cookiecookie Nick Bullock and Paul Ramsden first to climb south-east Nyainqentangla, 7046m, Tíbet, 1600m ED+ -

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BLOG | NEWS | 04 October 2016

Nick Bullock and Paul Ramsden first to climb south-east Nyainqentangla, 7046m, Tíbet, 1600m ED+

Paul Ramsden returns to a remote, unexplored alpine area with climbing partner Nick Bullock

North buttress of Nyainqentangla South-East face
Nick Bullock’s blog: Paul Ramsden has again travelled to one of the most remote areas on earth to discover an unexplored route. This time with climbing partner Nick Bullock to the north buttress of Nyainqentangla south-east, in Tibet. Rated as ED+, the 1600m climb took 7 days to complete the climb, descending via the east ridge.

Ramsden and Bullock are believed to be the first Western climbers to enter the valley to the north of Nyainqentangla and the only information available to them was found on Google Earth and a few long-distance photos taken by Tom Nakamura.

After arriving, the locals said, “No, that’s not the side to climb from. It’s too steep, no one has climbed from that side.”

Examining the route
Getting a permit was extremely difficult but somehow Paul Ramsden managed it. However, travelling to such a remote area meant there would be no means of communication with the rest of the world and therefore no forecasts to help choose the best spell of weather for the ascent. The weather was certainly extremely changeable and complicated. As Nick Bullock says in his blog “Most days had sun, rain, snow, wind, sleet, cloud, storm, hail. No day was the same and mostly the weather of the moment only lasted for a little while before some other form of meteorological bruising took over. This climb was not going to be one of those wait for a perfect five-day forecast, which was OK, because we had absolutely no form of contact from which to get one, we were on our own.”

They set up base camp at an altitude of 5,000m. “This face, this unclimbed face on an unclimbed mountain was almost impossible to describe without using superlatives, it was a dream, it had runnels, ice, fields of snow, arêtes – the face twisted and turned in some warped massive monster Matterhorn way and we fathomed, from our position, that the climbing started at 5400m and the summit was a reported 7046m, making the face a mouth-puckering 1600m. Paul and I stood and weaved imagined lines, we didn’t need to look any farther for our objective.”

The route climbed on Nyainqentangla
Setting off with their large packs towards the mountain, which “...made the word, insignificance, have meaning.” Seven days and six bivouacs awaited, where they would encounter “deep powder, post holing, some steep, some run-out… but always dramatic and thrilling.”

On the wall

Stunning range
They reached the summit on day five, at midday...”I will admit to being very happy. Paul was also happy. The weather wasn’t too bad... Both Paul and I had checked out a traverse of the East Ridge.”

The summit
Shortly after, they were engulfed by thick clouds and white out, which made visibility impossible. The terrain was extremely dangerous and after falling into three crevasses, they decided to stop and set up the tent, with the hope that the weather would clear up the following day. However, this was not to be, and during the night it began to snow and then snow some more, until they found themselves blocked in at a height of 6,500m, on an unexplored mountain, with little food and little idea on how to get off the mountain.

On day six, the snow, wind and white-out continued until 9a.m, when it finally stopped. Although the depth of the snow and risk of avalanches was dangerous they had no choice but to move off the mountain. Paul “pulled a master stroke finding the exit gully leading from the upper ridge to the lower ridge via several abseils directly down the North Face. Paul’s ability to sniff out the line and cover technical ground was astounding, his years and years of Alpine climbing and the experience easy to see.”

They eventually reached the lower ridge and descended to the south valley. The last day was gruelling as it involved an eight hour walk across a moraine, but this finally led to them to their starting point in the village where their Tibetan Liaison Officer was staying.

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