Word has hit Chamonix that Christian Trommsdorff and Yannick Graziani have successfully climbed a bold new route on the south face of Nemjung (7140m) in the Manaslu region of Nepal.
The pair left camp on Saturday, 10 October and made the six-day ascent in exquisite style: the team rocked up to an unfamiliar face, determined a line and sent a gnarly new route on a virgin face, bottom to top, single push, totally self-sufficient. Allez the hardmen.
In an email to the ChamonixInsider, Trommsdorff described the route:
It’s a route of around 2400 meters, 45 pitches (plus some simul-climbing for maybe 25% of the route), ED+, mostly ice/mixed and snow and a few pitches of rock. Many very delicate snow ridges/walls/flutes to climb and traverse, fantastic gullies and mixed climbing, many vertical sections. It was a very committing route. The abseils were complicated and we had to climb from a gully back onto the base of the first tower, which we had avoided on the way up with a 60m abseil.
We only acclimatised for three nights – 5200m, 5400m and 5600m – on the ridges east and west of our basecamp. We then had a forced 12-day rest period.
It was a great six-day climb of the south spur, maybe the most beautiful we have ever done, certainly the most continuously steep, sustained and constantly exposed. Although no pitches were as hard as the hardest ones on Chomolonzo or Pumari Chhish there was always uncertainty about the key passages; on the last day there was a miraculous hole in the very corniced ridge that enabled us to cross to the other side.
On Oct 15th at 14:15 we reached the top of the south face but not the top of Nemjung. Another bivvy would have been necessary to follow the fairly flat and long ridge to the summit. But the lower wind window was closing in on us and I felt too weak to keep going. The previous day I had been hit on the helmet by a big chunk of ice and I felt like I was in a state of shock although I didn’t lose consciousness. Continuing would have meant a long descent in the dark so we turned around. Later, on the long way down, I had several moments of “absence” like when I dropped Yannick’s backpack, for example. (Two days after the climb he went back up to a bergschrund and found the pack, but the camera had fallen out. We lost two hours of his film and we have only my photos left!!!)
Conditions were stable and there were no objective dangers except for an easy one-minute traverse of a couloir below the big serac. We waited three full days after the massive snow dump and started early on Oct 11th. We arrived back down at BC at 22:00 on Oct 16th. Note that on the second day the cold weather helped because the gully behind the first tower has some mixed sections with very poor rock. On the third day the absence of strong wind probably prevented icicles from falling off the first serac onto the ridge.
We climbed the entire route free. Gear : 2×60 twin ropes, four ice screws (not enough!!!), six friends, a few nuts, 10 pitons (we dropped four), and a few slings.
The team had originally planned to put up a new route on Manaslu (8156m) but the mountain has been battered by high winds and unusually high snowfall this season which forced them to change their plans.
“We couldn’t climb Manaslu because of lack of acclimatisation and too much snow…we had a long 12 day period of rest due to very bad weather, but in the end managed to put up what we believe is a new route on the south face of Nemjung.”
Trommsdorff and Graziani have already distinguished themselves with new routes on Makalu (8460m), Chomo Lonzo (7400m), and Paksitan’s Pumari Chischa (7000m). They have also climbed Everest without supplemental oxygen and the south face of Aconcagua.
The third member of the acclaimed TGW team, Patrick Wagnon, missed this trip because he is preparing for an Antarctic expedition with Isabelle Autissier and Lionel Daudet in December.
Although Trommsdorff and Graziani have rated their route ED+, the Insider sticks with its original assessment of Gnarl Factor 11 until the route receives a second ascent.