In 2019, Canadian Quentin Roberts and Finnish climber Juho Knuuttila reached a new highpoint on the huge north pillar of Tengkangpoche (6,487 m) in in the Khumbu Valley of Nepal. They turned around near the top of the alpine wall due to a lack of ice. The expedition also included Canadian Tim Banfield, who sat out the Tengkangpoche attempt, but climbed some ground on Cholatse (6,440 m) in deep snow. The trip was partially funded by the John Lauchlan Award, which is based in the Canadian Rockies.
While Roberts and Knuuttila didn’t reach the summit, their attempt was a success because of their new high-point, and because they made it back to the ground safe and sound. Other Canadians had attempted routes on the icier walls to the right in the past, including Will Gadd and Scott Semple in 2005 and by Matt Maddaloni and John Furneaux in 2006. There have been a number of bold routes climbed on the northern aspects of Tengkangpoche over the years, just nothing up the pillar.
For spring 2020, Roberts has teamed up with ace American alpinist Jesse Huey. The two are currently at the base of the striking feature and are hoping to start climbing within the next few weeks. You can follow along their expedition on Instagram below.
Roberts is based in Canmore and has made a number of bold ascents over the past few years, including solos of Striving for the Moon VI WI5 on Mount Temple and of Grand Central Couloir V M6 AI4 on Mount Kitchener. On Mount Tuzo, Roberts and Alik Berg made the first ascent of Hiding in Plain Sight V M5 AI5. The duo also completed a new route on the east face of Chacraraju Este (6,001 m) in Peru called The Devil’s Reach Around V M6 5.10 in 2017.
Huey, who was based in the Canadian Rockies for a number of years, has repeated some of the most the world’s most difficult classic route, such as The Slovak Direct VI, 3,000 m on the south face of Denali, Freerider 5.13 in a day, The Dru Couloir direct M8 1,800 m, Armageddon 5.12d, 1,000 m FA on North Howser, Original Sin 5.12d 600 m FA on Mount Hooker, and a repeat of The Shadow 5.13 in Squamish.