Considered the longest ridge on any 8000er, the Mazeno ridge is more than 10 km (6 miles) long with eight 7000 meter (23000 ft) peaks to pass along the route. Steep walls on each side make pulling out hard.
The ridge was not fixed, there were no fixed camps and the climbers used no supplementary oxygen. It was an attempt for a new route on an 8000er, a very rare gem in Himalaya these days.
The team would use two climbing Sherpa and the first woman to summit Everest from both sides, Cathy O'Dowd of South Africa, made no secret about it. "We are using Sherpa support, to allow us to carry more, trying to avoid the problem of arriving at the Mazeno Col having run out of energy and supplies," she said.
In addition to the woman, the expedition included British Rick Allen and Sandy Allan. Nepalis were Lhakpa Rangdu, Lakpa Sherpa and Nuru Sherpa.
"Asked for their parting words of wisdom," Cathy blogged as the team set off, "Rick offered: the adventure of our lives, Sandy offered: just another day on the hill, and the Sherpas simply grinned."
"It's time to go climbing."
The first stage of the climb turned out "not to be a terribly easy one," Cathy reported, "getting up onto the ridge is not a simple snow plod."
The expedition stepped on the Mazeno ridge July 4th. "If all goes to plan - a big if - we will descend down the Diamir face, on the other side of the Mazeno ridge," Cathy dispatched.
The climbers experienced "epic" seracs and very cold nights with howling wind, trailblazing in deep sugary snow on a narrow line along the main body of the ridge. They climbed carrying a minimum of gear, staying in touch via a sat phone and Contact tracking system.
On the team's 7th night since they had left BC Cathy insisted, "we have every expectation to finish the ridge." Camped at 7000 meters, she reported an "extraordinary situation," describing the climb as "frustrating, difficult, exhilarating."
Once at the col, short on supplies the climbers had to try for the summit in poor conditions. The GPS navigation took them straight up a pinnacle and lots of technical rock. Hours later Cathy returned alone to the camp, exhausted. Turning back at the foot of the pyramid (7950 m) the remaining four climbers returned after an 18 hour climb.
In bad weather and lack of food and gas, the team divided in two. Cathy and the two Sherpa commenced a dangerous descent through an unknown route while Rick and Sandy would try the summit once more.
A few days of commotion later the expedition success was a fact: Cathy and the Sherpas survived; Rick and Sandy topped out. The first ascent became the only new route on an 8000er in 2012.
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Mazeno ridge: Rick and Sandy down safe from Nanga summit
Mazeno ridge in focus: team splits up
Mazeno ridge: summit lost in translation - and poor snow
7 nights on the Mazeno ridge, audio: "the situation is extraordinary"
Pakistan kick-off interview: Cathy O'Dowd, Nanga Parbat the hard way
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