Slovenians Bag Coveted Nepalese Peak

By Dougald MacDonald ,

Photos courtesy of Andrej Stremfelj.

A Slovenian duo has completed the alpine-style first ascent of Janak (ca 23,200 feet) in Nepal via its spectacular southwest pillar. Andrej Stremfelj, 49, and Rok Zalokar, 23, climbed the 3,750-foot pillar over two days in early May and then rappelled through the night to return to advanced base camp.

Sˇtremfelj first saw the pillar in 2000, when it was still closed to climbers. The peak was opened in 2002, and the great southwest buttress was featured in Alpinist in 2003, fanning climbers’ imaginations. Stremfelj returned to Janak last fall, but with an ailing partner decided to attempt the right side of the south face; they climbed this wall to the summit plateau but not the top.

This year, after acclimatizing on another peak, Stremfelj and Zalokar started up Janak at 2 a.m. on May 5 and climbed snow and ice to the base of a headwall less than 1,000 feet from the top. After a bivouac here, they made a very difficult two-pitch ice traverse under the headwall, hoping to find an easy exit gully. Instead, the two were confronted with three difficult mixed pitches at nearly 7,000 meters in altitude. They summited at 2:30 p.m. on May 6. Stremfelj said the Janak route was more difficult than his 1992 alpine-style first ascent of 23,560-foot Menlungtse by the Southeast Face and was slightly easier than climbing the Croz Spur of the Grandes Jorasses in winter.

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Photos courtesy of Andrej Stremfelj.

Photos courtesy of Andrej Stremfelj.

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