First ascent by Yannick Graziani and Christian Trommsdorff
Oct. 11-16, 2009
"A route of around 2300m, 45 pitches (+ some simul climbing, maybe 25% of the route), ED+, mostly ice/mixed and snow, a few pitches with just rock. Many very delicate snow ridges/walls/flutes to climb or traverse, fantastic gullies and mixed climbing, many vertical sections; a very committing route, complicated abseils during the descent and also we had to climb from a gully back onto the base of the first tower (which we avoided by a 60m abseil on the way up).
Bottom of the face 4750m, bivys at around 5300m, 5800m, 6200, 6500m.
It is not clear exactly which altitude we reached, probably between 6900m and 7000m.
We climbed the entire route free.
Gear : 2x60 twin ropes, 4 ice screws (not enough!!!), 6 friends, a few nuts, 10 pitons (we dropped 4), and a few slings.
We couldn't climb on Manaslu because of lack of acclimatisation and too much snow...we had a long 12 day period of rest due to very bad weather, but in the end managed to put up what we believe is a new route on the south face of Nemjung.
A great 6 day climb of the south spur, maybe the most beautiful we have ever done, certainly the most continuously steep, sustained and constantly exposed, although no pitches were as hard as the hardest ones on Chomolonzo or Pumari Chhish. Always uncertainty about the key passages; on the last day there was a miraculous hole in the very corniced ridge to cross to the other side.
We reached the top of the south face on Oct 15th at 2:15pm, but not the top of Nemjung; another bivvy would have been necessary to follow the fairly flat and long ridge to the summit, but the lower wind window was closing in on us, and I felt too weak to keep going that day which would have meant a long descent in the dark, so we turned around. The previous day I had been hit on the helmet by big chunk of ice and I felt in a kind of chock state, although I didn't loose consciousness.
Later on the long way down I would have several moments of "absence", in particular when dropping Yannick's backpack. (2days after the climb he went up to a bergschrund and found the pack, but the camera had dropped out...so we have only my photos and lost his 2h of film !!!)
For acclimatising we could only do 3 nights at 5200m, 5400m and 5600m on the ridges east and west of our basecamp, when then had a 12 days forced rest period.
No objective dangers in stable conditions except for an easy 1 minute traverse of a couloir below the big serac. We waited 3 full days after the massive snow dump and started early on Oct 11th, and come back down to BC at 22pm on Oct 16th. Note that on the 2nd day the cold weather helped - the gully behind the first tower has some mixed sections with very poor rock - , and on the third day the absence of strong wind probably prevented icicles falling off the 1st serac on the ridge."
Photos of the line :
The south spur is the right one of the two big spurs that join on the top of the south face; basically the spur just on the right hand of the big serac on the first third of the photos (the bottom 300m of the face are missing on that photo)
The line is in the center; the 2nd bivy at the very bottom of the the photo (small flat snow ridge on the left of the spur), the 3rd bivy is on the first serac on the ridge, and the 4th of the sharp snow ridge just on the top end of the photo at the very center.