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Details of French Line on Nemjung

The south spur (ED+) of Nemjung (7140m) in Nepalese Himalaya. The line to the ridge was climbed by French alpinists Yannick Graziani and Christian Trommsdorff from October 11-15 after 12 days of bad weather shut down their acclimatization plan for Manaslu (8156m). [Photo] Christian Trommsdorff

Yannick Graziani and Christian Trommsdorff, the French duo first to climb the south face of Nemjung (7140m) last month (read the October 30, 2009 NewsWire), have called their new line “maybe the most beautiful we have ever done, certainly the most continuously steep, sustained and constantly exposed.”

Graziani and Trommsdorff traveled to Nepal with hopes of climbing Manaslu (8156m). But after only three days of acclimatizing at 5200m, 5400m and 5600m on nearby ridges followed by 12 days of bad weather, the pair realized they would need to change their objective to a lower peak.

The result: a striking line on the south spur (ED+) that wove together “delicate snow ridges” and “fantastic gullies and mixed climbing” for 2400 meters, Trommsdorff said, climbed all free in alpine style.

Graziani near the top of the first serac on the south spur of Nemjung. [Photo] Christian Trommsdorff

Graziani and Trommsdorff climbed the spur over five days, October 11-15 (bivies at 5300m, 5800m, 6200m and 6500m), to the ridge at ca. 7000m. They descended without summiting and reached base camp at 10 p.m. on October 16.

Success depended on precise conditions, Trommsdorff said. Cold weather on their second day solidified the climbing and protected them from loose rock and ice. And still weather on their third day kept seracs quiet. On the fourth day, they found a “miraculous” hole that allowed them to cross the cornice ridge. However, the climb was not without incident, and on that same day a large chunk of ice struck Trommsdorff’s helmet. While the injury was not serious, the shock affected Trommsdorff’s climbing, as well as his physical and mental state.

But they continued on. On the 15th they reached the top of the face. Trommsdorff weak, and knowing a push to the summit would have required another high bivouac, the pair turned back. Trommsdorff experienced several moments of “absence” during the descent, he said, including a moment when he dropped Graziani’s backpack. They bivouacked once on the return to camp.

Two days later, Graziani hiked up to the bergshrund, where he found his pack but no camera.

Trommsdorff added that despite the beauty, quality and sustained nature of the climb, “no pitches were as hard as the hardest ones on Chomolonzo or Pumari Chhish.”

Source: Christian Trommsdorff

Graziani climbing the spur ridge above the first serac. [Photo] Christian Trommsdorff