Panbari Himal, first ascent. The unclimbed Panbari Himal, a remotely situated 6,905m snow peak, was only opened to foreign expeditions in 2002. The mountain lies immediately north of the Larkya La (5,135m), a relatively spectacular pass that forms the high point on the increasingly popular Manaslu Circuit, linking the Marsyandi Khola and Buri Gandaki valleys. In the autumn, six Japanese students from five different universities arrived in Nepal to attempt the first ascent. They planned to complete the climb without any Sherpa support. In 2004, the university students’ section of the Japanese Alpine Club sent a party under the leadership of Takeshi Wada to Chhiv Himal (6,650m) in the Damodar range. Five members from four differ- ent universities made the first ascent of this mountain without Sherpa support (AAJ 2005, pp. 383-384). The Panbari Himal Expedition was the second phase of their project.
The six-member team (though one came along only as a base camp manager), under the leadership of Ms. Yoshimi Kato, approached from the west through the Marsyandi Khola and crossed the Larkya La. Descending the normal trekking route on the east side of the pass, they turned north and on September 6 established base camp at 4,865m on the right (north) side of the Fukan glacier, which rises west toward the east face of Panbari Himal. Three days later Camp 1 was placed at 5,235m.
Although the glacier looked gentle, it had complicated icefalls with unstable seracs and hidden crevasses. Camp 2 was eventually established on September 18 at 5,740m, one week behind schedule. Their final camp 3 was established on the 22nd at 6,280m below the northeast ridge, but due to whiteout conditions they had no chance to make a reconnaissance of the final ascent.
On September 27 Kato, with Gakuto Komiya, Sayaka Koyama, Kenro Nakajima, and Yousuke Urabe set off from base camp for their summit bid. These five left camp 3 at 3:30 a.m. on the 29th in fine weather and reached the start of the northeast ridge at a col between Panbari Himal and the unnamed Pt. 6,767m on the Nepal-Tibet border. A broad ridge led to the summit. It was covered with deep snow and provided a bit of a struggle but all five finally reached the summit at 9:40 a.m. Here, they were able to enjoy a fine panoramic view and were particularly impressed by the magnificent pyramid of Manaslu, the first Himalayan giant climbed by Japanese exactly 50 years ago. The team spent the next three days clearing the route of camps and fixed ropes, leaving only three snow stakes on the mountain. By October 1 they were safely back in base camp.
Tsunemichi Ikeda, Japan, based on reports by Yoshimi Katoh and Sayaka Koyama