Punchen Himal North, First Ascent
Nepal, Upper Dolpo, Ganesh Himal
After an expedition to Dolpo, Tamotsu Ohnishi’s Osaka Alpine Club expedition returned to Kathmandu, and some members flew home. The remaining six left for a trek up the Buri Gandaki on October 7. Before Nyuk (Ngyak) they turned right and headed up the Shyar (or Shar) Khola valley, which runs northeast, behind and north of the Ganesh Himal. On the 18th they set up base camp at 4,124m, just north of the Shyar Khola. The following day Irisawa, Kato, Mizutani, Ohnishi, and Chhepa Sherpa placed a high camp at 4,850m (N 28°40'21?, E 85°06'96?) at the start of the northeast ridge of their chosen objective, the unclimbed Punchen Himal (6,049m, N 28°39'40?, E 85°08'48?). This previously unattempted peak lies on the Tibetan border north of 6,247m Pashuwo.
On the 20th all started climbing up the ridge at 5 a.m. The ridge was mainly rock, with occasional icy sections, to 5,700m, where they moved onto the northwest face and fixed 250m of rope, reaching the crest of the northwest ridge at 5,900m. Above, a 60° slope, then breakable crust over deep soft snow that they however climbed without ropes in an hour, led to the north summit at 5,962m. It was only 11:30 a.m., but the way to the main summit led along a knife-edge ridge. There wasn’t enough rope for all members to continue, so Ohnishi and others went down. After three hours on the saw-tooth ridge, the remaining members had gained no altitude above the north summit and were still half a kilometer from the main summit. Although not technically difficult, the route had been a tiring succession of loose rock and unconsolidated snow, and the team decided to retreat. On the way down they took a more direct route from 5,700m, rappelling straight down the face to a small lake above high camp. On the 21st they returned to base camp and left for a trek over the Larkya La and around the northwest side of Manaslu to inspect other peaks they hope to attempt in the future. They returned to Kathmandu in November.
Elizabeth Hawley, AAC Honorary Member, Nepal; Richard Salisbury, The Himalayan Database; and Tamotsu Ohnishi, Japanese Alpine Club