Tharpu Chuli is one of Nepal’s trekking peaks and the first mountain I have posted to this site without actually climbing it. But I will, (and would have done this year but for the atrocious snow conditions and avalanches in the region) in memory of my late Sherpa friend Mingma who was killed in a building site accident in Kathmandu this year (2005). Mingma and I had planned to climb this peak and the adjacent Singu Chuli in 2005 and you can read about him by visiting my website www.themountaineer.biz
Tharpu Chuli is more commonly known as Tent Peak and is situated in the Annapurna region of Nepal at the head of the Annapurna Sanctuary. It was first climbed on (but not summited) by Col. Jimmy Roberts in 1956 during an exploration of the area prior to a British expedition to Machapuchare in 1957. The peak was first summited in 1964 by a Japanese group on an expedition to Annapurna South led by Dr Haruo Higuchi. They climbed the South East Ridge, Alpine Grade AD and this is the sloping skyline to the right of the main photo. The easier North West Ridge, Alpine Grade PD, is to the left of the main photo and was first climbed by Gunter Hauser and a German party in 1965.
The peak is easy to get to, only 5 days trekking at most, and gives good/easy snow and ice climbing at a relatively low altitude. It is renowned for its views of the whole Annapurna range and Machapuchare. The peak is initially viewed from the original Annapurna Base Camp famously used by the two expeditions of Maurice Herzog in 1950 and Chris Bonnington in 1970.
The Annapurna Region is to the west of Kathmandu and lies above the city of Pokhara which can be reached by either a 20 min flight from Kathmandu or a 9 hour bus journey. Take your pick depending on the size of your wallet!
From Pokhara the best start to the trek-in is from Phedi which is approximately one hour by taxi and will cost around 750 rupees or $10. Phedi is a tiny village on the main highway with a clear upwards trail into the forest/jungle area which is a main feature of this area. Your goal is to reach the original Annapurna Base Camp which nobody uses as a climbing base any more due to the severe avalanche risk on Annapurna 1 from this side.
The trek is roughly 5 days, mostly through forested areas, with stop-off points at the villages of Tolka (5577ft), Chomrung (7119ft), Doban (8218ft) and Machapuchare Base Camp (12,139ft). This last day is quite an increase in altitude from Doban and you may want to break the journey to avoid any altitude sickness. The distances are short and you will only be trekking for 6 hours or so at most. From Machapuchare Base Camp to Annapurna Base Camp (13,550ft) is only 2 hours at most. In all of these villages there are lodges and camp sites and I would recommend the lodges in all places EXCEPT at the two base camps which are real shit heaps!
Firstly, no trekking permit is required for this region but you will have to pay a National park Entrance Fee of around $10 payable either in Kathmandu or at the ACAP office on the outskirts of Pokhara. You must also stop there to show this and your climbing permit which costs approximately $350 for up to 6 people and this is best arranged in Kathmandu.
When To Climb
The Himalayas has two well known climbing windows; April-May, and October-November.
: Camping is permitted along the way although with the cheap lodges every few miles offering rooms at $1 or so per night I don’t see the point except at Machapuchare and Annapurna Base camps where the hygiene of the lodges is very poor. Later however you will definitely need tents for a base camp and one high camp.
There is no real way of finding out about the condition of the mountain prior to travelling to the region. But once you get to Pokhara you will be able to judge the weather pattern and will meet people who know the area well. This is a lower region than the Khumbu and is more prone to pre and post monsoon rains which means snow above 13,000ft. This year, 2005, the snow fall was very heavy with 1m at MBC and almost 2m at ABC. All expeditions had to abandon, and many of you will have read about the terrible accident in Manang on Kang Guru with 17 Nepali and French climbers swept away in an avalanche.
North West Ridge: This route is graded as Alpine PD and is essentially in three stages, first stage to establish a base camp, second to a high camp, third the climb which is in two parts.
From Annapurna base camp follow the trail east along the moraine towards a large cairn/chorten marking the descent path onto the South Annapurna glacier on your right. Descend a fairly steep trail onto the glacier/moraine helping your porters if you have any and especially if there is snow. There is a line of cairns, sometimes flags, crossing this glacier which will take you to the boulder moraine on the far side. Ascend the cliffs and go to the left of a dry gully up onto the grassy area and choose your site for a base camp. (13,500ft)
To get to your high camp from here, follow the edge of the moraine North West until you reach a deep cut gully with a stream. Turn sharp right and follow a path heading towards Tharpu Chuli keeping the gully on your left. When the path flattens off, cross the stream and contour to an obvious flat area at 14,500ft as the first option for a high camp. If you want to go higher, there is a further option at 16,000ft gained by following a ridge above the site at 14,500ft to another level area.
From your high camp follow the slopes towards Rakshi Peak (named after Jimmy Robert’s dog?) on your left and keeping to the left of the glacier and crevasses. At 17,500ft cross the glacier heading directly towards the fantastic looking fluted wall which separates Tharpu Chuli and Singu Chuli. According to most guidebooks the right hand end of the wall is the easiest angle for climbing with a gain of between 400ft and 600ft to climb. The angle is between 45 and 55 degrees, the best part of the peak once you have crossed the bergschrund!
On reaching the NW ridge turn right and begin your ascent up a wide ridge which narrows to a knife edge for the final 150ft at 50 degrees. You made it, enjoy one of the best views in Nepal.