Swiss Climb South Face of Jasemba

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The south face of Jasemba (7,350m) on the Nepal-Tibet border with the new Swiss route (shown in red) called Hook or Crook (VI 90° M5, 1,550m). A Slovenian team reached the south ridge (left) from low on this side of the peak in 2004; an Italian team reached the same ridge from the opposite side in 2007. Photo courtesy of Anthamattens.ch.

The south face of Jasemba (7,350m) on the Nepal-Tibet border with the new Swiss route (shown in red) called Hook or Crook (VI 90° M5, 1,550m). A Slovenian team reached the south ridge (left) from low on this side of the peak in 2004; an Italian team reached the same ridge from the opposite side in 2007. Photo courtesy of Anthamattens.ch.

The Swiss climbers Samuel and Simon Anthamatten and Michael Lerjen have completed the alpine-style first ascent of the south face of Jasemba (7,350m/24,114') in Nepal. The trio climbed the very steep snow and ice face in a five-day round trip from base camp.

Jasemba, also known as Pasang Lhamu Chuli or Nangpa Gosum I, straddles the China-Nepal border near Nangpa La and Cho-Oyu. The peak was first climbed in 1986 by a Japanese team. In 2004, a Slovenian party summited by the southeast face and south ridge, and in 2007, Italians Karl Unterkircher and Hans Kammerlander climbed the southwest face to the same ridge. But a direct line up the south/southeast face had never been attempted.

Dangerous snow climbing on the third day of climbing. In such conditions, “you can only move forward like a vole, without any useful belay.” Photo courtesy of Anthamattens.ch.

Dangerous snow climbing on the third day of climbing. In such conditions, “you can only move forward like a vole, without any useful belay.” Photo courtesy of Anthamattens.ch.

Simon Anthamatten leading steep rock at 7,100m on Day 4. Photo courtesy of Anthamattens.ch.

Simon Anthamatten leading steep rock at 7,100m on Day 4. Photo courtesy of Anthamattens.ch.

After a five-hour approach to a bivy at 5,800 meters below the face, the three young Swiss—all mountain guides from Zermatt in their mid-20s—started climbing on October 26. Although the wall had bands of steep ice and rock, the cruxes were sustained passages of insecure snow. “While climbing the ice, we were able to belay very well with our ice screws,” Simon Anthamatten said. “But once you stand in bottomless snow, you can only move forward like a vole, without any useful belay. Our nerves were on edge, because you move on one step and then you fall back two.” The team bivouacked at 6,500 meters and 6,900 meters. The following day, a 150-meter rock wall blocked the way to the summit slopes, but once over this it was only a matter of desperately tiring snow trudging to the top.

The Swiss trio returned to their high bivouac in a crevasse at 6,900 meters, and then rappelled the face the next day: “25 times abseiling on V-threads, stoppers, Camalots, a buried ice axe, and a buried telescope stick (ski pole) segment,” Anthamatten said. They returned to base camp that same day.

The team at base camp. From left, Simon Anthamatten, Samuel Anthamatten, and Michael “Michi” Lerjen. Photo courtesy of Anthamattens.ch.

The team at base camp. From left, Simon Anthamatten, Samuel Anthamatten, and Michael “Michi” Lerjen. Photo courtesy of Anthamattens.ch.

The team’s high camp in a crevasse at 6,900 meters, with just enough space for their two-man tent. “You may imagine how comfortable this night was.” Photo courtesy of Anthamattens.ch.

The team’s high camp in a crevasse at 6,900 meters, with just enough space for their two-man tent. “You may imagine how comfortable this night was.” Photo courtesy of Anthamattens.ch.

The Swiss climb is believed to be the first true alpine-style ascent of Jasemba. Previous teams had fixed ropes and/or camps or rappel anchors on their routes before making their summit pushes.

Dates of Ascent: October 26-30, 2009

Sources:Anthamattens.ch, American Alpine Journal

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