Himalayan Journal vol.35
The Himalayan Journal
Vol.35

Publication year:
1979

Editor:
Soli S. Mehta
Index
  1. EDITORIAL
  2. THE STORY OF THE HIMALAYAN CLUB, 1928-1978
    (JOHN MARTYN)
  3. FIFTY YEARS RETROSPECT AND PROSPECT
    (TREVOR BRAHAM)
  4. THE PASSANRAM AND TALUNG VALLEYS, SIKKIM
    (DR EUGEN ALLWEIN)
  5. NANDA DEVI AND THE SOURCES OF THE GANGES
    (H. W. TILMAN)
  6. THE MOUNT EVEREST RECONNAISSANCE, 1935
    (ERIC SHIPTON)
  7. THE SHAKSGAM EXPEDITION, 1937
    (MICHAEL SPENDER)
  8. GANGOTRI TRIANGULATION
    (Major GORDON OSMASTON)
  9. EVEREST, 1976
    (MAJOR M. W. H. DAY, R.E.)
  10. LHOTSE, 1976
    (KANJI KAMEI)
  11. THE SECOND ASCENT OF LHOTSE, 1977
    (DR HERMANN WARTH)
  12. MAKALU, 1976
    (ANDERS BOUNDER & OTHERS)
  13. THE CLEAN-UP TREK, 1976
    (MICHAEL CORDELL)
  14. THE THIRD KOREAN MANASLU EXPEDITION, 1976
    (JUNG SUP KIM)
  15. THE HONGKONG KANJIROBA EXPEDITION, 1976
    (DICK ISHERWOOD)
  16. AVALANCHE ON SISNE, 1977
    (R. A. L. ANDERSON)
  17. DHAULAGIRI IV, 1975
    (KUNIAKI YAGIHARA)
  18. NORTH SIKKIM, 1976
    (HARISH KAPADIA)
  19. NANDA DEVI FROM THE NORTH, 1976
    (H. ADAMS CARTER)
  20. NANDA DEVI SANCTUARY - A NATURALIST'S REPORT
    (LAVKUMAR KHACHER)
  21. A BOTANICAL SURVEY IN THE NANDA DEVI SANCTUARY, 1974
    (N. C. SHAH)
  22. AN ATTEMPT ON NITALTHAUR, 1974
    (MANIK BANERJEE)
  23. CHAMRAO GLACIER EXPEDITION-1977
    (M. DEY)
  24. CHIRING WE, 1977
    (HARISH KAPADIA)
  25. KINNAUR-1976
    (LIEUTENANT-COLONEL BALWANT SANDHU)
  26. BLACK PEAK, 1976
    (MANDIP SINGH SOIN)
  27. NILAMBAR EXPEDITION, 1977
    (RANVIR SINGH)
  28. POLISH K2 EXPEDITION, 1976
    (JANUSZ KURCZAB)
  29. A CRAWL DOWN THE OGRE
    (DOUG SCOTT)
  30. ISTOR-O-NAL NORTH I, 1976
    (RONALD NAAR)
  31. THE ASCENT OF SHERPI KANGRP 1976
    (PROF. KAZUMASA HIRAI)
  32. AFGHAN DARWAZ, 1975
    (RYSSZARD W. SCHRAMM)
  33. SWISS THUI EXPEDITION, 1975
    (DR ADOLF DIEMBERGER and HANS SCHIBLI)
  34. CLIMBING SHERPAS OF DARJEELING
    (DORJEE LHATOO)
  35. OF MOUNTAINS & MEMORIES
    (SITU MULLICK)
  36. EXPEDITIONS AND NOTES
  37. OBITUARIES
  38. BOOK REVIEWS
  39. LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
  40. CLUB PROCEEDINGS, 1976
  41. EXPEDITIONS 1975-1977

THE SECOND ASCENT OF LHOTSE, 1977

DR HERMANN WARTH

Members : Dr Gerhard Schmatz (leader), Gunter Sturm (deputy leader), Hannelore Schmatz, Achim Baumuller, Michel Dacher, Hans von Kanel, Max Lutz (physician), Dr Wolfgang Schaffert (physician), Peter Vogler, Dr Hermann Warth, Wastl Worgotter, Peter Worgotter, Fritz Zintl, Urkien Tsering (Sirdar), R. Baral (liaison officer).

Route : Icefall-Western Cwm-Lhotse face-Lhotse gully-top.

Approximately the Swiss route 1956.

Progress : Base Camp, 5300 m-21-3-1977

Camp 1, 6000 m-31-3-1977

Camp 2, 6400 m-5-4-1977

Camp 3, 6700 m-9-4-1977

Camp 4, 7200 m-16-4-1977

Camp 5, 7700 m-28-4-1977

Ascents : 1st ascent-18-5-1956

2nd ascent-8-5-1977 : Urkien Tsering, Hans von Kanel, Hermann Warth.

9-5-1977 : Fritz Zintl, Peter Vogler, Gunter Sturm

11-5-1977 Michel Dacher, W. and P. Worgotter, Max Lutz, who fell to death on the descent.

ON 8 MAY 1977, at midday, Urkien Tsering, Hans von Kanel and I stood on top of Lhotse (8511 m) as first members of the Swabian Himalayan Expedition 1977. We had tears in our eyes because we hardly could believe having succeeded in spite of great difficulties.

On the terribly strenuous way from Camp 4 to Camp 5 one of our Sherpas had collapsed. In his load there were three thermos flasks. We didn't recognize that and missed them painfully during our ascent to the summit. My hot water bottle enveloped in leaf of metal helped us somewhat to overcome this inconvenience. In spite of that, on the summit the tea was frozen.

Camp 5 was pitched at a height of 7700 m. That means we had to climb 800 m to the top-the biggest distance in the whole ascent. Naturally, we didn't know, being the first team, whether we could do that within one day ; first of all, we didn't know exactly about the technical difficulties of the final gully. The slope above Camp 5 being 200 m high has an inclination of about 40°, the gully of about 45°, not too steep so far. We felt equal to the climb. But the highest caution was necessary because there were hollows under the wind-pressed snow.

And of course, the weather ! Hans and I had already waited in the higher camps since 27 April ; we had survived a terrible night in Camp 4 with gusts around 150 km per hour according to informations of the New Zealander's Everest Expedition which was using the same route till our Camp 5. Then we climbed up under bad weather conditions-halo round the sun, storm from the SW., snowfall-because we wanted to take our opportunity, and surprisingly and against all expectations the weather improved suddenly.

But now we had to face new difficulties. On the morning of our ascent to the top the problems with our oxygen sets started in spite of our having thoroughly checked them the afternoon before. We used an open system with a reducer regulating the mixture of open air and pure oxygen out of the bottles in four different positions. Firstly, the wing-nut connecting my set with the bottle broke, probably because of the cold. Then, suddenly, there was Hans' mask and tube totally frozen preventing him from breathing. What now? The saving idea-he urinated through tube and mask and fixed it again at his face- it worked! Then his reducer was blocked and he could only breathe on position 1 instead of 3. Finally, it turned out that Urkien's reducer gave too much flow, and after 400 m both of his bottles were empty. I for myself had still one and a half bottles. I gave him my half-bottle * together with my set and adjusted it to position 1. In exchange for that I took over his system with my other full bottle. 150 m below the summit I thought I would die miserably. The bottle was empty already again ! No oxygen! I felt as if somebody had closed my mouth and nose. I cried to my friends: I have to go down immediately. Lhotse is finished for me!' And it flashed into my mind to sit down on my bottom and glissade down as fast as possible. A crazy idea! The sudden deficiency of oxygen at this altitude of more than 8300 m was confusing the mind. But, after some minutes when I was pacified and a little recovered I heard the calm voice of Hans. By a nonsensical sentence which we shouted to each other since we were together in this expedition he comforted me : 'Come on, Hermann, we are fighting like pigs especially the 'we' encouraged me. Then, Hans offered to drag me up with the climbing rope. I refused but let the friends go ahead. Metre by metre I staggered up. On the stroke of 12 noon I reached my friends on the summit. Sunday. High noon. An international party on top of Lhotse : one Nepali, one Swiss and one German ! The view was nothing, but our happiness overwhelming. Weeping for joy, Hans : 'And I have urinated through my mask !' and I : 'If God had not supported us by good weather, we never would have reached the summit because of all these difficulties !'

The descent was troublesome with the snow conditions and since nobody had any more oxygen. Our legs were like lead, the whole body was deprived of strength. Again and again we sat in the snow to rest. Fortunately, the good weather continued and slowly we trailed towards Camp 5. To our great surprise the Sherpas, in the meantime, had fixed a long rope above Camp 5. So quickly we rushed down along it into the arms of Sherpas and members Zintl, Vogler and Sturm. Our walkie-talkies spread the news of the second ascent of Lhotse to all camps. From everywhere jubilation and congratulations.

We descended the same day to the more spacious Camp 4, Urkien along the fixed ropes continued down to Camp 2. But we in 4 had the worst night of the whole expedition. We suddenly had terrible eye-pains. During the day's ascent a part of our warm breath had covered our snow goggles with mist. Therefore, we had been forced to climb partially without eye protection. And now we had to suffer bitterly for that. Till midnight we were lying groaning and weeping like children in our tent. I had additional pains due to thawing of my slightly frozen toes and fingers. Only an overdose of anodynes enabled us to get relief in sleep. Hans' eyes were even worse than mine. A bit better on the next morning, he somehow climbed down along the fixed ropes to Camp 3. But then, his eyes were totally closed again. Only by listening to my climbing noises could he manage to follow me on the easy way from Camp 3 to 2. At crevasses I took his hand and ordered him to jump. In Camp 2 we were treated completely by one of our physicians : ointment, drops and one rest day for me, for Hans two days, in an almost totally dark tent.

On 9 May, F. Zintl, G. Strum and P. Vogler succeeded in climbing to the top. On 11 May Dr Schmatz, M. Dacher, W. and P. Worgotter and M. Lutz tried to reach the summit as well. At 6 p.m. we had our walkie-talkie service as usual. We were informed-comfortably sitting at the Base Camp-that just some minutes ago M. Dacher and the two Worgotters had come back from the summit to Camp 5. Only Max Lutz who was also on the top was still missing (Dr Schmatz had returned already in the morning to Camp 2 because of frostbitten toes). Max had been seen climbing down the lower part of the gully by the last one of the three. They waited for him at Camp 5. But Max hadn't arrived till darkness, All camps were in continuous communication by our walkie-talkies. Finally, we decided to send the next morning, a group of Sherpas from Camp 2 to

Camp 5 and if necessary up to the gully itself in order to look after Max-we were thinking that he might have bivouacked during the night. A second group of Sherpas were sent to the foot of Lhotse face at 6500 m. In the early afternoon, 12 May, they found the body of Max. Max, 24 years old, had fallen 1500 m down the Lhotse face. We buried him at the foot of Kala Pattar.

Max had been the tenth and the last one on top of Lhotse- such a sympathetic, intelligent, clear and humorous man. Until the afternoon of the 11th we were in such a good mood : ten men on an eight-thousand-metre peak, second ascent since 1956 after many failures (e.g., the Japanese 1973, the German 1974 of which I was a member,1 the Polish, 1974, the Italian 1975), ;all were satisfied, no serious frostbites, and now, suddenly, everything looks different.

See H. J., Vol. XXXIII, 1973-74, p. 207.

Everest and Geneva Spur as seen from Camp 4 (7200 m) on Lhotse Face.

Everest and Geneva Spur as seen from Camp 4 (7200 m) on Lhotse Face.