It was no surprise to us at Berghaus when Philippe said he was going to climb Khan Tengri the second highest mountain in the Tian Shan Range, Kyrgyzstan, just weeks after finishing the 155 mile trail race in the Gobi desert, China and coming in 3rd place! In Philippe’s own words “once I’ve achieved something in one discipline, I miss the other activities and can switch to a new project quickly.”
Not the type to do things by half Philippe completed the 7,010 metre climb including the journey from his home country of France and back, in just 10 days.
Philippe and his climbing partner Yannick journeyed through challenging terrain with glaciers, crevasses and ice rivers, before reaching camp 1. They dropped of food, ropes and gear then walk on for another hour and a half to see the famous Icefall in the Tian Shan Range. After 5 days of acclimatisation near camp 1 they then set of on the summit bid carrying 20kg packs with all kit and additional food.
Facing snow storms and dangerous terrain the journey was challenging but they reached a 20 metre ridge of ice on the surface of the glacier, between camp 1 and 2. Philippe reported “we progressively passed most climbers before the icefall. Unfortunately 7 climbers were still ahead of us when we reached the 20 metres serac with a fixed rope. They were inexperienced and it took them 2 hours to climb the 20 metres of serac! During this time, we were all exposed to the serac and an avalanche from the Peak Chapaev.”
By day 8, Philippe and Yannick were ready to reach camp 3 “Most teams spend a night there at camp 3 to finish their first acclimatization trip before returning to the base camp. Then they go back up for the summit push after a couple of rest days. That is probably the best way to acclimatize but that also means making two round trips of 26 km and +2,000 m with huge pack… That also means going back and forth in the icefall and under the Chapaev slopes several times.
We decided up front to try to climb to camp 3, spend a day or two there and continue straight to the summit if we could. Unfortunately the weather forecast was good for only 24 hours so we couldn’t spend another day to rest as planned. On the other hand, we felt good and with oxygen saturation at 77% we decided to go for the summit.”
Philippe reached the top of Khan Tengri after 10 hours of climbing in -25°C weather. They spent 30 minutes at the top then started on their descent, abseiling back to camp 3 in just 4 hours 40 minutes.
On day 9, though tired from the exhausting previous days climb, they packed up everything from camp 3, passed through camp 2 collecting the remainder of their gear and reached base camp after 6 hours of walking right on time for lunch.
Philippe achieved a fantastic journey really pushing his body and mind to the limit and he is already planning his next adventure! Watch this space…
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