Kyajo Ri, first recorded ascent of newly opened peak. Sitting at home in front of the computer for a week with a broken leg can be a wonderful source of inspiration. So it was for me in January 2002. The Nepalese government had just opened 103 new peaks for climbing. My wife, Véronique Marché-Wilson, and I chose Kyajo Ri (6,186m), only three long days’ walk from Lukla. Kyajo Ri is the highest point in the massif that rises to the north of Namche Bazaar, only 20 miles west of Everest. Talking about our plans among friends soon had Julien Ferrera, Laurent Beurel, and Véronique’s brother Vincent Marché joining in (all French).
We set up base camp a little above Machhermo village. After the puja ceremony we set off up the steep rocky slopes at the end of the cwm to establish camp 1 at the foot of the east face, 5,200m. The next day we gained access to the glacier lying at the foot of the east face via a 40m mixed step, climbed the glacier to the rimaye, and overcame a 100m mixed step to reach the southeast col and camp 2.
October 20, 1 a.m., -20°C, full moon. We set off, only to return four hours later, unable to find a way through the south face to the southwest ridge. A quick tea, and Vincent and I headed off again, this time losing altitude to reach the Kyajo Glacier, south of Kyajo Ri. By 8 a.m. we’d reached the southwest col at 5,700m. Roping up for the first time, we could see a glistening 50° ridge of snow and ice leading to the summit. A few steeper sections (60°-65°) promised sport along the way, especially where a rock buttress appears near the top.
The going was delicate in places, the ice thin and porous. Climbing together with two tools each, occasionally placing the deadman for protection, we took the rock buttress at 6,050m in order to avoid the rotten snow-ice as it steepened to over 70° above. We traversed east across the buttress then followed its right edge up a steep snow field to reach the summit in three pitches. From the sharp snow aréte on the summit an impressive view extends in all directions, from Everest to Thamserku and Cho Oyu. After an hour on the summit, we began our descent at 3 p.m, leaving a string of prayer flags fluttering in the slight breeze.
Night soon fell and the temperature plummeted to -25°C. Our toes suffered a little frost nip but the full moon and the sight of bobbing headtorches coming to greet us soon warmed our spirits. We were back in camp 2 by 9 p.m., happily reunited with our friends just as a violent wind storm began. The next day’s 1,200m descent to base camp would be long. Route Information: southwest ridge, named En Tente Cordiale. Location: Latitude: 27° 58' 03?, Longitude: 86° 40' 58?. Altitude: 6,186m (according to Schneider Map ‘Khumbu Himal 1:50,000').
Duncan Wilson, U.K.