Recently, my son Dawa Steven went on a short climbing
expedition to Mt. Kyajo Ri (6182m) in the Khumbu, Nepal. Kyajo Ri peak lies
at the far end of two “hidden valleys” behind Khumbila Peak. These hidden
valleys are above the altitude of 4000m and are nestled high above and between
the Gokyo Valley (on the east) and Nangpa Valley (on the west). Dawa Steven,
Nanga Dorje and Pemba Tenzing set out from Khumjung village at 8 am on the 5th
of December, exploring a new approach to the hidden valleys from Khumjung
village itself. Other than a section of an icy gully, the approach was very
straightforward, though off the beaten track.
The three-man team entered into the first hidden valley
welcomed by an immense span of flat green pastures. As they continued walking
north towards the peak, they came to a rocky headwall. On the left side of the
wall was a very wide frozen waterfall, and on the right was a narrow and steep
cut in the wall, littered with loose screed. This became the path to the
second hidden valley. Climbing up and through the narrow cut the team arrived
at the rocky and barren second valley, with a large frozen pond in the centre.
The team set up camp to the north of the pond on a large sandy field. Nearby,
clean water was flowing in abundance and the team drank and ate well.
After dinner the team went to and woke up again at 3 am.
After breakfast and doing a small puja by lighting incense for goodwill from
the gods, they were back on the trail, going for the summit push. An hour
later of walking in the dark, they climbed over the headwall of the second
valley and arrived on to the glacier of Kyajo RI. Crossing over the glacier
saw them come to the base of yet another rocky section leading straight up to
a col. The col is directly south west of the Peak. From the Col the route
turns up towards blue ice and hard granite rock. The team chose to free climb
up and over the rocks to about 200 m below the summit.
At the end of the rocky section, they took out the 180
meters of rope they were carrying and started fixing up the 50Degree slope of
hard blue ice. Miraculously, as their rope finished well below the summit,
they found a 70m section of rope to the summit, left behind by a previous
climbing team. Climbing up to the rope and fixing to it, the team managed to
reach the summit at exactly noon on the 6th of December. The summit of Kyajo
Ri was spectacular, enjoying a 360 degree view of all the major peaks in the
Khumbu and beyond, including Everest (8848m), Lhotse (8516m), Makalu (8481m),
Cho Oyu (8201m), Pumori (7161m), Shisha Pagma(8027m), Amadablam (6812m),
Palung Ri (7013m), Gyanchung Khang (7952m), Ngozumba Ri (7786m), Thamserku
(6608m), Khang Tega (6782m) and many others.
This was a mammoth effort for the team who reached the
summit of Kyajo Ri in 28 hours from leaving Khumjung, where normally teams
would take 5 days. Their climb has demonstrated that climbing the 6000m peaks
in Nepal is very viable in the winter. In fact they enjoyed very sunny days
and the wind was very calm. The ice conditions were hard and solid, and the
snow was very firm. This all led to a very quick and safe climb of Kyajo Ri.
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