British team makes first ascent in remote east Nepal

Posted by Lindsay Griffin on 09/06/2014
Lumba Sumba Peak from the northeast, showing the approach to and ascent of the north ridge. Paul Vardy
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On April 22 the British team of Dave Barker, Phil Booth, Ken Hopper, Rory Sellar and Paul Vardy, supported by grants from the MEF and BMC, made the first known ascent of Lumba Sumba Peak (5,740m) in east Nepal.

The remote Lumba Sumba Himal lies between the massifs of Makalu and Kangchenjunga, with Lumba Sumba Peak situated just south of a recently developed trekking route connecting Taplejung and the Tamur River Valley in the east to the Arun Valley in the west.

The high point of this trek is the Lumba Sumba Pass, just to the north of  Lumba Sumba Peak, which itself is the most easterly and lowest of a collection of three peaks, sometimes referred to as the Three Sisters.

Vardy had worked in the area north of Taplejung and during that time had trekked to within two days of the mountain: Booth and Sellar had trekked in the Arun and were keen to explore the mountains to the east.

The climbers used the logistics of Bespoke Himalayan Treks, but difficult snow conditions, problems with route finding, and confusion amongst porters as to the exact location of a base camp, meant they were left with only four days at or above base instead of the intended eight.

The team was also hampered by unstable weather: there was rain or snow between 2-4pm on every day except four; fortunately, two of these coincided with the summit push.

Approaching from the north through deep sugar snow, the climbers crossed the  long north ridge, making an advanced camp at 5,160m.

They then followed a wide hidden couloir leading to steep ground at the right edge of the northeast glacier.

Above this steep terrain the glacier was followed until further steep snow slopes led to the crest of the north ridge, which the team followed for 250-300m to the summit.

Given conditions on the day, the overall grade was considered to be TD-, with sections of Scottish III.

Lumba Sumba and Lumba Sumba Peak appeared on an earlier Ministry  permitted list, with heights of 5,670m and 5,672m respectively, but with no coordinates.

By cross referencing information and photos from trip reports detailing the crossing of Lumba Sumba Pass, using up-to-date maps, and Google Earth, the team was able to identify which summit (5,740m on the HGM-Finn Map) was Lumba Sumba Peak.

In the recent Ministry press release, which detailed 16 peaks being excluded from the list of open peaks, Lumba Sumba Peak (5,740m) was named and (more or less) correctly coordinated.

As the Ministry also announced promoting all peaks below 5,800m as trekking peaks, and according to the Joint Secretary there will now be no need for climbers to obtain permits for them, it is assumed that the Lumba Sumba summits will remain open for climbers to enjoy.



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