A First Ascent in the Langtang Himal

On Oct. 28, IFMGA mountain guides Joshua Jarrin of the U.S. and Oswaldo Freire of Ecuador made the first ascent of 6,567m Yansa Tsenji in Nepal’s Langtang Himal. This northern region contains some of the most challenging peaks in the Himalaya. The pair climbed the mountain — also known as Dragpoche or Dhagpache — in light alpine style via the east face.

map of langtang

Yansa Tsenji

Yansa Tsenji, also known as Dragpoche or Dhagpache. Photo: Thetrekblog.com


Jarrin and Freire named their route Between fairies and unicorns (ED, M4+, WI5+ 90°). The climb took them just over 29hrs.

Past attempts

Yansa Tsenji lies southwest of 6,918m Shalbachum, on the border between Nepal and Tibet. According to The Himalayan Database, it first opened for climbing in 2003.

Since then, there have been only two attempts on it. The first one was 20 years ago, in the autumn of 2003, by a UK party led by David Pritt. They attempted the climb via the east ridge, but the route was so difficult that they had to retreat from 6,120m.

The second attempt took place in the autumn of 2010. A Japanese team led by Makoto Kuroda attempted the south face of the west-southwest ridge. They had to abandon their ascent at 5,800m because of rockfall.

Details of the climb

Yesterday, Freire shared details of his and Jarrin’s climb with ExplorersWeb.

The duo left their base camp at 5,110m on Oct. 27 at 11 pm. They reached the base of the steep east face without incident, crossed the bergschrund, and then began climbing. They maintained a constant pace; there was nowhere to rest.

Freire says that their route was very exposed, and powder snow avalanches fell constantly around them. Twice, these sluffs hit Jarrin, who had to struggle to stay on the face. Besides avalanches, rocks rained down constantly.

Ascending the east face of Yansa Tsenji.

On the east face of Yansa Tsenji. Photo: Oswaldo Freire


The pair only carried three liters of water in total, plus some energy bars. According to Freire, there was no easy terrain anywhere; it was all highly technical. After every section, they faced another equally hard stretch.

Difficult climbing in the darkness. Video: Oswaldo Freire


Jarrin and Freire needed 19 hours non-stop to reach the summit. They topped out on Oct. 28 at 7:05 pm, just before nightfall. The summit itself was the only relatively flat part of the mountain. There, they spent an hour, eating a little and melting snow to drink, since they’d already exhausted their three liters of water. It was very cold on the summit, Freire admitted.

Ascending Yansa Tsenji alias Dhagpache, and a view from the surrounding mountains in the Langtang Himal.

Ascending Yansa Tsenji, aka Dhagpache. Behind, other peaks in the Langtang Himal. Photo: Oswaldo Freire


Getting down

On the summit, Freire’s first and only thought was how they were going to get down.

They started rappelling down in complete darkness. It took them another 10 hours to reach base camp, shattered but happy.

Getting closer to the summit area.

Approaching the summit. Photo: Oswaldo Freire


“We enjoyed absolutely every minute of the whole climb,” recalled Freire. “Despite the avalanches and rockfall, we didn’t feel any fear during the climb.”

At the same time, Freire admitted that this was “the most difficult climb of my whole  mountaineering career and the most exposed and committed ascent I have ever made.”

Although Freire says he ideally needs a month to recover, there is no time for that. They will rest only a couple of days, then shift locations to attempt the first ascent of the north face of 6,378m Ganchenpo in the Jugal Himal, a little to the southeast.

Kris Annapurna

KrisAnnapurna is a writer with ExplorersWeb.

Kris has been writing about history and tales in alpinism, news, mountaineering, and news updates in the Himalaya, Karakoram, etc., for the past year with ExplorersWeb. Prior to that, Kris worked as a real estate agent, interpreter, and translator in criminal law. Now based in Madrid, Spain, she was born and raised in Hungary.