Dudh Kundali (6,042m), south ridge and traverse; Point 5,518m. Our expedition didn’t reach our proposed base camp in the heart of the massif northwest of Kanjiroba, let alone Patrasi (6,450m), our primary objective. Our gear, which we has shipped by land, hadn’t caught up with us, and we were missing 200m of rope that we needed to get through the steep, snowy col that connects to the Jagdula Khola valley.
Since we couldn’t climb Patrasi, we focused our efforts on the southern part of the range. This region was first explored in 1953 by Herbert Tichy, who made the first ascent of Dudh Kundali (from the west), naming it Dui Tal Chuli (The Heavenly Torch Between the Two Lakes). [The peak was climbed again in 1990 by a French expedition from the east.] On November 11 and 12 we climbed the south ridge from the east, naming the route A Torch for Tibet (III/AD+, snow). Hugues De Varax, Yveline Gobil, Victor Lapras, Michelle Quatrini, Chhotemba Sherpa, Philippe Wagner, and I made the ascent. The route is similar to the famous Rochefort Arête in the Mont Blanc massif. We climbed alpine style, with no fixed ropes.
On the 13th Jean Berthet and I traversed Dudh Kundali. We ascended the south ridge and descended the northwest, or Bosses Arête, to Lake Jagdula. Traversing is a form of alpinism rarely seen in the Himalaya.
At the end of our trip we completed our reconnaissance of the massif by establishing an alpine hiking route west from Lake Jagdula to Jumla via the Lubdu (Lungbu) Valley and the village of Chotra (Churta). We crossed the watershed via Col Tichy, a huge, glaciated saddle at 5,488m. While passing through this, we deviated to climb a small, snowy 5,518m summit. Also, access to Kanjiroba base camp is now much simpler, as it is no longer necessary to climb back up through “impassable” gorges. We established a new route we called The Honeymoon Trail, because of the epic journey to the mountain in 1999 by a group of young British alpinists, including honeymooners Alison and Tom Wedgwood. It is no longer necessary to say, as in a HIGH Magazine headline at the time, “The hardest part of Kanjiroba is the approach.” Further information can be found at www.paulo-grobel.com.
This expedition confirmed the exceptional appeal of the Kanjiroba massif. Even during the height of the tourist season we didn’t encounter other expeditions. Above all, the people of Hurikot were warm and hospitable. In these impoverished western regions, rarely visited by tourists, the economic impact of an expedition is real and important. It is a way of giving more weight and credibility to alpinism. Our presence in this far off place allowed us to share the economic benefits that tourism has brought to the interior of the country. With peace returning to Nepal, it is time to check out this rarely visited range and get to know the mountains of western Nepal.
Paulo Grobel, France (translated by Todd Miller)