Renan Ozturk and Cory Richards overcame loose rock and dehydration to complete the first ascent of the central south buttress of Tawoche, a circa 6,500-meter (21,325') peak in the Khumbu region of Nepal. The two men spent two and a half days on the route, followed by another day and a half of descent. Ozturk, based in Boulder, Colo., and Richards, out of Canmore, Alberta, said the line was 1,200 meters high and graded ED2 VI 5.10 M4/5.
After a full day of rock climbing, the two reached a bivouac ledge with no snow or ice to melt for drinks or cooking, but despite severe dehydration in the cold winter air, they decided to continue up the following day. They bivied again as soon as they reached snow, and on the third day climbed more loose rock and then moderate ice to the summit. They descended by rappel.
The south buttress of Tawoche (aka Taboche) had been attempted previously by Kris Erickson, Whit Magro, and Adam Knoff in February 2007; they reached 5,700 meters before a storm sent them down. (Earlier on the same trip, these three climbers and Ross Lynn completed the first winter ascent of the peak's east ridge.) During that trip, Ozturk and Seth Hobby reached about 19,000 feet (5,800m) on the southeast pillar, the buttress to the right, which, unbeknownst to them, had been climbed by Jurgen Knapp and Alex Schlonvogt in 1990; the Germans traversed right at the top of the rock pillar to reach the southeast face, the original route on the peak. Ozturk and Hobby tried to climb directly up the face above the pillar but were shut down by poor weather and a difficult rock headwall.
Ozturk and Richards are now volunteering at the Khumbu Climbing School. Remarkably, the two climber/artist/filmmaker/photographers documented their ascent of Tawoche with near-real-time videos, produced in their tents at base camp and in Namche Bazaar. The fourth and fifth videos in the series (below) give a great look at the new climb.
Dates of Ascent: January 13-16, 2010
Sources: Renan Ozturk, Cory Richards, Verticalcarnival.blogspot.com, American Alpine Journal, MountainINFO