LHOTSE, 1975

The Italian Expedition of C.A.I.
(Tralanslated by Fr. Galli)


ON 15th March, our first group set off to Lukla. Next day, our second groupn went off in the same direction. With some others Ihad to wait for the completion of the formalities and to put in the bank sum of money which was deemed unnecessary.

On Thursday 20th March at 11.30 a.m. we arrived at Namche Bazar and we joined our friends. Together we moved towards Khumjung and there too wo took wonderful pictures of Ama Dablam and studied carefully the south side of Lhotse which we wanted to tackle.

On Monday 24th Chierego, Anghileri and myself went across Pangboche to pay our homage and respects to the tomb of Paolo Consiglio near Tsuro an hour’s walk from Dingboche.

Thursday, March 27th, we were compelled to stay at camp although there was sun shine, our luggage was still behind.

Next day we started towards Dingboche.

Lhotse, seen from the west side at Chukung, was completely black and impressive. We decided that some of us would go up to Lailen Peak to see what to do and to choose the site for our Base Camp. At night, Dr. Chierego felt sick with nausea and had to be brought back to Dingboche, then Kathmandu and finally had to return to Italy.

The south side of the Lhotse is indeed very difficult. We tried to follow the way already experienced by the Japanese climbers.

On 1 April all the vertical cliff of the mountain was covered with snow. We then perceived the real difficulty to climb this cliff, namely the avalanches which sweep away everything.

At 12.30 p.m. our friends reached a height of 5950 m. where they found a suitable place for our Camp 1. Then they came back.

In the evening we chose Messner and Lorenzi as those fittest to climb up next morning and establish Camp 1 at 6000 m.

On 2 April, they went up and did their job wonderfully. In the evening it snowed.

Our main concern now was that our baggage and equipment had not yet arrived, and I had to go back again with Giorgetti to arrange for this.

On our return up to the Base Camp we found things going quite well. I was very satisfied with the work of everybody. They were already fixing Camp 2. Only Anghileri felt uneasy and had to return to Italy.

On 12 April night, our Camp 2 was much disturbed by strong wild winds which lasted all the subsequent nights. During day¬time however we could work well, enjoy wonderful views, make our plans and write to our friends. We had reached 7100 m.

On 19 April, at 9 p.m., all very happy went to bed with the best prospects in mind. But at midnight, we all got up at a wild roaring noise. An avalanche had slipped down from the Lhotse side and damaged one of our tents. After a while, another avalanche almost destroyed our Base Camp. Fortunately nobody was hurt. We were few; the majority were up at the higher Camp.

On the morning, when all again were together, we met to decide what to do. The weather was our main obstacle. We made an assessment of the equipment we still had and thought we could start again.

On 24 April, we started fixing an aerial cable way from Camp 1 to Camp 2 for easy transportation of our heavy equipment. But it snowed again abundantly.

On 27th and 28th, the snow continues and strong wind in¬creases the danger of the avalanches. Things went better during the following days, until 7 May. In the evening of that day, we hear from Camp 3 that an avalanche comes down against the tents and a few hours later another destroys the whole Camp. Fortunately again no one was hurt.

I then recalled all to come down to the Base Camp to meet and decide about the future of our expedition. We met in the morning of 8 April. At first we thought of changing our plans and make our way to the peak through Khumbu. We simultaneously tried to repair our tents, the telepheric and other equipment in order to remake our Camp 3. But the weather was absolutely impossible.

Early on the 12 April, heavy clouds surrounded our Camp. On the radio we hear that two members of the British Expedition Nuptse had died. We knew afterwards that two others also lost their lives, so that their whole expedition had been abandoned.

On 13th April, we tried to climb up to Camp 2 to bring back some of our equipment. Sadly enough we too realised that our dreams had been shattered. Even the most experienced unyielding climbcr sometimes has to bow down in the face of stronger forces of nature.


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