Well KerryClimbing lead guide – Piaras is back guiding in Kerry and returning to reality once again after a hugely successful trip to the Himalayas of North India as part of the 2016 Irish Sikkim Expedition!
The 4 week long exploratory and at times immensely challenging expedition to an area of Northern Sikkim initially led the team through an extremely remote and rarely frequented thickly vegetated valley and after 5 days of difficult trek finally brought them to a high glaciated lake ringed with awe-inspiring towering 5000+ metre unclimbed peaks. The teams main objective was to attempt to try and reach the summit one of these massively inspiring, breath taking and never before climbed virgin peaks and its with profound satisfaction and amazement we can say the team were indeed successful in their aims of both exploring this spectacular valley and region and summiting some of its stunning unclimbed peaks.
On the 30th of October on the very day the teams high altitude Hindi porters celebrated one of their biggest celebrations of the year – The feast of “Diwali” – festival of light, two separate teams of the Irish Sikkim Expedition summited two previously unclimbed peaks! Piaras, Mick and Richard climbed to the impressive 4886 metre summit of what is now called – “Diwali Lho” by a technical snow and rock route while two of their Indian team topped out on the same summit a short time later after ascending by a different route! On the very same day and at this same exact moment while these two delighted teams were busy celebrating their fantastic success together on this newly climbed snowy summit another Irish climbing team made up of Sean and Damien were happily celebrating their own brilliant success as they too summited another never before climbed technical rock spire to top out at an elevation of approx. 5000 metres! A truly amazing day with brilliant blue skies and little or no wind and a day to remember for sure.
Piaras’s ascent was of course personally deeply satisfying and though never too difficult was at times extremely painful as just two days before this he had unluckily broken one of his fingers and torn a tendon after a simple slip while holding a large rock. The team had been attempting to ford a river with boulders to ease the burden and difficulties of an unavoidable river crossing. This simple but easily avoidable little accident highlighted the seriousness of how remote an area this was, how an even simple mishap could have extremely serious consequences and the vital necessity to take utmost care and caution in everything they done even the simplest of tasks as they had no radios, no contact with the outside world of any kind and the nearest help or means of raising the alarm for a rescue was at best 2-3 days away!
Two days later it was decided that team members Sean, Piaras and Mick would have a crack off yet another unclimbed snow covered peak, this one even further up the rubble strewn moraine filled valley. The rest of the team helped in ferrying the equipment the three needed for their high camp in preparation for this attempt and said their good byes to the lads at an approx. elevation of about 4600m. After quickly setting up their tent and boiling up a welcome hot freeze dried meal they decided to recce the bottom section of their planned route to scout any avoidable difficulties they may face in the dark as they headed for the climb in the early hours of the following morning. Deep snow was unconsolidated and soft with an un-bonded fresh top layer prone to sliding off and providing unnerving obvious evidence of high avalanche risk! After raising and highlighting each others worrys the decision was unanimously made to abort our attempt due to our own personal unhappy concerns. It just wasn’t worth the risk.