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Asia, Tibet, Himalaya, Xixabangma, New Variant to Normal North Side Route

Xixabangma, new variant to normal north side route. On October 3 Inaki Ochoa de Olza reached the main summit of Xixabangma (8,012m) having made what is believed to be a new variant on the north face. The Spanish climber followed the normal route to Camp 3 (7,440m), the point where it climbs onto the final ridge leading up to the central summit (7,999m, Chinese map). From there he moved down and east, descending 150m before continuing his leftward traverse. He crossed a bergschrund and climbed to a rocky buttress, which he passed on the left flank via a step of UIAA III. He then continued up the northeast face (60°) to hit the southeast ridge at 7,950m, more or less at the same point where the 1982 British route emerges from the southwest face. From here it is a short distance back right to the summit.

Ochoa de Olza left Camp 1 (6,400m) at 1 a.m. and reached the main summit at 2 p.m. He has christened his 800m variant Lorpen-Diario de Navarra. Some years ago a Russian team left the standard route and climbed out onto the face below the summit, but this was rather higher and a completely different line. This new line avoids some of the problems that often occur with avalanche-prone snow high on the mountain, either in following the Chinese traverse or the sharp connecting ridge from the central to main summits.

Ochoa de Olza's solo ascent was the first to the main summit of the season, despite almost 100 climbers working on the mountain from the north. It is his 11th 8,000m peak and his fourth attempt to climb to the highest point of Xixabangma. He reached the central summit in 1995.

Lindsay Griffin, Mountain INFO, CLIMB Magazine