The South-West Ridge Route :

From Base Camp to Camp 1

Follow the top of a moraine heading South from Base Camp. The moraine heads West afterward. It is possible to set up a tent between 5200 meters and 5500 meters high. This fall, some water was springing at 5400 meters high, below rocks. It was freezing very fast at night.

Otherwise going up to Camp One is a very long day the first time and setting up a tent late in the afternoon can be problematic: lack of place, lack of time. Effectively, Camp One is a little higher after a strenuous walk among big rocks. And a little snow can make it even more hazardous, hiding the spaces between the rocks where you could easily pu your foot and wrist your ankle badly.

From Camp 1 to Camp 3

SW Ridge, bottom

Then, you find a rock and ice ridge, mainly avoided on the right hand. It features some rock climbing, up to IV (UIAA), with some interesting traverses that may become very hard with snow stuck on the rocks and no fixed rope.

You arrive below the Grey tower offering 25 meters of rock climbing (1) rating VI (UIAA). Please note that it is called Yellow tower sometimes despite of the rock which is fairly grey ! Camp Two usually stands just on top of the Grey tower. There is hardly a place for a single tent and this camp is used only to fix the rope up to Camp Three. After that, it is useless.

Then comes the Yellow tower. It is usually overcome using a difficult crack, but this year, the snow allowed to traverse to a tender ice and snow couloir (2) on the right in the South face. Although quite easy, this stage was impressive because of the steep rocks below. The couloir is 150 meters high, at an average angle of 65 (70 max).

The couloir halts down the head wall of the Yellow tower and you have to go on with another airy traverse to a snow gully (3) on the left. It goes straight to the Mushroom ridge (4) that will challenge your balance until the lower Dablam.

Most of the time, the lower Dablam is reached through a crevasse (5) perpendicular to the mushroom ridge which split it in two and allows to reach the plateau. It is possible that the Mushroom ridge and the Dablam are level. In this case you'll miss this spectacular stage. Camp Three is established on the plateau requiring to dig up a platform to set up the tents horizontally.

From Camp 3 to summit

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