NORTHWESTERN Nepal is one of the most isolated parts of the country. Though the peaks there are relatively small they are by far less crowded with expedition parties than those in the other parts of the country. There are only two peaks with legitimate names in this area, namely Api and Nampa. Api was climbed about a decade ago by Doshisha University Party of Japan. Nampa, once attempted by an English Party led by John Allen, was still virgin when we commenced our project in mid 1971. Aomori Prefecture Party of Japan, however had reached the summit in the premonsoon period of 1972.
Photo Plates 8-10 ; Panorama 1.
To the south of Nampa is a nameless peak which, however, is about 300 meters higher than Nampa itself. Once Nampa had been climbed this nameless peak started drawing our attention more than ever. He had to overcome two major difficulties to tackle this nameless peak. One was political since nameless peaks were banned to climbers by the Nepalese Government. However, the Government was generous enough to name the peak as Nampa South and give us the permission. During the approach march we came to know that the peak bore a local name Jethi-Bohurani (elder brother's wife). The other difficulty was strategic, which arose from the fact that almost nothing was known about the mountain. The only thing known for sure was that the peak formed a part of the range which ran north and south dividing Chamlia Khola and Satimor Khola. We had no exact idea of how to get to the foot of the mountain since all the maps available were contradicting each other. The previous expedition parties to this area helped us with pictures and advice. In all the pictures thus obtained, the mountain hid itself in a complex of other peaks and ridges. Even the simplest question whether the mountain was rocky, icy or snowy was not clear. The lack of information hindered us in planning our climbing strategies. How many high camps should we have above Base Camp? How much rope would be necessary? What should the proportion of rock-piton to ice- piton be?
Though things were thus unknown in detail we had an approximate idea of what the mountain was like from the experience of the past expeditions. Site for Base Camp would not be more than 4,000 meters since in the area glaciers stay lower than this level. This meant that we were going to have 3,000 meters or so vertically from Base Camp to the summit. Our plan was based only on this general information. We figured out that the following major items and quantities would do: I high camps above Base Camp, 2,000 meters of rope to be fixed, 35 rock-pitons, 60 ice-pitons and 20 snow-stakes.
On 5 September we set out from Dhangarhi on the approach march, got into the Chamlia Khola on the 22nd and arrived at Marmaraskot on the 26th. From here Sweda and Ito were dispatched ahead of the main party to find a way to the foot of the mountain. Third day out from Marmaraskot they reached a junction of Chamlia Khola and one of its major tributaries which however was not shown on any of the maps. The name of the confluent later turned out to be Rokap Khola. Though the mountain hid itself behind subsidiary peaks and ridges, its existence was suspected to be at the end of the Rokap Khola. They climbed one of the subsidiary peaks to get a better view of the Khola and found a sanctuary. It was bounded by a sheer retaining wall of Jethi-Bohurani at the end and by subsidiary ridges on both sides. Leaving guiding markers at the junction (or the main party they pushed into the sanctuary to look for a site for Base Camp.
On 2 October we got ourselves established at Base Camp (3750 m.) where the Rokap Khola being obstructed by the sheer retaining wall of Jethi-Bohurani turned its way almost at i ight angle to the south. By this time we already had a general idea of how to get to the summit. There was a huge hanging glacier which we used to call Dal glacier running up from Base (lamp to the col between Bobaye and Jethi-Bohurani. It seemed easiest to follow the Dal glacier up to the col, whence to proceed along the main ridge southward to the summit. It was quite a distance from the col to the summit but there were no shorter ways unless we climbed the west face of Jethi-Bohurani.
After a day's rest at Base Camp, two reconnaissance parties were sent out, one onto the Dal glacier proper, the other to a tiny rocky ridge running along it. It turned out that on the glacier one was always threatened by falling rocks and unstable seracs while the ridge was almost free from any objective dangers. The ridge was terraced and partly covered by yellow dead grass. By choosing the way carefully and going around the rocky cliffs we could go all the way up on the grassy parts. It was much easier than it looked and good for ferrying loads. Camp I was established on 6 October at 4,410 meters where the diminished ridge vanished into the glacier. Being set free from the restriction of the rocky ridge the Dal glacier increased its width above Camp I.
On the northern edge of the Shoulder was a line of ice cliffs which kept collapsing frequently and consequent avalanches threatened the southern lateral of the Dal glacier. Thus the route from Camp I had to be deflected to the left and as a consequence weaved its way diagonally through a complicated ice- lid 1 system. The route traversed a huge avalanche chute which led avalanches from the southern side to the center of the Dal glacier. This was the most dreadful part of the entire route. Approximately 350 meters of rope was fixed in the icefalls which were quite stable. Above the icefall system was a vast snowfield, the end of which steepened sharply up to the col. Though a snowfall had caused us delay Camp II was established on 13 October on the col (5,100 m.).
In contrast with the steepness of this side the other side of the col consisted of a gentle slope. From the col midway up to the Shoulder the main ridge ran broad and no technical difficulties were encountered. On 17 October Camp III was established at 5,700 meters where the main ridge suddenly narrowed down to a steep razor blade.
There were two alternatives for the route from Camp III, either to tackle the ridge direct or to go around the ridge to the right under an ice cliff and cut up straight along a sheer gully again onto the ridge. Both seemed difficult. In addition to this technical difficulty, high altitude disturbances dractically slowed down our pace. Camp III seemed to be at a critical altitude for us. Almost any one of us who stayed overnight at Camp III for the first time suffered from severe headache and nausea. It took us a considerable time to get acclimatized. The first day out from Camp III was spent for reconnoitering the feasibility of the two alternatives and we opted to tackle the ridge direct. It took us four complete days to work out the route and fix up 400 m. of rope on the razor blade. Beyond this extended a gentle broad slope which was the Shoulder. We were reluctant to have the 4th and final camp up there since it was only 350 meters vertically above Camp III and we still had nearly 1,000 meters to the summit. However, the main ridge narrowed again beyond the Shoulder and the route had to be worked out to put the final camp higher up. We had not so well recovered from the high altitude disturbances as to go all the way from Camp III to the front, work out the route and come all the way down to Camp III. For this reason Takeyama and Hotta established a temporary final camp at 6,050 meters on the Shoulder, on 25 October. The following day Sweda and Furuse climbed up to replace them. On 27 October, after making a brief reconnaissance they came down to the lower camps since the weather was breaking and there were not very many supplies at temporary Camp IV. It started snowing in the same afternoon and turned into a heavy snowstorm. On the same evening a Sherpa named Ang Temba died suddenly and unexpectedly of apoplexy. This naturally shook the other Sherpas. The storm lasted three complete days, leaving breast-deep snow. We figured out it would take more than a week to open the supply lines again and to shift the temporary Camp IV up higher. It was 30 October and winter was near at hand. It was therefore decided to abandon the climb.
In the event the highest point reached in this attempt was the top of the Shoulder, 6,150 meters, approximately. Beyond the Shoulder was a small depression on the main ridge, the bottom of which lay some one hundred meters below the Shoulder. As seen from the Shoulder the main ridge seemed narrow and steep up to one third of the way from the bottom of the depression to the summit. The rest of the ridge seemed wider and more gentle. The whole main ridge from the Shoulder to the summit consisted of snow except for a vertically projecting rock crest about 200 meters above the depression. It would be possible to avoid the rock section and go around onto either of the flanks.
Jethi-Bohurani is snowy. Up to the col ice-pitons were most effective in anchoring fixed ropes. On the main ridge, however, snow-stakes were more advantageous than ice-pitons. This would also apply to the upper part of the main ridge which we could not reach. We had taken 20 snow-stakes along. By the time we reached toward the Shoulder, we were short of them and therefore had to remove some which had been anchored earlier. To teach the summit 40 to 50 snow-stakes would be necessary in all.
Photo: Doug Scott
1. Everest S-W Face. Route of 1972 Expedition
2. High point at 27,000 feet. Camp VI marked by converging arrows
Photo: Doug Scott
Photo: Doug Scott
3. Estcourt on fixed ropes on mini- rockband (c. 26,500 ft.)
Photo: Doug Scott
4. Porters descending from Camp III-see dead man used as snow anchor for fixed rope (Photo: Doug Scott)
5. South Face of Pumori, showing the route of the French Expedition of 1972
6. Makalu, West and South aspects, showing the route of the expedition on the west pillar. Makalu Col on the left centre by which the ascent was made in 1955
7. In the diedre-chimney at 7,600 m. near Camp V
8. Jethi Bohurani (Nampa South) as seen from the Rokap Glacier
9. Dal Glacier
10. The summit of Jethi Bohurani (Nampa South) from the top of the shoulder
11. Everest from Thyangboche with the rest house in the fore ground
Photo: Harsh Kapadia
12. Everest, Lhotse and Nuptse from Kala Pathar
Photo: Harsh Kapadia
The route we adopted was lengthy. We had four high camps but future expeditions would be well advised to have one more. It would take 40 days or so to reach the summit, although it would depend on other factors.
As for weather we had on an average five fair days to two snowy. Even on fair days cloud would creep up in the afternoon.
From the summit of Jethi-Bohurani extends a huge subsidiary ridge eastward to the Satimore Khola. This could be adopted as a way to the summit as well. Only difficulty with this is that the geography of the Satimor Khola is not fully known.
SUMMARY: Nagoya University Expedition to Northwest Nepal, 1972; Yasuo Ohsumi (Leader), Naoharu Takeyama (Medical Doctor), Tatsuo Sweda, Takashi Ito, Yuichi Furuse (Kquipment manager), Seizo Hotta and Shigeo Yamagata (Food manager). Sherpas; Ang Choter (Sirdar), Jepa Sherpa, Ang I emba and Phurba Tenzing.