Full of energy : a last-minute alpine trip to Nepal

Tengkangpoche north pillar first ascent story 1/3

Attempt 2. Day 4. Tom Livingstone leading on thin ice ©Livingstone/Glenn

It is a major route that the British Tom Livingstone and Matt Glenn managed to climb at the end of October, on their second attempt and in 7 days to the summit and back : the north pillar of Tengkangpoche (6487 m), in Nepal. Coveted by numerous strong alpinists for the past 20 years, this pillar is a combination of purely rocky, mixed and artificial climbing, which can be very tricky. The previous rope parties failed, as best, in the last few meters of the headwall below the final ridge leading to the top. Livingstone and Glenn passed. The first of three parts of Tom’s exclusive story, and the superb images of the rope party.

Attempt 2. Day Five. Around 6000 metres on Tengkangpoche, Khumbu region, Nepal

Hanging from a single peg in front of my face, I watched as it bent and flexed with my weight. Anxiously scratching the snow, I searched desperately for another placement. The key to Tengkangpoche’s upper headwall was contained within this single crack. All our efforts up to this moment were suspended in one question: could we climb through this feature? How I’d wondered, worried, longed to see what was around the corner. Would it go?

A gale blew ice into my numb cheeks and stung my eyes, shaking the rope. Straddling the blunt arête, a thousand metres of air dropped beneath my boots. The distant valley was already dark – night was rushing. ‘Move!’ I shouted at myself, trying to maintain a pace