"En Tente Cordiale" – first ascent in Nepal

Sitting at home in front of the computer for a week with a broken leg can be a wonderful source of inspiration ? and so it was for me in January 2002, after 3 weeks of windsurfing and climbing in Western Australia with my wife, Véronqiue Marché-Wilson. The Nepalese government had just opened 103 new peaks for climbing. Only 3 long days walk from Lukla, we chose the unclimbed Kyajo Ri (6186m), the highest point in the massif that rises to the north of Namche Bazaar, only 20 miles West of Everest. Talking about our plans among friends soon had Julien Ferrera and Laurent Beurel and Véronique?s brother Vincent Marché joining in.In early October 2002 we set up base camp a little above Machhermo village. After the Puja ceremony we set off up the steep rocky slopes at the end of the cwm to establish camp 1 at the foot of the E face, 5200m. The next day we gained access to the glacier lying at the foot of the E face via a 40m high mixed step, climbed the glacier to the bergshrund, and overcame a 100m high mixed step to reach the SE col and camp 2. 20th October 2002, 1a.m., -20°C, full moon. We set off, only to return 4 hours later, unable to find a way through the S face to the SW ridge. A quick tea and Vincent and myself headed off again, this time losing altitude to reach the Kyajo Glacier, S of Kyajo Ri. By 8a.m. we?ve reached the SW col at 5700m. Roping up for the first time, we can see a glistening 50° ridge of snow and ice leading to the summit. A few steeper sections (60-65°) promise sport along the way, especially where a rock buttress appears near the top. The going is delicate in places, the ice thin and porous. Climbing together with two tools each, occasionally placing the deadman for protection we took the rock buttress at 6050m in order to avoid rotten snow ice steepening to over 70° above, traversed E across the buttress then followed its right edge up a steep snow field to reach the summit in 3½ pitches. From the sharp snow arête on the summit an impressive view extends in all directions, from Everest to Thamserku and Cho Oyu. After an hour on the summit we began our descent at 3p.m, leaving a string of prayer flags fluttering in the slight breeze. Night soon fell and the temperature plummeted to -25°C, our toes suffering a little frost nip but the full moon and the sight of bobbing head-torches coming to greet us soon warmed our spirits. We were back in camp 2 by 9p.m., happily reunited with our friends just as a violent wind-storm began. Tomorrow?s 1200m descent to Base Camp is going to be long? Duncan Wilson