American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Kangcho Nup, North Face, Attempt

Nepal, Mahalangur Himal, Khumbu Section

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Author: Martin Klestinec
  • Climb Year: 2014
  • Publication Year: 2015

In the autumn season, David Kovarik, Tomas Svoboda, and I, from the Czech Republic, attempted the impressive north face of Kangcho Nup (a.k.a. Kangchung Nup or West, Cholo, or Abi; 6,043m HGM-Finn map). The twin Kangchung peaks (west and east) lie south of the Gyubanare Glacier, and according to all information available had seen no attempts on their steep, mixed north faces.

We approached via Gokyo, and on October 11, after acclimatization, established advanced base below the north face. During the next few days Typhoon Hudhud deposited ca 50cm of new snow. It wasn’t until October 18, when conditions had stabilized, that we were able to make our attempt. The face had changed radically—slopes up to 65° were now covered in heavy snow. We climbed gullies on the right side of the face, making two bivouacs. The first, at 5,500m, was uncomfortable, with only sitting room; the second, at 5,800m was beneath a small rock tower on the west ridge. Due to the poor rock quality, protection was sometimes purely psychological and at other times impossible. Difficulties on steep sections reached WI4 M6. Just beneath the second bivouac we had a lucky break, when we released a large avalanche that completely cleaned the couloir we had just climbed. Above this bivouac, conditions got significantly worse and at around 5,900m we decided to retreat, after 1,200m of height gain.

[Editor’s note: Kangcho Nup was first climbed in early April 1953, as part of acclimatization and oxygen testing during John Hunt’s Everest expedition, via the ca 50° east ridge from the col between Nup and Shar. This route was repeated the following autumn by Charles Evans and three Sherpas, who also made the first ascent of the lower Kangcho Shar (marked 6,083m on the HGM-Finn map).]

Martin Klestinec, Czech Republic

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