The stunning pyramid of Ama Dablam is regarded as one of the world’s most exquisite and sought after peaks, alongside the infamous Matterhorn and Khan Tengri. The ambitious and experienced mountaineer will find the South West Ridge an acceptable challenge. We take the standard route up Ama Dablam which offers steep snow, ice and rock climbing in exhilarating and exposed situations. Fixed lines will be used in our ascent, to aid speed and efficient movement on this impressive mountain.
Ama Dablam Base Camp (4750m) – Camp 1 (5700m)
This is quite a long walk and may take five to six hours on the first journey. This is likely to reduce considerably with improved acclimatisation. Unusually there is no glacier approach and you can walk in trainers along pleasant grassy ridges that curve around behind the SW ridge. As you gain height, superb views open to the whole of the Western Himalaya, most notably Cho Oyu (8201m), Numbur (6859m) and Taweche (6367m). Just before reaching camp 1 we cross a granite boulder field and scramble easily up some huge boiler plate granite slabs.
Camp 1 (5700m) – Camp 2 (6080m)
Camp 1 is situated at the foot of the SW ridge and so you embark on the climb as soon as you leave camp and clip into the fixed ropes. Initially there is some quite easy traversing of rocky terraces and snowy ledges. Then there are some superb compact granite slabs to cross and these lead into equally enjoyable slabby buttresses to ascend. Just before Camp 2 is reached The Yellow Tower must be climbed/jumared and this provides the technical crux of the whole route. The climbing is extremely enjoyable but it is hard work at this altitude. Three to five hours.
Camp 2 (6080m) – Camp 2.9 (6200m)/ Summit
Most teams these days make their summit bids from camp 2, however there is an option of very limited camping space at the end of Mushroom Ridge, Camp 2.9, which offers an airy launching platform for a shorter summit day. The group will decide whether to use this camp or not. As soon as you leave Camp 2 you start gaining height. It’s hard work but the climbing is good, and the ascent of The Grey Tower provides the next obstacle. Easy snow and ice then leads to the ‘Mushroom Ridge’, the corniced snow crest that links the mixed SW ridge below with the summit snow fields above. Your ‘composure with exposure’ will be tested here! However, the ground is not technically difficult, Scottish grade II, and you will soon reach the broad snow shelves that provide the site of the old Camp 3. As we are now essentially on the West Face the sun does not arrive until around 9.30am, so this can be a cold place until the sun hits. From here it takes around 3-4 hours to reach the summit ascending the fixed ropes up the grade I summit snow fields. There is one short steep section over an icy bulge that provides a welcome contrast in climbing style! The summit of Ama Dablam is a truly outstanding viewpoint. Typical ascent time 7 – 9 hours from camp 2. We would aim to descend as low down the mountain as possible after summiting, ideally camp 1 or if you are going really well, Base Camp!
We have had excellent summit success on all previous expeditions and those wishing to join should be technically proficient and confident to Alpine AD, Scottish grade III and be able to second VS/5.7 on rock.