(MountEverest.net) Spanish climber Iñaki Ochoa de Olza made the first summit on Shisha Pangma Main (8027m) this fall season. Climbing fast on his own from C1, bad conditions on the upper slopes of the normal route made him look for an alternative way to the top.
Ochoa reports the route he took has at least one exposed section - but otherwise it can pose an interesting alternative for those wishing to sidestep the tricky traverse over the sharp ridge leading from the central summit to the main summit.
The ridge is the biggest crux of Shisha's normal route climb, especially in bad conditions, and increasingly more teams, such as the Italians led by Silvio Mondinelli earlier this year have lately opted to traverse from above C3 to the main summit for that reason. Mondinelli and team climbed via the Chamoix Couloir (Spirit d'Equipe route).
Inaki's new variation is 800 meters-long, with difficulties up to III degree (alpine scale) and a maximum steepness of 60º.
The route begins at camp 3 normal route (7440m), reports Ochoa de Olza. From that point I traversed down to 7250m eastwards, below a hanging glacier (the crossing was exposed for about 10 minutes). After crossing a small bergschrund I headed up straight up towards a rocky spur, which involved a bit of rock climbing. At 7950m the route joins the east ridge the one used by those climbing Shisha from its SW face along the British route.
The resulting variation is named Lorpen-Diario de Navarra after his sponsors. (Ed. Note: The route followed by Ochoa differs from the Normal ascent route only from C3, and thus is a variation, not a new line up the mountain).
Lonely summit on a windy day
Iñaki departed C1 (6400m) on the normal route (NE side) at 01:00 am, October 3. He arrived on the summit at 2:15 pm that day, climbing alone.
Conditions were poor, with knee-deep snow at some points, but the route was sheltered from the (very strong) southwest wind. I could only remain for 1 second on the summit, before being pushed away by the wind, says the climber.
Conditions above 7500 forced other teams back
Several other teams launched summit pushes on Shisha that same week - but increasing winds and bad conditions on the upper sections eventually forced them all back.
We havent summited, thats the fact. But we had a good reason, reported Norwegian Stieg on October 2. Spanish Iñaki Ochoa told us about the dangerous conditions on the upper slopes of the mountain...Anyway we eventually reached 7500m. And beyond. But then I stepped on unsafe snow and let a large snow-slab go and said enough is enough.
Project-Himalaya team leader Jamie McGuinness (with whom Ochoa shared permit) reported, On October one we pitched our C3 tent in the dark. The following morning we started rather late, and it soon became obvious that there was some serious trail-breaking to do. We were slow, but the worse was to come: Clive lead up some horrible slabby stuff with a slab layer underneath the obvious top layer The other times we have climbed Shisha Pangma there has been the occasional tricky section - but not the whole route. We called it a day.
Descending after summit, the lonely climber was hosted in a Peruvian C2 tent. They treated me extremely well - giving me to drink and covering me in their sleeping-bags, Iñaki reported. "The wind was so strong, I though the tent was going to be blown off the mountain - with me and the three Peruvian climbers inside. Next morning I proceeded down and left them there - stuck due to wind on their own summit push.
Days later two of the Peruvian team members also reached Shishas main summit - setting the total of a mere three summit for Shisha Pangma this season so far.
Shortly after his descent, Iñaki sent ExplorersWeb a short video clip he recorded at arrival on the summit. Almost out of breath, Iñaki says in Spanish: "Shisha's summit!" Then, moving the camera, he adds: "There is the foresummit (Shisha Central)."
After previous attempts stretching back 11 years, this was a sweet moment for Inaki: He had climbed alone and made the first summit of the season. The top also added number 11 to his list of 14, 8000ers. Now, he has three more tough bones to deal with, Dhaulagiri (which he attempted in 2005), Kangchenjunga (two previous attempts), and Annapurna.
Iñaki Ochoa de Olza summited Manaslu with Jorge Egocheaga this past April and now has Kangchenjunga, Dhaulagiri and Annapurna left for the complete list of 14, 8000ers. In addition to his 11 summits, Inaki also has summited Cho Oyu twice more, plus done Shisha central and the foresummit of Broad peak.
Ochoa was born in Pamplona, Spain on May 29, 1967. He had his first experience on an 8000+ meter peak, Kangchenjunga, at age 22. He has since taken part in over 30 Himalayan expeditions and also worked as high altitude cameraman and guide.
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