Auer and Bluemel succeed first ascent on a 7000er in Nepal
“It was one of those expeditions where it all fit together perfectly,” says Hansjoerg Auer. The 31-year-old Austrian and his countryman Alex Bluemel succeeded the first ascent of the North Face of the 7005-meter-high Gimmigela East, in Alpine style, means without ropes and high camps, without Sherpa support and without bottled oxygen. The sub-peak of Gimmigela Chuli (7350 m) is located in the far east of Nepal, on the border with India, quite hidden in the area around the eight-thousander Kangchenjunga, the third-highest mountain on earth.
Exposed bivouac place
For five days, Auer and Blümel trekked along the Tamar River and then across the high plateaus of the Ghunsa Valley before pitching up their Base Camp at the foot of Gimmigela East. For acclimatization, they spent three nights at an altitude of 5,900 meters on the South Ridge of the trekking peak Dromo Ri. On 8 November Hansjoerg and Alex set off to climb the 1200-meter-high North Face. “Due to a wet monsoon with high precipitation we found the face in perfect conditions,” Auer writes on his website. The two climbers spent a first bivouac in the ice wall, which was up to 85 degrees, and a second on the summit ridge. This second night was a serious challenge “due to the small ledge extremely exposed to the strong winds,” says Auer. On 10 November, at 7.30 a.m, the two Austrians reached the summit. “A cold, windy but clear morning allowed us to see far into Sikkim’s great mountain range and to the unexplored east face of Kangchenjunga.”
According to Auer, it was the first expedition ever to the North Face of Gimmigela East and only the third ascent after two Japanese expeditions in 1993 and 1994 ascending from the Indian south side of the mountain. Hansjoerg’s summary of the expedition is entirely positive: “A great project, an even greater friendship and a very efficient first ascent of a ‘King Line’ on a 7000m peak in one of the most remote places in the Himalayas.“ In fall 2015, Auer and Bluemel had – along with their countryman Gerry Fielg – first climbed the South Face of the 6,839-meter-high Nilgiri South in western Nepal. In the summit area Fiegl had shown symptoms of high altitude sickness, on the descent Gerry had fallen to death. “It was one of the saddest moments of my career,” Hansjoerg told me when we met last October just before he left for Gimmigela East. “I believe I cannot forget it for the rest of my life.”
Date16. December 2016 | 13:05
TagsAlexander Bluemel, first ascent, Gimmigela East, Hansjoerg Auer, Kangchenjunga, Nepal, North Face