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A 60-Pitch Himalayan Ice and Rock Route from 1990 Was Just Repeated

This side of the famous mountain sees few ascents, but this alpine-style climb will bring attention to its difficulty and aesthetic nature

Big climbs have been going down this fall in the Himalayas with hard new climbs and bold repeats. The most recent was by Czech climbers Zdenek Hak and Kuba Káchaby up the 60-pitch American Direct on the west face of Ama Dablam (6,812 m).

Hak is no stranger to the region, as he and Marek Holecek received a Piolets d’Or for a first ascent of a new route on Chamlang in 2020. He then made the first ascent of the north face of Kangchung Shar (6,063 m) with Jaroslaw Bansky.

Glen Dunmire and Chris Warner made the first ascent of the American Direct in winter 1990. It’s not the only route on this aspect of Ama Dablam, as Miroslav Smid’s 1986 solo route and the Japanese Route climb up on the left and right.

After the first ascent 31 years ago, Warner said they left their 17,400-foot camp on Dec. 18 and climbed a glacier to the base of the main rib. In his FA report, he said, “The snow was poorly consolidated and steep, from 55° to 70°, often resting on a pocket of air and not adhering to the rock. Small rock bands criss-crossed the route. At nightfall, we carved a ledge from the 60° snow at 19,000 feet above a prominent orange rock band. The second day began with a 150-foot rock band (5.4), laden with loose blocks.”

The rest of the route followed hundreds of metres of mixed to a serac band that led to ice and snow to the next bivy. He said after a technically difficult bergschrund, they climbed two mixed pitches at 5.6 through the rock band below the uppermost hanging glacier known as the “Dablam.” They climbed the left side of the Dablam to another bivy at 22,000 feet in a bergschrund. On the first day of winter, they climbed the final 200 metres to the top of the southwest ridge and summited at around noon in the morning. They were back at base camp the next day.