French Pioneer Big Peak in Nepal

The new French route, Close the Door, on the southeast face of Lunag I. Courtesy of

The new French route, Close the Door, on the southeast face of Lunag I. Courtesy of

12/21/10 - Four French climbers have climbed a big new route in the Lunag massif, near the Nepal-Tibet border. Max Belleville, Mathieu Detrie, Mathieu Maynadier, and Seb Ratel climbed the southeast face of a shoulder of Lunag I (6,895m/22,621’; mistakenly labeled Lunag II in their reports) over three days in late October. (See video below in French.)

The four men warmed up with a non-technical ascent of a 5,800-meter peak, followed by an attempt on the north face of 6,478-meter Jobo Lecoultre. They climbed about 900 meters over two days and reached the foresummit at 6,200m but could not continue to the main peak.

On October 24, the four men left base camp for Lunag I and began the climb in the afternoon, placing their first bivy on the southeast face at 5,800 meters. The following day they climbed to 6,200 meters, pausing for an hour under an overhang to wait for cooler temperatures to reduce rock and ice fall. On the third day, good ice gave way to unconsolidated snow in the upper flutes, and their progress slowed. They finally reached the summit ridge after dark, and two more pitches put them on the sub-summit at 10 p.m. In cold wind, they found a spot to bivouac just below the summit to the north and finally put up their tents.

Too tired to continue the long traverse to Lunag I the next day, as planned, they opted to descend the route, making 22 rappels, and return to base camp.

The first successful ascent in the Lunag group was by Americans David Gottlieb and the late Joe Puryear, who climbed Jobo Rinjang in the spring of 2009. That fall, a Swiss-Nepali team claimed the first ascent of Jobo Lecoultre, southwest of the Lunags, and also a 5,777-meter peak just south of the Lunag Glacier.

Date of Ascent: October 25-27, 2010

Sources:, American Alpine Journal,