Japanese Summit Karun Koh; Plus: Alpine Style on Manaslu’s West Face

Far from the crowds of guided climbers, some teams continue to practice exploratory alpinism.

In Pakistan, Kazuya Hiraide and Kenro Nakajima have summited 6,977m Karun Koh. The Japanese pair made it via a new line on the previously unexplored Northwest Face. Climbing in a single push, they set off on September 19, spent two nights on the face, and summited on September 21 at 2:50 pm local time. They are now safely back in Base Camp, exhausted but safe.

Two sharp, snowy peaks rise in a blue skies day, a white glaicer in front all along the valley.

Karun Koh on the right, in the Hunza region. Photo shared by KrisAnnapurna/Twitter


Jungle approach to Manaslu West

Meanwhile, in Nepal, a wild time is assured on the West Face of Manaslu, where the French team has spotted a highly difficult yet possible line. Charles Dubouloz reported his first impressions of the West Face.

“To our knowledge, since Beghin and Muller’s ascent of the West Face, no one has come this way,” he said. “We walked for three days in the pouring rain, set up our tent in wet, tall grass, and observed the face for days.” At least, during those few hours when the clouds parted and revealed the mountain. It didn’t look easy.

Two climbers look up under their umbrellas, wih grass up to their knees and a completely grey, rainy day.

Well off the beaten track, the soaked climbers approach Manaslu’s West Side. Photo: Charles Dubouloz


“It’s filled with seracs!!!” he said. “We have five in total, each more threatening than the other. We even nicknamed the main one Nazaré [after the Portuguese beach famous for big-wave surfing], it looks so imposing.”

Dubouloz also noted that routes are scarce but they see one possibility up a steep rocky pinnacle. “Nothing certain, but we’ll try,” he promised.

climbers inside a lodge, cups of tea in their hands, with dawn jackets on but without boots.

Helias Millerioux, left, and Charles Dubouloz take a break from the rain in a lodge.


Before their single push, however, the French trio will move to the other side of the mountain and “join the hordes of walkers” to acclimatize on Manaslu’s normal route.

“I do not criticize the dreams and projects of others,” Dubouloz added. “I am just happy to be on an uncertain adventure where our only chances of success rest on our fragile shoulders.”

Angela Benavides

Angela Benavides graduated university in journalism and specializes in high-altitude mountaineering and expedition news. She 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 local and international media. She is also experienced in outdoor-sport consultancy for sponsoring corporations, press manager and communication executive, and a published author.