Fowler & Ramsden Report

Mick Fowler has sent us the following report on his recent trip to Tibet. British Manamcho Expedition 2007 Manamcho Mick Fowler and Paul Ramsden made the first ascent of Manamcho (6264m) in a 7 day round trip from base camp. (In fact it was an 8 day trip but one day was spent exploring.)Manamcho is the striking mountain that Tom Nakamura originally christened the ?Matterhorn of the Nyainkentanghla.? Its photo appeared on the cover of the Japanese Alpine News in 2002 but the maps of the area are poor and it was mistakenly captioned Kajaqiao. Mick Fowler and Chris Watts went to climb Kajaqiao in 2005 and discovered the mistake but Fowler was so inspired by the sight of Manamcho that he returned in 2007 with Paul Ramsden.  After acclimatising the team left base camp on 19th April. The approach to the foot of the NW ridge was across an extensive glacier plateau and then up classic alpine north face terrain. The ridge itself was mainly snow covered rock at grade IV standard although a skyhook move was necessary at one point and challenging weather around the summit area added considerably to interest. In ascent three bivouacs were necessary above the bergschrund. The third bivouac, 75m below the summit, was nose to tail and about 2 feet of snow fell in the night. By morning it was memorably windy and the final climb to the sharp summit was challenging. Mick & Paul climbed the right hand edge. Snow continued to fall and was waist deep by the time the team returned to the glacier below the mountain. Base camp was returned to in continuing heavy snow on 26th April. Overall the standard was about TD but the striking appearance, remote position and spectacular views were such that both climbers rated this as amongst their most significant climbs. Point 5935m Steve Burns and Ian Cartwright chose to attempt pt 5935m which rises to the NW of the large glacier plateau north and west of Manamcho and Kajaqiao. This was identified as a fine peak in its own right but also as an excellent viewpoint from which to clarify the layout of the area, something which had proved impossible to do from available maps. Initially Burns and Cartwright left base camp at the same time as Fowler and Ramsden. However, after 2 days and at a height of about 5600m, Burns began to feel ill, possibly with AMS, and it was decided to retreat to base camp. A second attempt was made starting on 27th April. Despite horrendous snow conditions, left by the bad weather the Manamcho team experienced, Burns and Cartwright persevered returning to their highpoint on 28th April and continuing to reach the summit on 29th April. The weather was perfect and the final section involved superb mixed climbing of AD standard. The summit views were expansive and helped to clarify the layout of the mountains in this area. Manam Valley Fowler and Ramsden were able to spend a day exploring the Manam valley which cuts deep into the Nyainkentanghla East range between Lhari and Tatse. The local headman here had never set eyes on Europeans before (except on his satellite TV!) and it would appear that the mountains had never been seen by westerners before. Both Fowler and Ramsden were inspired by what they found and felt the Manam valley to be one of the most beautiful they had ever visited.