Kalanka and the Piolet d'Or Asia

Posted by Lindsay Griffin on 14/11/2008
Kalanka (6,931m) from the north east. Kenton Cool

A new breed of Japanese alpinists is rapidly becoming a force to be reckoned with: the second major ascent by young Japanese climbers in the Indian Himalaya this autumn was a new route on the much coveted North Face of Kalanka (6,931m), the higher easterly neighbour to Changabang in Eastern Garhwal.

The Central Spur on the North Face has become one of the most sought-after lines in the Garhwal. Back in 1977 a Czechoslovakia team climbed the right side of the North Face to gain the col between Changabang and Kalanka, then up the West Ridge of the latter to the summit. Despite the use of fixed ropes, taken in the context of the era this route remains one of the most underrated achievements in the Himalaya.

Fast-forward more than 20 years. In 2001 top Americans, Carlos Buhler and Jack Roberts made the first unsuccessful attempt on the elegant Central (North) Spur. Two years later another American team, Sue Nott and John Varco, climbed the lower part of the spur, then used a portaledge to fix ropes through the vertical to overhanging central barrier (M6), completing all the technical difficulties and bivouacking at 6,550m before forced down by storm. Buhler returned in 2004 with Sandy Allan and John Lyall but the attempt failed at around 6,000m. In 2007 Nick Bullock and Kenton Cool tried another tact, climbing the big snow and ice slopes of the North East Face left of the Spur, only to be defeated on the crest of the East Ridge at over 6,300m.

Thirty-one years old Kazuaki Amano, Fumitaka Ichimura (30) and Yusuke Sato (27) arrived at their 4,500m Bagini Glacier base camp on the 1st September and for the next eight days acclimatized to 5,800m. During this period they established an advanced base below the wall at 5,100m.

On the 14th they regained advanced base and the following day set off up the North East Face, taking a very similar line to the Bullock-Cool attempt. They bivouacked the first night at 6,000m and the following day made a long, almost horizontal traverse right below the upper rock walls to reach the crest of the Central Spur, where they bivouacked at c6,150m. On the 18th the three climbed most of the way through the steep section above (M5+) and bivouacked at 6,550m. They continued a short distance the following day to another bivouac at 6,600m, where they were pinned down for three long days by bad weather.

On the 22nd the weather cleared and Amano, Ichimura and Sato emerged with enough strength to go for the summit. This they reached in a 13-hour round trip from camp, and on the following day continued their descent, opting to follow the much safer line of the Central Spur directly to the glacier. After one more bivouac perched on the crest of the spur at around 6,000m, and a second on the glacier at c5,200m, they returned to base on the 24th, no doubt a trifle peckish having completed a hard 10-day alpine style ascent and descent on just five days food.

Not surprisingly, three days complete rest was necessary before they could even think about bringing down advanced base. The 1,800m route has been name Bushido.

Ichimura and Sato are currently two of the best alpinists in Japan. They belong to a loosely formed group of young climbers that call themselves the Giri-Giri Boys and practice hard modern alpinism, putting up bold new routes with a high level of technical difficulty in fine alpine-style. In the last few years they've made significant first ascents in Bolivia, Nepal, and notably in Alaska.

Bushido was one of six strong nominations for the Third Piolet d'Or Asia. At the award ceremony in Seoul over the weekend of the 8th-9th November, Amano, Ichimura and Sato stepped up to receive the Golden Ice Axe. More about this event will be published shortly.

 Thanks to Tsunemichi Ikeda and Reiko Terasawa for help in preparing this report



« Back

Post a comment Print this article

This article has been read 534 times

TAGS

Click on the tags to explore more

RELATED ARTICLES

Galvan and Zerain disappear while attempting second crossing of Mazeno Ridge.
1
Galvan and Zerain disappear while attempting second crossing of Mazeno Ridge.

Hope of finding the noted partnership of Argentinian Mariano Galvan, and the Spanish-Basque Alberto Zerain, who were attempting an alpine-style ascent of Nanga Parbat's Mazeno Ridge, has now faded after an aerial search on the morning of the 1st July.
Read more »

Where are they going? The BMC Expedition Grants
1
Where are they going? The BMC Expedition Grants

The following teams received grant aid from the BMC for expeditions taking place during 2017. Most are still to leave the UK; some are currently in the field, and some have recently returned, though the results of their endeavours are presently unknown. In general, only the designated expedition organiser is named.
Read more »

British-based climber completes two new routes in Baffin Island
0
British-based climber completes two new routes in Baffin Island

Scottish resident and big wall climber, Marek Raganowicz, has added two demanding aid routes to the overhanging Ship's Prow in Baffin Island.
Read more »

Post a Comment

Posting as Anonymous Community Standards
3000 characters remaining
Submit
Your comment has been posted below, click here to view it
Comments are currently on | Turn off comments
0

There are currently no comments, why not add your own?

RELATED ARTICLES

Galvan and Zerain disappear while attempting second crossing of Mazeno Ridge.
1

Hope of finding the noted partnership of Argentinian Mariano Galvan, and the Spanish-Basque Alberto Zerain, who were attempting an alpine-style ascent of Nanga Parbat's Mazeno Ridge, has now faded after an aerial search on the morning of the 1st July.
Read more »

Where are they going? The BMC Expedition Grants
1

The following teams received grant aid from the BMC for expeditions taking place during 2017. Most are still to leave the UK; some are currently in the field, and some have recently returned, though the results of their endeavours are presently unknown. In general, only the designated expedition organiser is named.
Read more »

British-based climber completes two new routes in Baffin Island
0

Scottish resident and big wall climber, Marek Raganowicz, has added two demanding aid routes to the overhanging Ship's Prow in Baffin Island.
Read more »

BMC MEMBERSHIP
Join 82,000 BMC members and support British climbing, walking and mountaineering. Membership only £16.97.
Read more »
BMC SHOP
Great range of guidebooks, DVDs, books, calendars and maps.
All with discounts for members.
Read more »
TRAVEL INSURANCE
Get covered with BMC Insurance. Our five policies take you from the beach to Everest.
Read more »