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Asia, Tibet, Menlungtse, Rolwaling Himal

Menlungtse, Rolwaling Himal. Described by Chris Bonington as “one of the most beautiful and difficult peaks in the Himalaya,” Menlungtse has an east and a west summit separated by a 2-kilometer-long ridge. The lower west summit (7023 meters) was climbed by Britons Andy Fanshawe and Alan Hinkes in 1987. Marko Prezelj and I completed the first ascent of the higher summit (7181 meters, 23,560 feet) on October 23, alpine-style, on the southeast face, left from the 1990 American attempt. The 2000-meter-high ice face was not extremely difficult, but in the lower third, very dangerous. With Dr. Žarko Guzej, we got to Base Camp at 4600 meters on October 8. Prezelj and I reconnoitered the slopes below the southeast face and climbed a 6301 -meter peak from October 11 to 13, but could not see our objective because of bad weather. We established Advance Base on the 15th at 5150 meters. During the first attempt on October 18, we set out at 12:40 A. M, got to 6150 meters at 5:40 and rested until ten A. M. because of bad weather. At two P.M. we reached 6400 meters where deteriorating weather and avalanche conditions forced a retreat. The final assault began on October 22, but we were able to climb only for 5½ hours before having to take shelter from falling stones and ice in a ice cave at 6150 meters. Starting at eight A.M. the following day, we worked hard and made rapid progress up the 55° ice face. We gained a big plateau at 3:30 P.M. and at 6:30 P.M. climbed to the virgin summit. We descended the same line with a mixture of rappels and down- climbing and got back to the bivouac at two A.M. on the 24th and descended to Base Camp later that day.

Andrej Štremfelj, Planinska zveza Slovenije