Sarjanovich paid for a fully-supplied expedition with Seven Summit Treks and shared BC with four other people, but climbed his own way most of the time:
“I didn’t use HA Sherpas or fixed ropes until the final push. I acclimatized at my own pace, pitching my own higher camps. I did touch fixed ropes on four or five vertical ice sections. During the summit push, since I had all services included, I went up with a Sherpa, not roped together but simply accompanying me, so I didn’t have to climb alone. It was a question of safety … and I felt better that way. I started using supplementary O2 above Camp 4, at 7,600m. I had taken three canisters with me. I set off from Camp 4 without O2, together with Rodrigo Vivanco. Two hours later, I felt it was taking too long, so I decided to switch on the gas.”
“Everyone I talked to confirmed that Kangchenjunga is the most difficult of the 8000’ers on the normal route. In my case, this is by far the hardest climb I’ve ever done. On the summit day, I left C3 (7,000m) at 9 a.m. and reached C4 five hours later. There, I rested for three hours, and at about 5:30 p.m., I was ready to go for the top.
Sarjanovich in a high camp
“The first section above Camp 4 is a 45º hard snow ramp until the col between Kangchenjunga and Kangbachen at 8,200m. From that point, you enter a couloir of mixed terrain that leads to the summit. It includes some rather technical sections. There are no alternatives: This is the only way up.
“Inexperienced climbers slowed us down. This is where you can really tell the clients from the climbers. Some were tripping and slipping on the rocky parts all the time, maneuvering slowly, totally dependent on their Jumars, and their progress gets even worse going down.
“There was a traffic jam about one hour from the top. I waited for one hour, maybe two. It was ugly. In all, there were over 1,600 vertical metres of ascent and 28 hours on the go — 24 hours from C3 to the summit and 4-5 hours back to C4. It was exhausting.”
Sarjanovich denies that the number of summits was higher than previous years. “This season, there was only one summit day, but it was perfect, with beautiful, windless weather,” he said. “Everyone went at the same time, which increased the traffic jams.”
About the potentially dangerous situations created by so many inexperienced climbers, “honestly, I do not have a clear opinion,” Sarjanovich said. “And there’s been too much talking already, particularly from people who haven’t been much further than their computer screens. Nevertheless, I do draw a distinction between mountaineering and being a mountain client.”
Crevasses foil Nives Meroi and Romano Benet on Kangbachen
If the crowds hauling themselves toward the summit of Kangchenjunga had looked down the col towards Kangbachen, they might had seen a lonely pair of highly seasoned climbers: Italian 14 x 8000’ers Romano Benet and Nives Meroi. Their unseen Base Camp lay just below the plain where the Kangchenjunga climbers gathered.
“We tried to climb the south face of Kangbachen,” Meroi told ExplorersWeb, “but we didn’t manage because of big series of crevasses. We’d have needed ladders, as in the Khumbu Ice Fall, to overcome such an obstacle.”
“We hardly managed to climb half of the wall,” Meroi added. “Maybe it has been a low snow year, because all crevasses were open and we didn’t find the way across.”
To show what they faced, the climbers sent the following pictures of a truly untamed mountain:
by Angela Benavides
This article first appeared on http://explorersweb.com. The original can be read here.