Proud mountaineer’s close encounter with Ama Dablam

Ama Dablam, aka Jewel of the Khumbu, towers over the Khumbu Valley in the backdrop. Inset, Tony Hampson-Tindale, managing director of Wynberg based Flag Craft International (Pty) Ltd.

Tony Hampson-Tindale, managing director of Wynberg based Flag Craft International (Pty) Ltd, climbed to within 800m of the summit of Ama Dablam, located some 25km to the south in the Himalayan Khumbu Valley of Nepal.

Hampson-Tindale, a resident of Bryanston, attempted this feat last November.

While less than two thousand highly accomplished climbers have succeeded, more than 30 climbers have died while attempting this climb. At an elevation of 6 856m, Ama Dablam remains one of the world’s foremost mountaineering challenges.

Owing to an old shoulder injury, a severe respiratory infection, the unforgiving nature of high altitude mountaineering and the vital requirement of unrestricted physical strength and mobility, Hampson-Tindale turned his back on the summit and instead settled for a laborious, mentally and physically painful way back down the mountain.

A four-day trek out to Lukla at 2 860m followed, with a 30-minute flight back to Kathmandu before finally returning home. Given the ever-present fragility of life on a climbing rope, Hampson-Tindale, however, conceded that no mountain is worth dying for. This expedition was his third attempt to conquer Ama Dablam.

“Despite the objective hazards to which climbers are exposed, for the most part, climbing is generally only life-threateningly dangerous when good housekeeping safety procedures are not followed,” he said.

He is not sure if he’ll make a fourth attempt on Ama Dablam. “Similarly, when one neglects to learn from the mistakes, carelessness and misfortune of others the result is the same. Regrettably, climbing accidents tend to have a binary outcome, with little to no common ground in between.

Ama Dablam with the South West Ridge ascent route outlined in red.

“Notwithstanding the compulsive challenge and the literally unsurpassed majesty of the mountains in the Nepalese Himalaya, where twelve of the world’s fourteen peaks over 8 000m reside, the time necessary to safely acclimatise to the progressive decrease in atmospheric pressure and oxygen availability in a high altitude climbing environment, provides a decreasing return on investment in terms of the time spent climbing the objective.”

In 2010 when Hampson-Tindale summited Mount Everest, only 18 days of the 62-day expedition were actually devoted to climbing the mountain. The other days were occupied with trekking to and from base camp, resting, and undertaking non-challenging ascents of lesser peaks to acclimatise to the rarefied atmosphere. “When you stand on top of such high places that few sporting pursuits can equal [screaming] ‘ya-hoo!’ just sounds so good.”

Related stories:

Hope and relief as Everest season draws to a close

Nepal calls off search for survivors of deadly snowstorm

What has your mountain climbing experience been like? Share your story by posting your comments on our Facebook page.

Staff Reporter

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