A five-hour walk northward from Gokyo along the right bench of the Ngojumba Glacier brought us to a plateau commanding a good view of Everest, Cho Oyu, Gyachung Kang, and Hungchi (7,036m). We proceeded to base camp, which had an entire view of Hungchi and beyond. We passed a lovely grassland, studded with rocks we called “the Japanese Garden.” Just out of advanced base camp the snow-covered slope gets gradually steeper and we began fixing ropes along the route to the foot of a long side ridge that leads directly to the main line of the southwest ridge. We reached the crest via 60° snow-covered slopes.
We followed the snow-covered ridge until we came to the base of a massive rock, where we pitched Camp 1. From there, we found a couloir on the rock face, fixed the main rope to the left of it, and continued up. Although it was technically a Grade III-IV section, the altitude made hammering a piton a difficult task. We ended up pitching Camp 2 right on the narrow ridge. After following the snow ridge for some time, we moved on to the eastern flank, traversing a 50-60° ice face.
With utmost care we followed the ridge, which was much narrower than expected and was a series of continual ups and downs. Finally we came to the foot of a snow wall on the right. This is where we had to retreat in 2001 because of soft snow.
Finally, at 12:10 a.m. on April 19 we stood on the summit. We anchored ourselves to a piton on the narrow summit, exchanged messages with base camp, and took pictures. Half-an-hour passed all too soon and mist began creeping in. We buried national flags of both countries under the snow, and left the summit. Expedition members were: Takashi Shiro (leader), Kanji Shimizu, Tadashi Morita, and Katsuo Fukuhara. The Nepalese sirdar was Tul Bahadur Tamang, and the high altitude porters were Ram Kaji Tamang, Hitman Tamang, and Santaman Tamang. All these except Shiro reached the summit.
Takashi Shiro, Osaka Eiho Alpine Club