Nepal First Ascents: Tengi Ragi Tau, Dhamovar, Jugal 5

Several teams have just returned from Nepal with first ascents and new routes on rare peaks. Some were alpine style, others traditional Himalayan tactics, some were easy, and some were harder. Even small commercial teams joined the trend. It is a reminder that original adventure remains in the Himalaya, as long as you steer clear of the 8,000’ers.


Marek Disman and Jakub Vlcek of the Czech Republic opened a new route on the west face of 6,938m Tengi Ragi Tau in the Rolwaling Himal.

Disman and Vlcek climbed in alpine style on Oct. 29-31, with one bivouac on the way up and another on the way down. They named the beautiful direct line up the face Honzova cesta  — Czech for “Johnny’s Route.” It included 80º sections and difficulties up to M5.

The climbers told Explorersweb that the 1,300m line goes up in the middle of the face, just to the left of the route known as Trinite, opened by Symon Welfringer and Charles Noirot in 2019.

A direct line up the west face, mostly on ice/snow, marked in red.

Map of the new Czech route on Tengi Ragi Tau. Photo: Expedition team


Fellow Czechs Jan Kreisinger and Karel Roudnicky previously attempted that new line in 2021 but had to abort after two bivouacs because of bad weather. Kreisinger joined this 2023 expedition as well but was insufficiently acclimatized and turned around after the first part of the wall.

The climber leads a pitch on fluted ice, as he approaches a ridge.

On steep ice near the summit ridge on Tengi Ragi Tau. Photo: Expedition team


The climbers also noted that they didn’t — and never intended to — reach the mountain’s main summit. The goal was to complete the unfinished 2021 line in the most direct way.

“We started from the same point that the 2021 climbers did, but then took a more direct line in the middle of the gigantic West Face toward one of the secondary summits above the huge ice serac [below the summit ridge],” Marek Disman told ExplorersWeb. “That was the logical end of our direct line. At the same time, we made sure we were the first ones to set foot on that secondary summit.”

Upper Mustang

Ski mountaineer and guide Luke Smithwick of the U.S. is in Kathmandu, back from a fruitful trip to the Upper Mustang in north-central Nepal. Here, his team bagged two first ascents in the Damodar Himal.

The shadow of a climber raising his arm reflects on the snow or a ridge, with brownish, dry mountains in background.

On the way up a ridge. Photo: Luke Smithwick


“We climbed in alpine style [and made] the first ascent of the west ridge of Peak 5,952m in the Damodar Himal,” Smithwick told ExplorersWeb. They named the peak Gorak Himal (Tibetan for Raven Peak).

They then did another first ascent, this time of the south face of 6,759m Khumjungar Himal. “Both peaks have steep snow and ice and some fifth-class rock climbing,” said Smithwick. “[We] fixed some sections lower on the peak.”

His clients/teammates included Americans Ted Hedberg, Chris Lane, Bennett Woomer, Ernie Johnson, and Pemba Rita Sherpa of Nepal.

“I’ve wanted to explore the Damodar for more than a decade,” he added. “We saw no one for the entire expedition and found many fossils.”

A climber progress up a snowy slope, following footprints, in the night, under the light of his headlamp.

A member of Luke Smithwick’s team climbs during the night. Photo: Luke Smithwick


Jugal 5

Nima Gyalzen Sherpa of Dolma Outdoor Expedition, his brother Pemba Dorje Sherpa, and his nephew Tenzing Jangbu Sherpa led two clients up Jugal 5 — Jaime Salinas of Mexico and Nepalese singer Sajja Chaulagain. The Nepal Idol contestant sings a few bars below:

The team had permits for Jugal 3, 4, and 5, but finally ascended only one of them.

A half snowy peak on a mainly rocky area.

Jugal 5 is the snowy dome on the right. Photo: Nima Gyalzen Sherpa


a climber up a long snow ramp, clipped to afixed rope.

On Jugal 5. Photo: Nima Gyalzen Sherpa

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.