First ascent of high Nepalese summit

Posted by Lindsay Griffin on 27/05/2009
Approaching Jobo Rinjang. Joe Puryear

David Gottlieb and Joe Puryear made the first ascent of Jobo Rinjang (aka Ribjang), a difficult 6,778m peak just west of the Nangpa La in Nepal's Rolwaling Himal.

Several names have been given to the complex massif, loosely brought onto the permitted list in 2002, which lies between the Nangpa and Lunag Glaciers. There appear to be five tops on the north-south ridge forming the upper west side of the Nangpa Glacier, the highest, at the southern end, 6,895m. Jutting east from this summit, a corniced crest, more than two kilometres long, leads to a fine pyramidal summit. Puryear has suggested this as Jobo Rinjang and the whole group as the Lunag Massif.

After a period of thorough reconnaissance and acclimatization, which included an ascent of the increasingly popular 6,186m Kyajo Ri, the American pair set up base camp at Lunag (5,050m), an abandoned settlement that used to form the first good grazing spot for yaks crossing the old trade route over the Nangpa La from Tibet.

With most Lunag summits heavily guarded by treacherous serac barriers, the only feasible line seemed to be the South Face of Jobo Rinjang, and reaching its foot across the tortuous, rubble-filled Lunag Glacier proved taxing.

After a bivouac at the base, the two had to climb nearly 1,400m up the South Face, at first on rotten rocky slabs and then ice, before they were able to find a safe bivouac site. Their line lay between two serac barriers high on the face and was exposed to rock fall throughout. After 21 hours of tense climbing and bombardment, fortunately without incident, the two traversed onto the top of the right-hand ice cliff and settled down at c6,500m for well-earned rest.

Next day, pure ice changed to their favourite terrain; steep unconsolidated snow flutings. With no real protection or belays, they continued to the summit and camped on top.

The ridge towards Lunag I (6,895m) proved to be very narrow and heavily corniced. A whole day was spent trying to work along the flanks but it became clear that the warm temperatures produced by a spell of perfect weather were simply not conducive to success. They returned for another night on the summit of Jobo Rinjang and then reversed their ascent route the following day. Most of the ground was rappelled, the rope passed directly through Abalakov threads, so no gear was left behind.

In the accompanying photo Jobo Rinjang is the fine snowy pyramid directly above David Gottlieb, and the route of ascent took the ice face on its left flank, seen in profile.

This is the second, major, Rolwaling first ascent for the pair in just six months: in the autumn of 2008 they climbed the elegant Kang Nachego (6,737m), south east of Gauri Shankar.



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