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CONSTANT RETURNS IN NEPAL'S KHUMBU
Posted on: January 4, 2007
The south faces of some of the peaks of Nepal’s Khumbu region (Mt. Everest is visible in the upper lefthand corner of the photo). Dawa Peak (5920m) is the same mountain climbed by Britons Jon Bracey and Nick Bullock on October 14-15 (see the October 31 NewsWire report here.) Their route, Snotty’s Gully (M5+ WI5, ca. 1000m), took a line on the north face. They dubbed the peak Phari Lapcha West (5977m), but Sebastien Constant points out the peak is entirely independent from Pharilapcha. Constant, Cécile Thomas, Jean-Luc Bremond and Hervé Degonon climbed Meditation Ridge (AD: WI2 M2, 8 pitches) on Dawa Peak in early November 2006, then went on to establish a new route, La Nuit de l’Oracle (The Oracle Night, TD-: V WI 3+ M4, 750 m) on Pharilapcha (6017m) later in the trip (the lower section of the descent for La Nuit de l’Oracle is shown). Bridge of Lost Desires may be the route climbed in the spring of 2003 by Slovenians Juliana and Rey Marcelo Belo with Sherpa support for the first ascent of Pharilapcha (6017m). [Photo] Sebastien Constant
Pharilapcha (a.k.a. Machermo, 6017m) is among the trekking peaks of the Khumbu opened in 2002 by the Nepalese Mountaineering Authority. The first official ascent of the mountain was made in the spring of 2003 by Slovenians Juliana and Rey Marcelo Belo with Sherpa support via the south side of the mountain. In the autumn of the same year, French alpinists Sebastien Constant and Jerome Mercader established The Bonfire of the Vanities (VI WI4 M5, 1000m) on the right side of the north face. Climbing in alpine style from an "advanced base camp" in the village of Machermo, the pair opened the route (reported in Alpinist Issue 6; see Pharilapcha ) from November 22 to 24 in alpine style.
In November 2006, Constant returned to the area for another outing, this time in the company of Cecile Thomas, Jean-Luc Bremond and Herve Degonon. The four had hoped to traverse the ridge from Pharilapcha to Dawa Peak (5920m), so named by five-time Cho Oyu summiter Shuldim Sherpa, who owns the Marchermo lodge at its base (Dawa is his daughter). This is the same peak climbed by Britons Jon Bracey and Nick Bullock on October 14-15 (see the October 31 NewsWire report). The British route, Snotty's Gully (M5+ WI5, ca. 1000m), took a line on the north face of what Bracey and Bullock dubbed Phari Lapcha West (5977m), but Constant believes the peak is entirely independent from Pharilapcha. He also believes the 5977-meter altitude noted on maps is incorrect, and that 5920 meters is more accurate. "In my opinion this 5920-meter peak is really independent and identifiable, especially when it's seen from the top of Kyajo Ri (6180m), [which I climbed] in the fall 2003," Constant writes.
The French team began their efforts with Meditation Ridge (AD: WI2 M2, 8 pitches) on Dawa Peak on November 10. The line started from the west col and followed the aesthetic, snowy and mixed west ridge, but after their acclimatization, the team realized they were not in condition to attempt the traverse, and instead turned their attentions to the east face of Pharilapcha. As in 2003, they began their journey from the village of Machermo, departing this "advanced base camp" on November 14. Climbing in alpine style in two pairs of two, they established The Oracle Night (TD-: V WI 3+ M4, 750 m), reaching the summit ridge late in the afternoon of November 15. They then downclimbed the line of ascent to a col before heading down a south-facing couloir, then made a long traverse to gain the main valley separating Kyajo Ri and Pharilapcha. A four-hour walk brought them back to their "advanced base camp" in Machermo, eighteen hours after departing.
The east face of Pharilapcha (6017m), showing La Nuit de l’Oracle (The Oracle Night, TD-: V WI 3+ M4, 750 m), climbed by Constant, Thomas, Bremond and Degonon in an eighteen-hour push in November. [Photo] Sebastien Constant