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Adventure Sports

with Stefan Nestler

New route on Chulu West: “Less commerce, more mountain”

On ascent via the West Ridge

It does not have to be the Lhotse South Face. For strong and ambitious climbers, who neither belong to the “extremes” nor the professionals, the Himalayas also offer other attractive destinations to experience great adventure. Three of my buddies from the first ascent of Kokodak Dome in 2014 proved that in Nepal this fall.  On 19 October, Jürgen Schütz, André Günzel and Manuel Möller, together with the Nepalese Dawa Gyalje Sherpa and Pasang Gomba Sherpa, succeeded the first ascent of the West Ridge of Chulu West. The 6,419 meter high mountain is located in the area around the eight-thousander Annapurna. Chulu West, first climbed in 1952 by a Japanese expedition, is a popular “trekking mountain” without major technical difficulties – but this only applies to the normal route via the Northeast Ridge.

Many crevasses

The new West Ridge Route on Chulu West

“There was no passage that was just easy,” André writes to me about the almost 1,000-meter-high West Ridge. “The steepest passages should be around 55 degrees. And the real ridge spots are narrow (not much wider than two feet) and quite steep,” adds Jürgen, who had the idea for this first ascent. “In the middle section the ridge opens to a flank with many crevasses. After two huge crevasses, which we scirted on the left, we reached via a small plateau the knife-edge of the South Ridge.”

Having turned around at the end of the West Ridge

Jürgen on the knife-edge

During a first exploration ascent, the mountaineers had previously deposited equipment at an altitude of 5,480 meters. In the second run, they climbed in a single push up to the end of the West Ridge. “That day we were en route for eleven hours. Actually we had planned to continue via the South Ridge to the summit,” writes Jürgen. “We had to give up this part, as we would have had to fix ropes over a distance of 300 meters on the South Ridge, which was corniced on both sides. This would have taken us more time than we had.”

Without high camp to the summit

The three Germans and the two Sherpas decided to descend to the base camp via the newly opened route and to take the equipment from the depot with them. Two days later, the five climbers made up for the summit success. Without any high camp they ascended via the normal route to the highest point and descended to the base camp within a total of 14 hours.

“Committed amateurs”

Jürgen Schütz, Manuel Möller, André Günzel, Dawa Gyalje Sherpa (from l. to r.)

“Since we are not professionals, I am even more pleased that it is still possible to find as a committed amateur a place in these fascinating mountains where you can develop your own ideas and put the plan into action with friends,” says Jürgen Schütz, who earns his money in his “normal” life as a laboratory chemist. For management consultant Manuel Möller, the expedition to the West Ridge of Chulu West was a real adventure: “Somehow it’s still the best to try something new in the mountains. Less commercial hype, more mountain.” Professional soldier André Günzel puts it this way: “With friends to a beautiful mountain, on a wonderful, new and challenging route! It couldn’t be better.”


24. November 2017 | 17:03