A team of three American climbers has made an alpine-style first ascent involving some new terrain on the rarely-climbed north face of Jannu (Khumbakarna) 7,710m in eastern Nepal. The team consisting of Matt Cornell, Jackson Marvell and Alan Rousseau climbed over seven days and named their new line Round Trip Ticket ( M7 AI5+ A0) 2,700m.
Jannu was first climbed via the southeast ridge in 1962 by an 11-strong team led by the French alpinist Lionel Terray. The imposing north face - known as the 'Wall of Shadows'- was first climbed in 1976 by a Japanese team led by Masatsugu Konishi. They followed a less steep line that met the east ridge of the mountain.
The first ascent in alpine style was achieved via the French Route in 1978 by a British team consisting of Brian Hall, Alan Rouse, Rab Carrington and Roger Baxter-Jones.
In 1989, Slovenian climber Tomo Česen claimed a controversial solo ascent of the north face via a more direct route. Adding to the storied history of this face, a Russian team successfully aid-climbed the steep upper section of the face using a big wall-style approach in 2004 after a failed attempt in 2003, but their decision to leave gear behind was frowned upon by critics. The ascent nonetheless won the team a Piolet d'Or.
Nearly twenty years later, on 7 October the American trio began their third attempt at climbing the face in alpine style after two failures on earlier expeditions. They shared limited details and some photos as they return from their trip.
Marvell commented on Instagram:
"Well the deed is done. It was years in the making and it feels surreal or even unthinkable at times that it worked out. We are still deep in the works of processing the experience and likely will be for a long while. More details to come when we feel like getting around to it."
"We dove deep into what we thought was possible and returned with a profound experience," Cornell wrote on Instagram. "Consumed by events of the climb we lost the meaning of individuality."
"The 2,700-meter north face was one that caused a lot of doubt and anxiety. In the end we all did our part and climbed the face in a style we are very proud of. We shared a lot of terrain. From the Russian '04 line and the final 200 meters with the SW ridge. Our hardest steepest climbing was from 7,000 meters to 7,500 meters."
The "recessed" section of the north face that they followed had not been climbed previously. "This is where we experienced some of the most intensely wonderful mixed climbing any of us have had the pleasure of partaking in," Rousseau wrote.