Kangchenjunga: Poles Safe in Base Camp After Difficult Descent

To everyone’s relief, Bartek Ziemski and Oswald Rodrigo Pereira reached Base Camp on Kangchenjunga today at 3 pm local time.

The climbers have confirmed that they summited on May 27 at 2:45 pm. Theirs was the only Kangchenjunga summit this season, barring some last-minute surprise. All the other climbers in the “lower” Camp 4 (7,200m) near them on May 25-6 aborted their summit push. Tough conditions delayed their sherpa rope fixers, who decided to abort the attempt.

The ropes were fixed to 7,500-7,600m. The rest of the way, the two men made it by themselves, without oxygen or sherpa support. They broke trail and successfully navigated the upper section of the mountain, where several confusing couloirs slice the final face. The two left Camp 4 shortly before 7 pm and needed 20 hours of struggle to reach the summit.

A lonely descent

Ziemski skied down from the summit, although he needed to take off his skis for two traverses and a 20m climb up a serac just before Camp 4. He finally reached Camp 4 at 7 pm.

On foot and alone, Pereira had a much longer and tougher descent. At some point, the climbers’ home team reports, he fell and injured his foot. He ended up bivouacking at 7,600m. The following morning, Ziemski went up again to meet his companion. He found him in relatively good condition, and both returned safely to Camp 4.

Today, May 29, Ziemski resumed skiing while Pereira continued down on foot. Ziemski’s descent from Camp 4 to Camp 2 was clean, except for a necessary climb over a 10m serac near lower Camp 3, the climbers’ home team reported.

Between Camp 2 and Camp 1, Ziemski had to navigate rocky terrain on foot, making a pure ski descent impossible. From Camp 1 to the lowest snow-free point (5,600m), he used a fixed rope for about five meters for safety.

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.