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Lucien Boucansaud’s Solo Pumori Triumph

by thesummiters.com
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A Season of Triumph of Lucien Boucansaud

Lucien Boucansaud’s solo conquest of Pumori: A thrilling tale of skill and courage in Nepal’s challenging Himalayas.
The 2023 Nepal climbing season has been marked by remarkable achievements, none more so than the astounding solo ascent of Pumori, a formidable peak standing at 7,138 meters, by Chamonix guide Lucien Boucansaud. Following his recent successful climb of Cho Polu alongside fellow climbers David Goettler and Guillaume Pierrel, Boucansaud embarked on a daring solo expedition to conquer Pumori, which unfolded with extraordinary challenges and triumphs.

Lucien Boucansaud's Spectacular Solo Pumori Triumph
Lucien Boucansaud’s Spectacular Solo Pumori Triumph

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The Unconventional “Normal” Route

Boucansaud’s solo journey commenced on the so-called “normal” route, a misnomer in itself. The route is anything but typical, beginning on Pumori’s south face and later traversing through the north col to reach the northeast face. This path demands a level of expertise, precision, and courage that only the most seasoned climbers possess.

Immersion in the Mountain: The Key to Survival

The heart of Boucansaud’s achievement lay in his deep immersion in the mountain’s treacherous terrain. To navigate the constantly shifting labyrinth of seracs and crevasses and minimize risk, he emphasized the importance of reading the mountain’s conditions with precision. This required an unparalleled level of mountaineering expertise and an unwavering connection with the mountain’s dynamics.

A Mountain with a Reputation: Defeating the Unconquerable

Pumori had earlier stood as a formidable adversary, having thwarted the ambitions of prominent climbers, including Simone Moro, Pemba Sherpa, and Datuk Sherpa. This trio had undertaken a daring, non-stop push from the base to the summit, only to be forced to turn back just 100 meters from their goal due to the looming specter of avalanches. Similarly, Boucansaud’s initial attempt had to be aborted at 6,700 meters due to the persistent avalanche risk. Pumori’s summit region, a snow dome, remains a perilous area where wind-driven snow slabs can be unstable for days, even up to a week after the last snowfall.

 A Mountain with a Reputation
A Mountain with a Reputation

Challenges After Camp 1: Navigating the Abyss

The true difficulties of Boucansaud’s ascent began after reaching Camp 1 at an altitude of 5,700 meters. Here, the route led through an exposed corridor and an astonishingly unstable rock spur that rose over 500 meters. Progressing through this section required a constant assessment of the rocks’ stability at every move, adding to the already formidable challenges. Subsequently, the climb transitioned into snow and ice, culminating in a particularly demanding section leading to the north col at 6,600 meters. Boucansaud described zigzagging between imposing walls of compact ice and confronting steep passages, further intensifying the climb.

Avalanche Risks: The Unpredictable Threat

As Boucansaud continued ascending the northeast face towards the summit, the terrain became somewhat more manageable. However, evaluating the avalanche risk remained a constant and nerve-wracking challenge. The ever-present danger of avalanches on Pumori made every step a potential hazard, demanding unwavering vigilance from the intrepid solo climber.

Solo Triumph: A True Feat of Mountaineering

Lucien Boucansaud’s successful solo ascent of Pumori this autumn stands as a monumental achievement in the world of mountaineering. He is the sole climber to conquer this challenging peak during the current season, and his accomplishment is all the more impressive as he ventured entirely alone on this perilous expedition. This remarkable feat joins a distinguished list of Boucansaud’s achievements, further solidifying his status as a top-tier climber.

Lucien's Photo
Lucien on Kneel

Conclusion: A Triumph of Human Spirit and Skill

Boucansaud’s solo summit of Pumori is a testament to the invincible spirit and unparalleled skill of mountaineers who dare to challenge the world’s most treacherous peaks. This awe-inspiring achievement will undoubtedly inspire future generations of climbers to push the boundaries of what is humanly possible in the world of high-altitude mountaineering.

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