American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Asia, Nepal, Annapurna Himal, Mahalangur Himal - Khumbu Section, Cholatse, Northeast Face, Second Ascent with Variant

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 2006

Cholatse, northeast face, second ascent with variant. At first believing they were opening a new route, Slovenians Tomaz Humar, Ales Kozelj, and Janko Opresnik climbed the steep and icy 1,300m northeast face of 6,440m Cholatse, more or less following the 1984 American Route to the upper part of the face (the Slovenians climbed an excellent 60m icefall right of the original line to gain the central gully system), before making a long traverse left to reach, then climb, the 1982 Swiss Route up the southeast ridge. The original and only route to ascend the entire face—a seven-day alpine-style push in November 1984 by Todd Bibler, Catherine Freer, Renny Jackson, and Sandy Stewart—remains unrepeated. The Swiss Route was climbed on the second ascent of the mountain by Nikolas Alpiger, Heidi Ludi, and Kancha Tamang, and 11 days later by Alpiger (again) and Werner Zaher.

The three Slovenians acclimatized by first climbing 6,083m Cholu Peak, then began their ascent of Cholatse on April 19. They were hit by bad weather on the second day, forcing an early bivouac in a snow cave. On the 21st they decided that, under the prevailing difficult and dangerous conditions, it would be best to escape to the crest of the southeast ridge as soon as possible. The three made a long leftward traverse below the upper funnel, reached the ridge, and a little higher bivouacked under a snow mushroom. Next afternoon they reached the summit. The technical difficulties of the Slovenian route were rated M6 6a+ and 90°.

They descended the 23rd by the southeast ridge. When 300m from the bottom, Opresnik, who had been suffering from altitude, fell whilst climbing down a short section unroped, but the two others managed to grab him. If he had been only slightly out of reach, he would have gone the full length of the wall below.

Lindsay Griffin, Mountain INFO, CLIMB Magazine

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