Italians Summit Kongde Ri, Tengkampoche

Lost in the recent squabble over Tengkampoche, between the pair who previously attempted the NE Pillar and the pair who recently completed it, was the presence of a third team.

In fact, the Italians, led by Francois Cazzanelli had announced weeks ago that they were aiming for Tengkampoche. Since they didn’t mention a route, some wondered whether they too were trying for the disputed pillar. They then dropped out of sight for a couple of weeks.

That six-man Italian team of François Cazzanelli, Francesco Ratti, Leonardo Gheza, Emrik Favre, Jerome Perruquet, and Roger Bovard has just reemerged successfully. They summited both 6,500m Tengkampoche and 6,187m Kongde Ri, just west of Namche Bazaar.

A three-day ‘bella aventura’

Bella aventura is how Cazzanelli describes their time in the Khumbu.  They endured a bit of a beating but also came away satisfied.

The action took place on a four-day push when the team opened two new routes on the north face of Kongde Ri. They then traversed to Tengkampoche for the sharp East Ridge — not the SE Pillar. They climbed alpine style, bivouacking as they went.

The climb up Kongde Ri. Photo: Francois Cazzanelli


They divided into two rope teams in order to open parallel lines up Kongde Ri. Cazzanelli and Leo Rezha climbed a 1,400m route that they called ‘Santarai’, after the team’s BC cook.

“As a north face, we never saw the sun during the climb,” Cazzanelli said. “We did the last two pitches by the light of our headlamps.”

Little wonder that after summiting, the climbers bivouacked overnight on the ridge at 5,700m. They have tentatively graded the new line as AI5, R, M7, A2.

One of the team’s precarious bivouacs. Photo: Francois Cazzanelli

The second day was easier because they went from living in the shade all the time to enjoying the sun at their backs.

“We crossed the entire Kongde Ri ridge to the foot of the East Ridge of Tengkampoche, where we bivouacked at about 6,000m,” Cazzanelli said. There, the entire team reunited in order to climb Tengkampoche together.

The aesthetic traverse by the Italians. Photo: Leonardo Gheza

On the third day, they all climbed Tengkampoche’s East Ridge.

“We had to work hard to get to the top and the descent wasn’t easy either,” Cazzanelli wrote.

The Italians approach the summit of Tengkampoche. Photo: Francois Cazzanelli