THE ASCENT OF KANJERALWA, 1973
FROM information available, Kanjiroba, the main peak, was supposedly 7043 m. high, and Kangde Hiunchuli 7000 m. m. high, at the time we-the 1973 Japan Kanjiroba Expedition -set Kanjiroba Himal as our goal. A map of those days showed us much of the space left unprinted.
But later when another map made by Mr. Tyson came to hand, the heights of the peaks in the area was lowered to below 7000 m. In 1970, the Osaka City University Himalayan Expedition succeeded for the first time in climbing the main peak of Kanjiroba by crossing over Patrasi Himal. And in 1971, the Himalaya Expedition of Osaka Preference Alpine Federation succeeded in the first ascent of an unnamed peak, which had been in question to be the second highest in the eastern part of the area. They named it Tso Kharpo Kang. These two glorious successes helped to make more clear the geography of the Kanjiroba range.
When we were told of the latter success, we focussed onto Kanjeralwa, for the height of the peak is next to the main peak and much of the mountainous area is untouched. Kanjeralwa still remained in a group of virgin peaks including an unsurveyed valley named Pung Phung Khola.
At first, we had no idea of the topography of the mountains. Later, we could study the condition of the upper part of the peaks from the photographs offered by Mr. Sawada of the Osaka City University Hima7
ayan Expedition, and Mr. Abe and Mr. Yoshinaga of the Himalaya Expedition of Osaka Prefecture Alpine Federation. However, we could not get information at all about the lower part and had only to infer about the climbing route and the B.C. site from the material about the two valleys on the south face given by Mr. Abe and Mr. Yoshinaga. We were scheduled to climb from this face, including exploration around Pung Phung Khola, though it turned out to be an almost impossible on-the-spot survey. Therefore, we had to attack the summit from the ridge placed between the two above-mentioned valleys. To get to Dhorpatan we were thinking of a chartered airplane as our transportation means, and to make a caravan thereafter. However, there was a pass on the way at about 4500 m. which was impossible to fly over in the pre-monsoon season. That compelled us to make Jumla our starting point.
It was 12 March when we entered Kathmandu, we were the last expedition of the pre-monsoon season. Mr. Chotare who had served as a Sirdar on the J AC Everest Expedition in 1970 became our laision-officer. We enjoyed ourselves with this good fortune. He was also the Sherpa I had trekked with five years ago in Solo Khumbu. So it was a happy reunion for me, too. He entered the army this year and became a second lieutenant in charge of training mountain soldiers. We were helped greatly by him and he worked harder than any Sirdar. This often becomes a problem which many parties who have to contend with a liaison-officer. After the expedition, we gave him all our remaining mountaineering equipment which would enable his dream of establishing a mountain training school for Sherpas come true. I would like to ask other expeditions to do the same thing.
We flew to Jumla on 21 March and hired 52 porters.
On 23 March the caravan started. On 26 March, we reached Kaigaon, a historical place in Kanjiroba Himal mountaineering, through Kumri, Munigaon, Chotta, Maure La, and Rimi, without any trouble from the notorious Jumla. At Maure La, 3,600 m. high, much snow was left on its northern side, however, we passed without difficulty while the snow was firm in the early morning.
We came to Tibrikot after crossing Balangra La (3,900 m.). We had to stay there for another day to exchange some porters.
On 31 March, we arrived at the junction of Suli Gad through Para, Ruma, without stopping by Dunei. The road from Suli Gad was really a narrow and rough one, winding up and down along valleys. We were relieved when we got to the junction of Dojam Khola. Ringmo is near at hand from here. After a long journey, we enjoyed the evening camping out in an open field. In front was a magnificent view of the needle of Fluted Peak. Kanjeralwa was invisible from here, though, it came in sight in the distance while on our way to Suli Gad.
On 4 April, we met with the reconnaissance party at the foot of a middle ridge between Zarazan Khola where we later located B.C. (3,700 m. high), and Naure Khola.
As I said above, we were supposed to reach the top from Pung Phung Khola. For this purpose, the reconnaissance party was sent to check the possibilities. The result showed that the valley had severe limitations, particularly from objective hazards.
The reconnaissance party then entered Naure Khola seeking further possibility, and retreated. But they ascended the ridge between Naure Khola and Zarazan Khola. They went up as far as the point (later Camp I), where the huge ridge changed to a craggy ridge. There at first, they commanded a whole view of Kanjeralwa. Two routes were set to reach the upper ice-wall. One was to go on the craggy ridge reaching up to the ice-wall. The other was to descent down to the fountain-head of Naure Khola on its halfway on the craggy ridge, and then break through the icefall blocking the way further up.
On the other hand, Zarazan Khola seemed almost impassable
as a route because it was covered with a huge slab at the upper part and with a formidable gorge at its lower end. I decided to adopt the middle ridge route expecting success.
On 7 April, all the members with 25 porters except the sub-leader at B.C., started for Camp 1. Going up a steep slope, and ascending to the left on a vast ridge, we stood on the side near Naure Khola to find Kanjeralwa right before our eyes. We pitched a provisional Camp I where the grass ridge changed to a rocky one. Mr. Chotare, the Sherpas and I returned to B.C. and the other members including the cook stayed at Camp I.
On 8 April, the members stayed at Camp I made a route on the ridge to Camp II. The sub-leader and all Sherpas went up to Camp I.
Next day, we moved the provisional Camp I (4600 m.) slightly higher up, at the same time we continued route finding to Camp II. In a communication in the evening, they transmitted to us that the craggy ridge was fragile and technically difficult to climb, and that they would like to change to explore the Naure Khola side.
On 10 April, one party moved Camp I upward, and the other explored the route to the head of Naure Khola.
After a communication, we decided to establish Camp II at the upper part of Naure Khola and to try a route up the icefall.
April 11, Kyogoku, Goshima, and Mingma Tenzing moved up to the provisional Camp II. The rest of the members transferred to Camp I. When they all finished moving, I moved upto Camp I. I climbed up a small peak above the Camp to see the condition. I could see a small provisional Camp II below me, with an icefall hanging over it. It really seemed rough. On the other hand, the craggy ridge seemed certainly fragile as they had said, though I found out that they had given up that route about half way along the two kilometer craggy ridge. This was a result of mistake in route finding without making an exploration beforehand.
Therefore, we tried to climb the craggy ridge again, prefering difficulty and safety rather than the dangers in the icefall. Kyogoku and the other member staying at the provisional Camp II reconnoitered around the gully to find a route to the gap of the craggy ridge. The next morning, Kyogoku communicated to me that as the gully was full of falling rocks, they tried to explore the icefall. The party comprising the sub-leader, Saka- 6 moto, the Sirdar and Pasang reached the lower part of the ice- wail unexpectedly early at 1 p.m. after climbing up the craggy ridge. The other icefall exploration party tried hard, but they had to return to Camp II because of a crevasse on their way up.
This brought about a conclusion of the route-finding. Even if we got over the crevasse of the icefall in a short time, this route would need an extra camp and there was no telling when the icefall itself would break.
On 13 April, Sakamoto developed altitude sickness and I descended to B.C. with him. The other people remained, taking a rest.
Next day, we moved the provisional Camp II (4900 m.) in Naure Khola onto the craggy ridge. Three members stayed there, Hattori and the Sirdar continued route-making. I went up to Camp I.
On 15 April, the three stayed at Camp II extending the route to the scheduled Camp III and the following day Kyogoku and Nomura reinforced this route, descending to B.C. later.
On 17 April, the four members at Camp II established Camp III (5300 m.) and Sakamoto and the Sirdar stayed there. Two Sherpas carried loads twice up to Camp III from Camp II.
April 18: Sakamoto and Sirdar explored a route to Camp IV. The four members at Camp II went up and down between Camp II and Camp III to carry loads up. Kyogoku and Nomura ascended to Camp I. I explored Zarazan Khola with Mr. Chotare whether it was usable for porters as their descent route, but abandoned the idea because it needed lots more preparatory work.
April 19: Hattori Goshima and the Sirdar conducted more reconnaissance around Camp IV (5800 m.) and its upper part.
April 20: Kyogoku and Nomura started to make a route above Camp IV. We loaded Camp IV with provision and other necessities. This evening, I decided on the first and second summit team members. To make certain of success and combined members and Sherpas who could stand high altitude. The Sherpas were technically well-trained. The first team comprising Kyogoku, Goshima, the Sirdar and Mingma Tenzing. The second party with Hattori, Nomura, Sakamoto and Pasang.
On 22 April, the first summit team started from Camp IV at 6 a.m., waiting till the wind fell. Steps cut the day before were almost unseen in snow, though, they continued until they reached the end of the fixed rope at 7-30 a.m. Hereafter, they chose a route to the left on an icefall seemingly in a good condition. They continued to climb; looking back they could see Churen Himal and Putha Hiunchuli that had just caught the morning sun. Before long, they were hindered by a huge crevasse, which they crossed by a snow-bridge. After that, they wound to the right to climb the lower part of an ice-wall. Again they came out on a ridge. The craggy tower beside Camp I was visible far off. After ascending a small ice-wall, they appeared on a spacious snow fie Id, noticing a peak looking like the summit at the back. They reached the peak in a cloud; however, the real peak was further inside. After crossing over a small crevasse, then climbing an ice-wall, they finally reached the summit at 12-30 p.m.
They spent half an hour at the summit, then tried hard to descend to Camp III as snow just began to fall. The second attacking party was awaiting at Camp IV preparing for the morrow.
April 23, despite bad weather and almost no visibility, the second attacking party also achieved success.
On the following two days we had porters ascend to the Camps and finished withdrawal of everything. We entered Pung Phung Khola on 28 April. The purpose of investigation was to find out whether it was easy to cross over to Phoksumdo Khola.
We walked about three hours from the junction of Naure and Pung Phung Kholas, the path along the left side vanished in a stream. Two branch streams came in from the ridge stretching from Kanjeralwa. At a distance from here there was a big lake, reflecting the creases of the west face of Kanjeralwa.
The stream from the lake disappeared into the earth and a heap of dried rocks were burying the valley. In front, Wedge Peak and unnamed 6000 m. peaks were towering. There are three lakes in all in this valley.
After about an hour's walk from the lake, Pung Phung La stretched to a col with a snow slope which was not so steep. It seemed easy to climb. The route to the col of Jagdula Khola appeared rather tough with a sharp icefall at the lower part. Towering Fluted Peak was full of ice-falls seemed to be considerably tough though it never seemed impossible. Pung Phung Khola was really a beautiful valley surrounded by rocks, un- climbed ice peaks and three lakes.
The weather became worse. I was afraid of the return flight. We left B.C. on 2 May. We took a different path via Kagmara
La to go back. The show was fairly deep. It is impossible to cross Kagmara La in a day. A narrow valley at first it gradually opened and took a whole day to reach a pleasant pasture called Korokusan. The way ahead wr
as completely covered with snow and debris; it is indeed a pass above 5000 m. The porters from Pungmo worked very hard. In the morning of 5 May, we arrived at Hurikot near Kaigaon; the natives seemed to pronounce it "Yurikot".
The road parted from Garpung Khola. We trekked along a higher ridge looking down on Kaigaon and Rimi to the left. From between the two passes of Naire La, and Gotei La we could see Chaurkot below us. A pleasant road along Choruta Khola led us to the junction of Maure La, from where we followed same course by which we had come. It was 7 May when we arrived at Jumla.
Kanjerawala from Camp II.