Japanese succeed on the oft-tried south pillar of Kyashar

Posted by Lindsay Griffin on 16/12/2012
On the headwall of Kyashar south pillar. Yasuhiro Hanatani
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Tatsuya Aoki, Yasuhiro Hanatani, and Hiroyoshi Manome have made the long awaited first ascent of the elegant south pillar of Kyashar (a.k.a Peak 43, 6,770m) in the Khumbu region of Nepal's Mahalangur Himal.

Kyashar and its south pillar will be well-known to all those climbing the highly popular Mera Peak, as the approach passes directly below, through an expanding cluster of tea houses known as Tangnag.

The first official ascent of the mountain took place in October 2003, when Sam Broderick, Andi Frank and Bruce Normand climbed the west ridge/west face from the col between Kyashar and Kusum Kanguru.

The accomplished Czech alpinist, Marek Holecek, went to Kyashar three times. In 2001 he attempted the south pillar with David Stastny, the pair climbing for 60 hours to reach a sort of snow shoulder below the upper pillar at ca 5,600m.

The same year Mick Fowler and Paul Ramsden came to attempt the southeast pillar to the right, but found the approach too dangerous and never set foot on the mountain.

Holecek was back in 2005, this time with Jan Doudlebsky. The south pillar wasn't on but the two climbed a new line on the southwest face to join the west ridge at 6,500m, from which point they descended.

The same pair returned in 2008 and climbed the southwest flank of the south pillar at WI6 and M7 to reach the shoulder, whereupon Doudlebsky's inflamed tendons dictated retreat.

In 2010 it was the turn of Andy Houseman and Tony Stone. After making basecamp in Tangnag, this pair found the southwest flank bare of ice, so climbed through the rock buttress forming the base of the ridge.

This culminated in three long, very loose and in the case of the final pitch, particularly bold climbing at around British HVS. The two retreated having gained the start of the upper pillar at 5,700m.

Houseman returned in 2011 with Nick Bullock but the weather proved so dire that they were not able to get onto the route. An attempt to repeat the west ridge also failed.

The three Japanese also established basecamp in the village of Tangnag (ca 4,300m, and only a couple of hundred metres below the start of the pillar), and after acclimatizing with an ascent of Mera Peak, set off on the morning of the 6th November.

Following the Houseman-Stone line, they climbed 17 pitches on the initial rock buttress to a bivouac at 5,200m. Although the climbing was not too difficult (5.8/5.9) they found the rock to be extremely loose.

Next day they climbed three pitches through the rock band above (5.9) to reach the shoulder above the hanging glacier in the middle of the route. Crossing this, they climbed five pitches on the upper pillar (5.8) and bivouacked at 5,800m.

Day three saw them climbing a further seven pitches on rock (5.10a on the fourth pitch) to reach a wall of snow they dubbed the Slide. Overcoming only half of this that day, they bivouacked at 6,100m.

On day four the three finished the Slide and a section of mixed terrain above (six pitches, with three or four graded 5.8 and M5) to reach a snow arête. Here, the conditions were very poor, with sugar-like snow, and they bivouacked at 6,350m.

Their fifth day proved to be the most taxing. The crux of the entire route was the five-pitch snow arête. It took a whole day to cross this section, which was completely ungradeable, featuring feather-like unconsolidated snow up to 80°. They made a bivouac that night at 6,500m, perched atop a snow mushroom.

Directly above, the headwall was very steep, so the team made a 60m rappel left, climbed up two pitches of 5.9 and M5, two more of steep solid ice, and reached the summit ridge. They were taking photos from the top of Kyashar at 4 p.m., after which they descended the west ridge to a bivouac at 6,250m.

On their seventh day they reached the col at the base of the west ridge, negotiating four difficult pitches. All that was left was to continue down to Tangnag, where they arrived at midnight.

Happy with their achievement, and because they were helped considerably during a cold autumn by the warmth of the sun's rays on route, they named the climb Nima Line (nima means sun in Nepali; 2,200m, ED+, 5.10a and M5).

Thanks to Hiroshi Hagiwara for help with this report
 



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