American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Asia, Nepal, Upper Dolpo, Annapurna Himal, Varaha Shikhar (The Fang), Second Ascent, East Face to South Ridge

  • Climbs And Expeditions
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  • Publication Year: 2008

Varaha Shikhar (The Fang), second ascent, east face to south ridge. [Photo on page 4.] Gangwon University Korean Expedition made a new route up the Fang (7,647m), via the 1,400m east face to the south ridge. The only previous ascent of this difficult mountain on the rim of the Annapurna Sanctuary southwest of Annapurna I was made in 1980 from the west, outside the Sanctuary, by an Austrian expedition. Connecting the east face to the south ridge from inside the Sanctuary had captured the attention of Korean teams since 1986. Gangwon University expeditions attempted this route unsuccessfully in 1991 and 1997.

The expedition left Korea on September 1 and spent seven days beginning September 4 acclimatizing in the Langtang, where they climbed Naya Kanga (a.k.a. Kangja Chuli, 5,844m). After this the team of Choi Chan-gyu, Hong Seong-wook, Kim Yong-gil, Lee Jong-heon, Lee Hak-young, Park Bong-ha, Park Hong-gi, Park Su-seok, Song Il-ho, Yu Hyun-jong, Yu Jae-hyeong, and Sherpas Dapjen, Geljen, Swana, Tshering, and Wangdi was helicoptered to a 4,600m base camp below the Fang, arriving on the 17th. Due to over a meter of fresh snow and a large crevasse, it was necessary to establish a temporary camp before eventually siting Camp 1 at 5,400m on the 30th, after 12 days hard work. Camp 2 (5,900m), about half way up the east face, and Camp 3 (6,400m), on the crest of the south ridge, were established in the next week and Camp 4 at 6,900m on October 11. On the 16th a final camp was placed on the ridge at 7,200m.

Yu Hyun-jong and three Sherpas stayed at this Camp 5, while Kim Yong-gil and Park Hong-gi stayed at Camp 4 to support Yu and Park Su-seok in a summit attempt on the 17th. However, the final 200m to the top turned out to be far more difficult than expected, with sections of 80°. The lead climbers retreated so as to retrieve more rope to fix on this final section, to ensure a safe ascent and safe return [reportedly 6,600m of rope were fixed intermittently from base camp to summit, with the whole section from Camp 1 to 4 fixed—Ed.]. Everyone descended to base camp, a particularly trying event for Yu and Park, the former having been badly frostbitten (some Sherpas high on the mountain also contracted frostbite). On October 22 the team began to move up the mountain for their final attempt, but on the 24th Park Bong-ha fell from the fixed ropes below Camp 3. He was injured, and two members descended to him with food and a sleeping bag, then dug a small snow cave for shelter. He was nursed there for some time until able to move, when a group helped him back to the ridge and then down to Camp 1.

On the 27th Choi Chan-gyu was also injured in a fall, though not so badly. Finally, on the 29th, Park Su-seok and Sherpas Wangdi and Tshering stood on the summit. All members were back at base camp on the 31st. The route has been named Dalgwa Yeohoon (which translates to “Yeo-hoon with the Moon”) after Korean Kim Yeo-hoon who lost his life in a fall during the 1997 attempt.

Lee Young-Jun, Corean Alpine Club (translated by Peter Jensen-Choi)

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