In early December Dawa Steven, Nanga Dorje, and Pemba Tenzing inaugurated a new approach to the Kyajo Glacier, and made a rapid, quasi-winter ascent of Kyajo Ri's standard route on the southwest ridge. The normal approach is via Mende and the valley of Kyajo Drangka, but the three Sherpas began from Khumjung village, leaving at 8 a.m. on the 5th. Working first west, then north, they crossed the Gongla Danda at the Gongla La. They descended the far side into a hidden valley, skirting the steep rocky flanks of Khumbila on a faint but safe path. At one point it is necessary to descend a steep ice gully, or exposed rocks on the outside. (The team used the gully on the approach, but on their return climbed the rock. If using porters, this section would need to be fixed.) On the far side of the valley they slanted up loose scree on the right side of the headwall to enter a second, hidden valley, where they pitched camp north of a small lake. Waking at 3 a.m. on the 6th, they took just an hour to cross the headwall of the second valley and reach the Kyajo Glacier. From there they quickly gained the col at the foot of the southwest ridge of Kyajo Ri and climbed it unroped until ca 200m below the summit. They then fixed 180m of rope up a 50° slope of hard, blue ice above. When their rope ran out, they were fortunate to find a 70m rope, left by a previous expedition, that led to the summit. All three stood on top at noon, having made the ascent from Khumjung in just 28 hours. Normally, an acclimatized team would take around five days. They enjoyed sunny days and calm winds. Ice conditions were hard and solid, and the snow quite firm. This led to a very quick and safe climb of the mountain.
Dawa Steven and Ang Tshering Sherpa, Nepal