Czechs Climb Ama Dablam’s West Face Via the American Direct Route

In 2020, on his last trip to Nepal before the pandemic, Zdenek Hak opened a new route on Chamlang with Marek Holecek that earned them a Piolet d’Or. Returning last spring, he bagged the first ascent of the North Face of Kangchung Shar (6,063m) with Jaroslaw Bansky. Now, the unstoppable Czech climber has set another level of excellence by climbing Ama Dablam’s vertical West Face, with Jakub Kacha.

Hak and Kacha’s route up the West Face of Ama Dablam. Photo: Climbing Technology CZ


The pair first climbed the normal route as an appetizer. They then went for the main course up the West Face, following the American Direct route. Hak and Kacha needed three days to summit and one more to get back down, according to their sponsor, Climbing Technology CZ. Back in Base Camp, the climbers graded the route TD+/ ED- and said that it had been hard but enjoyable.

Hak and Kacha after climbing Ama Dablam’s West Face. Photo: Climbing Technology CZ


The American Direct Route

Glen Dunmire and Chris Warner opened the American Direct in 1990 — in winter! It follows a rocky spur up the middle of the West Face. The U.S. climbers needed three days for its 60 pitches, beginning on the first day of winter. The line lies between the 1985 Japanese route and the Smid route, named after another Czech climber, Miroslav Smid, who soloed it in 1986.

On Ama Dablam’s West Face. Photo: Climbing Technology CZ

Snug, sort of, on the West Face of Ama Dablam. Photo: Climbing Technology CZ


Speaking of Ama Dablam, Italian Francois Cazzanelli and his partners decided to give it a (very fast) try after climbing Kongde Ri and Tengkampoche. On November 11, Cazzanelli sprinted from BC to summit, reaching it in 5 hrs 32 min 6 sec.

He then rejoined his slower partners in Camp 3. Here, they responded to an SOS call from Mingma David Sherpa. His client, an Iranian woman, had fallen seriously ill. The Italians helped in the rescue and long-line evacuation, before resuming their descent to BC.

Francois Cazzanelli on top of Ama Dablam, less than six hours after leaving BC. Photo: Francois Cazzanelli

Angela Benavides is a journalist specialised on high-altitude mountaineer and expedition news working with

Angela Benavides has been writing about climbing and mountaineering, adventure and outdoor sports for 20+ years.

Prior to that, Angela Benavides spent time at/worked at a number of national and international media. She is also experienced in outdoor-sport consultancy for sponsoring corporates, press manager and communication executive, radio reporter and anchorwoman, etc. Experience in Education: Researcher at Spain’s National University for Distance Learning on the European Commission-funded ECO Learning Project; experience in teaching ELE (Spanish as a Second Language) and transcultural training for expats living in Spain.

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Chris Warner
Chris Warner
7 months ago

Congratulations Zdenek and Marek! That line is so obvious and aesthetic that it had to be repeated. It should be noted that the Czech finish is the logical one. Glenn and I had run out of fuel and food on day 2 and on our 4th day (after bivvying in the crevasse a top the Dablam) we went right, finishing on the normal route (we were “motivated” to get up and off as quick as possible and after climbing pitch after pitch of frozen rock, in light gloves, I had frostbite on 9 fingers). Back in the 70s, 80s and… Read more »

7 months ago

Congrats to the climbers. Is it just me or that route looks entirely vertical.