Extreme Photo of the Week Nov 20 2014

Picture of Melissa Arnot and Ben Jones summiting Mustang Himal, Nepal

First Ascent of Mustang Himal, Nepal

Photograph by Jon Mancuso

“I have actually never tried to climb an unclimbed mountain, so this was totally new for me,” says mountaineer Melissa Arnot, seen here with Ben Jones about 100 feet below the summit of 20,600-foot Mustang Himal. They made the first ascent of the recently opened peak in Nepal’s remote Mustang region, one of about 300 unclimbed peaks ranging from 19,000 to 25,900 feet that were opened to tourism in the fall of 2014.

“It was amazing to explore the unknown and to have to rely on the basics of map reading and route reading to find our way,” says Arnot, who has summited Everest five times and co-founded the Juniper Fund, which provides financial support to the families of mountain workers killed on duty. “It really boiled climbing back down to the simplicity that first attracted me.”

Getting the Shot

“I only hoped that the face was climbable, the ridge accessible, and that I’d get lucky and there would be some light cloud cover to act as a diffuser,” says photographer Jon Mancuso. “The biggest photographic challenge of the trip was simply the unknown nature of what we were trying to do.”

With so many unknown factors, Mancuso did not have specific frames planned out. “My only goal photo-wise was to get technical climbing shots on the face and scenic climbing on the ridge. I felt confident that if the conditions were good, there would be potential for spectacular photos,” says Mancuso.

“After weeks of breaking trail in difficult terrain, the challenges of the unknown, and an unsuccessful attempt on an adjacent peak, having the summit within reach was an incredible feeling. Once we got onto the ridge, the views were breathtaking and I couldn’t believe how beautiful it actually was.”

 

 

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