In late October, four Japanese climbers led by Himalayan veteran Osamu Tanabe completed the first ascent of the west face of Nemjung (7,140m/23,425'), near Manaslu in Nepal.
Tanabe, Michihiro Kadoya, Yasuhiro Hanatani, and Nobusuke Oki acclimatized on nearby Himrung Himal, and then completed a two-day approach to the base of the west face, at about 6,000 meters. On October 29, they climbed 18 pitches up an ice face and bivouacked at about 6,840 meters. The following day they reached the west ridge and continued to the summit before returning to their high camp. On October 31, they rappelled the face and returned to base camp.
Tanabe, 48, has climbed many 8,000-meter peaks, and in 2006 he led a team that nearly climbed Lhotse by its daunting south face in winter. Nemjung was the first major peak he has climbed in the Himalaya in alpine style.
The Japanese climb may have been only the second ascent of Nemjung. The peak likely was first climbed in 1983, via the east ridge, by another Japanese expedition. Last year, from October 11 to 15, French climbers Yannick Graziani and Christian Trommsdorff climbed a beautiful and difficult line on the 2,300-meter south spur, reaching the summit ridge at ca. 7,000 meters.
In 1994, a British team attempted the west ridge of Nemjung, approaching it from the south side (opposite the Japanese climb). They reached 6,400 meters before retreating in the face of “ferocious” winds and unstable cornices.
Dates of Ascent: October 27-31, 2009
Sources: Hiroshi Hagiwara, American Alpine Journal