Himalayan Journal vol.34
The Himalayan Journal
Vol.34

Publication year:
1976

Editor:
Soli S. Mehta
Index
  1. EVEREST SOUTH-WEST FACE CLIMBED
    (Doug Scott)
  2. THE FRENCH EXPEDITION TO PUMORI (7,145 m.), 1975
    (Gerard Sighele)
  3. TREKKING IN NEPAL HIMALAYA - LANGTANG VALLEY
    (Rajendra Desai)
  4. DHAULAGIRI II -EAST RIDGE, 1975
    (Yoshio Kameyama)
  5. FIRST ASCENT AND TRAGEDY ON DHAULAGIRI IV, 1975
    (SHIRO NISHAMAE)
  6. TALUNG, 1975
    (A. J. S. GREWAL)
  7. ACCOUNT OF THE EXPLORATION OF TONGSHIONG GLACIER AND THE ZEMU GAP (19,230 ft.)
    (By J. K. BAJAJ)
  8. ACCOUNT OF AN ATTEMPT ON GUICHA PEAK (20,100 ft.)
    (P. C. S. RAUTELA)
  9. PHOKSUMDO LAKE
    (SUMANT SHAH)
  10. NORTH NANDADEVI BASIN AFTER FORTY YEAR
    (KIYOSHI SHIMIZU)
  11. THE ASCENT OF NANDADEVI AND NANDADEVI EAST, 1975
    (BALWANT S. SANDHU)
  12. KALANKA, 1974
    (MIKE TOWNEND)
  13. ASCENTS OF BANDARPUNCH (6,316 M.), 1975
    (L. P. SHARMA)
  14. THE I.M.A. EXPEDITION TO GANG CHUA AND LEO PARGIAL, 1974
    (JAGJIT SINGH)
  15. ACROSS KUGTI AND CHOBIA PASSES
    (K. C. PRASHAR)
  16. ON SKIS ACROSS ROHTHANG
    (RUPENDRA KUMAR SHARMA)
  17. KISHTWAR 1975
    (ROB COLLISTER)
  18. POLISH ASCENTS OF GASHERBRUM II AND III, 1975
    (JANUSZ ONYSZKIEWICZ)
  19. MY ESCAPE FROM GASHERBRUM II
    (LOUIS AUDOUBERT)
  20. VICTORY AND TRAGEDY ON BROAD PEAK, 1975
    (J. FERENSKI and K. GLAZEK)
  21. MOUNTAINS OF THE THUI GOL
    (DAVE BROADHEAD)
  22. SHAKLHAUR, 1975
    (DR. MARIAN BALA)
  23. AVALANCHE SEARCH TODAY
    (WALTER F. LORCH)
  24. EXPERIENCE WITH RESCUE TRANSCEIVERS
    (PETER S. LAWTON)
  25. THE GAURISHANKAR QUESTION
    (OVE SKJERVEN)
  26. BIRDS OF SWAT AND GILGIT
    (R. J. ISHERWOOD)
  27. HEAD INJURIES
    (BRAD FRANCIS)
  28. THE COLDER YOU ARE, THE WARMER YOU'LL BE
    (ELLIS LADER)
  29. THE SECOND SWEDISH EXPEDITION TO THE HIMALAYA, 1975
    (DR. S. UNGERHOLM)
  30. EXPEDITIONS TXIMIST TO EVEREST 1974
    (J. X. LORENTE ZUGUZA)
  31. LHOTSE, 1975
    (RICCARDO CASSIN)
  32. ANNAPURNA SOUTH PEAK-SOUTH-WEST RIDGE, 1974
    (TSUNEO SUZUKI)
  33. CHUREN HIMAL, 1974
    (HIROAKI YAMADA)
  34. TRISUL, 1975
    (MICHAEL CLARKE)
  35. DUNAGIRI, 1975
    (JOE TASKER)
  36. THE SILVER GOD MOUNTAIN (MULKILA) 1975
    (WARWICK DEACOCK)
  37. THE SPANISH EXPEDITION TO MANALI, 1975
    (JAIME MATAS)
  38. BRITISH EXPEDITION TO THE NOSHAQ REGION, 1974
    (ERIC ROBERTS)
  39. THE SPANISH HIMALAYAN EXPEDITION TO SARAGHRAR, 1975
    (RAMON BRAMONA RAMS)
  40. PURWAKSHAN VALLEY HINDU KUSI1. 1975
    (M. POPKO)
  41. THE 1975 NORTH OF ENGLAND HIMALAYA EXPEDITION
    (PAUL BEAN)
  42. OBITUARY
  43. BOOK REVIEWS
  44. LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
  45. CLUB PROCEEDINGS 1975

EVEREST SOUTH-WEST FACE CLIMBED

Doug Scott

CLIMBERS accepting a place for the first time on a big Hima¬layan expedition must lo so with acertain amount of reluctance. It has been said that such ventures are wasteful of money that could be better spent on several, smaller, light-weight expeditions, that large parties disrupt local economies and are harmful to the environment, and that the treatment given to such expeditions in the media distorts the image of climbing. At a per¬sonal level, a given list of suffering can be forecast: snow slogging with heavy loads, avalanche and stone-fall danger, and, in the case of Everest, low technical climbing interest, a route that is aestheti¬cally dull, bowing to autocratic leadership and sharing the mountain with climbers whose sole motivation may be a matter of professional ambition.

Five previous expeditions to the South-West Face of Everest had failed; the weather conditions we would face were unpredict¬able, for we planned to climb during the monsoon month of August; our route was uncertain, as we intended breaking with tradition and tackling the 1000 ft. Rock Band on its left, even though the vast snowfields and couloirs above had only been inspected from afar; finally, our personal chances of survival were statistically as low as perhaps 1 in 10.

Yet, after a furious burst of climbing activity, these nagging doubts and fears fell away as one team after another pushed a safe route through the Khumbu Ice Fall and then on along the magnificent Western Cwm. By the time we were installed in Camp 2, we were several days ahead of our leader's most opti¬mistic forecast, and he is a very optimistic person. Chris Bonington's planning and enthusiasm, coupled with sterling work by Dave Clarke (gear), Mike Thompson (food), Adrian Gordon (Camp 1 organization) and Mike Cheney's Sherpas gave us the means to push on rapidly up the face itself to Camp 5. Down at Advance Base (Camp 2) the mood was buoyant, with Sahibs and Sherpas strutting around as cocky as German Panzer soldiers, crashing through Everest's defences.

How long could the good weather last? While it did nothing more than snow in the late afternoons, we had no real problems other than ineffectual avalanches down Nuptse and the Central Couloir. We countered the potential avalanche danger by siting Camp 4 much lower than previously, under a protecting rock buttress, and by placing Camp 5 well to the right of the Central Couloir. Old Everest hands remembered only too well losing sixteen tents in 1972, due to avalanche, rock-fall and the break¬ing power of the winter winds. The 1975 camps were as impregnable as we could make them. Hamish Maclnnes, faced with the problem of designing our accommodation, had married the original Whillans Box with the French box tent, using li" tubing for the frames and bulletproof fabric on the box roofs. We were ready for a long siege if necessary, but hoped fervently that the Rock Band would go quickly, so that the freezing, tear¬ing north-west winds would not catch us on the upper snowfields. All the climbing team had contributed to the build-up: Fyffe, Richards, Burke and Scott to Camp 3 ; Estcourt and Braithwaite to Camp 4; and Haston, Boardman, Boysen and Maclnnes to Camp 5.
We felt content now that we, the climbers, as well as the leader and organizers, had got to grips with the problem. We came together in a spirit of harmony enhanced as much by the remarkable scenery as by the new roles we had to play.
Bonington and Richards set up Camp 5, while the Sherpas and climbers humped loads from 2 all the way to 4 (by-passing 3), and then on again next day to 5. Bonington, Richards and I set off across the Central Couloir towards the left-hand gully. We fixed ropes to within 150 ft. of the gully, but. could still not see into it. We still had no idea as to whether that, deep gash in the Rock Band held an unbroken tongue of snow, never mind how we could exit from it on to the upper snows. The fol¬lowing day, Tut Braithwaite and Nick Estcourt went up to our high point and led out steeply into the dark chasm. This section involved some very difficult and insecure climbing. To reach the gully, Tut led a long pitch across some steep friable ribs, sheathed in a layer of unstable powder snow. At two points he managed to place a piton and tension off to the left to gain a better line. It later became clear that this was one of the hardest sections of the route (not marked on the accompanying photo-diagram). Nick led through to the entrance of the gully. Tut then climbed a small chockstone pitch (almost covered with snow), and then continued on a tongue of hard, avafanche-pressed snow-the best climbing snow on the mountain-and went up some 600 ft. of narrow gully to the amphitheatre at the top. Here, Nick took over and led up mixed rock and snow, tending slightly right to gain a ramp. He let out a whoop of delight, for the ramp exited out of the gully on to the upper snowfield. He went up the ramp, his crampons ineffectually scraping on two inches of powder covering loose, brittle rock angled at 65°. Using a rotten rib of rock and snow for hand-holds, he worked his way up, all the time being pushed off balance by the over¬hanging wall above his head. Tut followed Nick up the ramp, and they continued for another short pitch, until they were almost sure that the way was clear to reach the site for Camp 6. They then descended to Chris and Mick Burke, who were climbing in support, and all four descended to Camp 5, content in the knowledge that our chosen line could go. It had been a great effort : both Tut and Nick had run out of oxygen whilst still in the gully, but they had gone on to solve the difficult pitches and force an exit.

It was then September 20. That evening, at Camp 5 (25,800 ft.), Chris spent hours poring over his graphs and logistical notes. These had occupied his attention every night of the expedition, but the complexity of the calculations had increased as we drew further away from Base. Now there were climbers and Sherpas scattered over six miles of Mount Everest, and much work was required to keep their activities co-ordinated.

That night Chris drew up his plan for the rest of the trip. Only he could decide who was going to go where, and when. Dougal and I were the lucky lads who were given first go at the summit. Nick and Tut were eminently well-qualified for the job as well, but had had the Rock Band as compensation. Martin Boysen, Pete Boardman, Mick Burke and Pertemba, our Sirdar, would have second go for the summit. After that, Nick and Tut would have rested and be ready for the third summit push with Ronnie Richards and Ang Phurba. Chris, Mike Thompson, Allen Fyffe and Lakpa Dorje could have made a fourth team if all else failed. The only person missing from the scheme was Hamish Maclnnes, who had not recovered sufficiently from swallowing a mass of powder snow: he had been caught head-on by a minor avalanche just above Camp 4, whilst pushing out the route.

On September 22, Dougal and I left Camp 5 and swarmed up the ropes. Dougal led up to the Rock Band, then I took over and jumared up into the gully. The new perspective was inte¬resting : the rest of Everest had consisted of wide open snow slopes, but now we found ourselves in a dark cleft some 300 ft. deep. We followed Nick's rope up the ramp to its end. Dougal sorted out the tangled ropes and tried to do something about his crampons which would not stay on over his spongy overboots. Ang Phurba, who was carrying our tent, caught us up ; this great natural climber belayed me from Nick's high-point as I led 300 ft., up more difficult ground in search for a site for Camp 6. I found a possible site on a steep snow arete : it needed a bit of digging out, but had the merit of being at the start of the long traverse across the upper snowfields. Ang Phurba came up the fixed rope, followed by Dougal, crampons clipped to his waist. We kicked a notch into the arete, and waited for the spade to arrive. Pertemba, Mike Thompson, Chris and Mick came up with vital loads to the camp site. Theirs was an impressive carry. Chris had now been at or above Camp 5 for nine days, pushing out the route, making ferries and working out the movement of men and materials. Mike Thompson arrived with consummate ease, yet he was at 27,400 ft., some 5,000 ft. higher than he had ever been before ; this was something of a personal triumph in view of his nasty experience of Annapurna, when altitude effects almost proved fatal. Mike Burke, disappointed at not being in the first assault party, came up with a dead weight of cine equipment, determined to film all he could of our push ; he had now been up at Camp 5 and beyond for five days.

Eventually, they all went down, leaving Dougal and me sitting in the snow at Camp 6, yelling our thanks down the slopes. Mike Thompson knew his chances of making the summit were slim : "If you get up, that's reward enough," he said, as he left. And that's how it had been from the start: amongst all the team there had been this unselfish determination to succeed. We could not let them down.

We swung into action, stowing gear, sorting out ropes, digging the platform and erecting the tent. We slipped into the routine mechanically and almost wordlessly, for we had done this chore many times before. To prevent the tent from blowing away, I hung empty oxygen bottles from it down each side of the narrow arete; half-empty bottles went into the tent, for use to aid sleeping. Meanwhile, Dougal had sorted out the evening meal of sausage mash and beans ; he provided a tasty fuel-I piped in the means to burn it. All went well until, fiddling with a new oxygen bottle, I made a bad connection half-way through a brewing session and the tent filled with oxygen. The 'gaz' flare grew enormously, until Dougal chucked the stove out of the door into the snow and saved us from incineration.

At first light next morning, Dougal led out from my tent belay across a wide snow couloir and up the rocks on the other side, with the aid of five pegs. I led through over easier ground and belayed to a dead-man 300 ft. further across the upper snow. Eventually, we led out 1,500 ft. of rope-all that we had at Camp 6. We had worked well, over rotten rock and soft, powdery snow. Two opposite temperaments, poles apart down in the town, now drawn together in surprising harmony of thought and action. Well, I enjoyed his company anyway !

There was time to look around as we dawdled back along the ropes to camp. The incomparable valley below was growing cold in the lengthening shadow of Nuptse. We could see figures moving about between the tents at Camp 2, almost 6,000 ft. below. They would be finishing off the evening meal, stowing gear for the night, using the crevasse toilet and making for the warmth of their tents and sleeping bags. But up above the Rock Band we still had the sun shining through distant clouds over Gaurishankar to the west. Further south, and slightly menacing, were huge anvil-shaped clouds flickering lightning. They towered high above the billowy valley cloud, far above our level. How dull the mountain would be without such impressive displays of cloud and light. There was no place I'd rather have been at that time-except back in the tent with a hot brew to hand, watching the last of the sun. Later, eating corned beef and mashed potato, we watched the golden glow move up the mountain past our tent until the South Summit was tinged with orange. We drank one brew after another, feeling wonder- fully content, then zipped up the tent against the cold and the rising wind.

Breathing oxygen, we nodded off until the early hours. We were woken by the wind rocking the box and pelting it with ice particles. At about 1.00 a.m., our oxygen ran out and we switched to another half cylinder left by Lakpa Dorje, the only Sherpa to make a carry the day before. The wind increased, and we lay wondering what the dawn would bring ; at that time our chances of reaching the summit seemed to lie in the laps of the gods.

After a fitful sleep, we stirred into action, excited by the pros¬pects ahead. We fried up the last of the corned beef and packed our sacs. I decided to travel light, and left my feathered suit behind, relying on my jumpers and ventile/nylon wind-suit. However, I packed a stove and billy for hot water, and Dougal put in his duvet boots and bivi sheet. We had two dead-men each, four pegs and one hammer. Lastly, we connected up our oxygen bottles and set the flow at the second of the five positions. We needed to conserve the oxygen as we were not sure if two bottles each would get us up and down again from the top of Everest.

We set off, battling with the wind, nursing aching muscles and dulled minds. I always lack confidence early in the morning and am prone to nervousness until my body and mind warm to the tasks ahead. I stumbled along the ropes in the half-light and was soon absorbed in tackling the new ground. We swung leads up to the South Summit Couloir. After 1200 ft., Dougal began to falter. His oxygen set had packed up and all our doubts about our chances returned. He said that we were in trouble-as if I didn't know it-now that thirteen of the expedition's total of eighteen sets had broken down. I worked up a hatred for Dougal's mask that fortunately stopped short of hurling it over the Rock Band. I drew out my penknife for drastic surgery, but found the bottle opener most use in prising off a jubilee clip around the pipe at the mask. With the release of pressure, a mass of ice broke off inside the rubber pipe, and Dougal could breathe again. We were back in with a chance. The wind had dropped and Dougal belayed while I went up a steep step at the foot of the couloir. This was another unknown problem, but it turned out to be only 30 ft. of 65° rock, covered slightly with powder snow, and thereafter 60° rock and increasingly thicker snow leading finally to a belay point.

I put in three pegs for protection, taking ages to scrape away the snow and unearth a crack in the amorphous yellow rock. I fixed one of the ropes off to a fourth peg, and Dougal jumared up. I had emptied one cylinder of oxygen half way up this step, and therefore changed to my second bottle on the belay. We left the rope there for our return, and carried on up into the couloir. The snow was manky and getting worse, and on one 200 ft. 60° section it was chest deep ; we had to sweep away the top layer of snow and form each step before carefully moving up on it. We reached the South Summit at 3.30 p.m., five hours after Dougal's oxygen failure.

After all those months on the south side of Everest, in the course of three expeditions, at last we could look down the north side. There was Makalu, Kangchenjunga and the endless Tibetan Plateau. The South-West Face had been climbed. That wasn't enough and so my true nature revealed itself. Chris had at one stage told me that he wanted me in the Rock Band team, and not in the first summit party. Down below I had been convincing myself that it was the climbing that mattered, and not the summit; but now, faced with the reality of going down or going along the known ground of the summit ridge, I wanted to carry on.

Dougal wanted to push on, too, but not immediately. He sug¬gested bivouacking and going out at about 3.00 a.m., when the soft snow might be more consolidated. We mulled over this while Dougal boiled a pan of hot water inside his bivi sheet. Meanwhile I scraped a hole out of the snow to find shelter from the wind which was whipping over the South Summit Col at about 40 m.p.h.

We drank the hot water neat, as we had nothing to put in it and no food. I gradually brought my dulled mind to bear on the problem. One thing stood out sharp to me, and that was how awful I feel at 3.00 a.m. I mumbled something to Dougal about trying the ridge now, just to see how bad the snow was. I led out a rope-length, and it was reasonable. I waved him on and he started towards me, leaving behind the stove and other bits and pieces at the brewing place. He led on through and up and over a 'whipped cream roll' of a cornice hanging over Tibet. We moved along the frontier ridge, until my lead ended below the Hillary Chimney. But there was no chimney, only a 40 ft. bank of snow which Dougal led while I photographed him. Unfortu¬nately, I had only one frame left in my camera, and I'd left the spare film at the South Summit with the gear. In the hope that a cassette had been brought, I rummaged around in my sac, praying that Dougal's steps would not collapse under his weight. I found one roll of twenty exposures of high-speed Ektachrome, which I fitted into the camera with difficulty. Meanwhile, Dougal worked his way up the Hillary Step, knocking off slabs of snow which fell down the Nepal side, broke into bits and were promptly caught by the wind and blown over into Tibet. The Step took him about half-an-hour. In the meantime the sun was rapidly going down, and it looked as though night would be on us before we reached the summit. But that did not seem any reason to stop and return, for we knew from previous experience that we could always escape the wind by digging a snow cave, even on the top itself, providing the snow was deep enough.

Just as I was preparing to follow, I noticed a tiny smudge of red on a distant bump on the ridge. I yelled the information to Dougal, but we would both have to wait to see what it was.

1. Everest South -west Face. Article page 11. Photo: Indian Air Force


2. Across the camp leading out of the left hand gully through the notorious Rock Band into the upper snowfield. Article page 11.

3. Dougal Haston crossing the upper snowfield above the Rock Band. Article page 11.


4. Dougal Haston changing an oxygen cylinder at the south summit, before going on to reach the summit at 6.00 p. m. on 24th September 1975. Article page 11.


5. Doughal Haston on the last leg before the summit with the South summit directly behind him and the deep gap in the bottom left hand corner of the photograph being the South Col. Article page 11.


6. Ding Scott on the Summit of Everest at 6.00 p. m. on 24th September 1975. To his right is the emblem left by the Chinese Everest Expedition in the Spring of 1975. Article page 11


7. Pumori (7145 m). Article page 22.


8. Langtang Himal fro Dhuche, with Langtang Lirung on right and the false summit dome (that is clearly visible from Kyanchin Gompa) on the right ridge. Article page 27. Photo: Rajendra Desai


9. Langtang Lirung fro Kyanchin Gompa with the prominent false summit dome in centre. Actual summit might be the one on extreme right. Article page 27


10. Dhaulagiri II (7551 m) from the east ridge. Article page 31


11. From South Dhaulagiri V in the right center. Dhaulagiri IV is behind Myadgi Mata. Dhaulagiri IV is behind Konabon Peak. Gurja Himal on the left end. Article page 35.

12. Dhaulagiri I from 4000 m. along the South ridge of Myadgi mata, south face of Dhaulagiri IV. Article page 35.
Photo: S. Nishimae in 1969 (Kansai M. C. Reconnaissance Party)


13. Dhaulagiri IV. Camp 4 6080 m. and the 500m. ice wall. Article page 35


14. Dhaulagiri IV fro Camp 7 6950 m. 0 = Climbers seen last at 4 p. m. on May 9 + = Site of accident May 10, and the Bivouac West Col on the left bottom. Article page 35.

I took over the lead, walking well to the left of the cornice, stumbling every third step or so as I broke through the crust into deep powder. Dougal walked behind but a bit to my side. I was aware of a confident presence that seemed an extension of myself. Whenever I walked too far to the right, it urged me back left, and when I tripped through the crust it suggested slow¬ing the pace. It was as if part of my reasoning was outside my head. It seems odd, now, but was a quite natural happening at the time.

Dougal took over the trail, breaking up towards the mysterious red object. As he approached, he slowed down to let me come alongside, and after a few more paces we arrived at the top to¬gether. The red object was a tripod, festooned with red ribbons and crowned with a rosary-like a May Pole. It turned out to be a Chinese construction put there in the spring by nine climbers who came from the north. Here at last was proof to the doubters that the Chinese had climbed Everest.

We took off our masks and I could see Dougal's face lit up in the setting sun and filled with happiness. This usually reticent man became expansive, and we thumped each other's backs and congratulated each other. The wind had dropped to nothing as we stood up there in wonder at the scene before us. It was everything and more than we had dared to hope for. Beyond the Rongbuk Glacier silver threads meandered out north and west across the brown land of Tibet. Peak after peak in all directions. We tried to name them, and also spent time looking down the north side, picking out features from the history books. The sun filtered down behind layers of cloud, occasionally breaking through in an explosion of light. We watched this happen several times -one sunset after another-until we had only about half-an-hour left before it got dark. We gathered up the rope, and prepared to move back down our tracks. We left nothing on top, because we had nothing to leave-except the tripod and flag already there.

We moved down rapidly, hoping to follow our tracks down to Camp 6. We abseiled down the Hillary Step from a dead- man and left a 40 ft. piece of rope hanging there, as it jammed when we tried to pull it down. As we blundered on, lightning flickered through the sky, all the way from Kangchenjunga to Ama Dablam. It was pitch dark when we reached the South Summit. Dougal searched for the tracks going down the Nepal side, but they were blown over with snow, so we set about bivouacking at the South Summit Col, at 28,700 ft. Dougal heated some more water, while I enlarged my previous hole into a cave. We soon had a home, and the primitive fear of a night in the open was assuaged. We would survive, but it was the quality of the sur¬vival that mattered. With so many other mountains and crags were determined not to lose any fingers and toes on Everest, so we set to work massaging. I now regretted leaving my down clothing, as I had only the gear I climbed in to keep e warm. The oxygen ran out at 8.30 p.m., and the stove was finished at midnight. To keep warm, I hacked away at the cave with my axe, until it was so large that it could have housed five people. It was essential to stay awake and concentrate on sur¬vival. I carefully took off my socks and stuffed them under my armpits, while I rubbed my toes and tried to ensure that snow did not get on my rucksack-which was my seat. Mostly I shivered and cursed, telling Dougal how desperately cold it was, as if he didn't know. Once, when I was massaging my feet, I left a sock out in the open and found it frozen stiff as a board when I came to put it on again. Dougal must have thought me a right softy when I accepted a place for my feet inside his down clothing, one foot at his crutch, the other under his armpit. But still the cold seeped into our backs, into our kidneys, and seem¬ingly into our very bones. We began to wander in our thoughts : Dougal had short conversations with Dave Clarke, our Equipment Manager, perhaps hoping euphemistically, that he would arrive with our sleeping bags. I kept on chattering away to my pre¬sence and to my feet. It was a long nine hours.

At 5-30 a.m., we crawled out of our hole and went over the ridge into Nepal, for we had spent an illicit night out in China. The wind grew stronger, and clouds were gathering all around, as we plunged down rapidly, hoping to gain more oxygen and warmth. We reached the tent and safety at 9.00 a.m., got into our sleeping bags, put a brew on, and lay back breathing oxygen ; then we radioed Chris with the news. We knew that we weren't going to lose any digits as the warmth seeped back into our bodies and out to our extremities.

I came down with ambition fulfilled, and an empty space for noble thoughts and feelings ; but I knew that space would soon be swamped back in the city-it had happened before. We had taken a big breath of fresh air, and now it was back to the valley and people, to breathe it out ready for the next breath, perhaps in Alaska, the Andes, or even back here again in the Himalaya.

But here on Everest there were more climbers and Sherpas still full of ambition and energy, ready to repeat the route and see what we had seen from Everest's summit. Chris Bonington's organization had gone like clockwork, and hardly a day had been wasted anywhere on the mountain ; as a result, we had reached the summit on September 24, just thirty-five days after arriving at Base Camp. The Sherpas continued their magnificent carries after that date, and all the camps were well-stocked with food, oxygen and equipment. The leader was under great pressure from other climbing teams, who naturally wanted to make the most of this healthy situation. And so the next party came up to Camp 6 on the very day Dougal and I descended ; and below, in Camp 5, Nick Estcourt and Tut Braithwaite were champing on the bit, awaiting their turn On September 26, Pete Boardman and Pertemba set off across the upper snowfield, with Martin Boysen and Mick Burke coming up behind. Martin lost his crampons at the first difficult step and, with faulty oxygen equipment adding to his problems, he decided to return to Camp 6. Mick carried on along the ropes and up the tracks left by Pete and Pertemba. The first pair knew nothing of what was happening behind, for the ground was undulating and it was not always possible to see the whole route from above. In fact, they thought the second pair had returned to the tents. Pete led most of the way, following our tracks up on to the summit ridge. Unfortunately, a mist gathered, blocking out all the fine views we had experienced. By the time the pair reached the summit, the weather was worsening, and storm clouds were beginning to move in on the mountain. Visi¬bility was down to forty feet. They stayed only a few minutes before retreating down the ridge. Fifteen minutes later, Mick Burke loomed up out of the mist, cine camera in hand and eager for the summit. He asked Pete and Pertemba to return with him to get some summit film, but they were reluctant to do so. Mick therefore carried on alone over the broad easy section to the top, while Pete and Pertemba went down to the South Summit to await his return. By the time they had arrived at the South Summit, visibility had diminished to a few feet; ice and snow were stinging their faces, and it was difficult to see out of their goggles. They waited for an hour, maybe more, and then, with Pertemba showing signs of frostbite, and with darkness approach¬ing, they made the decision to go down. They then had to battle for their own survival, in the face of a fierce wind It was well after dark when they finally stumbled in to rejoin Boysen at Camp 6. They spent the next day recovering from their ordeal, pinned down in the tents by the full fury of the storm. Martin looked after them during this anxious time. All hope of Mick returning slowly faded. On the following day, September 28, the weather was much improved, and Chris ordered everyone to come down off the face.

Mick probably fell through a cornice, perhaps just below the Hillary Step. At this point, the ridge becomes a thin, knife- edged arete, bent over the 10,000 ft. Kangshung Face by the southerly winds. Mick may well have plunged through the cornice here, in complete white-out conditions, and fallen down the face below. But any of us might have taken Mick's decision to go to the summit alone ; what climber, fit enough, could resist the lure of Everest's summit when standing so close ? Nevertheless, the whole team was unanimous in supporting Pete's and Pertemba's decision to return : the storm might otherwise have wiped out not only Mick, but Pete and Pertemba as well if they had stayed. All of us had known of the likelihood of avalanches and storms, intense cold or high winds ; it only needed a slight shift in the great wind systems of Central Asia and we could all have been fighting it out to a bitter conclusion.

We sadly left the mountain, but never really grasped the fact that little Mick Burke, that warm-hearted raconteur extraordinary, had actually gone and got himself killed. It was a heavy price to pay for climbing a mountain.

Conclusion
In my experience, these massive expeditions are not necessarily the tedious grind they are often made out to be. This expedition, for instance, was both happy and interesting, and the outcome remained uncertain until the end-surely the main ingredient for a good adventure. Only time will tell whether or not our ascent has any major historical significance. It certainly does not mark an end to this facet of mountaineering. Why should it, when there are still two major face routes on Everest waiting to be climbed-the North-West Face direct from the Rongbuk Glacier, and the East Face from the Kangshung Glacier? Then there is the huge South Wall of Dhaulagiri and the South Face buttresses of K2. In fact on most of the major Himalayan peaks, from the Karakoram to Kangchenjunga, there are great face routes to be climbed.
On all but the world's three highest peaks, where the logistics will remain complex, and where oxygen will no doubt continue to aid hard climbing, the scene is set for near-alpine ascents of the major problems. One might see four to six climbers leaving the foot of the face, two in the lead, the others carrying up supplies, moving up continuously as a self-contained unit, with minimal fixed rope. They will be climbers completely attuned to life at altitude on steep, wind-swept faces. They will have the patience to sit out storms, and the courage and tenacity to continue on low rations, confident in their ability not only to climb, but to survive.

Already scores of Himalayan peaks have been climbed in alpine style, the highest being the 26,470 ft. Hidden Peak. Some of the smaller peaks climbed in alpine style are of great technical difficulty, much more so than the relatively straightforward terrain encountered on Hidden Peak. Once climbers begin to combine the tactics and lessons learnt from these mountains, with some of the equipment and survival techniques that have resulted from the recent Everest, Makalu and Annapurna ascents, the future will offer unlimited scope for fantastic adventures.

Summary : Everest: South-West Face, the first ascent of the face by a British expedition, led by Chris Bonington, with Hamish Maclnnes (Deputy Leader), Doug Scott, Dougal Haston, Allen Fyffe, Nick Estcourt,Martin Boysen, Mick Burke, Paul Braith- waite, Mike Thompson, Ronnie Richards, Pete Boardman, Charles Clarke, Jim Duff, Adrian Gordon, Mike Rhodes, Mike Cheney. Bob Stoodley, Dave Clarke, and a TV team consisting of Ned Kelly, Ian Stuart, Arthur Chesterman and Chris Railing. The Sherpa team was led by Pertemba and Ang Phu. The summit was reached 011 September 24, 1975, by Haston and Scott, who bivouacked on their descent. The route was repeated two days later by Boardman and Pertemba, and probably by Mick Burke, who disappeared in a storm during the descent.

Sherpa team was led by Pertemba and Ang Phu. The summit was reached 011 September 24, 1975, by Haston and Scott, who bivouacked on their descent. The route was repeated two days later by Boardman and Pertemba, and probably by Mick Burke, who disappeared in a storm during the descent.