Phari Lapcha (6,017m), northeast face, Independence Day. From November 8 to 10 Andrzej Sokolowski, Przemek Wojcik, and I made the first ascent of the central couloir on the 1,000m northeast face of Phari Lapcha.
In the 11 p.m. darkness, belaying at 5,500m, Przemek and I could hear Andrzej fighting for every meter. From time to time falling ice bombed us, and we were cold, but we kept moving up slowly. The couloir was typically mixed: thin ice, fragile rock,
and very poor belays. We’d decided to take only two 60m half ropes. It was risky, because if one rope was cut, we’d only have one for the three of us. However, our minimal equipment made movement on the face much easier. Now we were tired and dreaming of a ledge large enough to sleep on. Unfortunately, the best we could manage was an uncomfortable sitting stance.
Next morning we got out of our sleeping bags and heated snow for tea. The weather looked promising, and Everest appeared on the horizon. Looking at it, I asked myself, “Why do I do this? Why am I here?” I quickly returned to reality, with no answers. We continued slowly, seldom finding a safe belay. Loose snow didn’t allow us to move smoothly over the steep terrain, as searching for hand and foot holds beneath the snow was slow. Przemek took us to a vertical wall. Andrzej, the strongest of our team that day, took over and climbed a technically difficult pitch up an icy slab. Above lay a steep couloir. Tired from the vertical ice, Przemek and I reached the ledge where Andrzej was waiting, only 100m below the top. However, it was late and we could only dream of the summit. In the morning the sun woke us, giving us optimism. A few hours later our dreams finally became reality. We named the route Independence Day (ca 1,300m of climbing, WI5+ M7).
Michal Krol, Poland