Himalayan Journal vol.41
The Himalayan Journal
Vol.41

Publication year:
1985

Editor:
Harish Kapadia
Index
  1. EDITORIAL
  2. MAKALU-NEARLY
    (DOUG SCOTT)
  3. THE AMERICAN-CANADIAN MAKALU WEST PILLAR EXPEDITION
    (CARLOS BUHLER)
  4. INDIAN EVEREST EXPEDITION, 1984
    (COL D. K. KHULLAR)
  5. CZECHOSLOVAK EXPEDITION TO LHOTSE SHAR, 1984
    (JOSEF RAKONCAJ)
  6. THE BRISTOL CHO OYU EXPEDITION, 1984
    (S. K. BERRY)
  7. NAMELESS PEAK - ANNAPURNA HASSIF ROUTE IN SKETCHES
    (H. SIGAYRET)
  8. AUSTRALIAN ARMY NILGIRINORTH (7061m) EXPEDITION, 1983
    (CAPT ZAC ZAHARIAS)
  9. THE WINTER EXPENDITION TO API
    (TADEUSZ PIOTROWSKI)
  10. YOUTH IN GIBSON'S GARHWAL
    (HARISH KAPADIA)
  11. NANDAKINI IN THE RAINS
    (WILLIAM McKAY AITKEN)
  12. AVALANCHE PEAK EXPEDITION, 1984
    (SANDEEP SHAH)
  13. UJA TIRCHE, 1984
    (AJIT SHELAT)
  14. IN REMOTE SOUTHEAST LADAKH
    (R. BHATTACHARJI)
  15. ASCENT OF K12 (7428 m) IN SALTORO HILLS (RANGE)
    (LT COL PREM CHAND)
  16. FIRST ASCENT OF MAMOSTONG (7516 m)
    (COL BALWANT S. SANDHU)
  17. THE LONELY CLIMB
    (RONALD NAAR)
  18. ASCENTS IN RIMO GROUP OF PEAKS
    (G. K. SHARMA)
  19. MOUNTAIN PHOTO ORIENTATION
    (JAGDISH NANAVATI)
  20. THE NAMELESS TOWER, (6246 m), KARAKORAM
    (DAVID LAMPARD)
  21. EXPEDITIONS AND NOTES
  22. THE EIGHT-THOUSANDERS
  23. IN MEMORIAM
  24. BOOK REVIEWS
  25. CORRESPONDENCE
  26. CLUB PROCEEDINGS, 1984

MAKALU-NEARLY

DOUG SCOTT

WE HAD COME to climb Makalu, the world's fifth highest summit and the highest point in the Khumbakarna area of the Nepal Himalaya on the Tibetan border twelve miles southeast of Everest. The region is isolated and very beautiful, with a host of attractive, unclimbed peaks around; Tutse (6739 m), Peak 4 (6720 m) and the summits north and east of Peak 3 to name but a few. The walk in is relatively difficult, and much more serious than to Everest base camp: most parties will take twelve days from the nearest airstrip at Tumlingtar, and fifteen from the road at Hille. From the hot, dusty plains, the trail crosses the Aran via the rickety iron and wood bridge below Num, rises over the Ship-ton la (4200 m) and traverses the precarious moraine slopes above the Barun before reaching the site of base camp at 4900 m (16,000 ft). The walk was good for acclimatisation, though, and the base camp at an ideal height for recovery between bouts of climbing-steady deterioration sets in at base camps placed higher than 5000 m. Less obvious, but in our view just as important, was the fact that the camp was sited on a grassy alp just a day away from virgin forests with adequate supplies of dead wood for fuel. This would not conflict with local needs, for the nearest villagers were at Tashigong, three days away.

It seemed a great waste of time and money organising travel to the Himalaya for just one climb, so we booked Chamlang (7319 m) and Baruntse (7220 m), and planned to climb on and around the unclimbed Peak 3 (6477 m) which, by wide interpretation, came under our permit for the southeast ridge of Makalu. We were not so much a large expedition of twelve climbers, more like four expeditions running together-in fact our expedition might best be described as a 'camp' akin to that which surfaces in Snell's field near Chamonix every summer, from which small teams of climbers make forays into the Mont Blanc massif and return to recover for the next sortie. This atmosphere was enhanced by invitations to family and friends to accompany us up to base camp, so to the climbers: Jean Affanessieff, Larry Bruce, Colin (Choe) Brookes, Richard Chaplin, Jim Fullalove, Arianne Giobellina, Brian Hall, Molly Higgins, Terry Mooney, Michael Scott, Stephen Sustand and myself, were added Jean's wife Michelle and daughter Jeanne (9), my wife Jan and daughters Martha (11) and Rosie (5), Clive and Sue Davies, Arthur and Rita Lees, and Nick Learning.

Photos 1 to 5
It was a good start to the expedition that everyone arrived healthy and that Arthur, a registered, physically disabled spastic, against all odda made it up to base camp even though he was often walking from dawn to dusk stumbling along the often dim-cult trail-with his wife Rita on her first third world trek.

Brian, Steve, Terry and Choe set off immediately for the higher Makalu base camp (5400 m) from where Basque and American expeditions, both lightweight, were already established and at work climbing the ordinary route and the west ridge (seige) respectively. The four climbed up to Point 6170 m. Meanwhile the rest of the climbers walked over to the lake beneath Peak 3. Michael and Arianne reached Martha's Col of 1981. Larry, Molly, Jim, Jean and myself climbed up to the southeast summit (c. 6300 m) of Peak 3 by the icy east ridge-a first ascent. The round trip took about ten hours, the difficulties were never more thar* Scottish II and climbed mostly unroped. Jim soloed the whole way up this, his first Himalayan peak. We had not the time to traverse north to the main virgin summit of Peak 3 (6477 m) although it looked feasible and interesting.

Although the southeast ridge of Baruntse (7220 m) had been climbed before on several occasions it was the only possible route from base camp that suited our purposes. We needed to acclimatise without over-exerting ourselves. For some of our party this would be their first introduction to Himalayan climbing. We also* had to consider the fact that our next climb, on Chamlang, had to be a joint Nepalese/Foreign affair. So the three Nepalese climbers, Ang Phurba, Saela Tamang and Pasang Sherpa, would also have to acclimatise and be given a quick apprenticeship in alpine style climbing-hence we took the relatively non-technical southeast snow and ice-ridge.

We took an original route from base camp to the base of the southeast ridge. We walked from base camp on 29 April crossing the grassy spur at Point 4915 m before turning west and climbing snowed-up grass and scree terraces above and alongside the lower Barun icefall to establish our first camp at 5400 m. (Rein-hold Messner and myself had pioneered this part of the approach in 1981.) After a period of bad weather we pitched Camp 2 (5600 m) (Corner camp) on 1 May still at the base of Peak 4 but where the Chamlang glacier meets the lower Barun glacier. The next day we established Camp 3 (6100 m) under the West Col and Camp 4 at 6700 m half way up the southeast ridge by 3 May. The summit of Baruntse was reached on the 4th and we were back in base camp by the 6th.

This may sound pretty straightforward, but of the sixteen who set out, Michael returned immediately with stomach problems Jim got lost before the first camp; Arianne went down to base camp with hepatitis accompanied by Nick from Camp 2; Brian was struck down by laryngitis, so he and Choe, his partner, retired from Camp 4 whilst Richard succumbed to headaches above Camp 4. Pasang had not the ability to climb a steep ice-step above Richard's high point so the two of them went down, leaving Jean Stephen, Terry, Saela, Ang Phurba and myself to reach the top amidst swirling cloud and falling; snow. This was Saela's first summit and Terry achieved the distinction of being the first Irishman up any Himalayan peak! Larry and wife Molly climbed a 50° ice-slope to tfhe top of Point 6730 m, a southern outlier of Baruntse on 3 May from Camp 3, completing a full circuit back to base camp via the main Barun glacier. The rest of us returned1, the way we had come up to deposit gear at Corner camp for Chamlang.

Chamlang
With the confidence acquired from our eight-day Baruntse ex-curiion we packed for Chamlang. We were filled with apprehension, not so much at the prospect of climbing, but as to whether we had the stamina to withstand the celebrations that would inevitably follow yet another Irish success. (Some two gallons of rakshi and fifteen bottles of whisky had left us all feeling somewhat under par.)

The only previous ascent of the main summit had been made by the Japanese in 1962, using 3500 ft of fixed rope and ladders on the apparently difficult south ridge. From the main summit an impressive exposed ridge top stretched away ENE for five miles to the east summit (Pt. 7290 m). In all its length, the ridge only drops about 300 m. During September 1981, Reinhold Messner, Pasang Sherpa, Ang Dorje and myself had reached the lowest part of the ridge after a fairly easy two-day climb up the north face from the Chamlang glacier. We then waded up soft snow west to a minor summit at about 7010 m before descending to the glacier the same day. It was obvious from that visit just how many good lines there were to be climbed on the extensive northern side, given good snow conditions.

On 12 May, Brian, Choe, Terry, Stephen, Jim, Saela and Pasang left base camp, followed by Jean, Michael, Ang Phurba and myself a day later. Jim had a severe headache and returned to base camp. On the 14th the lead party left Corner camp before dawn and climbed the steep ice below the virgin East summit of Chamlang. Four hours later our party followed, and by early afternoon we were all together beneath a 50 ft ice-cliff which barred the way to the shoulder (Pt, 6705 m), Pasang's inexperience having slowed the pace of the first party. Choe tackled the overhanging snow and ice in just a few minutes, and we all bivouacked about 300 ft higher on the lower lip of a bergschrund (8100 m) after Jean and I had fixed our climbing ropes ready for the following day. Brian and co. bivouacked the next night on the Shoulder whilst Jean, Michael, Ang Phurba and myself climbed the 'Tower' or rather the difficult ice just left of the rocks on the steep NE ridge leading up to the East summit. Michael and myself led two pitches each of Scottish Grade II/III. Our progress here was interrupted when Ang Phurba's crampons came adrift several times on the hard ice. Eventually we bivouacked about 100 m below the East summit with a strong, cold, northerly wind blowing over the ridge. There were magnificent views of Makalu, Everest, Lhotse and the peaks of the Hunku silhouetted by the setting sun. Next morning (16th) we reached the East summit (7290 m) at 9 a.m. and an hour later traversed the Central summit (7235 m). They were two of the highest unclimbed summits in Nepal which no doubt added to our elation at being there. The main summit of Chamlang at the westerly end of this long, flat-topped mountain, was still three and a half miles away and Would have been a fine climb but we had to strike a balance and not draw too heavily on our reserves before our attempt on Makalu. So we descended and proceeded to draw heavily on our reserves. My fickle memory failed to recall the easy line of our 1981 route and my alternative proved to be desperate. Just before dark we arrived at an impasse of steep, 70° rock and ice still two thousand feet above the Chamlang glacier. Jean was not amused, Ang Phurba was a worried man and Michael, with the innocence and energy of youth, relished the situation! We were forced to make an awkward bivouac between two seracs which hung out over the Chamlang glacier. It is always an extra worry for a father climbing with his son but the only worrying 1 did was down in base camp in anticipation. Once on the mountain, as with Stephen (23) on Broad Peak the previous year, I took great delight in sharing Michael's refreshing enthusiasm and confidence for high altitude climbing. On 20 May we traversed down 400 ft of green ice diagonally right and then after a dozen abseils and down climbing loose rock and crumbling ice to the glacier we stumbled into Corner camp helped along by the light of Choe's headtorch., We sat up late into the night quenching our raging thirst with cups of tea produced by Brian and Choe and listened to the harrowing story of their epic retreat from near the East summit of Chamlang. Brian takes up the story.

'Early that morning a fierce wind was blowing across the Shoulder. Choe and I were still debating the merits of continuing that day when Steve came over and encouraged us with the information that once out of the flapping tents the wind was not too bad. Unfortunately he had some bad news. Terry had developed snow blindness during the night and was totally blind and in great pain, A combination of too weak sunglasses and removing the glasses in the late afternoon was obviously the cause. The two Sherpas were still in their sleeping bags and they were none too keen to continue but were prepared to wait with Terry whilst we tried for the summit. There were many objections to this plan, but in the end Terry persuaded us that he would be OK and in any case he might be better in a day, so the three of us set off, gaining height rapidly and confident that we would reach the summit. Conditions were still perfect and surprisingly the wind dropped as we got higher. We soloed until the ridge steepened and I had to belay Stephen on some difficulties at about 23,000 ft. I was admiring the view when suddenly my head was full of pain. The next thing I remember was hanging from the belay. I could not have been out for long for neither Steve above, nor Choe 100 ft below had noticed what had happened. I had been hit by a piece of ice knocked off by Stephen one hundred and forty feet above. Confusion, pain and nausea all at once, then panic as I started to black out again. I shouted to Choe but at first he did not understand, then he realised what had happened but perhaps not the implications. I started to black out again and all I could think was-they'll never get me down whilst I'm unconscious.

Time stood still while Choe reached me, and Stephen arranged an abseil. Waves of panic washed over me as everything went blurred, then doubl. What a place to have an accident. I was just about able to stagger, luckily, enabling Choe and Stephen to lower me to the camp on the Shoulder. Our situation was desperately serious, with Terry blind, myself with a suspected fractured skull, and the two Sherpas needing constant supervision. There were many possible ways we could attempt to descend, none simple, and if we chose the wrong one it would mean disaster. We finally chose to stay as one group, lowering 300 ft at a time. Stephen would go first and arrange a belay, then the rope was pulled up and Terry and I would go down (I was tied on to the end of the rope, with Terry 10 ft higher). Although I was feeling wretched I could still give directions to the blind Terry. When we reached Stephen, the rope was pulled up and the two Sherpas were lowered, then finally Choe climbed down: a rather complicated and time consuming procedure, but it worked and by late afternoon we reached the bergschrund bivvi.

The following day my double vision and black outs had stopped; and though I still felt nausea and had a very sore head, I could just about manage without help so I took charge of the Sherpas and continued the descent with them, while Choe and Steve patiently lowered Terry. We reached base camp at 18,000 ft by early evening: a very relieved team of climbers indeed !’1
1. One problem arising from the Government of Nepal regulations governing joint Nepalese/Foreign peaks that came to light is that the Nepalese members are rarely as familiar with the techniques of climbing and alpine style climbing as the foreigners. Wherever there was steep terrain we had problems, and valuable thne was wasted getting our Sherpas up. Also when accidents happen on steep ground our attention has still to be on our charges which detracts from the efficiency of the rescue. A further point on Baruntse presented itself when Pasang failed to climb a steep ice-cliff. One or more of ourselves would have had to accompany him down. As it was Richard was able to fulfil this role as he had a headache. Conceivably had he not retired we would have had to 'draw straws' and someone give up his chance for the summit-a miserable prospect after so much work and expense in getting so close. All in all joint Nepalese and Foreign expedition to difficult mountains are dangerous, frustrating and also very expensive as three more members have to be given equipment, food; allowed for in porterage and paid.

Makalu
Back at base camp, Terry recovered, Steve and Choe, who had done such a magnificent job in getting the team down in such difficult terrain, regained their strength and Brian sensibly decided not to do any more climbing at altitude with such an injury. He left for home with Clive, Sue, Larry and Molly, all of whom had to be back at work.

On 24 May Jean, Steve and myself were ready to attempt the traverse of Makalu via its 6 mile SE ridge and down the NW original route. In 1980 I had attempted the same route, convinced by then that one of the next lines of development in Himalayan climbing would be clean alpine style traverses of the major peaks; with no support parties, fixed ropes, supply dumps and yo-yoing. We did not achieve our objectives then nor had other subsequent plans materialised despite having booked Makalu in 1981 with Messner, and Lhotse Shar and Lhotse which I had hoped to traverse with Alex Maclntyre and Georges Bettembourg in 1983. So I was pretty keen on traversing Makalu in 1984 and if possible by a variant on the SE ridge.

Terry, Jim, Michael and Choe went up to the American/Basque camp to attempt Makalu by the original route (NW). My daughter Martha was keen to have a look beyond the confines of base camp, so she came with us to the first camp on the SE ridge, with Deata and Saela along to help her down the next day. Ang Phurba, Nima Tamang and MP also walked up the grassy hillside carrying our 50 lb sacks to the camp at the start of the ridge at about 20,000 ft. Next day Martha, Deata and Saela accompanied Jean, Steve and myself up and along the rock and ice-ridge for another thousand feet to a fine vantage point. With superb views of Everest, Lhotse and Lhotse Shar south face and to the east we could see right across a sea of cloud to Kangchenjunga. Martha spotted the col she had reached in 1981 on the Nepalese/Tibetan frontier. Although only eleven, she took all this in her stride and was somewhat disappointed that she had to return.

Steve, Jean and myself climbed unroped the ice-aretes and steep rocky ground leading up to Pt. 6260 m, continued unroped with Jean in the lead traversing over Pt. 6285 m to arrive at the saddle known as the South Col of Makalu where the ridge steepens appreciably. It was at this point that Georges, Eoger and I had staggered down the steep and complex glacier to the Barun glacier during our descent in 1980. This spring we had been very surprised to see fixed rope stretching across bays in the corniced ridge, rope anchored to aluminium snow-flukes and wooden stakes on the flanks of the ridge as well as on the flat crest. It must have been a labour of love that got those ropes in place for they were of very little, if any, practical value. We later heard that ah American team had been there in 1983 but without further details. Stephen, being the morning person, was first away next day, breaking trail across the steepening col and onto the ridge beyond, a ridge we were to find unfortunately strewn with ropes running parallel 8 mm, 9 mm and 11 mm from previous Japanese (1970), Spanish (1976) and Korean (1982) expeditions.

Stephen
'I'm having doubts as to whether I can carry this through. Jean comments : "If you are tired on the first day of a six day climb........." and then turns his eyes skywards. This turned out to be the only day it didn't snow. I'm out of the tent first and break trail for perhaps an hour till Doug and Jean show up. I prefer to be out on my own in the morning as that is when I am the strongest and it is a good time to think, privacy being a luxury not to be denied. By careful route-finding we wind our way up the face and encounter few difficulties except several pitches at the top where we rope up. Doug leads a final section of ice festooned with ancient Japanese dural ladders to his left. His pitch put us on the mushroom for our last night of comfortable sleep.'

The next day dawned clear and beautiful as the sun rose to the northeast of Kangchenjunga, skimming its light across the cotton wool clouds which filled the intervening 70 miles and all the land to the south as far as we could see. Jean and I followed Steve's footprints at the bottom of holes two feet deep. The snow was so uninspiring that Jean was rapidly losing interest in the route. All day our climb steepened by a series of ice and snow steps. After lunch Steve and I led 500 ft of difficult steep rock and intervening snow-gullies to the edge of the Eastern Cwm. At this point beneath the black gendarme) the SE ridge curls round to the left. It was here that we left it by descending about 1000 ft to the floor of the Cwm. We all broke trail by turns during the afternoon, for a mile or more to some seracs below the headwall, about 300 ft below our bivouac of 1980. The Eastern Cwm of Makalu is the highest and most isolated hanging valley in the world. As Koger had said in 1980 - dropping down into it was like putting our heads into a noose. Whilst we nearly hung ourselves in 1980 I felt more confident this year; we were climbing faster, our loads were lighter, it seemed like nothing would stop us climbing the headwall to the summit and then down the easier NW ridge-a route we knew had already been climbed and descended unroped this year by the two Basque climbers.

Stephen
"The snow, now knee deep, slows our pace to a crawl. After an exhausting day we gain only 600 ft, often climbing diagonally right. Jean has stopped breaking trail at this point and never resumes for the remainder of the trip. Doug somehow takes up most of Jean's share of the work. The act of carving a platform takes well over an hour, even though the snow is soft. Disaster strikes when a fuel canister doesn't seal and we have a near explosion. This leaves us with only one cartridge. A sleepless night is rudely interrupted when the tent shifts and I find myself in a hammock hanging over the edge. Jean ventures) out and pulls us back, anchoring everything down securely. A few hours later we realise that the tent is in danger of collapsing from snow-pressing in on the sides. Doug goes out and shovels everything clear. By the time he returns he is in a near frozen state. Our second day on the headwall was a repeat of the first, 600 ft bi deep snow. Doug starts up the final section and then stops and shouts down that he has found a tent or, jokingly, a body. He moves oyer for a closer look, "It is a body". The man had obviously stopped for a rest and never got up. At first I felt sickened and then my mind blanked out the horror of it. We moved up another 20 ft and stopped for lunch, completely forgetting his presence. Another 30 ft and we were on the summit ridge. Doug and Jean went ahead and tried to skirt a large tower on the left.

Jean and I set off up a snowy ramp to the foot of a 200 ft tower of steep rock. Jean turned back after 100 ft or so whilst I went about another few feet then also returned having filed away in my oxygen depleted brain cells that although this way to the summit was possible, we may as well go for the soft snow on the right side of the tower. We all met up at an eyrie of ledges and decided to bivouac the night perhaps 300 ft below the top. I went down to check out the snow on the right of the tower and in so doing once again passed the body. He sat amongst the rocks as if in an armchair in which he had nodded off to sleep, never to wake up.2 I kept all thought of him at the surface of my mind and bent to the task I had set myself. The snow was knee deep but feasible if we had the strength.
  1. Karel Schubert in JL976 become separated from Milan Krissak (fellow Czech) and Jordi Camprudi (Spanish) during the descent after making the fifth ascent of Makalu
As the dawn of my 43rd birthday came up, we dismantled the tent, packed our gear, and took stock of our position. Only a few yards to go after so many but now with cloud above and below us, drained by three nights on the headwall we moved slowly into gear with Stephen taking up Jean's suggestion to follow a short length of old rope attached to a couple of pegs at the foot of the tower. Stephen could not see them at first as he was not wearing his spectacles. He finally located the rope and began slowly traversing across the rock, but from my vantage point I could see that it would be quicker to go up the snow round to his right. He came down and tried the snow. After a few minutes floundering around, and with Jean becoming impatient, the third alternative seemed better. That meant going back up to my high point of the previous afternoon. Jean was now arguing for descending, pointing out that we only had half a cylinder of gas left, that the weather looked threatening and we were all tired. I told him that because of all this there was even more reason to go up and over for the easy descent of the French route. I turned to Stephen, but he was in neutral and not saying anything whilst his elders continued the debate. By now, however, Jean had shot off down twenty feet, I pleaded for two more hours climbing but with 'I go' he was gone. Stephen and I both looked at each other, gave a shrug and followed. Jean was now leaping down the headwall at an incredible pace. His long legs in and out of the snow. One by one we passed the fifth bivouac site and continued down to the fourth, where I caught up with Jean who was sitting on his sack coughing. I sat on mine and did the same. Fifteen minutes later Stephen arrived badly shaken.

Stephen
'Near the bottom of the headwall I looked up to see a wall of snow nearly on top of me. After dozens of cartwheels, twists and flips the avalanche stopped and I was catapulted out of the front. All the time in the avalanche T was hoping Doug would spot where I had ended up so as to pull me out if necessary. Strangely, I had no fear of dying, although I knew it was a real possibility. After checking myself for injury I stumbled down to Doug and Jean, neither of whom had realised what had happened. It didn't sink in till later that this was anything more than just another small event on our climb.'

During the afternoon we waded down the soft snow lying in the bed of the Cwm. At the point where we had to traverse across and up the right side of the basin we stopped for the night putting up the bivvy tent on top of an ice-cliff. The gas was all gone with only frozen snow around to quench a raging thirst. Jean and Stephen slept between coughing fits; I sat gulping on my desperately raw sore throat thinking of the turquoise pool amongst red rocks still two days away at the foot of the South Col glacier.

Stephen
'At this point I was beginning to wonder if we would survive, or if one by one we would drop off. Then I looked back to see Jean unroped and sleeping in a foetal position. After a lot of screaming I finally got him to move. It happened again later in the day. All the way through the agonising climb back up was the temptation to step for an eternal sleep. Doug, through an almost superhuman effort, did two thirds of the trailbreaking. I could never go more than fifty feet at one stretch.'

For all of us this was a close encounter with the limits of our endurance - our own 'Last Blue Mountain'. Stephen's voice broke into my thoughts; 'Jean's not waking this time'. I had a vision of the sleeping man above and pulled myself together to shout back; 'Get him on his feet, we've got to get out of here.' I gotcha Doug' and Stephen commanded Jean to get up, which he did. Stephen had done a magnificent job drawing on reserves from his skinny young body. He now lead around some rocks which put us out of avalanche danger for the first time that day. Then it was one more rope length and I was on the crest of the ridge. Jean gathered up our other climbing rope which we had abandoned, now four days ago, and I arranged the first abseil and threw both ropes down the steep rocks; with every foot of descent we recovered a little more, our worst fears gave way to relief and finally to elation. We found some frozen tinned fish on the mushroom and then swarmed down the fixed ropes to the South Col. Jean was now in his element sliding down at breakneck speed but just in control. Finally he stopped after descending a Grade II gully on his backside and we camped our eighth night.

Next morning with a touch of deja-vu Jean, like Georges three years before, led us down through the complicated seracs to the red rock pool where we fell asleep for an hour, safe at last. Jean went on to base camp. For me and to a lesser extent Steve it was a case of stopping every few yards to rest. Martha came down the path to meet us and I leant on her shoulder and stumbled into camp. There was Terry, and tears of relief came pouring out that we might had died up there but had made it back to live again among friends and family. I had personally never had to draw so heavily on my strength time after time. It left my energy levels depleted for quite a few weeks as if the Life energy-the Chi Energy as they call it over the border-had been drained.

I was surprised how much my ambition to traverse Makalu put up a barrier between me and the man who I considered had thwarted that ambition. I knew this was a negative attitude and a problem. Why could I not accept my friend's decision ? Jean wrote afterwards:

''I thought that the spirit of that frozen climber, sitting there ten years and for how much longer, would not be completely alien to my wish to descend. I thought, several days later, Doug regretted not having insisted that we continue, and not having convinced me that we ought to continue. We were in an extreme situation. . . . Perhaps he had reason, perhaps it was wrong. Yet we fled after an extraordinary voyage at altitude, ending nine days of blue and white.'

I did regret not being stronger up there and it is here where my real problem lay. Coughing fits, indecision on which route to take and not being firmer with Jean. I felt afterwards that I had failed to convey fully to Jean my strategy for survival. I knew from first hand experience the dangers of reversing the route from the headwall and just how easy the other route had looked when I saw it from Kangchungtse in 1980.

There were of course personal disappointments all round which -seemed to be felt by everyone. All in all this was a good expedition. No doubt there will be other occasions to take that extra step into the unknown which the traversing of a big mountain entails. We learn as we go along, each trip building on its predecessor. Every expedition can be seen to be an experiment with the aim not just to push back the limits of human endurance, survival and mountain exploration but also in finding solutions to the problems of human relationships. By observing ourselves in action on and around Makalu this year we have come to know -a little more about the problems all of us have whenever we join together.

1.	Makalu from SE (Shipton la), on right unclimbed east ridge. Route of ascent was up the west ridge where the light meets shade.  									(Photos Doug Scott)

1. Makalu from SE (Shipton la), on right unclimbed east ridge. Route of ascent was up the west ridge where the light meets shade. (Photos Doug Scott)



Climbing steep iCe on north lace of Chamlang East 								(Photos Michael Scott)

Climbing steep iCe on north lace of Chamlang East (Photos Michael Scott)



3.	Nearing the top of SE ridge of Makalu. Peak 3 (south ) on right and main Peak in centre. 									(Photos Doug Scott)

3. Nearing the top of SE ridge of Makalu. Peak 3 (south ) on right and main Peak in centre. (Photos Doug Scott)



Third Bivvy on Makalu SE ridge. Chamlang main peak on right, East on left. In foreground is Peak 4.  							(Photo: Jean Affanessieff)

Third Bivvy on Makalu SE ridge. Chamlang main peak on right, East on left. In foreground is Peak 4. (Photo: Jean Affanessieff)



View from SE ridge of Makalu (1 to r) Peak 6404 m, Peak 3 (main), Peak 3 (South) and Peak 6260 m. Foreground Peak 6825 m. 				(Photo: Doug Scott)

View from SE ridge of Makalu (1 to r) Peak 6404 m, Peak 3 (main), Peak 3 (South) and Peak 6260 m. Foreground Peak 6825 m. (Photo: Doug Scott)