The Himalaya

It is impossible to do justice to the ice-climbing potential of the great mountains that are collectively called the Himalaya. The alpine ice potential was first tapped in a nonexpeditionary style by Peter Habeler and Reinhold Messner in 1975, when they climbed the Northwest Face of Pakistan's 26,000-foot Hidden Peak in three days up and down. In the 1980s and '90s, it has become increasingly common for small parties of two or three to tackle very difficult ice climbs in pure alpine style. The best technical climbs, such as the North Face of Cholatse in Nepal, have been made on peaks between 20,000 and 23,000 feet.

The Himalayan winter season is an untapped resource of frozen waterfalls. Although a few have been climbed, such as the 2,000-foot cascade across the valley from the Sherpa village of Namche Bazaar, climbers have until now been reluctant to travel so far for what is essentially crag climbing, when the great peaks loom above.

Without a doubt, some of the greatest ice climbs of the future will take place in these huge ranges.

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