I reconnoitered the Lunag Massif in 2004 with the aim of documenting an ascent of a virgin summit by two of the greatest living mountaineers of the Sherpa and Balti communities, Apa Sherpa and Abdul “Little” Karim. The project was named Un sommet pour la rencontre des Himalayas—Connecting talent in the Himalaya. I planned the ascent of Jobo Rinjang for autumn 2009 and in October 2008 went to Nepal to prepare the route. I chose the south ridge, establishing base camp close to the foot. Then Vincent Colliard from France, Dawa Sherpa, Krishnar Bahadur Tamang, and I fixed 1,000m of rope to above 6,000m before retreating. There were sections of ice up to 80° and difficult mixed climbing. We left all rope in place for our 2009 attempt.
However, in spring 2009 Jobo Rinjang was climbed via the face to the left [see report and feature article in this Journal]. We returned in the autumn, and from October 6 to 15 Xavier Carrard, Jérôme Haeni, Dawa Sherpa, Krishnar Bahadur Tamang, and I attempted the southwest pillar, which falls from Point ca 6,800m on the ridge a little southeast of Lunag I. We refer to this point as Jobo Rinjang West (its east ridge leads to Jobo Rinjang). We abandoned our attempt at 6,100m because there was too much danger from stonefall for Sherpas and cameramen. Apa and Karim climbed with us to 5,800m. They were filmed by Carrard and photographed by Guillaume Vallot. I would like to return to finish this project.
From October 19 to 22 Carrard, Haeni, I, and, on the last day, Vallot—with some help in preparing the route from Dawa and Krishnar—made the first ascent of Peak 6,589m [Schneider map, but 6,478m on HMG- Finn map]. This summit lies on the frontier ridge southwest of the Lunags, between them and Pang- buk Ri (6,625m). We fixed 900m of rope on the northeast face. From Camp 1 (5,200m) at the foot of the mountain, the first 200m were principally 45° snow slopes, leading to a short ice step of 70°, which gave access to the large central snow/ice field. Using the rocks on the right side we reached Vire de l’Orient, which would make a fine bivouac site.
A rising traverse of 150m on impressive ice flutes led into the central couloir. A section of 80° ice led to four steep pitches of mixed ground. After we returned to ice flutes for two pitches, three long mixed pitches led to a small notch on the frontier ridge, leading northwest to the summit. We continued over a series of cornices to the summit, the highest point being on top of a cornice entirely suspended over space. The elegance of the route matches its difficulty. The mountain is a climber’s dream, and we proposed the name Mt. Antoine LeCoultre or Jobo LeCoultre to the Ministry.
On October 24 Apa, Carrard, Karim, Vallot, and I climbed Peak 5,777m just south of the Lunag Glacier. This will make a fine trekking peak.