By Lindsay Griffin, Mountain INFO, from information provided by Andy Parkin, Richard Salisbury/Himalayan Database, and the Alpine Club Himalayan Index
Dingjung Ri/Rima Mancho (6,263m), first winter ascent, north face.
In mid-January Andy Parkin made a solo winter ascent of this peak above the Dingjung/Chhule Valley, via the previously unclimbed 850m north face. Parkin first spotted the north face, in profile, during his winter ascent of Dawa Peak (AAJ 2009). In December 2010, approaching up the Bhote Kosi, he set up base camp (a small tent at 4,550m) on Christmas Day at the entrance to the Dingjung Valley above Chhule (4,470m). The naming of peaks in this region and on existing maps has always been confusing. A Sherpa pointed to the peak, calling it Dingjung Ri, though another Sherpa later said it was referred to locally as Rima Mancho.
After time spent acclimatizing, Parkin returned to his tent one afternoon to find clothing had been stolen. That night he was attacked: rocks, some as large as half a kilogram, were thrown through his tent. He scared off the assailant and moved down to a yak herder’s house closer to Chhule, where he had no further problems.
He made an advanced camp below the face at 5,300m, but heavy snowfall at the end of the month made moving around difficult, so it wasn’t until mid-January that he set off for an attempt.
The north face is steep, rather like the Grandes Jorasses but with vertical rock walls. However, to the left a steep névé line runs up the face before curving back to the central (main) summit. While access to the base proved difficult due to heavy snow, once he was on the face conditions improved.
His line gave brilliant climbing up to 85°. After two cold, windy bivouacs (5,700m and 6,050m), he traveled light to the summit—an amazing dollop of névé on pure ice that he reached early in the afternoon of January 17. Parkin made it down through the night, with frost-nipped fingers, to his lower bivouac site, where he had left a gas cylinder. Next day he reached the base of the mountain after three and a half chilly days on the face. He walked out to Namche after “one of the hardest trips I can remember.” This was Parkin’s fourth consecutive winter in the Khumbu, and he reports that prices continue to escalate.
Rima Mancho had been climbed at least four times before, as it presents an easy southwest flank/ridge from the upper Drolambau Glacier. During the 1952 British-New Zealand Cho Oyu expedition, Charles Evans, Alf Gregory, and Eric Shiption became the first climbers known to explore the Drolambau, from the head of which they climbed Rima Mancho, though they named it Trident. Gregory climbed it again in 1955 with Ted Courtenay during the Merseyside Himalayan expedition, as well as the higher Peak 6,293m immediately south, while other members climbed Pimu (6,344m), south of that, by the impressive southeast ridge. In 1960 Robert Sandoz’s French party also repeated Rima Mancho’s southwest ridge, as did two members of a German expedition in 1972.
In April 2010 a commercially organized British expedition led by Simon Yates approached from the southeast, placing an advanced base camp at 5,400m on the Chhuitingpo Glacier. A two-man reconnaissance up a couloir above the head of the glacier reached the crest of the southwest ridge at 6,000m. A later attempt by most of the members stopped when several were hit by falling stones in the couloir.