Phari Lapcha, second ascent of north face, Japanese variant to Bonfire of the Vanities. Fumitaka Ichimura and I climbed the north face of Phari Lapcha (6,017m). In the lower section we followed new ground but traversed to the original French route for the upper part of the face. We graded our 1,000m, 24-pitch line ED1 AI4 R. We left Gokyo village on November 22, climbed onto the snow band that traverses the bottom of the face just above its base, moved right, and bivouacked below the start of our line. Next day we climbed the narrow gully above. The terrain was mostly hard snow, so placing ice screws proved impossible. At times the rock was loose. By evening we had reached a small icefield, where we enjoyed a sitting bivouac on a small ledge. On the third day we hoped to climb directly toward the summit, but the ice turned out to be thin, so we slanted up right on an obvious ramp and joined the French route. [The French route, which represented the only prior ascent of the north face, was put up in November 2003 by Seb Constant and Jérome Mercader at ED1 M5 WI4. Named Bonfire of the Vanities, they climbed the route in 27 pitches, with one bivouac at 5,670m and a second at the exit point on the summit ridge at 5,970m. The Japanese reached the French line just above the site of the first French bivouac—Ed.] We continued up the French route, reaching the summit ridge after dark, where we bivouacked on a good ledge beneath a rock pinnacle. On our fourth day we continued up sugar snow to the spectacular summit and descended to the southwest.
Because snow and ice were so thin, we could not go down the gully that forms the easiest ascent route on this side of the mountain; it was too loose and dangerous. [The first official ascent via this gully and the upper northwest ridge took place in spring 2003 by a 10- member multinational team including a group of
Sherpas—Ed.] Instead we descended the French route [The Bridge of Lost Desire, climbed in November 2003 by Constant and Mercador to give a 350m line at WI3 and M4—Ed.], reached the glacier in the evening, and continued down to bivouac for a fourth time. On the 26th we walked down to Machermo village.
Hiroyuki Nakagawa, North Japan Climbing Team