Most of the teams heading to the Himalaya this spring have yet to begin arriving Kathmandu. But one squad is already in place on its target mountain and is looking to nab an early season summit. A trio of climbers is already hard at work on a remote peak in eastern Nepal –– in the shadow of Kangchenjunga –– that is as beautiful as it is difficult. Despite that however, the group is already forging ahead and pushing higher up its slopes.
Russians Sergey Nilov and Dmitry Golovchenko are attempt the 7710 meter (25,295 ft) Mt. Jannu, which also goes by the name Kumbhakarna. Although the first ascent of the mountain came way back in 1962, according to ExWeb the team is attempting the Southeast Face of Jannu, which has only been attempted one other time more than ten years ago. Part of the reason it sees so few visitors is that it is incredibly remote on top of being extremely challenging. The three men had few porters to help them shuttle gear to Base Camp and the wilderness surrounding the mountain is rugged and wild. This has already forced a change in plans and one of the team members to drop out of the climb.
Originally, the plan was to acclimatize on a few smaller peaks located nearby before starting the difficult ascent of Jannu. But early-spring conditions are challenging in this part of the Himalaya, causing the team to change plans. That forced Polish climber Marcin Tomaszewski to abandon his intentions of climbing Jannu with the Russians as he feels the conditions are just too dangerous at the moment. Tomaszewski was originally looking to scale the mountain with his friends, but now remains in BC to watch their progress and offer support where he can.
As for the Russians, they’ve already climbed as high as 6510 meters (21,358 ft), making slow but steady progress up the mountain. Their original plan was to tackle a big and technical rock wall that was directly on their route, but they’ve already determined that it was too difficult, so now they’re chasing their route to follow the Southeast Ridge. While less technical, this path will take them directly through a serac field, which offers its own dangers and difficulties. The belief likely is that this early in the season, the ice and snow haven’t really started to melt yet, hopefully keeping everything in place for them to pass through safely.
The weather is the other major challenge at the moment. The summit of the mountain is currently getting blasted by the jet stream, although conditions are expected to improve later this week. If that happens, the team could get the weather window they need to push through for an early season summit. We’ll just have to wait to see if the two Russians find success on this very tough peak.
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