American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing
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Himjung, Second Ascent and Traverse via West Ridge and North Ridge

Nepal, Peri Himal

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Author: Lindsay Griffin
  • Climb Year: 2018
  • Publication Year: 2019

Austrians Vitus Auer, Sebastian Fuchs, and Stefan Larcher, on their first Himalayan expedition, planned to make the second ascent of Himjung (7,092m) via the unclimbed southeast ridge, approaching from the east. The first ascent of this mountain, in 2012, via the southwest face, had been made by the late Kim Chang-ho and fellow Korean Ahn Chi-young (AAJ 2013). However, the Nepalese authorities refused permission to access the valley to the east, so instead the Austrians set up base camp at 4,800m on the western side of the mountain and looked at other options.

After acclimatizing up to 6,000m on Gyaji Kang and exploring the idea of attempting the southeast ridge of Himjung from the western side, they observed that the unclimbed west ridge was an attractive, elegant line and decided to go for this instead. The intention was to traverse the peak and descend the unclimbed north ridge over a total of four or five days, carrying all their gear. However, renowned forecaster Karl Gabl gave them only a day and a half of good weather, and thus the plan was revised. The three set off from base camp on October 31, and at 5 p.m. the same day they reached a high camp at 6,180m, just before the first steep section of the west ridge.

They set off again at 11 that night, lightly equipped. They simul-soloed up steep névé (55°) through the dark and onto a long, quasi-horizontal section of ridge. Often traversing the 55° flanks of the corniced crest, they crossed a minor summit of about 6,600m, and after six hours had reached the lowest col on the ridge, where they decided to take a break. Unfortunately, with no shelter from the rising wind, in 30 minutes they were forced to start again. They pitched out a steep section shortly below the top, and then, at 9 a.m. on November 1, they reached the summit.

After a good rest on top in a surprising calm spell, they began the long traverse of the north ridge toward 7,126-meter Himlung Himal, eventually descending that peak’s west spur. This ends in a brittle rock face, and it took some time for the three Austrians to find a route around it. They gained the glacier at sunset, crossed it to the south, then laboriously climbed back up to the wait- ing tent and sleeping bags at their high camp, arriving exhausted at 8 p.m., about 21 hours after departing. At 4 p.m. the following day, they were back in base camp. The route, never too technical but very long and sustained, had snow and ice to 55° and a friable rock passage of III.

– Lindsay Griffin, from information supplied by Hansjörg Auer and Vitus Auer, Austria

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