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Mustang AND PALDOR
(5,928M/19,450)

On a clear day the Mustang, with the icy fangs of Pabil (7,101m/23,300ft), Lobsang Karpo (7,150m/23,458ft), GI (7,406m/ 24,298ft) and GV (6,950m/22,802ft) can be seen forming an imposing backdrop to the north- west of Kathmandu. Paldor, which can just be picked out from the mass of shapely summits, was first climbed by Bill Talman, Peter Lloyd, Tenzing Sherpa and Da Namgyal during the monsoon of 1949 by the North-East Ridge, although it must be said that it is difficult to fit Tilman’s description to the actual route.

Paldor lies at the south- east end of the Mustang marking the junction of the Tiru and Khurpu Dandas at the head at the head of the Mailung Khola, a tributary of the Trisuli Gandaki.

TREKKING TO GANESH
The quickest route of approaches is via the new road as far as Syabrubensi in the Trisuli Valley, about eight hours by regular Bus or private transport from Kathmandu. Above Syabrubensi the trail is followed steep up hill towards the Gtlang crossing the Karpu Danda via a small col. It then heads northward along the ridge before dropping into the forest above the Mailung Khola to pick up the newly built road that leads to an army post. Beyond this the trail climbs, via a big mine at the head of the valley. Above and beyond is base camp in a moraines filled valley below the South Face or Paldor. This can be covered in less than a week from Kathmandu.

There is a direct route to the mine at Lari, the follows the Mailung Khola, taking about five days from Trisuli. A much more interesting and enjoyable approach is the trek from Sundarijal to Gosaikund and Sybru, described in the chapter on Naya Kanga and the Langtang. Following this trek it takes five days to reach Syabru.


Day 6: Syabru to Thangjet
From Syabru a trail descends north west above the Langtang Khola to the bridge at Syabrubensi. Follow the path through Syabrubensi (1,462m/4,800ft) toward the Bhote Kosi. Across the river, on the hillside opposite, the desolation left by the building of the new road is well in evidence. Cross the Bhote Kosi by the suspension bridge just beyond the village – this might still be in need of some new planking. However, the largest holes are capped by larger stones and where these are missing the views of the river, a long way below, is quite moving!

Follow the route traversing around the foot of the spur into the valley of the chilime Khola. Cross the river by a suspension bridge to the north bank and follow a path upstream to another large suspension bridge by which you re-cross to the south bank, passing through Gholjong Sango, where the valley now widens. The trail follows a well- engineered water channel and leads eventually to Thangjet (1,676m/5,500ft), near the confluence of the Chilime and Brindong Kholas. Surprisingly, this fairly large village is not marked on the recent Schneider map.

A trail is said to exist that crosses the Jarsa Danda to Thangjet, but I couldn’t find it and in any case the new road may have spoilt that particularly way. Local help should be sought with regard to the road.

Day 7: THANGJET TO YURI KHARKA CAMP
The people of the Brindong Khola’s main village of Gatlang (2,438m/8000 ft), are a colourful and interesting community. They appears to be a mixture of Tamangs and a more recent Tibetan influence.

The trail climbs steeply through terraced hillsides to Gatlang, passing mani-walls piled with carved stones and lotus flower mandalas. Gatlang is the crowded village with stone built houses huddled together. Beyond the Gatlang the trail enters into forest; permits may be checked at an army post below Yuri Kharka, a small clearing with running water.

Day 8: YURI KHARKA TO CAMP BELOW LARI MINE
Beyond the kharka the trail continues through the forest climbing steeply to a notch, the Khurpadanda Banjyang (3,739m/12,267ft), shown as Paldol Bhanjyang on some maps. From the ridge there are fine views from the Annapurnas in the west to the Langtang and beyond in the east. On the far side of the Mailung Khola is the ridge of the Tiru Danda and the pass of Pansing Bhanjyang. These provide the best walk- out from Paldor.

From the Kurpa Danda Bhanjyang follow a path north along the crest at first and then traverse the steep hillside on the west flank. The path is quite spectacular in places but soon descends into the pine forest to meet the new road. Follow the road for a while, which is extended to the army post at Samathang where there is a radio; we found the soldiers to be a friendly and chatty bunch. There are several campsite possibilities close to the trail at this point.

Day 9: LARI MINE CAMP TO BASE CAMP
Climb steeply to the mine at Lari which has a variety of buildings and tramways. Beyond the mine, climb steeply above the gorge of the river. The path, quite rocky in places, climbs between outcrops and traverses north-eastwards to a small valley bounded by moraines below the glacier of Paldor. Base camp can be sited here, below the confluence of the Paldor West and Paldor East glacier just north of a fine rock pinnacle that Cleare called ‘Neddy’s thumb’, at an altitude of 4,500 meters (14,900 feet).

CLIMBING IN THE PALDOR AREA

The area around Paldor provides an ideal location for an alpine – style climbing holiday. There are several lower peaks, both rock and ice, that provide good climbing in a long day from base camp or a high camp.

From the high camp the routes on the mountain are not long, although all have some technical interest, usually on snow or ice. Tilman’s Ridge is marginally the easiest climb. Both the North- east and South-east Ridges can be climbed from the same high camp on the Paldor Glacier East.

PALDOR

NORTH – EAST RIDGE (TILMAN’S RIDGE)
From base camp, follow a path below the conspicious moraine on its east side as far as Paldor Tarn. Here there is a small and inconspicuous lake to the south of the peak called Fang. Cross the stream issuing from the lake and aim for the east ridge of Fang. This boulders slope is the Paldor Glacier east at an altitude of 5,200 meters (17,060ft), in a magnificent amphitheatre of alpine – scale peaks. The glacier at this point is flat and uncomplicated by crevasses.

From high camp follow the Paldor Glacier, East, without difficulty, north towards a col on the North – East Ridge. Cross the bergscrund and climb a steep snow slope to gain the col. This may be very difficulty, in which case ascend the slope to the left, climbing diagonally towards a rocky pinnacle. Once on the ridge, climb over several pinnacles of loose rock leading to a horizontal snow arête that narrows dramatically. Follow this foot of the final 150 meters (492 feet) headwall. Ascend this on steep snow to the junction of the South- East Ridge, which may be corniced. Continue easily to the summit. This is Alpine AD climbing and takes five to seven hours from high camp.


SOUTH – EAST RIDGE
John Cleare and Ian Howell first climbed this in 1974. Between Tilman’s ascent in 1949 and Cleare’s expedition of 1974 it is possible that Paldor had no other ascents. Since then the mountain has received more attention and many new routes added.

This route climbs the long snow and ice arête that descends to the fine rock peak of Fang. The lowest point of this ridge is best reached, from a high camp on the Paldor Glacier East, by a steep snow and ice slope (55 degrees). The ridge has also been reached via a potential avalanche couloir from the Paldor Glacier West. The ridge is above is followed, in places quite steeply, but without major difficulty to the summit.

A combination of both these routes has been made as a traverse and is highly recommended.

SOUTH- WEST BUTTRESS
Sandy Allen made the first ascent of the South- west face via the Central Buttress in 1986, although most of the route had been climbed previously by sherpas.

This is the route of little technical difficulty and poor protection. Serac fall danger is reported to be minimal. From a high camp below the face ascend the right – hand side of the central buttress, avoiding rock steps to reach the spur which connects the buttress to the face. Follow this to join the upper face (45-50 degrees) which is then followed to the summit, ascending diagonally rightward to avoid the bergscrund. This was in under three hours on the first ascent.

WEST RIDGE

First ascent was by Nick Yardley, Gareth Yardley and Dave O’Dowd on 6 November 1986.

From high camp on the Paldor Glacier West cross the bergscrund to gain the col below the ridge where theTiru Danda in fact abuts on to the South-West Face of Paldor.

From the col a snow arête is followed until it merges with the face. Above, snow gullies which are steep in places (55 degrees) are followed for 200 meters after which you weave through broken rocky outcrops to reach a final slope leading to the west shoulder. From the shoulder a ridge is then followed to the summit, which was reached after three hours climbing from a high camp.

A snow arête leads from the col and merges into the face. Snow gullies are followed for 200 meters until a series of broken rock outcrops leads to the final snow slope. The ridge above is followed to the top. Technically straightforward but poorly protected with some loose rock.

OTHER CLIMBS IN THE PALDOR AREA

The area around the Paldor base camp has numerous small peaks around 5000 meters in height that have provided some interesting climbing with scope for exploring new lines. The peaks are both unnamed and unmarked on official maps and the names used are those given by the first ascensionists. They are given here to complete the picture of climbing in the area and as climable viewpoints of relatively low altitude do not require a permit.

FANG, SOUTH RIDGE
This is the obvious rock peak terminating the South- east ridge of Paldor and is separated from it by the col which has to be gained when making as ascent of the Cleare/Howell ridge. It is a pleasant climb over mixed ground although there is a certain amount of loose rock.
From a high camp on the Paldor Glacier East cross snow slopes to gain the South Ridge of Fang above the first pinnacle, after which the ridge is followed passing a series of pinnacles both to left and right until the summits is gained.

Descent can be made down the East Face by an awkward 50 meters abseil from the summit into a couloir from which the East Glacier is easily gained. In all it takes about five hours for the round trip. The first ascent was made by Nick Yardley and Dave O’Dowd.


PHATA’S OEAK (5,110M/16,765FT), SOUTH RIDGE
Clearly seen from base camp this peak lies on the Tiru Danda Ridge, and is the highest visible point west of Paldor. The mountain can be climbed easily from base camp by its south ridge in about three hours. A good training climb.

PALDOR WEST PEAK
(5,500M/18,045FT), SOUTH FACE

First climbed in 1980 by sir George Bishop, the peak of Paldor West is not visible from base camp. Paldor west lies to the north of and is obscured by Phuta’s Peak.
It is probably best to use a high camp on the Paldor Glacier West. This is highly crevassesd and should be treated with respect. From this camp its South Face can climb the peak easily, which is a scary and rock slope.
Between Phuta’s Peak and Paldor West are numerous rock pinnacles that would provide interesting sport.

PEMA’S PEAK (5,300M/17,388FT)

This is an attractive mountain which lies to the south- east of the ice-fall descending from the Paldor Glacier East. Its southern ridges form the eastern boundary of the cirque in which the high camp for Paldor lies. Fang guards this ice fall to the north-west. Pema’s Peak guards it to the south-east.


WEST GLACIER AND SOUTH RIDGE

First ascent was by T.Leggett, H.G. Nicol, A. Wedgwood and Ang Danu in 1984. from base camp climb a wide, easy scree filled gully to the east of base camp and directly opposite to it. At 4,800 metres (15,748 feet), you reach a small, fattened hump which from below looks like a peak. At this point turn north and follow the obvious line of screefilled valley which lies between the Pema’s Peak South Ridge on the right, forming the right hand skyline, and the broken ridge on the left, which overlies the base camp. The little valley is unmistakable and leads without incident to Pema’s Peak West Glacier. The foot of this glacier could also be reached direct by ascending a steep scree-filled gully which climbs up to it from the boulder fields just to the north of base camp, but this looks unpleasant.

Put on crampons and follow this glacier without incident or difficulty to the col at its summit. Turn north-west and climb the ridge to the summit. Standard Alpine PD, which can be climbed in four hours on the first ascent.

From the base camp follow the route to Paldor high camp on the Paldor Glacier East. At 5,200 meters (17,060 feet), the glacier is relatively uncrevassed and can be crossed easily. Cross it to the east side below Bodkin Peak. At this point turn south, contour round the easy glacier, climb a short snow slope and so ascend easily to Pema’s summit

NEDDY’S THUMB (4,900M/16,076FT)

This is the first peak to be seen of the Paldor group as you approach the area from the south up the Mailung Khola. It forms and impressive rock peak rising above and to the south of base camp. Due to the nature of the rock the best climbs are to be found on the South Face.

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