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American speed climber Chad Kellogg on previous climb.
courtesy Chad Kellogg, SOURCE
"We have plans to attempt Lunag Ri again next year knowing much more about the face and time of year to climb," Chad ended his climbing report.
Image by Chad Kellogg, SOURCE
The late Joe Puryear (shooting) and David Gottlieb.
Image by Joe Puryear courtesy Joe Puryear - David Gottlieb, SOURCE
In 2009, David and Joe climbed Lunag Ri SE/Jobo Rinjang Direct Route in alpine style. In image by Joe, David is arriving at 6,500 meters after 21 hours climbing.
Prominent peaks on Lunag Massif, courtesy of Joe Puryear and David Gottlieb (click to enlarge).

Unclimbed: attempt on highest virgin mountain in Nepal

Posted: Nov 01, 2012 02:41 am EDT
(Newsdesk) In 2009, David Gottlieb and Joe Puryear climbed Lunag Ri SE and compiled a map of the area for others to follow.

Puryear died in a climbing accident the following year and now David has returned to Lunag Ri with fellow American Chad Kellogg to attempt the highest top (6895m) in the massif.

The peak can be seen from Cho Oyu BC looking through Nangpa La and actually represents the highest unclimbed mountain in Nepal. Chad and David are well seasoned for the challenge: together they made the first ascent of Pangbuk Ri (6,625m).

The Americans recently checked in from Lunag Ri Base Camp, south of the Lunag Glacier at 16,900 ft, reporting that ABC was established.

Carrying heavy loads to the advanced base in several rounds, the men found the wall more covered in snow and ice but sunnier than anticipated.

Two possible routes materialized. One very steep that would require a lot of aid climbing on the upper pitches and considerable danger from seracs and avalanches on the lower part.

The second, to the right of the center, looks like, "something on the Denali Diamond except that is begins at 17,900 ft and tops out at 22,000 ft," Chad wrote: "The majority of the line looks like ice and steep mixed climbing with a few sections of aid climbing. We would still need the portaledge as there are no obvious places to bivy."

They finally chose the second option. Check out Puryear and Gottlieb’s Jobo Rinjang debrief for an idea of what it will be like.

Other obstacles: weather, illness and money

One other expedition in BC, a 9-men Swiss team, plan a different, shorter climb.

A storm supposed to hit Wednesday (Halloween) was expected to delay the American summit attempt a few more days. "If the storm does arrive we will have to wait for the face to shed new snow. We shall see," Chad said.

Delayed by the recent plane crash holding up logistics, David and Chad have only weeks to negotiate weather and illness before financial and other restraints force them back.

"Thanks to support from family, friends, AAC grants and sponsors I am able to be here, but with the belt cinched tighter than ever," Chad wrote, "[...] This being said, David and have enough to make it back to Kathmandu."

They expect the wall will take them 4-5 days to ascend, another for the summit day, and yet another to descend. "We anticipate temps near zero on the upper wall not taking wind chill into account," Chad said. "This is going to be a cold endeavor!"

Chad hoped to get a chance to post after the storm when they are ready to blast up. Follow the action in the streams or here.

Chad Kellogg has climbed extensively throughout the states and South America, with a number of new routes from Alaska to Argentina, and a large number of first ascents in China. He made speed climbs on peaks such as Mount Rainier (2004) and Denali's West Buttres (solo speed record) in 2003, and several attempts to speed climb Everest no O2. He soloed Aconcagua's south face via a new route and made the first ascent on Pangbuk Ri (6,625m) with David Gottlieb.

Specialized in new routes and/or first ascent on Himalayan 6000ers, David Gottlieb used to partner with the late Joe Puryear. He is also a top mountain & climbing photographer. David and Joe bagged the virgin SE summit of Nepal's Lunag Ri two years back and compiled a useful list of surrounding peaks for future climbers. In 2010, Joe and David were busy as ever in Rolwaling valley exploring frozen waterfalls and preparing for a first ascent of the 6,771-meter (22,215-foot) Takargo peak. October 27 on Labuche Kang a cornice broke off and Joe fell to his death.

Sherpa Adventure Gear, based in Kathmandu, launched a grant honoring Puryear. A 7 years old Sherpani was chosen among a pool of 30 kids from Namche Bazaar for full primary and secondary education granted by the scholarship.

Related:

Everest direct: ExWeb interview with speed climber Chad Kellogg

Debrief: Chad Kellogg and David Gottlieb first ascent of Pangbuk Ri

Best of ExplorersWeb 2010 Awards - Special mention

Climbing community worldwide mourns Joe Puryear, lost in Tibet

Puryear and Gottlieb’s Jobo Rinjang debrief: First ascent on the wild side of Khumbu

#Mountaineering #topstory