Himalayan Journal vol.22
The Himalayan Journal
Vol.22

Publication year:
1960

Editor:
Dr K. Biswas
Index
  1. EDITORIAL
  2. INDIANS ON MOUNT EVEREST, 1960
    (BRIGADIER GYAN SINGH)
  3. AMA DABLAM, 1959
    (J. H. EMLYN JONES)
  4. ANNAPURNA II, 1960
    (Lt.-Col. J. O. M. ROBERTS)
  5. DHAUL AGIRI, 1959
    ( DHAUL AGIRI, 1959)
  6. DHAULAGIRI, THE 'WHITE MOUNTAIN': A CHRONICLE OF THE 1960 EXPEDITION
    (KURT DIEMBERGER)
  7. THE ASCENT OF MASHERBRIJM
    (THOMAS F. HORNBEIN, M.D.)
  8. YUGOSLAV EXPEDITION TO TRISUL GROUP, 1960
    (A. KUNAVER)
  9. SIKKIM, 1960
    (H. V. R. IENGAR)
  10. ACROSS THE INNER LINE
    (ANNE DAVIES)
  11. SURVEY OF KASHMIR AND JAMMU, 1855 TO 1865
    (COLONEL R. H. PHILLIMORE, C.I.E., D.S.O.)
  12. WANDERING IN THE HIMALAYAS
    (FUKATA KYUYA)
  13. A SMALL EXPEDITION TO GANESH HIMAL
    (P. J. WALLACE)
  14. NORTH-EAST OF POKHARA
    (GORDON JONES)
  15. DISTEGHIL S AR, 1960
    (GUNTHER STARKER)
  16. THE ASCENT OF TRIVOR
    (WILFRID NOYCE)
  17. HIMALAYAN SCIENTIFIC AND MOUNTAINEERŽING EXPEDITION, 1960-61
    (NORMAN HARDIE)
  18. A HIGH WALK IN THE CENTRAL HIMALAYA
    (A. D. MODDIE)
  19. ASCENT OF NOSHAQ
    (DR. YAJIRO SAKATO)
  20. OBITUARY
  21. REVIEWS
  22. CLUB PROCEEDINGS, 1959-60

YUGOSLAV EXPEDITION TO TRISUL GROUP, 1960

A. KUNAVER

Experimental expedition is surely the best name for the first Yugoslav Himalayan expedition. This is the reason why the correct organization represented the same value for us, as the climbing in the Himalaya itself. The selection of climbers was a great problem. All of them have climbed in the Alps up to 4,800 metres, but lacked experience in higher altitudes as well as acclimatization to climbing conditions there.

First preparations began in the spring of 1959. In the autumn of the same year the Himalayan Committee was constituted by the Alpine Club of Slovenia. Financial means for the expedition we gathered from the special Himalayan Fund. Besides, many factories and firms helped us and substantial support was received from our Government.

The second task of our expedition was to use our own equipment, made by domestic industry. As the greater part of our equipment was made in Yugoslavia, we had to do much supplementary work, but the result was very successful and gratifying.

The expedition consisted of seven members : Stane Kersnik- leader, Dr. Robic, Ante Mahkota, Ciril Debeljak, Marjan Kersic, Zoran Jerin-journalist, and Ales Kunaver.

The Government of India delegated to our expedition a liaison officer. This function was performed by Capt. Vinod Badhwar from the Gurkha Rifles. He was an excellent help to us all the time, but especially in the first month by organizing transport to the Base Camp. According to our principles that our expedition is an experimental one, we engaged two Sherpas only: Sirdar Lakhpa Tensing and cook Ang Nyima, who were both excellent companions. In such a small expedition as ours, a journalist is something extraordinary, but his daily reports in the newspaper largely increased the number of friends of alpinism in our country. This fact was very important for future expeditions.

The first goal of our expedition was Nanda Devi, or, exactly, the ridge between both summits of this mountain. However, we received final permission to enter the Himalayas from the Government of India, being on the sea already. We received the permission to climb Trisul only, since Nanda Devi lies beyond the Inner Line. In this situation we decided to climb on the southern side of Trisul. This unexpected change caused us many difficulties, because we remained without any literature on the Kali Ganga valley, which had already been twice crossed.

Trisul has three summits-as its name indicates. The summits are ranged from north to south and, to simplify the nomination, we call them Peaks I, II and III. The main summit was climbed by Dr. Longstaff and others after him, from the northern side. The other two summits belong to the surroundings of the Bidalgwar Glacier and their eastern face feeds this glacier with mighty avalanches.

The expedition travelled by bus across the hills to the village of Gwaldam, and from there to the Base Camp on foot. As we had no information about the Kali Ganga valley, we used the recommendations of the local people. From this side we were recommended to keep to the right bank of the Kali Ganga, but our scouts found it to be worse than the left bank. The main group engaged in the meantime 115 porters ; 15 of them were Nepalis. They followed mostly the left bank of the Kali Ganga, and thus they were compelled once only to climb one side ridge of 3,500 metres. At the end of the valley the majority of porters left us because they were frightened by demons. Only the Nepalis remained, and they transported in the next days all our equipment to Base Camp I, situated on the moraine at 3,900 metres. For acclimatization we climbed Baraltholi, 5,270 metres, which has been climbed once already. The main base was on the Bidalgwar Glacier at a height of 4,700 metres.

From the glacier we had to climb the eastern face of Trisul. This is a very steep wall, offering few possibilities. We chose the glacier leading from Bidalgwar to the col between Trisul II and III. The col is 6,008 metres high. The way from the base to the col we divided into two parts. During the daytime ice-avalanches often thundered down the icefall. We decided therefore to pitch Camp I under a rock overhang at 5,140 metres, to sleep there, and to climb the main part of the icefall by night, when the danger of avalanches was smaller. By this means, the expedition was divided into two working groups, continuously changing their places on the mountain. Camp II, the starting point for Trisul II and III, was situated a little under the col, protected by a big serac. The summit ridge of Trisul III rises immediately to the south of the col. To the north, it is necessary in the direction of Trisul II to traverse a large snow dome about \\ kilometres long to a little col. This part of the terrain is very easy to traverse and nearly horizontal. On the northern side of the dome begins the ridge leading in three steps to the top of Trisul II. To the first step the ridge is very steep and sharp ; behind this part is again an easier section. At the base of this ridge we pitched Camp III. It served especially for preparing the way up to the first step. We tried to climb from Camp III directly on to the ridge, but it was not possible, because the ice on the ridge was too hard and too steep for heavily-laden climbers. Therefore we abandoned climbing on the ridge but left fixed ropes there. We found an easier crossing on the east face, but this crossing would become unsuitable and dangerous in case of fresh snow. Therefore the ridge was left as a second possibility.

At this time some of our comrades got ill and during the climbing to Camp III the fourth member of our group returned ill to Base Camp. This weakened our situation on the mountain. Especially we missed men for transporting food to the higher camps. Therefore we had to try to climb Trisul II and III as soon as possible. The remaining three climbers and two Sherpas now formed two groups, and on June 3 we erected Camp IV. On the mountain it was snowing and when one group pitched Camp IV two Sherpas and one climber returned to Camp III. Camp IV was situated on the lower side of a big crevasse which was a good protection against avalanches. This camp was the best of all, with a picturesque position and a beautiful view of Nanda Devi. Here one high-altitude tent was pitched and one more Sherpa arrived the next day.

The morning of June 4 was very quiet and beautiful. We went to the ridge. From the camp a short steep slope led us to the plateau where the second step of the ridge begins. From this plateau we had a beautiful view of the Nepal Himalayas to the east and of the Gangotri group to the north. In the clear morning we took some movie-pictures and reconnoitred the ridge, because at the time we had no spare rope to fix on the exposed places. All available rope had been fixed on the face under Camp IV. This was necessary because of the equipment which had to be carried up to establish the camp. At the end of the day the second party brought us 150 metres of rope for fixing on the ridge, and also a tent which we intended to pitch higher up. This tent was brought in case those who were sick might recover and carry up more food. In this case we would be able to climb Trisul I also. Between the summits of II and I there are no technical difficulties but the ridge is about two kilometres long.

After a beautiful morning, the mist covered the mountain very early and the line of marker-flags led us safely back to camp. On the way back we marked all passages which were not sufficiently prominent. In the evening the Sherpas returned to Camp III and three climbers remained at Camp IV. The next day Mahkota and I would attempt the summit, while Kersic and the Sherpas would pitch the tent on the ridge.

SKETCH MAP OF TRISUL GROUP

SKETCH MAP OF TRISUL GROUP



TRISUL II SEEN FROM RIDGE ABOVE CAMP III

TRISUL II SEEN FROM RIDGE ABOVE CAMP III



BSE CAMP. BEHIND  TRISIL  II,  AND ICEFALL LEADING TO THE COL

BSE CAMP. BEHIND TRISIL II, AND ICEFALL LEADING TO THE COL



CAMP IV AND NANDA DEVI

CAMP IV AND NANDA DEVI



UPPER KALI GANGA VALLEY.  BACKGROUND (LEFT TO RIGHT) TRISUL III, MRIGTHUNI,  THARKOT

UPPER KALI GANGA VALLEY. BACKGROUND (LEFT TO RIGHT) TRISUL III, MRIGTHUNI, THARKOT



On June 5, we two left Camp IV before dawn. The weather became bad and we were soon enveloped in cloud. On the ridge we did not meet any technical difficulties except one passage on a steep slope where the snow was very bad. Over hard ice there was \ metre of powder snow which hampered us the whole way. On this slope we fixed 150 metres of rope to secure our way back. From now on the ridge was nearly level, leading to a little col under the summit dome. We avoided the big cornices overhanging the eastern face by traversing the western slope. This crossing was very fine, for this part of the wall falls about 3,000 metres to the Nandakini valley. The face is very impressive, for no bands and steps interrupt it. On the col under the dome we left our rucksacks with bivouac equipment. Now we went over a broad, easy ridge, but deep powder snow impeded our progress. Near the top we had a small incident, when unexpectedly a snow-bridge broke over a hidden crevasse. Immediately after this we were on the summit of Trisul II. The top is very broad and is formed by a dome about 90 metres high. The weather was bad and after waiting half an hour we started back. We returned in an electrical storm and were very surprised to find at these altitudes the so-called ' Elias fire '-incessant sizzling of electricity from all the metal parts of our equipment.

In the night the storm ceased, but no one arrived from Base so we had to return. We went down to Camp II to try Trisul III over the northern ridge. This summit is a beautiful ice pyramid south of the col. The west face is a continuation of the wall extending from Trisul I and II.

The next day, June 7, was a fine day. This was our third climbing day without snow or cloud. All three climbers went to the top, but our Sherpas brought down to Camp II the equipment from Camp III.

The ascent of Trisul III was very fine. From the snow-basin, where the icefall to the Bidalgwar Glacier begins, we had to climb over a steep ice slope. This begins with a bergschrund, where we had to use some ice-pitons. A steep ice passage led us to the col itself. The col was very sharp with many cornices on the eastern side. We avoided the cornices by traversing the slope to the point where the ridge rises to the top. The ridge has several steps, but only the last one required technical skill. This step was of pure ice, 40 metres high. The climbing here was difficult, but extremely beautiful, because we were just on the edge of the mighty west wall.

Beyond this step the ridge is only gently inclined and leads without difficulty to the top. We were very surprised to find a big crevasse across the summit of this nice ice peak. From the top we had a fine view of the Nanda Devi Sanctuary, Gangotri and Kamet.

During the afternoon and the following night we descended to Base. We found there our four comrades not yet completely recovered and therefore our leader decided to end our climbing activities.