Chomolhari: A Slovenian affair with Kangchenjunga's bride

Posted: Dec 07, 2006 08:45 pm EST

(MountEverest.net) A Slovenian team led by Marko Prezelj is back home after opening a new route on Chomolhari, also known as the Bride of Kangchenjunga, located on the Tibet-Bhutan border.

Courting the bride

The Slovenians acclimatized at Jangmo Gopsha peak (6706m), and then went for Chomolhari (about 7350m), divided in two groups, each on a different route.

Rok Blagus, Tine Cuder, Samo Krmelj and Matej Kladnik climbed up a couloir on the north face. After a bivouac at 6800m they reached the east ridge, which they followed to the summit, on October 14. Difficulty degree has been set as TD+, 80/45-60, for the 1900m-long line.

New route in strong winds and thin ice conditions

Meanwhile Prezelj and Boris Lorencic attempted a new route on the NW ridge, in pretty bad weather conditions. We climbed the couloir and then traversed to the right onto a mixed buttress and up to the crest of NW Ridge, Marko told Climb and More. In the couloir we found knee deep snow and steep sections of hard snow and ice. The wind was strong, mixed with hard snow crystals and the climbing was serious up to M6+.

Thin ice added difficulties to the mixed sections, which the climbers needed five days to overcome. After reaching the summit, they hoped to descend via the south ridge. Bad conditions however forced Marko and Boris to climb down the ascent route, which included another bivouac on the wall.

In general it was a serious climb where logistics and choice of tactics were probably more important than just difficult moves of the body, added Marko. I led the entire climb and we graded the route ED2, M6+/30-70, c1950 m.

Slovenian Marko Prezelj is an accomplished alpine-style climber who has opened dozens of difficult routes all over America and Asia. Prezelj was also part of the K7-Charakusa-Nanga Parbat multi-header expedition led by American Steve House in 2004.

Chomolhari is sacred to Tibetan Buddhists, and every year pilgrims assemble in the town of Phari Dsong, ten miles away, to walk in procession to the mountain. Its north face is a sheer 9,000-foot wall.The first ascent was made in 1937 by Spenser Chapman and Dawa Lama. Depending source, its altitude varies between 7314m - 7350m.

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In 2004, Slovenian Marko Prezelj was part of an expedition led by last year's Piolet d'Or winner American Steve House. Steve and Vince were included in the jury for this year's award, which went to Marko for a 1950m new route in alpine style on Chomolhari's NW pillar. Image courtesy of ClimbandMore (click to enlarge).
Topo of the new route opened by Marko and Boris on the NW ridge of Chomolhari (click to enlarge).

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