Sura Peak: Hell on Earth

“Hell on earth” is indeed how Marek Holecek described the crux of the climb on Sura Peak: a horizontal rock barrier across the NW Face.

Holecek and Matej Bernat started off from their secure bivy spot in an ice cave. They began with a steep yet short ice section. But crossing the mixed terrain of that rock barrier took them most of the day.

“The rock was broken, crumbly, and it started to snow,” Holecek reported.

By the time they finished at around 3:00 pm, it was snowing heavily. They couldn’t find a decent spot to pitch their tent for the night.

“The rock ledges had a sliding slope, and the ice between them was like glass,” Holecek wrote. “It was simply the worst possible place we could have chosen.”

They cut a narrow ice shelf and secured their tent to an ice screw. But parts of them still hung over a kilometer-long drop. “From the outside, it must look like some sort of hanging garbage bag,” commented Holecek drily.

The climbers have at least one more hard day to go, with constant snow sluffs falling on them from the summit ridge. But they are getting closer.

map of Sura Peak

Nepal’s Sura Peak lies between Ama Dablam and Baruntse, and just south of Everest.

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.