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 ASCENT OF SHERPI KANGRP 1976

PROF. KAZUMASA HIRAI

N 1911 B. Workman approached this mountain for the first h and introduced it in his famous book, Two Summers in Ice Wilds of Eastern Karakorum. At that time it was still called by the name of Peak 33. He reached only up to the to tongue of the Sherpi Gang glacier and the remaining region around Shrepi Kangri remained unexplored. Since then, neither mountaineering nor scientific expeditions visited this region and it had been left unexplored for a long time.

The Alpine Club of Kobe University (A.C.K.U.) took this mountain as an objective for their first expedition to the Karakoram. We submitted an application to the Government of Pakistan the long-awaited permission was granted at last in 1974 and expedition party consisting of eight members was immediately dispatched.

They explored almost the whole region of the Sherpi glacier and discovered the new pass named Sherpi La, 5701 from where one could easily go down to the Peak 36 glacier. They looked for the route to the summit and tried to climb east ridge from the pass. But the highest point reached only 6400 m. In 1975 a British team made an attempt on this mountain almost along the same route as ours but they had failed.

In 1976 A.C.K.U. decided to send an expedition to Sherpi Kangri again and the following ten were selected : Prof. K. Hirai (leader) T. Tanaka (deputy leader), M. Tsurutani, N. Okamoto (medical doctor), M. Nakamura, T. Inoue, S. Ogata, Y. Kimoto, C. Itani, and K. Hiroishi. Tanaka and Inoue were both members of 1974 expedition.

Inoue, Kimoto, and Itani left by air for Rawalpindi on 10 and the remainder on 24 May. On 1 June our liaison Capt. Asad Ullah Jan Mir, was selected. On 10 June the last members of the expedition and the expedition luggage weighing c. 4 tonnes in total reached Skardu and the next day we arrived at Khapalu in 9 jeeps. On 16 June we were on our march towards the Kondus, accompanied by 144 porters of which 6 were selected for high-altitude work. We crossed the Shyok river on goatskin boats. On the 8th day from Khapalu we arrived at the foot of the Chongi pass, about 15 m from Khorkondus, the last inhabited village, and just below the first ice-fall of the Sherpi Gang glacier. We had just finished our first stage of the expedition. Next stage was to carry loads over the Chongi pass (4500 m) and set up the Base Camp on the upper side moraine of the third ice-fall. The difficult and long transportation on the dangerous Sherpi Gang glacier over three ice-falls was really the key to success.

At the foot of Chongi pass we paid off all but 50 porters. The advanced party pitched the Temporary B.C. (T.B.C.) at 4300 m, which was in the ablation valley between the first and second ice-fall and the B.C. of 1974 expedition. By using 50 porters, the total load was transported in the next three days to the T.B.C., where we discharged all but 10 porters for further transportation up to the Base Camp. The following 10 days, those 10 porters and the high-altitude porters were engaged in carrying the loads. In the meantime, some members pitched B.C. and Advanced B.C. at 4850 m and 5250 m respectively. On 6 July the transportation of all loads of c. 3.3 tonnes was finally over. During the transportation the weather was fine and it helped us very much. The third stage, climbing the summit, was now going to begin.

Two possible routes to the summit could be considered, one was the east and the other the west ridge. The east ridge attempted by the 1974 expedition seemed to be comparatively easy but there is no safe short-cut route from the sanctuary of the Sherpi Gang glacier. The route via Sherpi Kangri II (c. 7000 m) is too long and dangerous. We decided to challenge the west ridge. The decision owes very much to the short reconnaissance by the 1974 expedition and the photograph taken from Chogolisa SW by the 1975 Austrian team.

A.B.C. was set up at the junction of the Vyandak and the Sherpi Gang glaciers, near the 4th ice-fall. There were many wide and deep crevasses in the Vyandak glacier. We had to take a long way around them. Immediately after Camp 1 had been set up at 5850 m in the sanctuary of the Vyandak glacier on 12 July, no time was lost in making a short reconnaissance of finding the route to climb up to the west ridge. All approaches to the west ridge were very steep and with constant threat of avalanche. At first glance there seemed to be no route at all. More close investigation revealed a possible route which was the ice-wall of c. 400 m just below Peak 10 on the west ridge. After seven days' strenuous efforts we managed to negotiate the wall by fixing ropes and a wire ladder. Part of the wall was at nearly 90 degrees. On 23 July, Camp 2 was finally pitched at 6350 m en the west ridge.

The next obstacle we had to tackle was to cross over the Eagle Head, 6550 m. No traverse route was found. The west ridge was very sharp and steep, icy and rocky for the most part. On 24 July, Inoue, Ogata, and Itani started from Camp 2 and reached the top of the Eagle Head and the following day, they got to the col. They came down to Camp 1 and Tanaka and Kimoto took their place to cut the way further to the upper part of the ridge. But the weather began to become bad. The two members could safely come down to Camp 1 on 27 July before blizzards and avalanches swept the ice-wall between Camps 1 and 2. The bad weather continued for the next ten days. All members were in Camp 1 at first but later came down to A.B.C. for rest. It was really fortunate for us not to have left any members in the higher camps.

It was 7 August that we returned to Camp 2. The tent was completely buried by heavy snow. On 8 August, 6 members started from Camp 2 to set up Camp 3, the final camp. However, they could not reach the planned point because of deep snow and heavy loads. They climbed only up to 6500 m beyond the col. This point was too far from the summit for an attempt. We decided to pitch a temporary camp that night and the final camp the next day. Inove and Ogata spent the night here and the 4 supporting members returned to Camp 2. Next day, 9 August, the attack party went ahead to cut and fix the route. The support party followed carrying the loads, and finally Camp 3 was pitched at 6800 m at 3 p.m.

The operation for attack was now finished and the only task left for us was to get to the summit. That night Inoue and Ogata were in Camp 3, 6 members in Camp 2 and the remaining two, Hirai and Tsurutani, in Camp 1.

The following account is written by Inoue, leader of the attack party.

Final attack

We awoke at 1.50 a.m. on 10 August, We could not get sound sleep in spite of using oxygen. But we were in high spirits and our appetite was also good. At 4.15 a.m. we departed from Camp 3 and began to climb the 50°-snow-and-ice ridge. The snow ridge ended at the foot of the huge rock wall of triangular shape, which could be seen from Camp 2 as the first obstacle to the summit. We tried to climb the rock, but in vain. There was no route to elimb it directly. On the right hand side of it, we found a traverse on the steep ice-and-snow slope of nearly 70 degrees. We had a short break before beginning the traverse to make contact with Camps 1 and 2 by transceiver. We confirmed that two supporting members, Nakamura and Itani, had started from Camp 2 that morning.

Ogata cut steps and drove pitons in the rock and ice. Inoue followed. After finishing the dangerous traverse and climbing a steep snow wall, we could stand on the main ridge again. The triangular rock was now below us. We continued to climb the snow ridge for a while. Then, the ridge leads to the saw-toothed rocky section, which can be seen even from, the Chongi pass and was considered as one of the most difficult parts of the west ridge and the key to the summit. At the upper left of the rock-wall, a snow-covered col could be seen. Fortunately, we could find a snow slope between the east and west ridge from the col. The east and the west ridges join at this point. We climbed the snow slope and found the snow ridge continued to the summit on the east side of the rocky ridge.

The sun warmed us and the wind was gentle as we proceeded along the final stretch. Passing the foot of the rock pinnacle of c. 30 m, we climbed a final snow ridge. The snow-capped summit was now in front of us. It was 9.15 a.m. on 10 August when we stood on the top of Sherpi Kangri. The weather was so clear that we were able to enjoy a splendid panorama. No better day could be expected for the summit. To the north-west, Chogolisa, K2 and the other eight-thousanders could be seen. To the west, Nanga Parbat, to the east, the Teram Kangri group and other countless summits made a magnificent sight. We called the lower camps through our transceiver informing them of our success. We stayed here for about 40 minutes, while we took several photographs of the surrounding view and buried some mementos of the Club. We began to descend at 10 a.m.

We were in Camp 3 at 1.00 p.m., where the two supporting members awaited us.

Saltoro Kangri from Camp 2.

Saltoro Kangri from Camp 2.



Chogolisa (right) and Masherbrum (left) from Camp 3.

Chogolisa (right) and Masherbrum (left) from Camp 3.



K6 and K7 massifs.

K6 and K7 massifs.



The snow covered summit of Sherpi Kangri behind the rock pinnacle.

The snow covered summit of Sherpi Kangri behind the rock pinnacle.