New Route in Nepal

By Dougald MacDonald ,

Britons Nick Bullock and Nick Carter made the first ascent of the 5,250-foot Northwest Face of Nepal's Tengkang Poche (21,325 feet) in a three-day, alpine-style roundtrip. Bullock said the face resembled the classic North Face of Les Droites in Chamonix, France, “but double the size.” The two had previously attempted to complete Bullock’s 2003 line on the peak’s Northeast Face (Love and Hate) but retreated after setting off two avalanches. After carefully assessing snow conditions on the northwest side of the mountain, they left a bivy at the base at 2 a.m. on October 23, climbing snow runnels with occasional steep steps of ice to reach a bivy about 1,000 feet below the ridge in early afternoon. The climbing steepened on the second day and snow conditions worsened; protection was nearly impossible to find. Deep cold made the crux of each lead “a race for a rest point where frozen digits could be rewarmed.” At 7 p.m., they reached the ridge crest and chopped a shelf for a bivouac at 20,375 feet, less than 1,000 feet below the summit. Observing that the heavily corniced, half-mile stretch of the West Ridge above them was going to require “some very special techniques to forge a way onto the summit proper,” the two decided to descend from the ridge crest and “leave this joy to some other, more deserving party.” In the morning, they began rappelling their ascent line, shaken by powder avalanches from new snow that had begun falling. In 12 hours of rappelling and downclimbing, they returned safely to their bivy at the base. Bullock and Carter called the line Edge of Darkness.

Note: The route does NOT follow the red line. This was a projected route, but they actually started up the obvious first snow runnel/gully to the right of the red line, then angled rightward above the big, black rock band to reach another snow/ice line and went direct from there to the ridge line.

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