Weekend Warm-Up: Changabang: Return to the Shining Mountain

New Zealand alpinist Daniel Joll leads off Changabang with a voiceover. He’s describing the sensation of a certain objective that dominates one’s consciousness. His words aren’t calculated, but they’re still bullseye-precise. He emphasizes “knowing,” “sits,” and “eats.”

“Knowing that mountain is there. It sits in the back of your head. It eats away at your consciousness.”

triangular mountain peak in orange alpenglow

Photo: Screenshot


For him, it’s Changabang.

Maybe it’s not the most prominent peak, but Changabang (6,864m) commands respect. It’s a hard-won feather in the crown of any climber in India who perches on its lonely summit. Joll and two teammates couldn’t shake the visionary effort of Pete Boardman and Joe Tasker on Changabang’s West Wall in 1976. So they leaned into it — and came out with a second ascent the mountaineering community had anticipated for 46 years.

three smiling mountaineers

Summit day. Photo: Screenshot


Success after 46 years

Twenty teams had failed on the 1,600m Boardman-Tasker Route before Joll, Matthew Scholes, and Kim Ladiges. But the three changed the calculus in 2022 and cracked the top five in ExplorersWeb’s expeditions of the year.

The effort didn’t seem plausible until the final hour.

“The only way to cope was to focus on one day at a time…We reminded each other not to think too far ahead. None of us thought we would summit. We never imagined it could be possible until the final one hundred meters,” Joll told ExplorersWeb’s Angela Benavides.

The team’s vigor for improvisation sharpens into focus in Changabang: Return to the Shining Mountain.

Ladiges describes that even the routine task of acclimatization was practically impossible.

“Just because of the time involved with getting to the mountain, all those things, we just knew it wasn’t going to work,” he said of the team’s early May ascent. “So we just kind of knew we had to strap onto the mountain and start.”

To say the least, the climbing merited attention. Watch for shattered blonde granite, neve-blanketed vertical ice, and dizzy exposure.

Sam Anderson

Sam Anderson spent his 20s as an adventure rock climber, scampering throughout the western U.S., Mexico, and Thailand to scope out prime stone and great stories. Life on the road gradually transformed into a seat behind the keyboard, where he acted as a founding writer of the AllGear Digital Newsroom and earned 1,500+ bylines in four years on topics from pro rock climbing to slingshots and scientific breakthroughs.