First Ascent of Kangchung Shar’s North Face

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