New route in Nemjung south face (Nepal) October 30, 2009
First ascent by Yannick Graziani and Christian Trommsdorff - Oct 11th to 16th,2009
A route of around 2400m long, 45 pitches (+some simu climbing, maybe 25% of the route), ED+, mostly ice/mixed and snow, a few pitches with just rock. Many very delicate snow ridges/walls/flutes to climb or traverse, fantastic gullies and mixed climbing, many vertical sections. A very committing route, complicated abseils during the descent, and also we had to climb from a gully back onto the base of the first tower (which we avoided by a 60m abseil on the way up).
Bottom of the face 4750m, bivies at around 5300m, 5800m, 6200, 6500m. We reached the top of the south face at an altitude of about 7000m.
We climbed the entire route free.
- 2x60 twin ropes
- 4 ice screws (not enough!)
- 6 friends
- a few nuts
- 10 pitons (we dropped 4)
- a few slings
We couldn't climb on Manaslu because of lack of acclimatisation and too much snow... We had a long 12-day period of rest due to very bad weather, but in the end managed to put up what we believe is a new route on the south face of Nemjung.
A great 6-day climb of the south spur, maybe the most beautiful we have ever done, certainly the most continuously steep, sustained and constantly exposed, although no pitches were as hard as the hardest ones on Chomolonzo or Pumari Chhish. Always uncertainty about the key passages; on the last day there was a miraculous hole in the very corniced ridge to cross to the other side.
We reached the top of the south face on Oct 15th at 2:15pm, but not the top of Nemjung. Another bivy would have been necessary to follow the fairly flat and long ridge to the summit, but the lower wind window was closing in on us, and I felt too weak to keep going that day which would have meant a long descent in the dark, so we turned around. The previous day I had been hit on the helmet by big chunk of ice and I felt in a kind of chock state, although I didn't loose consciousness.
Later on the long way down I would have several moments of "absence", in particular when dropping Yannick's backpack (2 days after the climb he went up to a bergschrund and found the pack, but the camera had dropped out...so we have only my photos and lost his 2 hours of film!).
For acclimatising we were able to spend only 3 nights at 5200m, 5400m and 5600m on the ridges east and west of our basecamp, when then had a 12 days forced rest period.
No objective dangers in stable conditions except for an easy 1 minute traverse of a couloir below the big serac. We waited 3 full days after the massive snow dump and started early on Oct 11th, and came back down to BC at 22pm on Oct 16th. Note that on the 2nd day the cold weather helped - the gully behind the first tower has some mixed sections with very poor rock-, and on the third day the absence of strong wind probably prevented icicles falling off the 1st serac on the ridge.
A few more photos of the Nemjung south face first climb on Flickr.
Text and photos © Christian Trommsdorff