the north face of Phari Lapcha West (5977m), showing Snotty?s Gully (M5+ WI5, ca. 1000m), climbed by Nick Bullock and Jon Bracey in October, 2006. [Photo] Jon Bracey
Nick Bullock has just returned to Kathmandu where he reports climbing an excellent new line with Jon Bracey on the north face of Phari Lapcha West (5,977m). Phari Lapcha (a.k.a. Machermo; 6017m) lies west of the dwellings of Machermo in the Gokyo Valley of Nepal’s Khumbu region and was only brought onto the permitted list in 2002. Before that, it had been climbed on several occasions but the first authorized ascent was made in the spring of 2003 via the Machermo Glacier to the south and then the northwest ridge. In November of the same year Frenchmen Seb Constant and Jerome Mercader made the first ascent of the ca. 1000-meter, steep, ice-streaked north face via a 27-pitch line at ED1 M5 WI 4. This route, which required two bivouacs and was named Bonfire of the Vanities, follows a series of runnels on the right side of the face. There were many sections of thin ice or snow covering compact granite, before the crest of the northwest ridge was reached a couple of pitches from the summit.
The new Bracey-Bullock line is a stunning ca. 1000-meter ice gully to the right again and comprised of some of the most perfect water ice ever climbed by the team. The pair climbed in 14 roped pitches up to M5+ WI 5 to reach the coffee-table-sized pointed rock summit on the northwest ridge. They have christened the route Snotty’s Gully in memory of the late Sue Nott. Bullock enthused on the high quality of the sustained but safe climbing and reckons were it situated in the Alps there would be regular queues at the base.