American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Asia, Nepal, Rowaling Himal, Tengi Ragi Tau, First Ascent of Newly Opened Peak

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 2003

Tengi Ragi Tau, first ascent of newly opened peak. In the spring of 2000 I saw Tengi Ragi Tau (6943m) for the first time while we climbed Parchamo (6,279m). It strongly attracted my attention, but it was a forbidden peak according to our guide. In 2002 the Nepali government released 103 mountains, including Tengi Ragi Tau. Since the Hokkaido Mountaineering Association celebrated its jubilee in the same year, we organized a celebration expedition to Tengi Ragi Tau. From Parchamo the southeast face had looked unclimbable and it seemed wiser to search for an easier route on its west side. Our conclusion based on maps and information then available was that one of the two rock ribs on the 1,600m wall might be feasible, and our plan was prepared based on that assumption. On November 26 the five members with five Sherpas and four kitchen-staff. established BC at 4,800m at the snout of Thyagb Glacier. On reconnaissance, those rock ribs drawn on maps were an illusion. What to do? To make sure we climbed something, we all ascended Parchamo and returned to BC on November 11. During this time I began reconsidering the seemingly unclimbable southeast face of Tengi Ragi Tau. Looking closer, we discovered a sharp ridge stretching up from around the middle height at the center of the wall. At least it should be safe to follow it.

After an earlier reconnaissance, on October 15, Onda, two Sherpas, and I extended the route through the steepening snow slope and we finally reached the rock ridge. Luckily snow conditions were not bad and the weather was fine. On the 17th we pitched C1 at 6050m. Taka- hashi and two Sherpas continued to fix the route up the ridge to 6400m, spending two full days, then we all retreated to BC for a rest. On the 23rd, the summit team consisting of Takahashi, two Sherpas, and myself left BC. We left C1 at 3 a.m. the next day and climbed up through a fluted ice wall, but the face was so complicated that we were forced into an impossible passage at about 6750m, still 200 meters below the summit. We rappelled down 200 meters and then tackled a left-leaning gully. After climbing it part way, we decided to follow the gully on our next attempt. We left the gear in place and descended to BC.

Strong winds blew during the following three days, and on the 28th we returned to C1. The next day Onda, Morishita, and two Sherpas departed C1 at 3 a.m. Huge mushroom-shaped cornices hung from the main ridge down to the wall. The gully led beneath the cornices but it was not easy to get through the mushroom to reach the main ridge. Fortunately a narrow slit between cornices allowed them to break out onto the ridge. It was such a thin ridge that they looked down Drolambau Glacier below their feet to the opposite side. The summit was just 250 meters ahead, but there was only enough time to descend to C1.

Again strong winds continued to blow during the following few days until at last the summit day came. On December 4, Takahashi, two Sherpas, and I left C1 at 3 a.m. Hard wind from the west howled on the main ridge. We could not stop shivering even in down-filled jackets and anoraks. We were afraid of being blown off, but this might be our last chance. Determined to reach the top, we attacked one cornice after another until two hours, 30 minutes later we reached the summit. Looking back over the ridge, Parchamo seemed such a small hill! And of course we enjoyed an enormous panoramic view of Gaurishankar, Tibetan frontier ranges, Everest, Makalu, etc.

We climbed down the 1,600m wall to BC that day, and on the following day (Dec. 5), Onoda, Morishita, and a Sherpa made the second ascent from C1 and returned to BC on the 6th. It must have been the last chance for the season, as desperate winter gales began to blow.

Koichi Ezaki, Hokkaido Mountaineering Association (translation by Kei Kurachi)

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