FOLLOW UP - Mount Nuptse: The Ultimate Challenge

Christian de Jong, 34 years old and mountaineer, has just returned from the biggest expedition he has ever done: an attempt to climb Mount Nuptse in Nepal. A high-altitude technical challenge, 7861 meters to be exact. Until this climbing season, only 22 other climbers have stood on this mountain peak, none of them Dutch. We look back on this adventure with Christian. The ups and downs, the challenges and the successes.

The key to success: acclimatization

What an intense adventure it was. 7 weeks among the highest mountains in the world. Weather conditions that went every which way; snow, wind, cold, sun. A little bit of everything. I left with a clear goal: to climb Nuptse. 7861 meters high. That requires a thorough acclimatization program.

So the first period was all about getting used to altitude. The trip started in Lukla, a small village with an airport, located at over 2800 meters. From there, it goes up gradually. It's a great hike through small villages and green valleys. The landscape quickly changes to a more "alpine" environment: rocky, snowy peaks and less and less green.

After two weeks, I climbed Imja Tse. At 6189m altitude, it is a very suitable acclimatization summit. It was a beautiful day with quite a lot of fresh snow, but fortunately with little wind and plenty of sunshine. I climbed solo, occasionally using fixed ropes for safety.

After Imja Tse, I continued on my way to Everest Basecamp. From there I would operate the rest of the expedition. Together with a Colombian climber, Mateo, I did a rotation on the regular Everest / Lhotse route. This means going up to a certain altitude, and descending again. The goal is not to reach a summit, but to work on acclimatization. We climbed to 7200 meters, and spent a night above 7000 meters. We didn't sleep that night. The wind was blowing hard, temperatures dropped to -18 in the tent, and outside it was near -30 degrees.

After 5 days on the mountain, I was back in Basecamp for recovery.

My first 7000-er

The next goal was to climb Pumori. A mountain of 7161 meters high and quite technical. The climb was extremely difficult for me. My stomach was really upset and with hardly any sleep and without any reserves in my body I had to face the summit attempt. My climbing buddy Prakash was fortunately in better shape. We progressed slowly. The terrain was steep, snow and ice alternated. Miraculously, I made it to the top. By the way, a unique achievement since all other expeditions this year and last year were unsuccessful on this mountain.

After returning to Basecamp, I needed good recovery. I was considerably weakened after the war of attrition on Pumori. Fortunately we had time and finally after 4 days we decided to get ready for the main goal of the expedition: Nuptse.

Climbing Pumori

The big goal: Nuptse

We left in the night to climb directly to Camp 2. The first part takes us through the Khumbu Icefall, a labyrinth of huge ice masses that are constantly moving. A dangerous section that you want to get through as quickly as possible. Arriving at Camp 2, I wanted a rest day before continuing on. Unfortunately, the weather made us choose otherwise. In order to take advantage of the good "weather window," we had to proceed directly to Camp 3 on Nuptse the following day. This part of the route is not long or complicated, but does require focus as you climb under "seracs," which are overhanging ice masses. These can come down at any given moment. So speed is of the essence.

Arriving at Camp 3, we took a few hours of rest before going for the summit attempt. We tried to eat some food and sleep, but that is a challenge at that altitude. We were at 6800 meters and everything takes effort there. There is about 45% oxygen available in the air and everything in my body says I shouldn't be there.

Still, I feel reasonably well when we start the summit attempt at 20:30 in the evening. It will be a long night, I know that beforehand. Some 1000 altimeters to cover, and at that altitude! We start in a snow field, come to a ridge with mostly ice, some rock in between, and again in a snow field. The snow is deep, which is incredibly hard. It even snows a little more. But, we get on. 3 steps up, exhale, 3 steps up, exhale. That's the pace.

Morning breaks and we see the summit ridge looming above us. It's not far, but because of our slow speed - we can't go any faster at that altitude - it takes a long time before we are actually on the ridge. I suspect we still have some climbing to do on the ridge. And so it turns out. The summit ridge is sharp, very sharp. At first we try to climb on top of the ridge, looking like we're horseback riding, but soon after we lower ourselves into the steep wall next to it, climbing the last few meters to the top. We made it! I can't believe it! Prakash Sherpa and Christian de Jong on the summit of Nuptse. Mostly climbed by professional alpinists so far, but here we are! What a great feeling!

On top of Nuptse

Memorable moments

There are two moments that have stayed with me very much from this expedition. The first was a moment on Pumori where I was pretty sure we couldn't continue. A huge glacial crevasse with an ice wall of about 5 meters behind it seemed unbridgeable. Nevertheless, with creativity and perseverance we managed to overcome this obstacle and were able to continue our way to the summit.

In addition, the summit ridge of Nuptse. The view there is so impressive. The ridge is so razor sharp. The climbing level is high. This combined made that part of the climb so incredibly special!

Perfect gear is essential

The gear you bring can make or break an expedition like this. Good gear is essential. Since I was carrying a lot of electronics, I also needed power. For example, for my electric socks. In fact, I had slight frostbite on my toes after Pumori, so I used electric socks for Nuptse. But, those need to be charged. That's where the Xtorm products came in handy.

I had a large Power Bank for in basecamp, and 2 smaller ones for on the mountain. In addition, the Solar Panel allowed me to charge the Power Banks. Perfect combination! This way I had enough electricity for my phone, GPS transmitter, camera, headlamp, you name it.

Xtorm Gear

What's next?

This expedition gives me confidence that I can continue to complete my project. In fact, I have a desire to climb all 1000 meter increments, i.e. 4000, 5000, up to 8000 meters. Now I have had 7000. I had another plan to also climb Lhotse (an 8000 meter mountain) this season, but the weather and my physical condition after Nuptse did not allow it. So an 8000-meter mountain I'll keep for another time. And yes, I have a mountain and a route in mind, but more on that later.

Should you want to take on an adventure like this yourself. Start a little smaller. You learn an incredible amount from each trip, and you'll take those learnings all into a big expedition like this. And that's necessary, because in big expeditions you can't afford to make mistakes. At least not big mistakes. Take the time for preparation, physically, mentally and in terms of gear. Good preparation is half the battle!

Christians Power Products

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