Chhiv Himal (6,650m), first ascent; Saribung (6,328m), second ascent, new route. Four members of the Japanese Alpine Club, Student Section, made the first ascent of Chhiv Himal (6,650m) on September 18, 2004. On the following day, all five members of the expedition reached the summit of Saribung (6,328m) via a new route; it was the second ascent of the peak.
The Kingdom of Mustang is a frontier region that well preserves an old form of Tibetan Buddhist culture. The Damodar mountain group is located in the eastern part of Mustang. At Ghami, our caravan shifted away from the main route, instead heading toward the east, following a tributary of the Kali Gandaki. After crossing three passes over 5,000m, the magnificent Damodar Himal appeared. It had been a nine-day trek from Jomson (including one rest day).
With Khumjungar Himal (6,759m) as the main peak, the group of mountains encircles the Namta Khola glacier in a horseshoe formation. One wing of the mountains heads in a northeast direction toward the border with Tibet. The newly opened Chhiv Himal (6,650m) is an independent (and previously unclimbed) peak located in the southeast area of Khumjungar Himal.
The expedition was comprised of team leader, Takeshi Wada (23), Chiba University Alpine Club. Deputy-Leader: Takeo Yoshinaga (23), Waseda University Alpine Club. Team Members: Kenichiro Kato (23), Rikkio University Alpine Club; Yuko Shibata (22), Gakushuin University Alpine Club; Mitsuhiro Kosei (19), Waseda University Alpine Club. The ascent was planned and executed with no assistance from climbing Sherpas.
On September 8, we set up the Base Camp (5,250m) at the end of the glacier that flows northeastward from the foot of Chhiv Himal. We made Camp 1 at 5,650m, on September 11. To reach C2 from C1 it is necessary to cross the glacier, which is about 1km wide at the crossing point. The whole glacier field was filled with seracs, some of which were 20m tall. As the sun rises, the bottom part of Pk 6,225m became dangerous because of the frequency of falling rock from the ridge. In addition, the snow plateau that leads to the west face of Saribung was potentially dangerous with hidden crevasses. Therefore, we made Camp 2 on the col (6,170m) between Chhiv Himal and Saribung, on September 15.
The northwest face of Chhiv Himal is shrouded with snow due to the strong wind, while its eastward side is rocky. Our route was on the ridge that came down northeastward from the peak. It continued for three roped pitches to a four-pitch 60° snow wall. On top of the wall the ridge became flat and continued to the summit. At this point (6,450m), we returned to C2. On September 17 all five team members started from C2. We continued along the gentle upper ridge, which became knife-edged and developed a cornice. At a 6,610m top, with almost all our snow pickets and fixed ropes used and the weather becoming worse, we returned to C2.
On September 18 four team members retrieved some of the fixed ropes for use on the final ridge to the summit. From 6,610m the party carefully followed the knife-edged ridge of snow, which was sometimes elusive in a whiteout. At 13:15 four team members reached the broad snow stance of the summit: the first ascent of Chhiv Himal. We had fixed approximately 850 meters of rope.
On September 19 all five team members left C2 to the summit of Saribung along the south [west] ridge. As the south face of Saribung is fortified by rock walls and several crevasses, we proceeded carefully, fixing seven pitches of rope. At 12:30 all five team members had made the second ascent of the peak, via a new route. The first ascent of Saribung was made by Americans Jim Frush and Peter Ackroyd in 2003.
Kenichiro Kato, Rikkio University Alpine Club
*Adapted from Japanese Alpine News, Tamotsu Nakamura, Editor