Slovenians Find Success in Nepal

By Dougald MacDonald ,

The south pillar of Drohmo (22,490 feet), with the new Slovenian line in red, their descent route in green, and the 1998 British route in black. Photo by Mitja Šorn.

A six-member Slovenian team managed four new routes in the Kangchenjunga area of northeastern Nepal, after failing to reach the base of its original objective. The Slovenians arrived in the area in late September, hoping to climb Kangbachen (7,902 meters), but unstable moraine on the Ramtang Glacier prevented their porters from reaching base camp. Switching gears, they moved to the Pangpema area, where several members of the team had climbed in 2002.

Aleš Koželj and Mitja Šorn succeeded on a new line on the south pillar of Drohmo (6,855 meters/22,490 feet), close to the Roger Mear–Doug Scott route from 1998. After two days and about 2,600 feet of climbing on steep snow and ice, they reached the ridge and a subsidiary peak, but, like the British team, were unable to climb to the main summit (6,886m). Finding great snow conditions, they downclimbed the face by another line, farther to the right.

After unsuccessful attempts on the north faces of Ramthang Chang (Wedge Peak) and Kirat Chuli (Tent Peak), Aleš Koželj, Tine Cuder, and Matej Kladnik climbed a new route on the south face of Drohmo East (6,995 meters) in eight hours, returning to base camp the same day. They called the 3,000-foot Smrdljiva sled (Stinking Trail, TD+, with steep ice and M4 mixed climbing).

Mitja Šorn leads steep ice on the south pillar of Drohmo. Photo by Aleš Koželj.

Boris Lorencic and Miha Valic acclimatizated on Pangpema Peak (6,068m) and the first ascent of an unnamed, 6,630-meter (21,750-foot) peak along the southeast ridge of Pathibhara (Pyramid Peak), via 45-degree snow slopes.

After a few days of rest, they made the first ascent of the southwest face of Pathibhara (7,140 meters/23,425 feet). It took two days to reach the remote basin under the face, and then they spent two days on the climb, bivouacking at 6,900 meters under a steep, 65-foot rock band that they overcame the next morning to reach the summit. This was the first ascent of Pathibhara from Nepal and probably the second ascent of the main peak. (An Indian-Japanese expedition climbed it from Sikkim in 1993.) They descended via the same route and returned to base camp after a five-day round trip.

Koželj and Valič had previously climbed in this area with a large group in 2002, an expedition marred by a serious incident of Maoist extortion, including a brief period of incarceration. To avoid encountering the Maoists during their trek out, the team was forced to charter a helicopter out of the region.

Dates of Ascents: October 2007

Sources: Miha Valic, American Alpine Journal,

Beautiful mixed ground near the top of the south face of Drohmo East (22,950 feet), which three Slovenian alpinists climbed in just eight hours. Photo by Tine Cuder.

The southwest face of Pathibhara (23,425-feet), with the Lorenčič-Valič line marked. They made the first ascent of the peak from Nepal and probably the second overall. Photo by Miha Valič.

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