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Melungtse: The team won the wall, now fighting the ridge
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May 19, 2005 10: 43 EST
Yuri Koshelenko reported yesterday that they have climbed the wall section of the route they are opening on the yet unclimbed Melungtse’s North face. It took them five days and 31 pitches (60 m each) to tackle the very difficult wall - 6B+ (Russian grade), according to RussianClimb. So far, every afternoon, the weather has taken a turn for the worse.

Right now it is snowing, but the guys are safely in their tent, drinking cocoa. They need to recover after an epic night on the wall.

On a 40cm ice edge

“Last night we had to spend the night sitting on a small ice ledge (40 cm wide),” reported Yuri. “We fought to hold our position all night long, with heavy snow-falling.”

The guys have set the tent on the ridge, satisfied because they hope to be finished with the most difficult sections. Now they hope for better weather to reach the summit.

American Carlos Buhler is joining Russians Yuri Koshelenko and Nikolay Totmyanin for an alpine style expedition on Melungtse’s North Face. Koshelenko wants to prove that Russians are not just bold and determined ‘heavy style’ expeditioneers, but can also show their colors in pure alpine style.

The first ascent on Melungtse Main was made in 1992 by Slovenians Andrej Stremfelj and Marco Prezlj through the South-East Face. American Carlos Buhler made the first attempt on the North face in 1999, and reached 5800 m.

Melungtse faces Nepal’s Rolwaling valley to the south, and Rongshar in Tibet to the north. This is a totally isolated area, with no trace of civilization.

Carlos Buhler (Bozeman, Montana) is a major name in American climbing history. He has been climbing since the seventies and is still fully active. He draws from experience gained on thirty-four expeditions all around the world. In 1983, he climbed to the summit of Mt. Everest with the American team that made the first ascent of the Kangshung (East) Face from Tibet. His climbing resume includes: Ama Dablam NE face (1985), Changabang North face (1998), Kangchenjunga North ridge (1988), Cho Oyu Polish route on the W ridge in alpine style, Dhaulagiri, Dorje Lhakpa NE ridge, K2 north ridge, Nanga Parbat and innumerable rock and ice first-line routes.

Yuri Koshelenko has been awarded the Piolet d’Or for the first ascent of Nuptse East, along with Valeri Babanov. Koshelenko was also a member of the Russian team who opened a new route on the center of Everest’s North face last year. Nikolay Totmyanin was awarded the Piolet d’Or last month: He was part of the team that accomplished the first climb on Jannu’s North face. Both climbs also won awards for the Best of ExplorersWeb expeditions in 2004.

Image of Yuri, Carlos and Nikolay in Kathmandu prior to departure for Tibet, courtesy of Mountain.ru

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