Confirming that it is still possible to make first known ascents of peaks in Nepal with modest difficulty and altitude, a British party has climbed Chhubohe (5,640m) in the "lost valleys" area of the Damodar Himal, north of the Annapurna Circuit.
Before 2002 the Damodar, with its valleys of Nar and Phu, was off limits to all except scientific parties and rare expeditions to the bigger peaks.
Even today it is a restricted area and needs a special trekking permit.
Using the agency HimEx Nepal, Ian Foster, Brian Jackson, Bug Wrightson, international mountain guide Pasang Sherpa (seven times Everest summiteer), and guide Tendi Sherpa, left the Annapurna Circuit after four days, crossed the Kang La and descended to the Tibetan village of Nar.
At this point they were ca 15km from the Tibetan border, with Chhubohe, the highest point on the Chomochomo Danda range, immediately to the northeast.
The following day they established base camp southwest of the mountain at 4,605m.
Two days later Jackson and Pasang Sherpa slanted north up the hillside to reach a pass on the ridge they named Nar Col. From here they headed north on the crest to reach a 5,506m top they named Jaistai Dada (Just a Hill).
From there they continued on to a black triangular rocky peak at the northern end of the Chomochomo Danda.
This was 5,610m (GPS) and named Kaloche (black peak), both as a reference to it being devoid of snow, and after Jackson's friend, Arnold Black, who had died one year previously from pancreatic cancer.
Early morning on November 16, which began with temperatures down to -20°, saw both Sherpas, Jackson and Wrightson climbing the southwest face of Chhubohe to the snowline.
Reaching a saddle on the crest they turned south and headed up to the summit rock towers. They roped for the final 100m along a narrow snow/rock ridge.
The top, two towers which Wrightson likened to Tryfan's Adam and Eve on steroids, required a jump from the first to reach the highest point.
The lowest of two GPS units gave 5,640m, as opposed to the "official" 5,603m.
Chhubohe (pronounced Chub Chay) was brought onto the official permitted list in 2002. Locals around Nar thought it was an important holy peak and the Lama and others knew of no previous ascents.
The expedition was organized to raise funds for Pancreatic Cancer UK and 100% of all funds raised will go to this charity.
Donations can still be made via the Chhubohe Climb Just Giving Page.
In fact, on this occasion, organizing his own charity expedition meant tables were turned for Jackson. He is a director of a company named ExpeditionWise, which has helped many companies, individuals and charities organise their charity challenges.