NEW 8000-METER ROUTE, SOLO, IN A SINGLE PUSH

Posted on: October 12, 2006


The southwest face of Cho Oyu (8201m), Himalaya, Tibet, showing the new route soloed by Slovenian Pavle Kozjek on October 2. Kozjek managed the route, which joins the Polish Ridge for its last 900 meters, in fourteen and a half hours. Two days earlier, he was witness to the murder of a Tibetan nun who was attempting to escape Tibet for Nepal by five Chinese soldiers. [Photo] Pavle Kojzek

Pavle Kojzek, the Slovenian alpinist whose considerable exploits appeared in the article "A Climber's Tale" in Alpinist Issue 6, recently returned from one of the more remarkable outings in the Himalaya this season. On October 2, he managed a new route, solo, on the south face of Cho Oyu (8201m) in the Tibetan Himalaya, climbing the route in a single push from Advanced Base Camp at 6200 meters on the Gyabrag Lho Glacier directly to the summit in 14.5 hours. The 1100 meters of new route on the face (at 5.6 60 degrees) was followed by 900 meters of the Polish Ridge. The crux was an ice pitch at 7200 meters that Kojzek bypassed by climbing 5.6 rock on the right (see photo).

Kozjek is no stranger to altitude, or to hard climbing. After distinguishing himself in Slovenia's Julian Alps with climbs such as the 1981 first winter ascent of the Cihula Route (5.9 A3, 700m) on the north face of Siroka Pec, he was invited to participate in state-sponsored expeditions to the Greater Ranges. His first expedition, to the Himalayan peak Gangapurna (7475m) in 1983, was followed by the first ascent of the Devil's Direttissima (ED+: VI 5.12a A4 WI5+, 1200m) on the east face of Patagonia's Cerro Torre in 1986. The same year, he climbed Pakistan's Broad Peak (8047m) and Gasherbrum II (8035m) in a total of five days. In 1989, he made the first ascent of the Slovenian Route (5.7 65 degrees, 2200m) on the south face of Shishapangma (8046m) in a three-day, alpine-style round-trip push with Andrej Stremfelj. He summitted Everest without oxygen in 1997, climbing solo from below the North Ridge's Second Step to the top, and has established numerous testpiece routes in Peru's Cordillera Blanca throughout the 1990s and 2000s, including the first integral ascent of the Lowe Route (ED+: AI6 M5 A2, 800m) on Trapecio (5644m) in Peru's Cordillera Blanca—see http://www.alpinist.com/doc/ALP14/climbing-notes-kozjek.

A photo of the crux of the new route on the southwest face of Cho Oyu (8201m) climbed by Kozjek in a single push. This section of the climb was encountered at 7200 meters; Kozjek bypassed it by climbing the rock on the right at 5.6. [Photo] Pavle Kozjek

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