The most demanding routes are currently climbed on seven-thousander peaks rather than on the 14 eight-thousanders. A week ago, for example, French climbers Benjamin Védrines and Charles Duboulez achieved a fine success on the 7,321-meter-high Chamlang in Nepal. The two opened a new route through the challenging North Face of the mountain not far from the eight-thousander Makalu. They christened their 1,600-meter-high route “À l’ombre du mensonge” (In the shadow of the lie). From the summit, the French descended via the West Ridge.
“We knew the project was ambitious: shade, high altitude, cold, technical passages, difficult bivouacs, the whole thing with just two people,” Charles writes on Facebook. “But our determination and willpower were unwavering. Four extremely intense days trying to be fast, because that’s the capital of our team!” The 32-year-old said he felt he had given all, “from the toes to the last breath”.
His team partner Védrines also had to push the limit. “For me, this was the most challenging climb I’ve ever done,” Benjamin summed up on Facebook, “because of the nights spent under spindrift and the stages we had to tackle.” This was the 29-year-old’s second time on Chamlang. Two years ago, Védrines had opened a new route through the Northeast Couloir of the mountain with his French compatriot Nicolas Jean.
Forgotten pioneering feat
In 2020, the two Czechs Marek Holecek and Zdenek Hak had been awarded the Piolet d’Or, the “Oscar of Mountaineering”, for their first ascent of the complete Chamlang Northwest Face in alpine style.
Already in 1990, the German climbers Stefan Köhler and Bernd Eberle had climbed in alpine style through the Northwest Face to an altitude of 6,600 meters and from there via the West Face to the summit – a pioneering feat that is unfortunately often forgotten.