Overview and Location
Ama Dablam, one of the most aesthetic mountains on Earth is situated in the Himalayan range of Nepal in the Northern part of East Nepal. Ama Dablam lies in the Everest region and is widely known as the “Matterhorn of the Himalaya”. Because of its exposed and varied climbing altitude, Ama Dablam is a must-do climb for any passionate alpinist. Ama Dablam is the third most popular Himalayan peak for permitted expeditions. So far, the Southwest ridge is regarded as the most popular route during the expedition to Ama Dablam. Normally three camps are set up during the expedition to this gorgeous mountain.
Meaning of Ama Dablam
The meaning of Ama Dablam is “Mother’s necklace”. The story behind the name is because Ama Dablam has a unique pyramid shape; the long ridges on each side resemble sacred arms of a mother protecting her child and the hanging like a glacier on the ridges as “Dablam”; a traditional ornament which contains a picture of gods and worn by Sherpa Woman. Mother is “Ama”. So the Mountain is considered as “Ama Dablam”.
Ama Dablam Base Camp Trek
Ama Dablam trek is a less trodden destination in the Everest region. This is mainly because of lack of promotion and also because most of the visitors tend to climb Ama Dablam peak rather than just trekking to the Ama Dablam base camp. However, the trekker can witness inspiring views of Mount Everest and Ama Dablam. Breathtaking views of mountains and pristine lake at base camp make the trek an unforgettable journey.
Mt. Ama Dablam Difficulty
Expedition to Ama Dablam is fairly challenging because of its technicality and routes. One should only attempt to climb this peak if s/he has the proper past experience of climbing and provision of logistics during the whole time as well as during the emergencies. The climber needs to have proper climbing accessories like ropes, axes, crampons, ice scres, jumars, helmets etc.
There are two routes other than the mainstream and widely chosen southwest ridges. And those two routes are way too technically challenging as well as dangerously risky too.
When to Climb Mt. Ama Dablam?
Mid-September to Mid-November, which is regarded as the autumn season in Nepal, is the best time to climb Mt. Ama Dablam. Clear blue skies and scarce clouds roaming around during this time of the year makes the perfect situation to climb the peak. Similarly, during the time of Spring (starting from the month of March until Mid-May) is considered ideal as well. Even though it’s getting warmer after the winter, it’s a bit unsettled climate with increasing clouds and haze contributing to decreasing of visibility.
Everest Vs. Ama Dablam
Ama Dablam is mostly chosen by the climbers independent of climbing 8000m plus mountains. However, climbing Ama Dablam is more technical than most of the normal routes on 8000m climbs including that of Mt. Everest and the overall atmosphere is kind of similar. It is shorter climb in terms of timing. As of now, 8306 people have summited Mt. Everest including 288 deaths and there were about 2000 people climbing Mt. Ama Dablam.
Ama Dablam Expedition
The peak of Ama Dablam is at an altitude of 6,812 meters from Sea Level. Despite the lesser altitude as compared to other mountains like Mt. Everest, Mt. Lhotse and others, this peak stands out because of its aesthetics and beauty. Ama Dablam was first ascended on 13th of March, 1961 by a team of four climbers; Mike Gill from New Zealand, Barry Bishop from the USA, Mike Ward from UK and Wally Romanes from New Zealand through the Southwest Ridge.
While attempting to do an expedition to Mt. Ama Dablam a climber needs a climbing permit and a liaison officer. 3 camps are set up just below and after the hanging glacier. The trek is modest until the camp 1 and the challenging trails start from camp 1 afterward. Trails get more technical in the narrow edges of ridges made up of granite. It is even more challenging from camp 2 to camp 3. There is a risk of glacier falls but what’s adventure without some risk factors, isn’t it?
Ama Dablam Climbing Routes
The South West Ridge is the standard route for the climbers and it is not extremely challenging though. With some past experience of mountaineering, altitude climbing, and an adventurous attitude, the expedition is going to be an awesome one. There are three typical camps; camp 1 at an altitude of 5600m, camp 2 at 5900m and camp 3 at 6200m with a Basecamp at 4500m and High camp at 5000m. High camp is located 150m below the ridge and rest of the camps on the ridge making sure a great standpoint for breathtaking sights.
Ama Dablam Base Camp
Base Camp (4500m) to Camp 1 (5600m)
Ama Dablam Base camp is situated in a wide-ranging plain base at an altitude of 4500m whereas the first camp i.e. camp 1 is at an altitude of 5600m. Altitudinal difference between base camp and camp 1 is 1100m. It takes around 5-7 hours depending on the walk in order to reach camp 1. Since it’s a preliminary phase, you won’t be acquainted with glacier walks until now. The walk is mostly along the steep rocky area; climb up a gravel ridge slope and then cross a rocky field on the South West Ridge. You can witness a stream with fresh water and hence the place is also known as advanced base camp. As with the increasing elevation, you will get an opportunity to witness the whole of western Himalaya, mostly the ranges such as Numbur (6858m), Taweche (6542m), Choyu (8201m) among others.
Camp 1 (5600m) to Camp 2 (5900m)
Climbing to camp 2 from camp 1 is the most technically challenging part of the Ama Dablam expedition. Initially, the trail is easy because of rocky terraces and snowy ledges. Then there are compact granite slabs to cross and then later there comes the most challenging part i.e. rock tower which is called the Yellow Tower just before camp 2. The Yellow tower should be crossed following the existing fixed lines and the Sherpas will fix newer ones as per the necessity. This part of the climb is extremely fun but a lot of hard work at the same time. Camp 2 is at an altitude of 5900m, which is a narrow exposed area atop a rock pillar. Normally it takes around 4-6 hours to reach camp 2 from camp 1.
Camp 2 (5900m) to Camp 3 (6200m)
Camp 3 is an altitude of 6200m. Climbing from camp 2 to camp 3 requires walking through the steep ridge. The grey tower is another obstacle during the ascendance. You have to put on your crampons to climb the steep pitch of rock and ice. Also, Jumar comes handy as a backup for safety. After crossing the snow and ice with patches of bare rock at places leads to a knife-edged; Mushroom ridge, which is crested with snow and hung on both sides. This mushroom ridge connects the mixed South West ridge below with the summit snowfields above. It takes around 3-5 hours to reach camp 3 from camp 2. This climb will test your perseverance and stamina.
Camp 3 (6200m) to Summit (6812m) to Camp 3
Camp 3 lies in flat snowfield just above the big snow Mushroom ridge. The site of camp 3 is relatively quite cold, high and exposed which means you’ll be having a hard time having a good night sleep. This is also because you’re on the West face where the Sun doesn’t appear until 9 or 10 in the morning. The ascendance mostly begins at around 7 in the morning. It takes around 3-4 hours to climb up and 3 hours to descend. The trail to the Ama Dablam Summit is less challenging than before but is straight up. The Sherpas have fixed the ropes wherever necessary and you follow the same. There is one short steep section over an ice bulge that is a bit challenging and rest is comparatively easier.
Welcome to the Ama Dablam Summit!
On a clear day, the summit looks simply spectacular! Ama Dablam summit is truly a great viewpoint through which you can cherish the awe-inspiring views of Mt. Everest, Mt. Lhotse and Mt. Makalu right in front of your eyes!
You will return to camp 3 on that day and on the following day, you can reach the base camp cherishing the beautiful yet adventurous memories.
Important Things to consider while climbing Mt. Ama Dablam
Since Mt. Ama Dablam is a technical mountain, you need to focus on aerobic capacity, muscular strength, mental strength, and altitude. You might have to carry quite a heavy load and so you need to prepare yourself with decent stamina. Also, you need to have a better understanding of climbing gears and equipment beforehand.
You have to carry a bunch of varieties of clothes during the time. While starting the trek from Lukla, you can opt to wear shorts or trousers and a t-shirt. When you began the trek from Basecamp you need to put on down jacket. And the elevation starts mounting and so you are required to put on more climbing clothes, shoes and so on.
As mentioned above; Autumn is the best time to climb Mt. Ama Dablam as compared to spring. The weather is more pleasant and settled than the latter. In Basecamp areas, the temperature ranges at around -10 C to -15C at night and during the day is pleasant. Similarly, above camp 1 it can get to as cold as -25C during the night and early mornings aren’t that very cold. It starts getting cold when you began climbing in the later mornings.
Normally the problem of altitude sickness doesn’t show up until 3500m elevations. But from there, the climbers have to be careful enough while ascending. The higher you go, the lesser elevation you are supposed to take. The itinerary is designed so as to get to Basecamp in a healthy manner. Acclimatization is the key to preventing yourself from altitude sickness. Also, you can take rest days or even schedule some more spare days just in case you need them. While climbing, one of the most important things you need to do is walk slowly (keep track with oxygen level and adapt your body accordingly with the changing environmental situations) and drink plenty in order to keep you hydrated. If you witness a headache, dizziness you might have suffered from Altitude sickness. The first and foremost thing you can do is take Diamox wait for sometimes. If it is relieved, you can move ahead. But be careful, walk very slowly. If it doesn’t work well, you have to descend; take some more rest and prepare yourself and then you can ascend yourself after acclimatizing.
Ama Dablam Summit (Itinerary of the Climb)
- Day 1: Arrival at Kathmandu
- Day 2: Preparations
- Day 3: Fly to Lukla (2860 m) from Kathmandu and then trek to Phadking (2610 m)
- Day 4: Trek to Namche Bazaar (3440 m)
- Day 5: Rest day at Namche Bazaar (Acclimatization)
- Day 6: Trek from Namche Bazaar to Tyangboche Monastery (3860 m)
- Day 7: Trek from Tyangboche Monastery to Ama Dablam Base Camp (4570 m)
- Day 8: Preparations for Summit (Rest day at Ama Dablam Base Camp)
- Day 9-25: Ascent to Ama Dablam (Basecamp- Ama Dablam Summit (6812 m) – Base Camp)
- Day 26: Trek from Base Camp to Namche Bazaar (3440 m)
- Day 27: Trek from Namche Bazaar to Lukla (2860 m)
- Day 28: Fly from Lukla to Kathmandu
- Day 29: Tour day around the city
- Day 30: Fly to home from Tribhuvan International Airport