First Ascent of Kangchung Shar’s North Face

Climbing Himalaya
Zdenek Hak, left, and Jaroslaw Bansky. Photo: Zdenek Hak

Until last month, no one had successfully climbed the North Face of Kangchung Shar in Nepal. The only two previous attempts, in 2016 and 2019, failed.

But a few days ago, in a feat of pure alpinism, Zdenek Hak and Jaroslaw Bansky of the Czech Republic nailed the 1,000m face. Then, after reaching the 6,103m summit, they traversed the peak by rappeling down its south face.

Zdenek Hak is known for his first ascents and new routes on Gasherbrum I (8,080m) in 2017 and Chamlang (7,321m) in 2019, with partner Marek Holecek. Each of these earned the pair a prestigious Piolet d’Or, the Oscar of climbing. Word is, this current climb is another Piolet d’Or contender.

Sir Edmund Hillary climbed the mountain’s twin, Kangchung Nup (6,043m), in 1953. Kangchung Shar only opened to climbers in 2014. 

The North Face: pure alpinism. Photo: Zdenek Hak

In the Sherpa language, Kangchung Shar translates as “little mountain”, which is rather ironic, given its level of difficulty. The steep pyramid’s North Face, in particular, is considered almost “impossible”. It includes ice, rock, and mixed terrain.

In 2016, poor conditions on the North Face foiled Simon Yates and Paul Schweizer. They took an easier path up the northwest ridge. 

Approaching the summit. Photo: Zdenek Hak

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About the Author

Kristine De Abreu

Kristine De Abreu

Kristine De Abreu is a writer (and occasional photographer) based in sunny Trinidad and Tobago.

Since graduating from the University of Leicester with a BA in English and History, she has pursued a full-time writing career, exploring multiple niches before settling on travel and exploration. While studying for an additional diploma in travel journalism with the British College of Journalism, she began writing for ExWeb.

Currently, she works at a travel magazine in Trinidad as an editorial assistant and is also ExWeb's Weird Wonder Woman, reporting on the world's natural oddities as well as general stories from the world of exploration.

Although she isn't a climber (yet!), she hikes in the bush, has been known to make friends with iguanas and quote the Lord of the Rings trilogy from start to finish.

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damiengildea
Editor
1 month ago

Some more history on the Kangchung peaks at: http://publications.americanalpineclub.org/articles/13201214219 noting the 1984 first and second ascents.

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OldHikerDude
OldHikerDude
1 month ago
Reply to  damiengildea

Thanks for the link. I’m having trouble locating the peaks on G-earth. I know it’s east of Gokyo and north of Lobuche. It’s not on the topo that I have.. If anyone can help me out, a grid coordinate would be most helpful.

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damiengildea
Editor
1 month ago
Reply to  OldHikerDude

They’re accessed from the eastern side of the Gokyo valley, across from the upper lakes. The two peaks rise up above the southern side of the Gyubanare Glacier, which runs E-W, SSE of Hungchi.

Kangchung Shar is at 27 59′ 00 N / 86 44’16E

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OldHikerDude
OldHikerDude
1 month ago
Reply to  damiengildea

Many Thanks!

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DRC
DRC
1 month ago

Here’s the story of real mountain climbing, not the overly covered rich Himalaya tourism… Congratulations guys, incredible effort!!!

+2
MuddyBoots
MuddyBoots
1 month ago

Hardly any publicity for this achievement by real climbers, while the tourism circus at Everest gets sponsorships and lots of coverage. Bravo!

+2
Norbu Curtakutte
Norbu Curtakutte
1 month ago
OldHikerDude
OldHikerDude
1 month ago

Great link, many thanks! Just crossing the glacier from Gokyo looks brutal.

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