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Kang Nachugo

This pyramidal peak lies on the Nepal-Tibet border, southeast of Gauri Shankar and south of Melungtse. David Gottlieb and I approached from the town of Shigati (950m, on the Tamba Kosi) to the west, and hiked five days to base camp in the village of Na (4,180m). We acclimatized by climbing Ramdung (5,930m) and a few other peaks in the area. We then turned our attention to Kang Nachugo and made an attempt on the peak’s 1,800m south face, taking a direct line up the center. After three days we retreated in stormy conditions at 6,400m. We returned several days later, leaving on October 14, and establishing our first camp at 4,800m below the south face. Leaving late the same day, we climbed through the night up 500m of broken glacier to the 600m ice headwall, which led to the lowest point on the ridge between Kang Nachugo and Chekigo (6,257m). We made our second camp at 6,000m on Kang Nachugo’s west ridge. On day three we traversed the sharp, corniced ridge to 6,400m and made our final camp. On our fourth day we climbed the last part of the fluted crest to the summit, reaching it at 1:30 p.m. on October 17. The climb had been cold and windy, but we were treated to an excellent windless afternoon on top. On the climb we found snow and ice up to 90° and extensive cornicing.

That night a large upper-level storm hit the Himalaya, and we decided to rappel from our high camp straight down the south face. We did so and reached the lower glacier in 20 rappels over very steep terrain. We then hiked all the way to Na, arriving that evening. From Na we continued east, hiking across the Tesi Laptsa Pass to the Khumbu, climbing Parchamo (6,279m) on the way. We finished with a flight from Lukla to Kathmandu. Our expedition lasted from September 16 to November 2. [Editor’s note: As of spring 2009 the Himalayan Index reported previous ascents of Kang Nachugo. However, the peak was misidentified in the Himalayan Index. Gottlieb and Puryear’s 2008 climb is in fact the first known ascent of Kang Nachugo.]

Joe Puryear, AAC