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Slovenian Developments on the Pangpema Plateau

The southwest face of Patibara (7140m), which Slovenians Boris Lorencic and Miha Valic climbed in October, via the red line: The Slovenian Route (IV, 50-60 degrees, 1100m). It was the first time this summit was climbed from Nepal. Lorencic and Valic, along with four other Slovenian alpinists, climbed Patibara and a number of other unexpected objectives from Nepal’s Pangpema plateau when the shattered moraine on the Ramtang Glacier kept them from Kangbachen (7902m), the fifth highest peak of the Kanchenjunga massif. [Photo] Miha Valic

At the end of September the Slovenian Alpine Association organized an expedition to the Kanchenjunga area in the remote northeastern part of Nepal. Led by Himalayan veteran Tone Skarja, the team consisted of six alpinists: Tine Cuder, Matej Kladnik, Ales Kozelj, Boris Lorencic, Mitja Sorn and myself. The expedition doctor was Damijan Mesko. The main goal of the expedition was Kangbachen (7902m), the fifth highest peak of the Kanchenjunga massif. However, due to the shattered moraine on the Ramtang glacier, we could not reach base camp with porters. Thus we decided to raise base camp to the Pangpema plateau and choose new goals from there.

Ales Kozelj climbing the upper part of the south pillar of Drohmo Central (6855m). [Photo] Mitja Sorn

Ales and Mitja made their acclimatization ascent adjacent to the south pillar of Drohmo Central (6855m). They reached the ridge in two days and only joined the previously known route (climbed by Doug Scott and Roger Mear in October 1998) in a few places. Like Scott and Mear, they failed to reach the main summit (6886m) and only ascended to the secondary summit (6855m) on the Drohmo ridge. They found difficulties up to 60-80 degrees, 800m. Additionally, the snow conditions were good, which facilitated the descent via an alternative route.

The central summit (6855m) of the Dhromo ridge. The black line shows the route climbed by Doug Scott and Roger Mear in October 1998; red line shows the route climbed by Ales Kozelj and Mitja Sorn (60-80 degrees, 800m) in October 2007; green line shows the Kozelj-Sorn descent. [Photo] Mitja Sorn

After an unsuccessful attempt on the north face of Wedge Peak (6750m) and Kiratchuli (7365m), Tine, Matej and Ales gave another attempt on the south face of Drohmo while Mitja remained in base camp due to a toothache. They spent the night at the foot of the wall and the next day climbed a new route on the East Peak (6695m) in eight hours. It is speculated that this has never been climbed before. They had relatively good conditions and descended to base camp on the same day, estimating the difficulties on the 900-meter route, Smrdljiva Sled (Stinking Trail), were around TD+: VI/4+ M4.

Boris and I acclimatized on Pangpema Peak (6068m) and then made a first ascent of the unnamed Peak 6630, part of Patibara’s southeast ridge. The steepness of the snowy slopes we climbed reached 45 degrees. After three days we returned to base camp well acclimatized, although we were unable to examine the southwest face of Patibara (Pyramid Peak, 7140m) due to cloudy weather every afternoon.

Stinking Trail (TD+: VI/4+ M4, 900m), climbed by Tine Cuder, Matej Kladnik and Ales Kozelj in October. Their climb was likely the first successful ascent of Dhromo East (6995m). [Photo] Miha Valic

After a few days of rest the weather stabilized, and Boris and I set out for the remote basin under the unclimbed southwest face of Patibara. The next day we climbed to the glacier plateau under the wall and examined our imagined route. We spent the night at 5900m. On the first day of climbing we climbed 50-60 degree snow slopes, spending that night on a narrow shelf under the rocky band (IV, 20m) at 6900m. We reached the summit the next morning. This was the first time Patibara had been ascended from Nepal and likely the second ascent of the main peak (a Korean-Japanese expedition in 1993 first ascended it from Sikkim). We descended via our route and returned to base camp after five days on the mountain. While walking on the shattered glaciers was quite strenuous, the weather and overall good climbing conditions proved the expedition successful.

Mitja Sorn on the secondary summit near the central summit (6855 m) of the Dhromo ridge. [Photo] Ales Kozelj

Mitja Sorn descending the slopes from Drohmo Central. Because snow conditions were good, he and Kozelj were able to descend by the alternative route. [Photo] Ales Kozelj