Nuptse East Climbed


Russians Valery Babanov and Yuri Koshelenko climbed Nuptse East (7,804 meters) in Nepal via the spectacular Southeast Buttress, a line that had defied 15 years of serious attempts. The two Russians reached the virgin summit on November 2 after a five-day climb. In October, they had reached 7,000 meters on the buttress but were beaten back by storms. Although the two men fixed ropes on the difficult lower buttress, they climbed the upper half of the route alpine-style and encountered serious difficulties in the rock band above their final campsite at 7,450 meters. In the 10 pitches leading to the summit, Babanov reported rock up to 5.7 or 5.8 (French 5a/5b) and mixed climbing to M4 or M5. At 7:30 p.m., well after dark, the two reached the summit, where Babanov reported strong wind and temperature of –25C to –30C (–13F to –22F). They returned to their high camp at 7,450 meters just after midnight. The two carried no sleeping bags above their fixed ropes. “The last three days before making the summit bid we couldn’t sleep at all,” Babanov told a Russian web site. “It was terribly cold. We had only a tent, a foam pad, down jackets and a gas-jet (stove).” The Southeast Buttress of Nuptse East was first attempted in 1986 by Jeff Lowe and Mark Twight, who reached about 6,700 meters in an alpine-style bid. An all-star French team that fixed ropes up the first 1,000 meters of the wall made it to around 7,500 meters in 1994 but was driven back by high winds below the summit. Last year, climbing alpine-style, Barry Blanchard, Steve House and Marko Prezelj reached around 7,300 meters on an alternative route to the left of the buttress. Babanov had attempted the climb twice before, including a solo bid in October 2002. Americans Billy Pierson and Fabrizio Zangrilli also attempted Nuptse East this fall but withdrew in October following a knee injury.