Márek Holeček and Zdeněk Hák climb new route up Kyajo Ri in Nepal

Climbing in alpine style from 25 to 28 May 2018, the Czech mountaineers Marek Holeček and Zdeněk Hák made the first ascent of Lapse of Reason, a new route up Kyajo Ri (6186 m) in Nepal.
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Marek Holeček, making the first ascent of Lapse of Reason up Kyajo Ri in Nepal (25-28/05/2018)
Marek Holeček archive

After a failed attempt in spring 2017 with Ján Smoleň, in June 2018 the highly accomplished Czech mountaineer Marek Holeček returned to Kyajo Ri in Nepal to complete a new route that weaves its way up the west and east faces of the mountain.

Holeček traveled to the Khumbu region with Zdeněk Hák, with whom he established a great new route on Gasherbrum in autumn 2017, and after preparing their gear the two bivouacked below the face, ready to start early the next morning. Compared to the previous year the face was much drier and the two struggled past 700 meters of loose rock to reach the ridge at around noon. Shortly afterwards Hák was hit on the helmet by rockfall, fortunately without serious consequences, and the two opted for a second bivy on an exposed platform they dubbed the Eagles Nest.

The climbing the next day was once again marked by friable rock and just when they thought they would be forced into making a third bivouac they noticed the summit appear through the clouds. "We decided to take this offer and ended up reaching the summit with the sun already setting. Then, already at dusk, we descended three hundred meters to a location where we set up our comfortable bivouac for the night." The next day the two returned safely down to the valley.

The new route is called Lapse of Reason, is 1600 meters long and deals with difficulties up to M6, WI 4+, 3+UIAA, ED+.


Hey man, it's there! The whole spring trip to the Nepalese Himalayas reminded me of a mouse in a running wheel. You just run, and when you stop, you fall down on your nose. Then, the subsequent rotation of the wheel shoots you out mercilessly. You're just out of the game and that’s it. In short, timing had almost no margin for error, including experience, which lost any right to vote at the time of departure from home.

The assumption was that everything had to fit right on the first try. But let's go a few days back, to the point when I symbolically waved to the "extra league whistles" Pavel and Luky at Lukla Airport. I deliberately use light abstractions because their departure was delayed by three days due to bad weather when a helicopter flashed them graciously close to Kathmandu. From there, they had to use a jeep for a while, so that a huge "frrr" could bring them home to sweet Europe. However, this I learned later. Nevertheless, we finished a wonderful three-week walk from valley to valley, during which we walked across high cols and eventually added a six-and-a-half-thousand cherry to top up an already sweet cake. One was good: due to this I had a warmed-up body of a -thon runner and brilliant acclimatization in my blood. However, to myself, I looked like a dried cod with bulging eyes.

My psyche flinched in the darkness, looking for help in vain, to kick the engine again and to rush voluntarily towards an even-worse devastation adventure. The only fixed point was Hook, or Zdeněk Hák, who was already raging like an unbridled bull across pasture lands somewhere near Lunden, waiting impatinetly for me to come. I honestly looked forward to him. However, the hard climbing that was to follow was oppressing my mind, and I knew very well why. Hook had two days of walking ahead of me, but also zero acclimatization. This made the score equal.

I was spent due to exhaustion talking its toll, while he tottered around like a drunk due to lack of oxygen. Time would make us equal though as I shortened the distance to our meeting point. What is normally done in twenty hours spread out over four days my feet covered in two days and in less than nine hours. As the distance shortened, the joyfully irritating taste paradoxically grew as I wanted to measure my strength with the giant that rose over the tiny village of Lunden.

Lapse of reason
The whole story started sometime in winter a year ago. The first input came from Martin Otta, when he showed me a symmetrical shield in a photograph, instantly delighting my eye. "What is it?" I ask. "That is, my boy, Kyajo Ri and its western and eastern face, which no one has ever penetrated", says Martin. And when I look at you, disgard your tastes and let it slip your mind, he adds. In this way he deliberately and slyly sowed the seed, which grew wilfully further. The result was my departure with Ján Smoleň in the spring of 2017. Our mini expedition, composed of two climbers, set out on the run. We climbed through a steep couloir, without any major problems up to the ridge on the horizon. There was an eagle's nest bivouac which provided a smidgen of peace in a desolate wall, yet there was nothing to indicate what was to come next. The following morning everything turned upside down. Ján began to vomit, and his brain reeled. The only reasonable option was to run away. Well, it's easy to say, but hanging seven hundred meters above the terrain, especially when one of you is feeling bad, running away is really a tough nut to crack. How solve this? We finally descended but there was no more power for another attempt. That was the end to my first attempt, and Martin’s mocking words: "forget it in advance" resounded in my ears. Heck and doggone one more time! The truth remains, when it does not work by force, use more power and add vehemence. They say that a wind does not move with a mountain, that's a blah blah and a fart in addition. It must only blow a lot and then it works.

My return was clear, therefore but it had one hook and that was the partner. So, I immediately called the source of the problem, to Zdeněk Hook Háček. As always, he scratched the stubble on his chin and answered within three seconds: "Why not, let's go." The truth is that problems always arise and there is no reason to look for them upfront. We would not get away with it anywhere. So, we get to the point when Hook after our stormy meeting in Lunden starts just to the wall. I afford myself an extra day of acclimatization. I use the rest, when I get pampered by "Didi", the boss of the loggia, and her culinary bluffs.

The next day I put my gear and in the early hours I'm walking the slope behind Zdenouš. The bivy under the western wall is, on one side, a magical place with a would-be sandy beach at a tarn and, on the other side, a freezing spectacle of a rocky wall rising up into the clouds. Looking at the wall groomed with tiny snow streaks, Hook named it "F..k that's Mord Wand". The prosaic question, where we have the chance to climb, is asked. The original route from the previous year was inaccessible, as snow conditions were completely different. line one above just didn't have enough snow. How could we deal with the start and then what? The choice was simple, we'd make a valid attempt, as the visible answers were not sufficient. As Hook stated: "I have never been frightened and have money."

At dawn, at around four o’clock the following morning just as we were getting up to leave, his words had a light paraphrase "I don't have money and I'm starting to be afraid". I didn't comment because it was completely useless to add anything. The rocks at the start were a torture, because everything moved like on a sand dune. Fortunately, the frost had imprisoned all movement for now. That's what we kept telling ourselves, a sort of placebo, otherwise we would be paralyzed by the horror of what could crush us , whether in the form of falling ice or a boulder.

The choice of ascent eventually fell to the groove up the left part of the pyramid. Some bits of connecting snow were missing but we selected this line from even more misery. The very first length of the rocky corner with a noodle-like piece of ice that someone stole at the end provided a clear statement of what lay in store. Simply fight for every move. We were still awaited by other twelve hundred meters, and please, not climbing meters, as these were many more, but 1200 meters elevation gain. The day went on and the terrain did not change. Only the slope stabilized and the entire underfoot became scarier. Around at four we reached a sharp ridge and the place which I marked as the Eagle's Nest last year. It is a small plateau and in the ever-present slopes at the same time a small miracle since the ridge separating the western from the eastern wall reminds us of a scalpel, on which when you sit you're sliced into two pieces. We have enough.

Our form had abandoned us ages ago, only our appetite and despair remained. There’s nothing else left than to make do with it. With twilight coming, the clouds around us are torn apart and the sharp shields bathe in the last rays of the dying sun. All the following night hours I fight to be the winner at tge coughing match. I am convinced, even though nobody was against me, that I won. One rule says, if you do not suffer, you've never been in the mountains. I suffered like an animal, and the worst was still to come. Fortunately, Hook, as a graduated hotel magician, prepared a Chinese soup in the morning and poured hot water in the bottle. For what little it was, I was incredibly grateful. Meanwhile, behind the tent canvas, a fight of a growing cloud against the sun was taking place.

We crawl out and we sort the tools. Today is the password "who of whom". I feel Zdenál is a little nervous and I read subconsciously from his sarcastic words. Well, I set myself into a super-positive mood, with a lightly fabricated euphemism, I say, "It's going to work, brother." Without fear and blame, I jump into the first problems of today. The slope is cruel. Firn varies with broken and sometimes overhanging rock, a thin glaze of ice, and sometimes air, which we had to overcome quickly. One place sent a nice spray of cold sweat into the back groove. I was climbing away from Zdenda and the belay – zero. Not at first sight dramatic corner of the rock, somewhat falling over to our heads, at the top changing to firn. Then to somewhere. But it did not have to worry me yet. The fact that the mind was already so comatose, when the sensors of fear are twisted twice behind the normal limit, a lightning impulse passed through my body: "Match the fate, fart". There is nothing to wait for, at least not here.

The crampons howled their squeaking screech on the granite, the axes were hooked behind my neck. The gloved hands on the rock, over which water was running down, were desperately trying to catch. Everything that I grabbed or stamped on, flew into the valley. Theoretically, I should not have stayed where I was moving. How come I do not fall or do I already fly? Let’s not look for absolution to the "why" questions, when a tow is burning under the ass, and rather run. I felt in the parable of Mickey Mouse, who above the abyss, keeps swinging his feet and still hangs in the air. The umbilical cord between me and Zdenda freely flickered with a 15-meter sag. Zdenda, in principle, flew a human kite. A few endless minutes and I seize the first ice-ax into the white matter. It holds and I let the accumulated air from my lungs go. We go on. The exposition underfoot and around us increases with every meter. The very essence of our existence, in something so steep, and why we are passing through here, does not make a rational sense. Where is the compulsion which always pulls out the green card and says without words: "Upwards". Perhaps the innumerable hordes of the most powerful experiences, whether good or bad, eventually form the pink cushion of the intensity of living. Therefore, it is worth to undergo all adversity and done… With the coming early evening, we cut the last meters on the ridge, which, without a visible passage, has escaped from the perpendicular slopes. A sharp and raw panorama of the mountains spreads around us. By this the next page in the history of alpinism is completed, and the new route onto the six-thousand-two-hundred-meter hill, bears a Czech trace with the working title "Lapse of reason". Simply a spring bomb in the Nepalese Himalayas!

Links: FB Marek Holecek, Mammut

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