Monday, December 15, 2008

AAI Guide Aidan Loehr Solos New Route

AAI Guide Aidan Loehr is currently working a trip for us on Aconcagua. He recently returned from China. After guiding one of our China programs, Aidan set out to do some personal climbing.

Initially, he made a solo attempt on China's Minya Konka. This 24,816 foot mountain is the highest peak in eastern Tibet. The first ascent of Minya Konka was made in 1932 by an American team. Since that ascent, only six expeditions have been successful the mountain, with a total of 18 people reaching the summit.

Aidan made a strong showing on the mountain, but got stuck at 17,500 feet. He repeatedly tried to move camp up higher, reclimbing the crux of the route three times, but it was not to be. The weather never really let up and the technical difficulties appeared to be too severe for a soloist.

Aidan descended and returned to the the Reddamaine region, hoping to solo a new route there. This was where the AAI team he lead initally made an attempt on the east ridge of Dogonomba (19,550'). Aidan tried a different strategy and climbed the west ridge.

He found the lower part of the mountain to be quite difficult. He was forced to climb a loose and exposed fourth-class ridge while keeping an eye out for rockfall from above.

Once he was on the snow and ice, the route became more moderate. He worked his way up 30-40 degree snow slopes until he reached the summit ridge. At that point he was required to traverse sixty-degree snow on a corniced ridge. Aidan indicated that the snow was quite bad at "inappropriate times." Snow conditions on the upper mountain made the traverse incredibly cruxy and extremely dangerous.

The summit of the mountain was unbelievably small. Aidan stated that, "I had to kneel on the tippy top of the mountain because it was so tiny. If I stood up and the wind blew, I would have been blown off and they would never find me."

This ascent marked a first ascent of both the route and the mountain.

Following is a photo essay of his ascents:

Aidan at the end of the AAI Expedition

The first views of Minya Konka

The Monastery below Minya Konka

The Ornate Windows of the Monastery

The Monks at the Monastery

A Tibetan Girl and the Monastery below Minya Konka

Aidan at Low Camp

Aidan being Artsy

Minya Konka (24,816')

Aidan at his High Point

Dogonomba's Crux
Note the tracks on the sixty degree terrain.

Aidan's Self-Portrait on the Summit of Dogonomba

--Jason D. Martin


Jenny said...

I want to have this man's children.

Bob Amacker said...

I want this man to stay far away from my children, unless he is belaying them. Good seeing you last weekend.