American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Likhu Chuli I (6,719m), north-northeast face of Pt. 6,660m, north flank and north ridge

Asia, Nepal, Rolwaling Himal

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Author: Lindsay Griffin
  • Climb Year: 2013
  • Publication Year: 2014

On November 13 Ines Papert made the first ascent of Likhu Chuli I, reaching the summit alone. Her partner, Thomas Senf from Switzerland, remained in their top camp, fearing he might get serious frostbite in his toes.

Likhu Chuli I and its lower western summit II (6,659m) also appear on maps as Pigpherago Shar and Pigpherago Nup, respectively. A long ridge running north from Likhu Chuli I eventually crosses the well-known trekking peak Parchamo (6,279m), before dropping to the Tesi Laptsa Pass, a popular crossing point between the Khumbu and Rolwaling

The Likhu Group was officially off-limits until 2003, though in 1960 a French expedition, led by Robert Sandoz and exploring various peaks in the Rolwaling, climbed the steep and difficult west-northwest ridge of Likhu Chuli II, making the first and only known ascent. They established two camps before Cécile Barbezat and Nawang Dorje reached the top. The only known attempt on Likhu Chuli I took place in 2007, when Japanese Koichi Ezaki and Hiroshi Kudo fixed rope up the east flank of the north ridge to gain the crest at 5,950m.

Papert and Senf arrived in the Khumbu hoping to try a new line on the nearby north face of Tengkangpoche (6,487m), but lack of ice forced a change in plan. After a rapid acclimatization climb to the top of Parchamo, and a paraglide from a slightly lower altitude, the pair set off up the Likhu massif's north-northeast face, which leads to an eastern subsidiary top of 6,660m. Excellent conditions allowed them to climb half the 1,800m snow and ice face unroped. Above, sections up to 70° and waist-deep snow proved taxing, and a looming cornice forced them to bivouac just below the top. Next day they breached the cornice, gained the 6,660m top, and set up camp for a second, very cold night.

The following morning they realized climbing the east ridge to the main top would be impossible due to excessive amounts of powder, so instead they made a long traverse across the north flank of the summit pyramid and placed their third camp at 6,580m on the north ridge. Senf decided to wait, and on the following day Papert continued in high winds up 70° slopes to the summit, arriving at 2 p.m. The pair spent another night at the top camp before downclimbing the north ridge to a point where they could descend steeply east to the glacier. Both suffered some frostbite in fingers and toes.

Lindsay Griffin, with information from Ines Papert

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