Alan Rousseau is a prominent name in the mountaineering community. He has been guiding for Mountain Madness since 2008 and is an IFMGA-certified guide. Focusing mainly on the Himalayas and Alaska, Alan has contributed to over 30 expeditions around the world. Recently from 7-13 October 2023, Alan Rousseau with his friends Matt Cornell and Jackson Marvell accomplished an incredible feat. The American Alpinists successfully completed the ascent of the north face of Mount Jannu (7,710 meters). Many other climbers considered this ascent as impossible but Alan and his team proved them wrong. In this article, we will talk about Alan Rousseau’s north-face climb of the Jannu in alpine style.
Jannu: The Mountain
Mount Jannu also known as Kumbhakarna is at an elevation of 7,710 meters (25,300 feet). It is the 32nd-highest mountain in the world and is an important outlier of Mount Kanchenjunga, the world’s third-highest mountain. Jannu has numerous difficult climbing routes and often climbers fail in ascent of this mountain. Its north face is what has been intriguing climbers for many years.
The north face of Jannu is very steep and challenging. It is also known as the “Wall of Shadows”. The north face of Jannu was first climbed in 1976 by a Japanese team led by Masatsugu Konishi. The route they followed started on the left side of the face and met the east ridge, avoiding the steep headwall at the top of the face. In 2004, a Russian team led by Alexander Odintsov succeeded in climbing the direct North face route through the headwall. Many other attempts were also made to climb the north face of Jannu. It becomes a difficult task even for some of the most experienced climbers. Alan Rousseau, Matt Cornell, and Jackson Marvell were very brave enough to climb this mountain. They definitely set a name for themselves.
Start of the Jannu climb
Alan Rousseau’s ascent of the north face of Jannu stands as a pinnacle of Alpine achievement, a feat of sheer courage and unparalleled expertise. Alan, Matt, and Jackson were associated with each other before the successful expedition of Jannu. Alan had previously tried climbing the north face of Jannu. He made two attempts to climb Jannu. Alan made his first attempt in 2021 with Jackson and in 2022 with Matt. With all of the three in a team in 2023, they finally succeeded in climbing Jannu.
Alan Rousseau first stumbled upon Jannu on Google and he was immediately interested in it. He showed it to Jackson in 2020 while working on a project together which sparked the start of the climb of Jannu. And as they progressed in this journey, Matt also joined.
Alan’s ascent of the north face of Jannu
The ascent of the north face of Jannu started early on October 7 with the trio of Alan Rousseau, Jackson Marvell, and Matt Cornell. Alan and his team followed a radically different alpine style from the Russian team that ascended in 2004. Alan and his team’s plan since the beginning was to push up the headwall of the north face of Jannu in an alpine style.
The team had plenty of equipment to sustain them on their journey. They had 5 bivouacs on the ascent and one on the descent and three of them were free hanging.
The climb began with a 1,000 moderate rock buttress that frees at 5.8. Then they moved into a huge icefall before popping out on a glacial plateau. Alan and his team camped at 5800 meters in the Bergschrund.
They also acclimatized by going up and camping a few nights at around 6000 meters on the south aspect above camp. On day 2, the team covered a huge nerve ramp from 60-90 degrees. And the second night they camped in a huge glacial cave at around 6700 meters.
The terrain became harder on day 3 and altitude began to catch up. Alan’s team moved through lots of M5 AI4 sort of terrain to about 7100 meters, where they emerged properly established on the headwall.
They spent day 4 and 5 mostly climbing sustained M67AI5 terrain, with the bivvies hanging each night. On day 6 they wrapped around to the SW side of the mountain and finished the climb with some unexpected challenging climbs. The technical climbing only ceased about 100 meters below the summit.
Alan later said on his Instagram handle that the 2700-meter north face was the most anxious and doubtful but they pushed through and made it.
Rousseau also explained,” Our hardest steepest climbing was from 7000 meters to 7500 meters. This receded portion of the north face has not been climbed previously. This is where we experienced some of the most intensely wonderful mixed climbing any of us have had the pleasure of partaking in.”
Their journey gave birth to a new route known as the “Round Trip Ticket”. In its 2700 meters, the route breaches difficulties estimated at M7 AI5+ A0. Alan, Matt, and Jackson were highly appreciated for their work and were also awarded $8,000 from the American Alpine Club.
In case you just missed it:
- Norman Dyhrenfurth: Leader Of The First US Expedition In 1963
- George Lowe : Last Surviving Member Of 1953 Everest Expedition
- Achille Compagnoni & Lino Lacedelli: First Italian Expeditioner To K2 In 1954
- Jerzy Kukuczka: Death Of Second 14 Peaks Conqueror On Lhotse
- Ed Viesturs: First American Climber To Ascend All 14 Peaks
Impact of the Ascent
The ascent of Jannu’s North Face is not just a personal accomplishment but rather a testament to the human spirit of exploration and perseverance.
The bravery and courage required to accomplish such a feat is extraordinary. This achievement by Alan, Matt, and Jackson has inspired the mountaineering community and serves as a reminder of the boundless possibilities that the world of climbing offers.
It is also a tribute to the ethos of alpine-style climbing. Establishing an exemplary lesson for future climbers they have sent out the message to not fear anything and accomplish the impossible.
The feat which was once considered impossible by many has now been achieved. The passion they shared is what all mountaineers should aspire to have.