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Mustang Mystery, Episode Three, Mustang Himal
Posted on April 9, 2015

Melissa Arnot, breathing slowly and methodically, moving up from high camp on the Mustang expedition.

To find a new perspective on high-altitude climbing, Eddie Bauer guide Melissa Arnot traveled to the beautiful Upper Mustang region of Nepal last fall in an effort to find and climb one of three newly permitted 20,000-foot peaks. With a different definition of success and incredible challenges of routefinding, Arnot, guide Ben Jones and filmer Jon Mancuso pioneered a new route on a self-supported mission aimed at a first ascent in previously unexplored Himalayan terrain. Two recon attempts and fifteen days of struggle later they became the first climbers to stand on the summit of 20,600-foot Mustang Himal, a first, first ascent for Arnot we profile in the conclusion of our Mustang Mystery series. —LYA Editor

Images and Footage by Jon Mancuso, Edit by Karl Archer

Jones and Arnot being chased by shadows on Mansail Peak, after encountering a technical rock route to the summit.

Top: Melissa Arnot, breathing slowly and methodically, moving up from high camp on the Mustang expedition. Above: Jones and Arnot being chased by shadows on Mansail Peak, after encountering a technical rock route to the summit. L to R: 1. Ridge scramble to the team’s high point on Mansail Peak. 2 Plan B. Figuring out the alternate route on Mansail Peak, 11 days in. 3. High point, nearing the summit on Mansail Peak. 

Stairway to the summit of Mustang Himal.

Top: Stairway to the summit of Mustang Himal. L to R: 1. Stepping up the magical 800-foot face on Mustang Himal. 2. A stunning range, the Mustang Himalayas on the China/Nepal border. 3. Ben Jones and Melissa Arnot taking the very high route, traversing in the Mustang and finding a new definition of success.

Melissa Arnot, final thin air steps on the 20,600-foot first ascent of Mustang Himal.

Above: Melissa Arnot, final thin air steps on the 20,600-foot first ascent of Mustang Himal. L to R: 1. A moment of 2PM calm on the summit…a throwback to the earlier era of mountaineering. 2. The brand matra on the summit of Mustang Himal. Arnot and Jones celebrate their first, first ascent. 3. Poster shot, Melissa Arnot on a mysterious unnamed peak in the Mustang region.

Glaciated travel, roped up on 20,600-foot Mustang Himal on a self-supported climb.

Above: Glaciated travel, roped up on 20,600-foot Mustang Himal on a self-supported climb. L to R: 1. Melissa Arnot recoiling en route, on Mustang Himal. 2. Himalayan spindrift on an unnamed ridge on the approach to Mustang Himal. 3. Melissa Arnot, sunburnt and windblasted, after a trying but rewarding trip in the Upper Mustang.

Signage on the route to Chung Chung in a village with a population of ten.

Above: Signage on the route to Chung Chung in a village with a population of ten. L to R: 1. A welcome from the village  in Chung Chung. 2. End of the road, or at least civilization, at Chung Chung. 3. Facial or dreadlocks, a fork in the trail for some post-climb pampering in Pokhara.  

Author: - Thursday, April 9th, 2015
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