Himlung Himal, second ascent, first ski descent. Our international expedition (French-Swedish- Algerian), which took place from April 15-June 10, comprised amateur climbers from the Grenoble-Oisans section of the French Alpine Club. The summit of Himlung Himal (7126m) had only been reached once before, by a team of Japanese climbers and Nepalese police officers in 1992. Since that time there have only been two other attempts: Germans in 1999 and Spanish in 2000. In common with all these expeditions, our route was also the northwest ridge.
On May 14 Béatrice Poupard, Kouid Beladem, Carole Soubiran, Sirdar Mulal Gurung, and I reached the summit. On May 19, Jean-Marie Gentzbittel, Ariane Chatelet, Eskil Eriksson, Fabrice Pintonato, and Olivier Soudieu also climbed to the top. Eriksson made the first ski descent from the summit.
The ascent of Himlung Himal turned out to be more complicated than we expected. Base camp (4850m) was reached after a nine-day march from Besisahar, leaving the Annapurna Trek at Koto. From there the ascent to Camp I (5400m) could be made in tennis shoes during dry weather, but from Camp I to Camp II (6200m), the glacier was a labyrinth of crevasses and seracs. It was difficult to find the best way. About 150 meters of fixed rope was installed in order to facilitate the negotiation of crevasses and 45-degree slopes. After Camp II, the route followed a long ridge for four or five hours toward the final pyramid. Despite the lack of technical difficulties, the length of this ridge made both the ascent and descent rather strenuous.
After an unsuccessful attempt to reach the summit from Camp II on May 10, Camp III was installed on the ridge about one hour from the start of the final pyramid. The last 800 vertical meters never exceeded 30 degrees and offered no particular technical difficulties, though snow conditions were certainly not perfect (deep snow with some avalanche risk).
Camp II and III were totally dismantled by expedition members, and before leaving base camp two or three porters were hired to bring some equipment down from Camp I. In addition to the mountaineering experience, the team had the pleasure of “discovering” the remote valley of Nar and the village of Phu with its Tibetan culture.
Paul Campion, French Alpine Club