Potential Energy : An Abortive Attempt

Tengkangpoche north pillar first ascent story 2/3

Attempt 1. Matt Glenn on day 2. ©Livingstone/Glenn

Travelling to Nepal’s Thengbo Valley last autumn, Tom Livingstone and Matt Glenn finally made the coveted first ascent in 20 years of the North Pillar of Tengkangpoche (6487m). But the two young British climbers took their time, on the spot, to choose this precise objective and to carry out… a first attempt. Second part of Tom Livingstone’s story.

Our tea house was a mud-lined building which squatted into the hillside of the Thengbo valley. Low clouds scudded over juniper bushes which were slowly browning with autumn. A stream burbled beneath the building and outhouse, past some excellent bouldering. If it weren’t for the yaks grazing nearby and the occasional glimpse of snow-covered summits high above, it could’ve been the Scottish Highlands. This sense of familiarity, of home, relaxed me… only for the distant summits to emerge from the clouds, reigniting my nerves.

Matt and I stooped through the door and blinked in the darkness, greeted by Tsongee Sherpa and her wide smile. A stove smoked yak shit and we sipped sweet masala tea. This would be our home and base camp for the next month. « This’ll do nicely! » we agreed.

We were still adjusting to the friendliness of Sherku Sherpa, our obligatory trekking guide. I explained that we were all friends and so he could relax. Sherku nodded and said he understood, but still arranged the condiments around us as close as possible at every mealtime, and offered « tea, coffee, whatever you want, » whenever