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Home » Climbing Notes » KYAZO RI


Kyazo Ri (6120m) had only
one previous official ascent, in 2002, via the southwest ridge. On
October 29, at 6 a.m., John Kear and I embarked for the jagged south
ridge. After a traverse beneath the east face, a difficult mixed pitch
brought us to a large glacier-filled basin, followed by 500 more feet of
mixed terrain. We shortened the rope and simulclimbed to a col, where we
dropped a rope, stove and our second tools to lighten up. John was soon
cranking out the next few pitches at 5.7-5.8 on solid granite. After
weaving our way through choss on the east side of the ridge, we scaled a
committing pitch back onto the crest, below the final tower, at 5.8 X.
John then led a pitch of exposed, overhanging 5.9 jug hauling and did a
little pendulum/lower to a ledge forty feet below to access simpler
climbing. We simuled the ensuing mixed ground and took turns leading
over sharp granite and solid alpine ice. Some moderate mixed climbing
and alpine ice (AI3) brought us to the long summit ridge, and at last
the summit, at around 5 p.m.–pretty close to dark. We rappelled (with
one sixty-meter rope) and down climbed the 4,000-foot descent to the
glacier, ascended 2,000 feet of steep, frozen kitty litter to the south
ridge, then descended and traversed around to our camp on the northeast
side of the mountain. Twenty hours after leaving camp, we were back,
having completed the second ascent of the most beautiful mountain in the
upper Gokyo, via a new route: the South Ridge (V 5.9 AI3).

After a rest day we headed over the Chola Pass for Cholatse’s
east-northeast face. The lower face was boney and we were not sure it
would go, but a blue serpent of ice ran down the entire upper face. We
began the climb on October 7. Subsequent research showed that our
start–200 feet of WI5–had been climbed in 2005 by Slovenians, part of
a line (VI M6 5.10c 90 degrees, 1700m, Humar-Kozelj-Opresnik) that was
itself a variation to the 1984 American Route (VI AI5 5.9 A2 mixed, 39
pitches, Bibler-Freer-Jackson-Stewart). After the direct start, our
variation included three “turf warfare” pitches to the right of the
American Route, the last of which required John to trust frozen turf
sticks through bulges (M6 R). We then rejoined the American Route for
the next few pitches, including “The Belly Crawl,” which I led with a
desperate crawl under a shallow roof then a wild step out onto thin
rotten vertical ice (M5 WI5). The following day I left John in a cave,
wiggled in a blue Alien, then tapped rotten, slightly overhanging ice
for sixty feet of sustained WI5+ climbing with psychological protection.
Two thousand feet of pure waterice followed, including the “Sapphire
Dragon,” a 360-meter long silver-blue ice flow. We reached our high camp
as the sun was nearing the skyline. On the summit day, after numerous
simulclimbed WI3 pitches and one scary vertical snow lead, the rockband
separating us from the southeast ridge unveiled the crux of the route.
Where the Slovenians had gone left out a ramp and the Americans right up
a gully, we went straight up an amazing 140-foot M6 pitch and a 190-foot
WI5+ pitch, all above 20,000 feet, to join the southeast ridge. Once on
the ridge we climbed six more AI4+ “Mushroom Ridge” pitches, escaping
out onto the southeast face when necessary, to reach the summit in the
dark. Sixteen difficult rappels got us back to our tent. We were
rappelling by morning. Pasang, our cook, met us at the base of the wall
with warm cheese bread, hot tea, a big smile and a bigger “namaste.”

Seth Hobby, Bellingham, Washington