Popularly known as the ‘Matterhorn of the Himalaya’, the overwhelming ice-coated granite pyramid of Ama Dablam dominates the sky above the trekker’s trail to the Everest Base Camp. Ama Dablam is a mountain in the Himalaya range of eastern Nepal. The main peak is 6,812 meters (22,349 ft), the lower western peak is 6,170 meters (20,243 ft). Ama Dablam means “Mother’s necklace”; the long ridges on each side like the arms of a mother (ama) protecting her child, and the hanging glacier thought of as the Dablam, the traditional double-pendant containing pictures of the gods, worn by Sherpa women.
Ama Dablam was first climbed on 13 March 1961 by Mike Gill (NZ), Barry Bishop (USA), Mike Ward (UK) and Wally Romanes (NZ) via the Southwest Ridge. They were well-acclimatized to altitude, having wintered over at 5800 meters near the base of the peak as part of the Silver Hut Scientific Expedition of 1960-61, led by Sir Edmund Hillary.
Ama Dablam is the third most popular Himalayan peak for permitted expeditions. The most popular route by far is the Southwest Ridge (right skyline in the photo). Climbers typically set up three camps along the ridge with camp 3 just below and to the right of the hanging glacier, the Dablam. Any ice that calves off the glacier typically goes left, away from the camp. However, a 2006 avalanche proved that this is not always the case. A climbing permit and a liaison officer are required when attempting Ama Dablam.
The route offers varied and sustained climb with reasonable level of difficulty. Three high camps are set up at strategic points. The climb is moderate up to Camp 1, then it gets challenging up along the narrow granite ridge. Negotiating pitches of steep ice and snow slopes, the route gets more technical from Camp 2. From Camp 3, skirt around the hanging glacier or the Dablam, cross snow arête (A sharp ridge) and bergschrund A gap or crevasse at the edge) between ice cliffs, and scale the summit.