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Tomaz Humar: Jannu East Face attempt

October, 2004

Expedition chronicle

November,1/ 2004 Tomaz tried repeatedly to cross the barrier of seracs below the ridge of eastern Jannu. Yet the wall just seems to have no weak spots. Yesterday Tomaz spent the night below the seracs hoping to find a way through today. But the vertical and overhanging ice breaks were just too dangerous as the ice is hollow and very soft. Tomaz didn't want to risk a fall or possibly freezing, so he turned around. The descent was quite dramatic as well, as he had to find his way down the safest route in very bad weather. He had a bit of luck with avalanches as well. One roared down a slope just five minutes after Tomaz crossed it. While I am writing this, Tomaz is on safe ground and approaching Camp 1, where he will spend the night in a well stocked tent. He is tired but healthy and we are expecting him in base camp tomorrow around midday.

Best regards Stipe

October, 29 /2004 The ascent is proceeding as planned, but with great technical difficulties. Tomaz set out from Camp 3 in good weather. However the snow conditions are not the best. The snow is knee deep and the slope over 75. In some places Tomaz had to climb vertical plates of bad hollow ice. He climbed Cauliflower ridge, which ends in an all but unpassable labyrinth of mushroom-like snow formations hanging above the precipice. In the end, Tomaz had to take off his backpack and dig a vertical tunnel through the snow in order to reach a reasonably good place to set up Camp 4. Tomaz didn't quite conquer this important obstacle today. Tomorrow he has to do another 20m of extremely difficult technical climbing on bad ice. As I'm writing this the light outside is dwindling and Tomaz is digging a hole in the snow for Camp 4 at about 6800m.

At BC, we are all agitated and eager to help and help Tomaz find the easiest route. Yet it seens as though the wall has no weak spots at all. The weather forecast for tomorrow appears allright so we expect Tomaz will reach the saddle and continue his climb on the south wall, where a bit less ragged but no less steep snowy slopes lead to the top of the yet unconquered East Jannu.

Best regards

Stipe


October, 28 /2004 Just announced from basecamp, that Tomaz is on 6500 meters! The weather is not at its best, but it is holding up. Tomaz had some trouble with finding his way in the wall, but he found the couloir leading to Jannu's shoulder with some assistance from the base. The wall is proving to be a lot more complicated than previously expected. Tomaz had to climb some parts without his backpack, which he pulled up by rope later. Yesterday he spent the night in a crack in the wall. Today he is setting up Camp under a high wall. Tomorrow he is continuing up the couloir towards the shoulder of the top ridge. I spent all day guiding and watching Tomaz through the telescope, so the report is a little late.

I had radio contact with Tomaz, who is holding up well. Luckily so far there havent been any avalanches in the wall which could put Tomaz in danger. It is however very cold, -25C at his altitude plus wind. We are expecting Tomaz to reach the summit in two days time, but with a wall like this one can never tell. We don't know anything about the south face which cannot be seen from base camp. Tomaz is climbing there after he reaches the shoulder. The descent will take a lot of determination and attention as well, but more on that when the time comes.

Best regards

Stipe

October, 27 /2004 Stipe has just returned to base camp from the face. He escorted Tomaz to the base of the main wall which he entered only this morning as he and Stipe had to wait in the tent for two days for the weather to clear. The weather forecast is good for now.

Tomaz has passed 6000m in the wall and we are still waiting for him to come in through the radio. We are keeping our fingers crossed.

October, 25 /2004 The climb begun...

Acclimatization.

October, 19/2004 The descent down to the glacier enabled us to further explore the access to the planned route in the main wall. From the glacier, we climbed away towards the top of a granite tower in the wall, where we left a tent for Tomaz to begin his final climb from. After returning to base camp, we happily dug into what was actually the first real dinner after four days.

October, 18/2004 Tomaz was climbing towards the top of what we named Cauliflower ridge in order to explore his options of descent. After a risky climb through a maze of mushroom shaped powdery snow he reached the top of the ridge at around 12 o'clock. From the top he coul easily see the right side of the main wall and it became evident that the descent down Cauliflower ridge was much too dangerous. As for the ascent, it appears that the only possible route leads through a 300m high couloir, which we eplored the next day using fixed lines.

October, 16/2004 We climbed the first 300m of the wall using fixed ropes we installed before and then continued our climb to an altitude of 5500m, where we set up our tent and spent the night. On the next day, we climbed the snow-covered wall further up until we reached a sharp narrow ridge, which was covered in strange mushroom shaped snow formations piled one on top of the other. The ridge turned out to be much steeper than it at first appeared. It took us five hours of dangerous climbing to do about 200m vertical and about 500m altogether. After finally finding an appropriate spot atop a ridge (6750m), we set up our tent and spent the night. The view was unique, Kangchenjunga, Talung and Cabru were bathing in the idyllic afternoon sunshine with the Yalung glacier spreading out for kilometres below, as far as the spring of the Simbua Kola river near Ramche.

October, 14/2004 Today we are freezing at the base. Snow has been falling all day and we could not move anywhere. Yesterday we searched the wall to find the best route again. It has to be either along the left or the right side, as the center cannot be climbed because of continuously collapsing seracs. Tomaz also did some training at the bottom part of the glacier yesterday. As soon as the weather improves we'll go back to that vertical granite wall to explore the left route to the glacier below the main part of the wall. Stipe

October, 12/2004 Yesterday we finally managed to set up the base camp.

We also performed the sanctification ceremony (Puja), which was performed by a Lama who was travelling by towards an Indian base camp at the foot of Kangchenjunga. The Indians successfuly climbed mount Kangchenjunga. They were a part of an Indian military expedition. The Puja ceremony is an important part of every expedition. According to local buddhist beliefs, every man who enters the kingdom of the gods must pray for their mercy. As Jannuor Kumbakarna (Sleeping Goddess) is one of the most sacred peaks in the Himalayas we were all eager to do the ceremony. The native Sherpas first built a small chorten (altar) and flew a number of brightly coloured flags in four directions around it. Every flag has a prayer written on it, which is then carried by the wind as it blows through the flags. The Sherpas then burned some leaves on the altar as the smell of the smoke appeases the gods. Various food and drink was then set around the chorten as an offering to the gods. Towards the end of the ceremony, we all threw grains of rice into the air as a gift to the gods. In the end, there was a big feast with all the sacred food and drinks, which were blessed during the ceremony.

After the Puja, Tomaz an I set out towards the left side the Jannu face in order to explore the way to safely descend from the mountain. Every experienced climber pays a lot of due attention to the planning of the descent route. We crossed the Yalung glacier and arrived at the base of a 300m vertical granite wall, which appears to be the safest way to descend from the mountain and perhaps also the safest way to climb the eastern face of Jannu. Our cook Yagat followed us to the base of the wall. Tomaz found a way through vertical granite plates and cracks overgrown with grass, which can only be climbed by using ice tools. At the end of the day, after precarious and often dangerous climbing we reached the top of the wall and managed to fix a rope, which will assist us in further explorations of the route.

Best regards from base camp under the Sleeping God,

Stipe

October, 12/2004 On October 4th we flew by helicopter to Tseram. We then moved our equipment by yaks to the Ramzea plateau. From Ramzea, it took us and 30 carriers two days to transport our equipment to Yalung glacier, which is the base of the world's third highest peak, Mount Kangchenjunga and the base of the eastern face of Jannu. Meanwhile, the poor weather conditions improved and it became evident that the sherpas didn't carry our equipment high enough. In the next two days, we will have to move all of our equipment, all the tents and food a kilometer closer to Jannu. As far as we can see at the moment, the conditions on the face have changed due to differences in snowfall. Changed for the worse, that is. I saw the face for the first time in 1992 during the Slovene expedition to Kangchenjunga. Today, it seems to be far more dangerous. Anyway, tomorrow, we move the equipment, than aclimatisation on one of the neighbouring peaks and of course the precise tracing of the line of ascent. So much for today Best regards, Stipe

October, 4/2004 Expedition has left Katmandu and is on a way to Ramce.

Translation into English: Ziga Ucakar

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