American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Asia, Nepal, Upper Dolpo, Kumbhakarna Himal, Jannu, Northwest Face, Attempt

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 2008

Jannu, northwest face, attempt. Toward the end of September, I made a discreet attempt on a new line up the left side of the northwest face of Jannu (7,710m). There were many difficulties for me and my trekking partner, Antoni, to overcome before we reached the village of Ghunsa: transport difficulties due to Maoist activities and difficult trekking due to a late end to a vigorous monsoon. With us were a guide and two porters. My baggage for Jannu weighed just 25kg.

I spent a week in Ghunsa, acclimatizing up to 6,000m in the surrounding mountains. On September 23, after a non-stop walk of 20 hours, I reached our previously established equipment cache on the moraine of the Kumbhakarna Glacier. My original idea had been to try the virgin Jannu East, solo, but I could see immediately that there was too much snow on the mountain and decided instead on a fast, light ascent of Jannu by a partial new line.

One morning I set off at 1 a.m., heading for the steep rib that defines the left side of the face [Tozas left his 4,500m base camp and took only two hours or so to reach the glacier plateau below the north face. Avoiding most of the rock buttress normally followed, he climbed the more dangerous but faster icefall alongside—Ed.] Starting well left of the original 1976 Japanese route and a little left of the fallline of the giant seracs that characterize the lower section of this route, I climbed snow and ice couloirs to a rib that gave access to the objectively threatened terrain at the left edge of the large serac barrier. From there I bypassed the seracs on the left and continued on steep snow slopes to join the Japanese route. At an altitude between 6,800- 6,900m, after almost 1,900m of new climbing at Alpine ED (the grade reflects objective dangers and conditions, as well as technical difficulty), my general fatigue, grave avalanche danger, and excessive quantities of deep snow made me give up. I made a delicate descent of the Japanese route, having close shaves when the mountain shrugged off large powder snow avalanches. On my return to Kathmandu I found I had lost six kilos in body weight.

Jordi Tozas, Spain

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