most peaks were climbed by their easiest line, but a wide range of more challenging ridge and face routes are available. Other peaks had routes that were not in condition, or required climbing at a grade beyond that at which members of the team felt comfortable. For all of the routes done and those identified as having future potential, more consistent snow would be a real bonus, and in some cases a necessity. For the mountaineering, it would make sense to come earlier in season when snow cover may be better. This may entail a winter or spring trip utilising skis. This would open up more possible routes, but would obviously have implications for access to the valley.

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