Exclusive: Zdenek Hak on his Climb of Ama Dablam’s West Face

On his way home from Nepal, Zdenek Hak found time to share some details of his and Jakub Kacha’s recent climb with ExplorersWeb. Their combination of the ‘American Direct’ and ‘Smid’ routes on Ama Dablam (6,812m) has gained unanimous applause for its elegance and alpine-style approach.

Climbing in highly technical terrain. Photo: Zdenek Hak


“I originally arrived in Nepal with the goal to guide one of my clients on Ama Dablam,” Hak said. “Then I would try to repeat the route set by the legendary Czech climber Miroslav Smid on the West Face of Ama Dablam.”

Change of plans

Originally, he planned to team up with fellow Czech mountain guide David Knill. “Eventually, I had to change the climbing partner and the route,” Hak said. “With Jakub [Kacha], we decided to first climb the American Direct route, which was not so endangered by seracs. Then when the Americans turned right, we continued straight up, exactly like Miroslav Smid did.”

Jakub Kacha high on Ama Dablam’s West Face. Photo: Zdenek Hak


The pair climbed the route in three days with two bivouacs. “The conditions changed, depending on the altitude and which side of the pillar we were on,” said Hak. “It was better to climb on the south side of the pillar, where the snow was starting to turn into firn [corn-like, granular snow]. On the other hand, a northern exposure meant tricky climbing in unstable snow conditions.”

Flat ground at last: Zdenek Hak on the summit of Ama Dablam. Photo: Jakub Kacha


“We have rated the most difficult rock sections as 4-5 UIAA, ice sections as WI 4, and mixed sections as 4-5, so TD+/ED- overall,” Hak said. “The most difficult was to climb over unstable snow pillars and little ridgelines in the middle of the face.”

‘Lancmit Direct’

The climbers have named their route the ‘Lancmit Direct’. It is a tribute to Miroslav “Lancmit” Smid, whom Hak calls one of the best Czech alpinists of all time.

The climbers were also glad to read on ExplorersWeb ‘American Direct’ pioneer Chris Warner’s praise of their climb. “We are very pleased by the words of the Americans toward the style and execution of our ascent,” Hak said. ” You have to always leverage your predecessors to rise. I just regret that I cannot also thank Lanc personally.”

Smid died while soloing Yosemite’s Lost Arrow Spire in 1993.

Approaching the end of Ama Dablam’s West Face. Photo: Jakub Kacha