(Translated by Werner Koss)


Members of the Expedition:

Leader: Dr. Richard Hechtel (Germany).
Deputy-Leader: Erhard Erdmann (Germany).
Physician: Dr. Bernhard Kubanek (Germany).
Dieter Mardicke (Germany).
Ruth Erdmann (Germany).
Lee Donaghey (U.S.A.).
Franz Lindner (Austria).

Proceeding by ship from Genoa to Bombay, then by rail to Jogbani and finally by truck, the expedition reached Dharan Bazaar in the south-east of Nepal on April 2. Dharan Bazaar was the meeting-place for the members of the expedition and our seven Sherpas (Nima Dorje, Tensing Nindra, Pemba Sundar, Tsering Tharkay, Lhakpa Tsering, Jaybang Tsering with Sirdar Ang Tsering). Here, the final food supplies were bought, loads packed and necessary porters hired. On April 5 the expedition started from Dharan Bazaar but the leader, Dr. Hechtel, was still missing; his departure had been delayed. Eighty-eight coolies carried nearly two tons of equipment and food. The first day the expedition had to cross a pass of 1,350 m. to reach the Tamur River. Then for one week we followed a ridge of between 2,000 m. and 2,500 m. On the fifth day the leader, Dr. Hechtel, finally joined the expedition by helicopter. On the seventh day we had to descend again to the Tamur River and follow it. After ten days we arrived at Hellok on the upper part of the Tamur. Here the Simbua Khola branches off towards the east, drawing the waters of the Yalung Glacier. After one day of searching, this valley proved to be too narrow for the passage of our porters. Therefore we had to take the much longer route through the Thapabu Khola Valley and over one of the high passes to get to the Yalung Glacier.

As the difficulties of the route increased from here, the porters from Dharan Bazaar wanted to get their money and leave us. We had a lot of trouble in hiring another group of porters. The new ones were of Tibetan origin and Bhotias accustomed to mountains. The weather got worse and after three days we reached Ghunsa (3,500 m.) in snowy weather. Snow and the desertion of porters tied us to that place. From Ghunsa there are two ways to reach the Yalung Glacier. One route leads over three avalanche-dangerous passes, the other over the safe but 5,300 m. high Lapsong La. There was a lot of snow on the Lapsong La but we chose that way for safety reasons. With the help of the people of Ghunsa, our loads were carried to Tserphu below the Lapsong La. After finding a way, all our material was carried over the snow-covered pass within five days by Sahibs, Sherpas and local porters. After one day of rest, the location for our Base Camp was found in Oktang (4,600 m.) on the 23rd day of travel. Now we checked again all our equipment and fixed damages which had occurred during our approach. The area ahead of us was searched and on May 1 we changed to our Advanced Base Camp (5,030 m.). While the Sherpas and local porters carried the remains of our equipment across the Yalung Glacier, the Sahibs started looking for the best route up and for a location for Camp 1. On May 4, Camp 1 (5,650 m.) was established by Kubanek, Donaghey, the Sherpas and myself. The next day Kubanek and I with two Sherpas were looking for a way up to Camp 2 and, in spite of the beginning of bad weather, were able to find a suitable place at 6,250 m. Then we returned to Camp 1. On May 5 we had a tent at Camp 2. Kubanek and I stayed there to build a snow cave for eight people. After this exacting job we were replaced by Mardicke and Donaghey on May 7 and went down to Camp 1 for two days' rest. In the days to come Mardicke and Donaghey were to try to reach the South Col of Talung (6,973 m.) where we had planned to establish Camp 3. Mardicke suffered from high-altitude sickness and had to return to Camp 1. Donaghey tried twice but reached only about 300 m. above Camp 2 and returned to Camp 1 on May 9. On that day Erhard and Ruth Erdmann, Dr. Kubanek and I went to Camp 2 with five Sherpas. Kubanek had to go back with a sick Sherpa. Because of bad weather, we had to remain one day at Camp 2. After taking care of the Sherpa, Kubanek returned to Camp 2. In spite of the weather conditions not being quite ideal on the morning of May 11, Kubanek and I left Camp 2 with four Sherpas. Within two hours we reached the highest point of Donaghey. The weather got worse but we continued our climb. Because of the heavy snowstorm our Sherpas refused to go on (6,700 m.). While two of them went back to Camp 2, we established Camp 3 (6,690 m.). In the evening the weather cleared and we discovered that our tent was only about 300 m. below the South Col of Talung. The following day and night we hardly could leave the tent because of heavy storms. Dr. Kubanek did not feel too well but none the less we started our first try for the Summit on May 13. After the storm there was a lot of deep snow and also we began to be affected by the altitude. With great effort we reached the South Col at about 10 a.m. Now we tried to continue on the ridge leading north-east to the summit of Talung Peak. At about 4 p.m. we reached the last rocks of the south summit via the cornice-studded ridge. The south summit was crowned by a high cornice and, belayed by Kubanek, I continued up as long as the rope lasted. Only a short distance below the south summit I had no more rope but from here I was able to recognize that there was no possibility of reaching the main summit of Talung by this route. The best way to the summit evidently was up the west slope, in spite of deep snow and a moderate danger of avalanches. It got late now and after a short rest we returned to Camp 3 via the west slope in deep snow up to our hips. We arrived there at about 8 p.m. Because of the great effort of our climb we both suffered from a bad cough and had to descend to Camp 1 next day. On the way down we had to carry Erhard Erdmann from Camp 2 as he suffered from an infected toe and was unable to walk. Late in the evening and dead-tired, we reached Camp 1.

Dr. Hechtel and Donaghey who had arrived at Camp 2 in the meantime continued to Camp 3, together with two Sherpas. Donaghey got fever and both Sherpas suffered from high altitude and returned to Camp 2 next day. The weather was really bad. After two days of resting, three Sherpas and I went up to Camp 2 on May 17. Weather conditions improved during the day and so I decided to go up the next day to Camp 3 with Mardicke, who was well accustomed to the altitude. The morning was clear and together with two Sherpas we started on our way to Camp 3. At noon, clouds came up and we reached Camp 3 at 4 p.m. in a bad storm. Donaghey, whose condition had improved a little, at once had to go back down with a Sherpa to Camp 2. In the evening the storm abated a little and Tensing Nindra and I were able to start laying a way towards the summit for about half-an-hour. In spite of the storm the weather was not bad and so we decided to try for the summit the following day. During the night the weather cleared up completely and also the storm had died down. At 5 o'clock in the morning Tensing Nindra started to prepare tea and finally at 8 o'clock we were ready to leave, Tensing Nindra and I on one rope, and Dr. Hechtel and Mardicke on the other. The weather was glorious and Tensing Nindra and I were in excellent condition. In spite of breaking the way in deep snow, we were already an hour ahead of our friends after two hours of climbing. At about 7,200' m.5 snow conditions improved a bit and we made good progress. Again storms arose and, just below the summit, clouds came up again. After five hours of steady climbing we reached the summit of Talung Peak (7,349 m.) at about 1 p.m.

CAMP 3 (6,690 m., 21,900 FEET) ON TALUNG PEAK. JANNU IN THE BACKGROUND. (Franz Lindner)

Photo: Franz Lindner



Photo: Franz Lindner


Talung Peak—West Slope with the Route

Photo: Franz Lindner

Talung Peak—West Slope with the Route

I could hardly believe that this was the end of all the hardships, that the summit was finally reached. Up here it was almost completely calm but unfortunately we sat amidst clouds. We ate a little, fixed our flags to the ice-axe and waited. For a short moment the clouds lifted and we succeeded in taking a photograph with Kabru in the background. Then, again, we were amidst clouds. For two hours we stayed and waited on the top but our friends did not arrive. Finally, the clouds getting thicker all the time, we decided to descend. After going down about 150 m. we came out of the clouds and could see our friends way down but still coming up. Already they had passed the south summit but were still below it in altitude when we met them about an hour later. It being late in the afternoon they would have had to finish their ascent in the night and so they decided to return with us. We made good time on the way down and at 6 p.m. Tensing Nindra and I arrived at Camp 3, our friends about an hour later. My cough had become worse and also the pain in my chest increased all the time. Next day the weather was worse. We packed our equipment and at 11.30 a.m. we finally had everything ready and began to move down in deep snow. At Camp 2 we met the Sherpas and with them immediately went down to Camp 1, where we arrived at 5 p.m. My condition became worse all the time and therefore I tried to get down to Base Camp for medical care as fast as possible the next day. Late in the evening I arrived there, having great pain in my chest. After a short examination, Dr. Kubanek diagnosed a broken rib and for me that was the end of our expedition. After clearing Camp 1 and the Advanced Base Camp the loads were fixed for the journey back. Erdmann's foot had improved, I had an adhesive tape wound around my chest and so we could begin on our way back on May 26. After some trouble with the porters, we reached the Tamur River via the Kabeli Khola Valley and the Taplejung Valley. On June 10, the expedition arrived at Dharan Bazaar and so the great adventure came to a happy end.

Editor s Notes :

  1. The Survey of India height of Talung Peak is 24,112 feet, but a lower figure has sometimes been mentioned in the literature.
  2. See Amer. A.J., 1965, p. 280. The seven Sherpas who accompanied the German Himalayan Expedition, 1964, were Ang Tsering (Sirdar), Nima Dorje, Tensing Nindra (who climbed Talung Peak with F. Lindner), Pemba Sundar, Tsering Tharkay, Lhakpa Tsering, and Jaybang Tsering.
  3. See H.J., Vol. XIX, p. 18, H.J., Vol. VIII, p. 107, and H.J., Vol. IX, p. 186.
  4. It appears that the German Himalayan Expedition, 1964, and the earlier 1953 expedition of Kempe and Lewis (H.J., Vol. XIX, p. 18) both reached the same depression between Talung Peak and Kabru IV (i.e. Kabru North-West). Two members of the 1963 Japanese Sharphu Expedition also attempted Talung Peak from the west in the month of November. They are reported to have reached 7,250 m., a little short of the summit (see Journal of the Jap. Alp. Club, Sangaku, Vol. LIX, 1964, p. 5). It is now clear that T. H. Braham was mistaken in supposing that the north-west peak of Kabru was climbed by Kempe and Lewis in 1953 (loc. cit. ; see also A.J., Vol. LIX (May, 1954), No. 288, p. 321). In a personal communication G. C. Lewis has stated that he now feels that in 1953 he and Kempe were almost certainly within 400 feet of the South Peak of Talung, and not Kabru IV (i.e. Kabru North-West).
  5. See oblique photograph of Talung Peak, opposite page 55, H.J., Vol. XIX. It will be interesting to examine a photograph of the Kangchen- junga-Rathong Ridge taken from the west of Jannu and the Editor would like to know if such a photograph is available.
  6. The South Col of Talung should not be confused with the Talung Saddle which is the northern Col.
  7. The south summit of Talung being a clearly distinguishable feature, the new nomenclature is acceptable.
  8. In a personal communication G. C. Lewis has also commented that the Ablation Valley on the east side of the Yalung Glacier where he camped in 1953 and 1954, and where the British Kangchenjunga Expedition of 1955 had their Crack Camp, might have vanished now.
  9. The Base Camp at Oktang corresponds to the Moraine Camp of the British Kangchenjunga Expedition in 1955.

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