The South-West Route

The South West Route

  • Route: Ama Dablam – South West Ridgeama Campos altura
  • Location: Nepal, Asia
  • Lat/Lon: 27.86062°N / 86.86094°E
  • Rock Difficulty: 5.8 (YDS)
  • Difficulty: Alpine 6
  • Grade: VI



"Ama Dablam is often climbed as a great climb independent of other 8000m plans. It is significantly more technical than most of the normal routes on 8,000m climb including Everest but the overall atmosphere is similar. It is a shorter climb by time." Alan Arnette

Base Camp to Camp 1

4-8 hours

Ama Base campThe climbing from base camp 4,600M to Camp 1 5,650M is essentially the only slogging portion of this whole route. Once you leave base camp follow the path up the grassy ridge over undulating terrain until you reach the rarely used advanced base camp, aka Yak Camp. 5,100M or so. From here you need to look out for rock carins marking the entrance to the infamous boulder field.

Fatigue is the main challenge here, if you are tired, rope up and jug up the lines into camp one.

Camp 1 to Camp 2

2-5 hours

SW RidgeThis is some of the best climbing on the route. On a good day you will have the time of your life and love every second of it. Try to leave camp one early if there are crowds and very early if you plan on just tagging. You should be able to do this in approach shoes and carry your big boots. There is little or no snow here and the track will be well defined, follow the ropes.

The first hour is mainly traversing granite blocks. Trending slowly upward and onward, enjoy the views and love the exposure. There are a couple of spicy spots before the Yellow Tower but just stay stoked and you will be fine. The whole route up to the bottom of the Yellow Tower is barely 5th class, aka 4.11. Just fun and exposed.

The traverse to the bottom of the Yellow Tower is pretty unnerving. Keep you tension on the ropes and dont climb up too high. Stay low until the rise to the bottom of the tower.

The Yellow Tower is the technical crux of the route. free climbing it is an easy 5.8 but at nearly 6,000M with a pack and no climbing shoes, it is a different story from your home crag’s tourist routes. Try not to use your jumar too much here folks. The holds are there and take you time, breathe a lot and you will be fine. The Yellow Tower is about one pitch with mega exposure. Dont look down. After you top out this pitch it is a relatively straight forward move up to camp 2, 6,000M.

Camp 2 to Camp 3

3-6 hours

ama Campos 2This is the spice of the route. Right out of the gate you do an airy traverse to the bottom of the Grey Tower, a blocky granite mixed climb of about 1.5 pitches. Dont climb up if there are people above you. It is loose, very loose. The exposure is amazing. The tower used to be pretty icy but now days it is dry as dust. Stay close to your climbing partners and keep in close contact. I recommend waiting it out if there are any large parties above you. The Grey Tower is about 75 degrees and blocky. Super fun but also super dangerous if people are kicking things down on you. Watch out.
After the Grey Tower, an amazing airy traverse leads to the Mushroom Ridge. Walking a tight rope at 6200M. Stunning. Amazing. surreal. Camp 3 is really dangerous so dont sleep there. Go to the summit from Camp 2. Ignore anyone who says it is safe. You will use a lot more energy advancing your camp than you would adding an additional 4ish hours to your summit day.

Camp 3 to Summit

3-6 hours

Amadablam6This is full on alpine ice and snow climbing. Although it is not recommended to stay in camp 3, many teams choose to do so. In my opinion, the effort and potential danger required to cary equipment and sleep at camp three far outweighs any positive outcomes. The climb above 6400M, camp 3 is a mixture of ice and snow depending on the season and conditions. It does get very cold and it is recommended to try to reach camp three at about 0530-0600 in the morning. This way, you will benefit from the warmth of the sun. It is very easy to freeze fingers and toes so be sure to keep wiggling those toes and fingers and turn back if you lose feeling. Depending on your speed, you will reach the summit after about 4 hours of climbing. There are no false summits on this route and you top out right onto the summit. Amazing.