The route line followed by David Gottlieb and Joe Puryear on the east face of Takargo (6,771m). Joe Puryear

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Nepal’s Rolwaling Valley delivers a paradise of unclimbed waterfall ice and a 6,771-meter virgin summit.

By Joe Puryear

I screamed down to David as I desperately groped for a hold below me, trying to reverse the move I had just made.

“I’m coming off!!!”

The screech of my crampons against rock echoed across the ravine. I was keenly aware of the double-zero Camalot three meters below and a half-driven Lost Arrow piton just below that. These were the only pieces that could possibly keep me off the deck. My mind raced as I thought of an old saying.

Rule #1: don’t fall while ice climbing.

Rule #2: don’t fall while ice climbing in a super-remote location in the middle of nowhere in a Third World country.

Shorty thereafter, I pitched….

* * *

I’d never done the first ascent of a waterfall before. Ice climbing had always been a means to an end. I used it to train and to hone my skills for what I always considered the more dignified objective: alpine climbing. But now things felt different. This place was filled with beautiful unclimbed waterfalls, perhaps a higher concentration than anywhere else in the Himalaya. And there was also a major unclimbed peak near the head of the valley. This journey was like no other…. (read more)