Romanian Duo Bags the First Ascent of Peak-5 (6374m) in Makalu Region

Romanian climbers Zsolt Torok and Vlad Capusan made the first ascent of Peak 5 (also known as Saldim or Saldim Ri) in upper Arun Valley, Makalu region on Nov 1st. The duo climbed the mountain from Southside in alpine style and dubbed the route "Romanian Flame: 6a, M5/6, AI4, 90°".

Here is detailed report from Vlad Capusan:-

"Our expedition began on October 16th in Kathmandu. On 18th, after getting all the permits, we flew to Khumbu region, where we chose to acclimatize on Kyajo Ri (6189m). Our plan was to climb a route on East wall, but we found the conditions really dry and decided to go for SE Ridge. Between October 22nd and 25th, we managed to repeat the American 2006 Route on South-Eastern ridge with some variations. It was a perfect acclimatization before the next objective.

We, then, flew to Makalu Barun area on 26th, where our objective was the unclimbed Peak 5. Upon our arrival there, we quickly realized that every map we had was wrong and our summit was located in another valley. After finding some new porters, we relocated the BC with considerable efforts. We reached the base of Peak 5 on October 28th, thanks to accurate maps from 1980s received directly from Mr. Doug Scott.

On our arrival in Makalu region, weather wasn’t the best, so waited for a day. But there wasn’t any expectation of a change [in conditions]. We finally started on October 30th, in alpine style, with minimal equipment. We climbed the first wall directly, where we came across passages of 6a+ on solid granite. In lower parts, the climb was really pleasant... But when we reached the glacier, weather changed and strong winds started to blow. That forced us to do our first camp, which we prepared inside a crevasse at 5800m.

We got extreme temperatures of -27C in the night. Next day we left very early with the intention of reaching the summit. We entered the upper wall and met difficulties of M5-M6 and W4. After 6 lengths, we reached the top of this wall, where we found a somewhat easier ridge. After that, we entered the final ridge to the summit. Already exhausted by the wind and low temperatures, it took us 2-3 hours to traverse it, reaching the summit at 14:10 Nepali time.

According to our GPS device, the summit was 6421m. On upper parts of route we found no trace of any prior expedition. After spending just 5 minutes on summit we decided to withdraw due to low visibility and high winds. Our plan was to bivi at around 5,900m. After 15 hours, we reached our camp, exhausted and tired after a climb in extreme conditions. On third day, we descended to base camp, carrying more than 20 rappels.

Just before start of our ascent, we discussed [our plans] with a local named Ghanday Sherpa in Yangri Kharka village. He knows these mountains quite well and told us that since 2003, when the mountain was opened for climbing by Nepali government, no less than 7 big expeditions (including Sherpa support at high-altitude) attempted the mountain. None of them reached the summit, so I believe this makes our self-sufficient ascent, with little support in BC only, even more valuable.

We both summited on Nov. 1st, 14:10 local time, and in our ascent we had to face extreme cold, between -25 and -30 degrees C. Our line was complex, technical, mixed, combining rock-climbing granite walls up to 300m at a time with ice climbing a steep glacier on the face. The summit ridge is razor-sharp, very exposed, it was quite difficult.

We named our line of ascent "Romanian Flame" and we hope the Nepali government will allow us, according to customs, to also name the summit, currently known as Peak 5 or Saldim."

(All photos belong to Romanian Peak-5 Expedition.)

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