Hagshu North Face first ascent by Ales Cesen, Luka Lindic and Marko Prezelj
Between 29 and 30 September 2014, Slovenian alpinists Ales Cesen, Luka Lindic and Marko Prezelj made the first ascent of the North Face of Hagshu (ED, 70°-90°) in the Indian Himalayas.
We mentioned it a few days ago: this autumn the impressive Hagshu peak in the Indian Himalayas was climbed not just once but twice, doubling the total tally of ascents in its 25-year climbing history. Bureaucratic issues on behalf of the Indian Mountaineering Foundation in issuing permits resulted in this somewhat unusual occurrence and while the fourth ascent, as reported, was carried out by British mountaineers Mick Fowler and Paul Ramsden who summited on 6 October via the unclimbed NE Face, the third occurred just a few days earlier with the Slovenians Aleš Česen, Luka Lindič and Marko Prezelj summiting via the unclimbed North Face.
In mid-September the Slovenians set up Base Camp at 4400m on the moraine at the west side of the Hagshu glacier and, wasting no time, set off the next day on their first acclimatisation trip: 5750m high Lagan situated directly above base camp. The first ascent of its East Ridge proved considerably harder then initially expected and two bivies were needed to negotiate difficulties up to TD-, max M5. After two days of rest Česen and Prezelj established ABC below the West Face of Hagshu while Lindič remained in BC due to stomach problems, and then the trio acclimatised further by making another first ascent up Hagshu's neighbouring peak Hana's Men. This offered a good view of Hagshu from the east and the possibility of viewing the descent from the summit, and over two days the West face – west rib was climbed to reach the 6300m high North summit of Hana's Men.
With acclimatisation now complete, the time had come to attempt the main objective, Hagshu's North Face. Česen, Lindič and Prezelj reached ABC and set off at 3:00am on 29 September with just a small tent, two sleeping bags and food for two bivouacs. Access to the face was hampered by deep snow that had drifted in from the north face, but after wading for an hour they then made quick progress. The trio climbed unroped up a snow cone to the central part of the north face and rapidly reached the steepest section of the face. This proved surprisingly difficult as the ice was "polished completely smooth from minor powder avalanches and brittle as glass because of the cold." Progress was understandably slow at this point and, unable to locate a suitable bivouac on this terrain, they continued upwards, reaching a narrow ridge at 6320m at 02:00 in the morning, 23 hours after having set off from ABC. The trio bivied here and then set off late the next day after having warmed up in the sun to deal with some "pleasant rock climbing" before reaching the north summit. After much climbing and wading along the undulating ridge, Hagshu's main summit was reached at circa 17:00 on 30 September. At this point the trio bivied for a second time, just below the summit, and then descended the next day via the original ascent line chosen by the Polish mountaineers Pawel Jozefowicz and Dariusz Zaluski. Noting that "the Poles had done an excellent job in 1989", Česen, Lindič and Prezelj abseiled and downclimbed this demanding line down the south side of the mountain, to then continue east to the glacier between Hagshu and Hana's Men and, finally, reach BC late that moonlit night.