The West Ridge rises on the right and follows the rib to the steep open slopes near the summit.
As I descended from the top, the steep terrain meant I had to down climb with extreme focus. Several overhanging bergshrunds required short rappels with a strand of old fixed line that I picked up while descending.
The horizontal section of the West Ridge at about 6000 meters. In this section I was able to move quickly and efficiently. In the background is Langtang Lirung (7234 meters), the highest peak in the Jugal Himal.
I encountered many climbing challenges and the decent was exceptionally exhausting.
Our final day approaching the Base Camp on Dorje Lhakpa gave us this extraordinary view of the western flanks of the peak. On the left, at the head of the valley, is Gurkarpo Ri (6891 meters). At the time it was still unclimbed.
Upon reaching the summit, I was extremely aware of the long descent awaiting me down difficult and exposed terrain. I took some rapid photos of my banners, ate a quick snack and began down climbing immediately. In the background, partially blanketed by clouds, is the South Face of Xixapangma in Tibet.
This photo was taken by Lhakpa Dorje, our Expedition Sirdar, on the day I reached the summit of the Dorje Lhakpa. One can see the complicated and broken nature of the glacial terrain between where the ridge levels out and the summit. I lost much time in this area searching for a route. I nearly turned around several times before finding a way through. Even today, thirty years later, I am uncomfortable with the huge risk I accepted that day in the spring of 1992. I believe I was driven by the fact that it was my first major climb after the frostbite and tragedy that occured on Dhaulagiri when Daunius died in 1990.
My Base Camp staff lit our kerosene lanterns after nightfall during my descent. They knew that while I descended alone, that visible light would give me the great connection I needed to stay safe and descend carefully. They were absoultey right! I could see their signal and it gave me tremendous emotional strength.