Langdung, Southeast Ridge, Bihana
Nepal, Rolwaling Himal
IN OCTOBER 2017, Jesus Ibarz and Pablo Ruiz were part of a Spanish Alpine Team expedition to the Rolwaling, led by Mikel Zabalza. They decided to return independently in October 2018 and brought along Edu Recio. The goal of this trip was the unclimbed south face of Drangnag Ri (6,757m; the right side of this face, leading to the upper south ridge, was attempted in 2014; see AAJ 2015). However, the team discovered this magnificent face is protected by a difficult and complex approach, for which they did not have time.
On the suggestion of Zabalza, who was also in the region to attempt another line on Drangnag Ri, the three went to look at Langdung (6,357m), a peak at the head of the Rolwaling (a.k.a. Ripimo Shar) Glacier, climbed in late December 2017 by a four-member Sherpa team (AAJ 2018). The Spanish were immediately attracted to the southeast ridge, the bottom section of which features a triangular buttress of red granite.
It took a day to reach base camp from Na, then a second day to establish an advanced base close to the mountain. On the third day they climbed several pitches on the lower triangular wall, including the technical crux of the route, a friable chimney (6c+). They fixed 200m of rope (which was later removed) and then returned to their tent for the night, where the temperature fell to -16°C.
The next day, October 28, the three left at 3 a.m., re-ascended the lower section, and by the time dawn broke they were already on the upper wall, overcoming pitches of 5+ to 6b. At around 11 a.m. they arrived on the crest of the ridge at about 6,000m. They continued along the well-defined crest over ice and rock of variable quality, finding some of the climbing quite delicate (graded 4 to 5), and their acclimatization for this altitude less than perfect. The ridge seemed never-ending, but eventually, at 4 p.m., they reached the summit, exhausted.
The original plan had been to reverse the ridge, but because of its length they opted instead to descend a gully on the southwest face. The anticipated quick retreat turned into an 18-rappel descent, the rock becoming progressively worse as they went down. The bergschrund was reached at 11 p.m., and their advanced base regained via the glacier one hour later, after several more rappels. The ascent, which gave around 1,500m of climbing [700m vertical height from the base of the rock wall], was named Bihana (meaning “dawn,” 6c+).
– Information supplied by Pablo Ruiz, Spain