ON May 1975 two climbers from the Osaka Mountaineering Federation reached the summit of Dhaulagiri IV by its western ridge, but failed to return. They fell down into the Konaban glacier from the south face of the summit ridge, at a height of 7,500 m. where they had bivouacked for the second night.

We were rather sceptical of obtaining the permission to climb Dhaulagiri IV. Ever since we came back from our unsuccessful expedition to Dhaulagiri IV in 1970, we repeatedly submitted applications, but with no response.

Again towards the end of 1973, we applied for climbing the mountain in the pre-monsoon season of 1975, only to find that the permission was given to another party from Tokyo, who had sent their application for climbing in the post-monsoon of the same year. After a lengthy diplomatic affair we finally obtained the permission for the pre-monsoon and the Tokyo party for the post- monsoon.

Our 16-man expedition started from Pokhara on 15 March. We had purchased one ton of provisions and kerosene in Kathmandu, to add to the baggage air-freighted from Japan.

Ours was a very light expedition, though large in number. With 2 tons of equipment and provisions, we provided for 45 climbing days, equipped with three thousands, metres of fixed rope and enough of hardware. After 40 days' activities we left more than 100 man-day provisions at the higher camps.

On 2 April we approached the Kaphe glacier, south-west of the Dhaulagiri group. One full week was spent on crossing the high pass, Budzunge Bara (4,480 m.) because of a heavy snowfall. The delay would have been worse if the party had been a larger and a heavier one.

The Kaphe glacier route had been attempted three times before excluding Col. Jimmy Roberts' efforts to reach the upper end of the glacier in 1962 and 1965 (when he had mistaken Dhaulagiri VI for IV). These three attempts in the past ended in the climb of D-VI (7,268 m.). D-IV is 10 km. away from D-VI.

On 11 April Camp 3 was established at the height of 5,750 m., along the north ridge of Ghustung North where we would look over a large expanse of the upper glacier basin surrounded by ghustung, Gurja Himal, and D-VI. The Kaphe glacier turnssharply to the west here towards Churen Himal. Two more camps an 800-metre ice-wall climb led us to Camp 6 near the top of Junction Peak (7,108 m.) which connects D-IV and Churen Himal. This was the end of the second stage of our climbing schedule.

The third stage began on 2 May. We had to cut a great number of steps in the ice across the Junction Peak, down to the West Col (6,800m.). On the 5th, a 5-man party (H. Nakamura, T.Kodarna, S. Fujiwara, M.Otsu, H. Yamamoto) followed the fixed lines to the final camp (Camp 7 at the height of 6,950m.), carrying a week's provisions and Butane gas; the latter worked fine at this altitude and under relatively warm temperatures for the season (not lower than -20° C) by the way the kerosene we purchased in Kathmandu gave us all a hard time above Camp 4. It was good enough at lower altitudes.

Dhaulagiri Range

Dhaulagiri Range

The next day dawned clear but windy. The members started from Camp 7, but not with much hope of reaching the summit. The route beyond the West Col was along a sharp and steep iced ridge. Seeing no favourable turn in the weather, they gave up for that day at the height of 7,200 m. at 11 o'clock. The other three members welcomed a good rest, having been tired with their toil of pushing up the camp all by themselves the day before.

They discussed the situation in the evening and were confident that the route would go, though it was still very long—4 kilo¬metres and 800 vertical metres. However, luck was not with them; the wind rose and swelled into a storm around midnight, until a blast tore the tent into halves and forced them to abandon the site. S. Kawazu and Sirdar Pemba Norbu (Namche came up to help them to retreat to Camp 5.

Kawazu was now at his fittest and expressed a strong wish to make a long assault from Camp 6 itself with a young partner E. Yasuda. After a long discussion Kawazu was given the consent on condition that, since a night's bivouac was inevitable on the way up, there should be no pushing beyond their physical endurance.

8 May turned out to be a calm sunny day. Kawazu and Yasuda left Camp 6 at 8 o'clock, to reach the height of 7,300 m. at 3:50 in the afternoon, where they bivouacked. Because of a mechanical disorder in the walkie-talkie the assault party could only send a message but not receive.

9 May saw the two climbers pushing towards the summit until it got too late for them to return safely, but there was no means possible of sending them advice. The last they were seen from Camp 6 by S. Kashu and Nima Kancha (Sherpa) was at four in the evening just below the summit, and the clouds covered the scene afterwards. The lower camps got an excited message from Kawazu at 7.30 p.m. reporting that they had reached the summit at 5.30 p.m. and taken photos of each other, that the visibility had been poor with strong wind, and that they were forced to bivouac where they were then (at a height of 7,500 m.). He talked over the radio once more at 8.10 p.m. and that was the last we heard of them. Next morning Kashu and Kancha duly started to meet them but the summiters were not to be seen (from early in the morning) even with excellent visibility. Finally they were found lying together beyond the bergschrund on the south face of Dhaulagiri IV, about 1,500 m. below. With great sorrow we had to abandon any further activities.

Members: Tetsuy aNomura (Leader), Shiro Nishimae (Climbing Leader), Tadanobu Yokoyama, Shiro Kawazu, Hisazumi Nak- mura, Toshio Kodama, Zazuo Nishimura, Mikio Otsu, Shinsuke Fujiwara, Etsuro Yasuda, Shin Kashu, Fuminori Kimura, Hideo Yamamoto, Akira Yoshimi, Miss Kyoko Uekawa, Mrs. Kazuko Nishimura.


Note 1 : Dhaulagiri VI was first climbed in 1970 by the Kansai Mountaineering Club (Osaka) party led by Tetsuya Nomura. (See H. J. Vol. XXX 1970, pp. 141-146).

Note 2 : Kamoshika Alpine Club (Tokyo) Expedition led by M. Takahashi, made the second ascent of Dhaulagiri IV in the post monsoon season of 1975

1962 Autumn the Kaphe Glacier British party
1965 ,, ,,
1969 the Konaban Glacier Austrian party
1970 Spring the Kaphe Glacier Kansai Mountaineering
1970 Autumn the Kaphe Glacier Fukuoka Mountaineering.
1971 Spring the Konaban Glacier Japan G.H.M. party
1972 "" Gunma Mountaineering Federation (Japan)
1972 Autumn the Kaphe Glacier Japan Rock Climbing Club
1973 Spring Shar Churen Khola Austrian party
Autumn the Konaban Glacier British party
1974 Spring Shar Churen Khola ,,


⇑ Top