Asia, Nepal, Upper Dolpo, Damodar Himal, Chako, First Ascent

Publication Year: 2008.

Chako, first ascent. A 10-member Kanagawa Alpine Federation party, led by Tatsumine Makino (62), made the first ascent of Chako (6,704m), via the southwest ridge. The team approached via Nar Gaon and Phu Gaon, making their base camp on July 9 at 5,100m below the snout of the glacier south of the Lugula Himal. This site has running water and is conveniently situated for attempts on both Bhrikuti Shail and Chako. Above the snout, with its ice cave, the team moved up the glacier, passing a clean stream and a three-stepped waterfall, then more moraine, to place Camp 1 at 5,500m on July 13. Sixty to 90 minutes above this camp was a triangular rock and above this, at ca 5,900m, the party began to fix rope. At 6,000m they reached a snow plateau and at 6,200m, on the southwest ridge, found a small space below a large ice block, on which they could situate two tents. They established this Camp 2 on the 16th. Above a rock barrier from 6,500m to 6,550m the ridge became narrow and quite steep, at one point forming an exposed section of vertical rocky terrain. The climbers continued fixing rope all the way to the summit, which Kazuhisa Kamisaka and Akio Omura reached at 11.50 a.m. on the 24th, accompanied by Hari Bahadur Chaulagai and Ang Phuri Lama, the latter a 60-year-old Sirdar from Beni. Chako lies on the Tibetan border, and the summiteers noted that the Tibetan side was a steep pyramidal rock face. The party descended to Camp 2 by 4 p.m., but at around that time an avalanche destroyed one of the tents. No one was hurt, and the two Sherpas continued their descent, past Camp 1 and all the way to base. The Japanese slept in the remaining tent and reached base camp the following day. This was the first attempt on the high Damodar summit.

The team then planned to climb Bhrikuti but after reaching 5,800m on the south ridge, decided it was too avalanche-prone and descended. The expedition now began a trek towards Khumjungar (a.k.a. Khamjung or Khumjung, 6,759m), which lies northwest of Chhiv. It has no recorded ascent, though it may have been climbed by Japanese in 1982. However, the Lapso Khola was too swollen to cross, and any attempt to reach the mountain was abandoned. (Earlier in the year Khumjungar had been reconnoitred by Pete Athans and Renan Ozturk.) The two Americans reached the Chame valley in March but found the snow too deep to make progress toward the peak). The Japanese then moved south and on August 7 climbed the trekking peak of Chuli West by the west ridge. After this they crossed the Thorong La to Muktinath and continued to the base of their next objective, Gaugiri. By that time they were too tired to make an attempt and instead walked to Lho Manthang, where on the 27th they found that their proposed route to Arniko Chuli in West Mustang (6,034m, climbed by Ohnishi and a Sherpa couple in 2002) was not feasible. Locals were harvesting their crops and believed that if foreigners entered the area, the crops would be ruined. The team gave up on the peak, its final goal, and trekked back down the Kali Gandaki to Beni, where they took the bus out to Kathmandu.

Tamotsu Nakamura, Japanese Alpine News; Elizabeth Hawley, AAC Honorary Member, Nepal; and Richard Salisbury, The Himalayan Database.