Much-Eyed Face on Kamet Finally Climbed

Courtesy of Kazuya Hiraide.

Courtesy of Kazuya Hiraide.

Japanese climbers Kazuya Hiraide and Kei Taniguchi have completed the first ascent of the 6,000-foot southeast face of Kamet (7,756m/25,446') in northern India. From an advanced base camp at the base of the wall, the two climbed the technical face alpine-style in six and a half days.

Kamet is the second-highest peak in the Garhwal Himalaya region, after the much better-known Nanda Devi. Although the southeast face has been the stated objective for several strong teams in recent years, it had not seen a serious attempt before the Japanese climb. Hiraide and Taniguchi acclimatized on Kamet’s northeastern slopes, first climbed in 1931 by Eric Shipton, Frank Smythe, and teammates. (Kamet was the world’s first peak over 25,000 feet to be climbed.) The Japanese called their new route Samurai Direct, with difficulties up to M5+ and AI5+. Hiraide and Taniguchi descended by the normal route over two more days.

Video courtesy of

Hiraide, 29, and Taniguchi, 36, have formed a remarkable partnership in recent years, and Taniguchi is among the strongest female climbers active in the Himalaya on technical, alpine-style ascents. In 2004, the two made the first ascent of a technical route on Spantik (7,028m; their route had previously been used to descend from other lines). The following year, they made the second ascent of the southeast ridge of giant Mustagh Ata (7,546m) in western China, then journeyed to the Gangotri group in India’s Garhwal to climb Shivling (6,543m) via a partial new route on the north face.

Dates of Ascent: September 26-October 7, 2008 (summit reached Oct. 5).

Sources: Hiroshi Hagiwara,, American Alpine Journal

Comment on this story