OUR party comprising six climbing members with six Sherpas aimed at climbing Churen Himal by its west ridge. We left Pokhara on 12 March and arrived at Base Camp on 6 April—we lost 12 days at Darsingekalka due to atrocious weather when movement was impossible.
Immediately after setting up Base Camp, I gathered the team around me and delivered a pep talk on discipline, safety and team spirit. Climbing activity started the next day and Camp 1 was set up on 10 April. Keeping clear of the crevasses we progressed the route on the upper terraces of the glacier where, on 16 April, we set up a dump (Temporary Camp 2). By 20 April we had established Camp 2. From here we struck up the left side of a ridge coming down the south face; though it averaged 50°, we had several perpendicular rock walls to negotiate. On 2 May we managed to set up Camp 3 on the west ridge itself—we had used 900 m. fixed rope, 3 rope ladders, 6 stirrups and a number of pitons and bolts. The camp was on a small terrace at 6150 m. The ridge now becomes a knife edge and it took another 800 m. of fixed rope to Camp 4 (at 6600 m.) which was terribly exposed to the wind.
Churen Himal 1974
The barometer dropped and monsoon conditions were soon to be expected. Two of the younger climbers started the attack on the 'yellow band'—a friable rock strata barring the way to the summit. On 14 May they bravely worked their route upto a height of 6830 m. which I think is the furthest one has been on this route, but had to retreat in the face of bad weather and exhaustion. The weather now got worse and, to cap it all, one of the members in Camp 4 became ill. The only fit. members to make a quick dash to the summit were the other young climbers in Camp 4 and myself in Camp 3. But the safety of the sick man came first and reluctantly I decided in favour of abandoning the summit and arranged all assistance to get the patient down to Base Camp—a painful decision which turned out to be the right one in the end.