Nuptse, South Face, Attempt

Nepal, Mahalangur Himal / Khumbu Section
Author: Rodolphe Popier. Climb Year: 2015. Publication Year: 2016.

Two teams shared a permit during the autumn for attempts on the south face of Nuptse. Colin Haley (USA) and Ueli Steck (Switzerland) hoped to make an alpine-style ascent of the 2003 Babanov-Koshelenko Route on the southeast pillar of Nuptse East I (7,804m), while the French climbers Benoit Guigonnet and Hélias Millerioux hoped to complete a new route to the main summit (7,864m), between the 2008 Benoist-Glarion-Rappaz line Are You Experienced and the Cobweb Wall.

During acclimatization Steck climbed the north face of Cholatse with Tenji Sherpa, while Guigonnet and Haley went up the original British route on Nuptse to 6,050m. Millerioux then accompanied Steck and Kilan Journet on a “run: Starting from Chukung (Chhukung, 4,700m), they first reached the Amphulapcha La, and then went up the east-southeast ridge of Peak 6,230m, on the ridge separating the Amphulapcha and Ama Dablam glaciers, and returned to Chukung in a round-trip of just eight hours.

Observing the conditions and realizing chances for either project were slim, the four combined forces for an alpine-style repeat of the original British route. Starting from Chukung, and with Steck breaking trail throughout, they reached a bivouac at 6,900m after 9.5 hours and a vertical gain of 2,170m. The difficulty was about D, similar to the Jaeger or Macho couloirs on Mt. Blanc du Tacul. In an uncertain forecast, and after a windy and cold night, the four retreated, Steck downclimbing all the way, fast, while the others followed more sedately, with some rappels. Only one route, the 1961 British Route, has been completed to the main summit of Nuptse from the south (summit first reached by Dennis Davis and Tashi Sherpa), and this still remains unrepeated.

Rodolphe Popier, The Himalayan Database, France