Stéphane Benoist and Patrice Glairon-Rappaz climbed a new, direct route up the south face of 7,861-meter (25,791-foot) Nuptse in Nepal, before halting at the summit ridge in the face of extreme cold.
After one previous attempt, the two men climbed the 6,500-foot face alpine-style in three days, with difficulties up to M5 and vertical ice. They reached the summit ridge at about 25,250 feet in the evening of the third day and opted to descend to their bivouac gear without achieving the peak. As it was, they did not reach their high camp until nearly 3 a.m., and Benoist suffered frostbite in his feet that required a helicopter evacuation following their successful descent.
Nuptse’s south face was first climbed during the 1961 British expedition that made the first ascent of the peak. In 2003, Valery Babanov and Yury Koshelenko succeeded on the much-tried southeast buttress, making the first ascent of Nuptse East in the process. Three years later, Glairon-Rappaz made a remarkable solo attempt on the south face, reaching about 21,650 feet on the line that he and Benoist eventually climbed this fall. The French line intersected the 1961 British route at the final couloir; the two called their route Are You Experienced.
In the case of Benoist and Glairon-Rappaz, the answer is yes: The two men, both 37, have had major successes in the Himalaya. Among other firsts, they completed a new line on the north face of Thalay Sagar in India in 2003, and a new route on the west face of Chomo Lonzo North in Nepal in 2005.
See a great selection of photos from the route at montagnedumonde.over-blog.com.
Dates of Ascent: October 27–30, 2008