Ask any of our staff and they’ll tell you that the best part of working at Ellis Brigham is listening to and becoming a part of some of the incredible adventures our customers embark upon. Whether they're preparing for their first Alpine expedition or have just completed their fiftieth, to be involved in someone's epic journey of a lifetime is something very special.
When Ellis Brigham regular, Chris, began planning an audacious ascent of Ama Dablam - one of the Himalayas’ most technical and demanding summits - we knew there was a good story in the making…
"My interest in the Himalayas started in the mid 1990's when I was working on rural water supplies in Nepal. Every working day I had the backdrop of some of the highest and most beautiful mountains in the World, and I vowed that one day I would come back and try to climb some of them. I never anticipated it would take so long.
"In the intervening years I had many enjoyable days climbing in both Scotland and the Alps, but I always had my eye on the challenges of the Himalayas. Finally, in early 2013 I had the chance to sign up with Adventure Consultants to climb Ama Dablam.
Above the Himalayan clouds.
"By Himalayan standards, Ama Dablam is comparatively modest in height at 6,812m but it's a technical mountain and presents a real challenge even to experienced climbers. It is famous for its spectacular views and extreme exposure and an added bonus for me is that an expedition can be squeezed into four weeks allowing it to fit within a busy work schedule.
"The trip to get to the mountain is spectacular by itself and takes the best part of a week, travelling along the Khumbu Valley, with much of the journey spent together with the crowds headed to Everest base camp.
"Eventually we were installed in Ama Dablam Base Camp. Our team comprised 8 climbers, 2 guides and the support of our very capable and experienced team of Sherpas.
"Ama Dablam is climbed in the traditional Himalayan manner of progressing up the mountain via a series of fixed camps, whilst at the same time making regular descents to allow for altitude acclimatization.
"A week before we arrived, a storm had passed through the range. This became a massive obstacle for the expedition, dumping a considerable amount of snow in the valley and on the mountain. Unfortunately, in the end this proved to be an insurmountable challenge as the fixing team tried and failed numerous times to fix ropes to the top section of the mountain above Camp 2, which is actually the 4th camp on the mountain and the one before Camp 2.9, where the summit bid would have been launched from.
"Perhaps I should have been disappointed with not having the chance to summit but on the other hand the climbing, especially on the fixed ropes between Camps 1 and 2, is absolutely spectacular and something that I will look back on in the years to come with pleasure."
"In an ideal World I would like to try Everest in 2015 and I have already been in discussions with Adventure Consultants about this. It's hugely expensive though, not to mention the time commitments. I'm currently looking at intermediate targets for 2014 and have lots of options ranging from the European Alps to the New Zealand as I’m lucky enough to be located somewhere in between."
"With regards to the equipment, I live in Singapore and therefore had a big challenge in finding suitable mountaineering gear. I am very grateful for the help and advice I received from Sam at Ellis Brigham in sourcing gear from the UK and without his help I doubt I could have made the trip.
"Most tour companies these days give comprehensive lists of gear that is required and simply following their recommendations should be enough to ensure the right gear for the trip. However from experience there are some things that can certainly enhance a trip. These include not skimping on base layers. You will live in these for days or weeks at a time and so get the best you can afford, plus a couple of changes. You don't want to be sharing a tent when your base layer smells and has been scratching you for a couple of days!
Secondly, pay close attention to those that have been on the same trip before. One of the things that was recommended to me was to use cheap leather gardening gloves on the fixed ropes due to the wear and tear these take from constantly clipping in and out of the lines. Consequently I spent the whole trip wearing a pair of £6 gloves, whilst having the more expensive mountaineering options in my bag as a backup!"
Ama Dablam Essentials
Xero Hooded Down Jacket
Expedition 1200 Sleeping Bag
BodyFit Basics L/S Half Zip
The North Face
"The climbing is something that I will look back on in the years to come with pleasure."
Thanks to Chris for this great account of his expedition. You can begin your Himalayan expedition with Adventure Consultants.
Have you got an adventure you'd like to share with us? Email us at email@example.com.