The expedition to Labuche Kang (7367 m) in Tibet by the Japan-China Friendship Joint Party was carried out from September to November in 1987.
This expedition was sponsored by the Himalayan Association of Japan (HAJ) and the Tibet Mountaineering Association (TMA). Labuche Kang (7367 m) lies between Cho Oyu (8201 m) and Xixabangma (8012 m) in Tibet. This peak was fifth highest of all virgin peaks in the world. Eric Shipton had a distant view of Labuche Kang from the Menlung la in 1951 during the reconnaissance expedition of Everest. H. Harrer has also mentioned Labuche Kang in his book Seven Years in Tibet. It is said that he could see the Gosainthan and Lapchi Kang on his way to Lhasa from Kirong in 1945. But, I think that he mistook Gang Ben Chen (7281 m) for the Labuche Kang.
We left Japan on 10 September, and arrived at Lhasa on the 12th via Beijing and Chengdu.
On 15 September, we left Lhasa by a jeep and a bus with members, translator and other Chinese supporters. We drove about 380 km to the west and arrived at Xagaze. We ferried across the Yarlung Tsangpo Jiang (river) at this place. Yarlung Tsangpo Jiang takes its source from western Tibet, runs east for 1500 km through the Tibet plateau, and crashes through an immense gorge, to descend southwards. This river comes to be called Brahmaputra in Assam.
On the next day, we drove about 310 km to the southwest and arrived at Langgolo village. On 16th, we set up our base camp at Langgolo village at the height of 4500 m. We stayed in the base camp for three days, rest and acclimatization. On 20 September, we set up advance base camp (ABC), It was at 5300 m by a beautiful moraine lake which is 21 km from the base camp.
23 September, we began climbing. We went along the moraine lake to scout for the next camp site. Cl was made on 28th. It was at 5600 m on a glacier which is about 7 km from ABC. 6 October, we set up C2 at 6150 m on a snow-plateau. We had to climb up a snow wall which is the north face of the west ridge. And at last we stood on the hoped-for west ridge. We fixed about 1000 m rope on our route between C2 and C3.
We had a heavy snowfall from 17th to 19th. Cl was hit by an avalanche, but our members were all safe.
25th, A. Deguchi, M. Furukawa, K. Suto, CX Tanabe, Wangjia, Gyala, Daqing and Laji established C3 at 6900 m on west ridge and remained there.
The next day, the same team started for the summit. After about five and a half hours they reached the summit of Labuche Kang. They had to set about 700 m fixed ropes between C3 and the summit. From the summit they were treated to a spectacular view of the landscape below. To the southeast they could see Chomolungma, Cho Oyu and many other peaks. In other directions they were able to see the peaks of Xixabangma, Gaurishankar and others. After finishing their ceremony on the summit, they returned immediately to C3 and continued down to C2.
27th, the second team set out for the summit at 9.30 a.m. in a strong wind. S. Ogawa, Y. Hashimoto, T. Takahashi, Lhaba, Pupu, Akapu and Ton Lu reached the summit at 11.58 a.m. in spite of the bad weather conditions and strong wind.
Miss Laji is only seventeen years old and her's is a new record for the youngest summiter of a seven thousand virgin peak.
We would like to extend our thanks to Chinese Mountaineering Association and the Tibet Mountaineering Association from whom we were fortunate enough to receive a lot of support.
Members: Cheng Tian Liang (leader), Kinichi Yamamori (deputy leader), Ataru Deguchi (climbing leader), Wangjia (deputy climbing leader), Sadao Ogawa, Yasuji Moriyama, Hidekatsu Furukawa, Keiichi Suto, Yasuhiro Hashimoto, Osamu Tanabe, Toshiya Takahashi, Akapu, Gyala, Daqing, Lhaba, Pupu, Ton Lu,. Laji.
Labuche Kang north face. East ridge on left and north ridge on right. Note 1
Labuche Kang west rigde from north. Route of first ascent.
Lt. Col. G. D. B. KEELAN
THE BRITISH SERVICES EVEREST expedition attempted to. climb Everest from the Tibet side and via the West Ridge in the pre-monsoon period earlier this year. It narrowly failed to get to the top in spite of three well founded attempts, the last of which got within 250 m. The membership was made up of 17 soldiers, 10 sailors and Royal Marines and 9 airmen. It also included a TV crew from Granada and an artist. Planning was based on two broad requirements. Firstly the size of the climbing party would be increased to dispense with significant numbers of high altitude porters. We would do the lion's share of conventional portering ourselves though in the event six Sherpas were employed and they gave excellent service. Secondly oxygen was to be used and thirdly the assault was to be in a traditional seige style.
The first phase of the plan was to establish base camp properly with a cardboard domed hut as the focal point and get the solar power generator and the radio antennae up. Whilst this was being done other groups acted as guides and escorts to get the stores required higher on the mountain up to a dump on the Rongbuk glacier which was just short of the advanced base. A mixture of yaks and human porters from expedition members were used. A very necessary intermediate camp was set up on a pleasant grassy meadow between the two at the traditional Tilman's Lake Camp site. It was still very wintery in these early stages and dust and cold contributed to a spate of chest infections. A Buddhist prayer ceremony was set up at base to bless the expedition and it involved chanting, rice and 'Grouse' whisky. At the height of the proceedings, a savage gust of wind flattened the tents in the camp and we hoped that this was not an omen, The advanced base was finished by 22 March at 5980 m.
The next phase involved forcing the route up the 1200 m spur that leads onto the West Ridge. Merv Middleton's group started this and got the third camp in by 27 March. They fixed 850 m of rope the first 100 m of which was up 70 degree water-ice. They were relieved by another group led by David NichoUs which worked out of C3 and fixed more of the route up unpleasant potential avalanche slopes and got the next camp in by 7 April at the top of the spur. The weather throughout April was generally good though the winds were high and at times climbers fixed to ropes had their feet blown out from under them. Whilst the lead climbers were forging the route ahead others were carrying out the less exciting but essential stockpiling lower down. On 12 April, Henry Day, the deputy leader and another group involving Nigel Williams started to move up to C4 with a view to pressing the route out to C5 which was 1.5 kms along the West Ridge. It is a high exposed traverse over some difficult snow slopes as many will know and they finally got there on 15 April. The camp was fixed at 25,600 ft on the only available flat area which unfortunately also acted as a wind tunnel. The bivouacs were mostly snow holes which take longer to prepare but at least they do not flap in the wind like tents.
We were now in a position to consider summit bids and planning for these started in earnest. Once stocking of the camps was complete it took about eight days to prepare a summit bid and the first of these were scheduled for 29 April. The selected summit parties included NichoUs, Middleton, Maxwell, Garratt, Moore and Mcleod. In the event the bid failed because their support group was unable to establish the top assault camp high enough up in the Hornbein Couloir. The going over the difficult broken ground above C5 and faulty oxygen equipment were to blame. The high point reached was 8380 m.
These exhausted men were withdrawn all the way back to base and another assault was mounted for 9 May. AH seemed set fair this time. The camps were restocked and the assault parties and their supporters reached C5 by 6 May. However there had been a sinister deterioration in the weather including two-feet of snowfall which was affecting conditions and when they got to the huge snowfield leading to the Hornbein Couloir they found dangerous unstable conditions and there seemed no chance of getting across. With great reluctance they too withdrew but having left valuable stocks high up close to C6.
The stage was therefore set for a last and final attempt and this was planned for 17 May. However the normally settled weather expected in mid May was just not there and high winds were recirculating the snow and piling it up in unstable masses in the high couloir. The summiteers this time were Nicholls, Mcleod, Day and Hughes. Maxwell had to retire with frostbitten feet which were a jet black colour. They and their support party reached C5 by 15 May but the build up was not quite right and a further day was spent stocking thus delaying the summit bid by 24 hours. This proved crucial in the event. The summit group were reduced to 3 when Day dropped out and they spent an uncomfortable night on 17 May in the top assault camp which in the event was slightly lower than hoped. Unexpectedly the weather turned at about 2200 hrs and a huge storm developed sweeping snow down onto the tents which had to be dug out every 20 minutes. They were lucky to survive.
Next morning things were worse but Nicholls and Mcleod set out in the storm and forced on up and over the crux of the whole climb and arrived on the summit snowfield 250 metres from the top. It was in a fierce blizzard at about 8590 m, they had an anxious radio conversation with the leader and the options were to go on and get to the top which would have been achieved but with the near certainty that they would not have got oft or to withdraw to fight another day. In fact the decision was clear and with much sadness and disappointment they withdrew.
So ended this largest of British Services expeditions. Successful in terms of getting to the top it was not — but only just not and for the right reasons. Successful it was in terms of a contented, efficient and cohesive group. A reflection of this is the fact that the first question asked on return by the major sponsor was when were we going to finish the business and could he support the next venture.
Everest West ridge from north: Route of British expedition. Note 2 (Lt. Col. G.D.B. Keelan)
KANGCHENJUNGA IS THE highest mountain in India and the third highest in the world. Girivihar Nepal Expedition 1988 (GNE), under the leadership of Vasant Iimaye, aimed to climb the main summit (8586 m) of the Kangchenjunga massif. Our proposed route lay on SW face, above Yalung glacier.
After more than two years of preparation, the expedition took off with an advance party leaving Bombay on 22 February 1988. Their main tasks were to supervise the transport of the expedition's load from the roadhead in Nepal to the site of the BC and if possible open the route up to Cl. More than 8 tons of the expedition load had already reached the roadhead in Nepal. The approach march from here is one of the longest, taking at least sixteen days. But what with porter problems and spells of heavy snowfall hampering the movement through Yalung glacier they could reach BC only on 24 March. Meanwhile, the main party left Bombay on 13 March. By 6 April, the whole team of twenty four was assembled at BC. BC was situated atop a hill near Pache's grave on the right bank of Yalung glacier, at the base of the SW face of Kangchenjunga. Load ferrying started in earnest from 7 April.
Camp 1 (5900 m)
Hrishikesh, Franco and Jayant had opened the route upto Cl by the end of March. The climb started with a 60 m ice-wall above the water-gully north of BC. Having gone up the ice-wall, a climber was faced with a plateau, referred to as the Field, which was a huge network of criss-crossing crevasses. The three quarters of a kilometer long route along the Field led to the base of the Hump Ridge (western buttress). Three distinct humps could be made out along the ridge. The route climbed the first straight up while on the second, it skirted the edge. On the 2nd Hump, snow and ice lay in utter chaos where bits of ropes from previous expeditions stuck out from impossible places. Three tents of Cl were put up in a line along a snowy ridge atop the 2nd Hump, facing west. BC could be easily contacted over walkie-talkie. While Anil Kumar and Charuhas Joshi ventured beyond to open the route further, load was ferried to Cl.
Camp 2 (6400 m)
The 3rd Hump rose above Cl in a rocky cliff which was called the Rocks. A narrow ridge connected the site of Cl to the base of the Rocks. Above the Rocks was an ice-wall that rose a vertical hundred feet towards a cluster of seracs that overhung the wall. Spindrift and powder avalanches were a regular feature of this section while avalanches crashed down quite often. At the base of the overhanging seracs a traverse led leftwards to the left flank of the Hump Ridge. To gain the site of C2 from here, a climber had to wearily walk across a jumble of snow-troughs. There was a convenient snowbridge spanning a bottomless crevasse. After each snowfall, climbers had to wade through high deep snow in the troughs. C2 faced east, atop the 3rd Hump. Eventually four tents were put up at this site on platforms carved in ice at different levels. The scale of the SW face could be appreciated for the first time from C2. Ahead loomed the four summits; of the Kangchenjunga massif above the Great Shelf, that famous huge ledge-shaped plateau hanging suspended across the mountain. The summit ridge plunged down southwards to Talung Saddle and then rose to meet the beautiful pyramid of Talung. Snow and ice and rock from the precipitous slopes of these mountains drained into what is called as the Plateau.
Camp 3 (6800 m)
To gain the Plateau from C2, it was necessary to traverse along the vertical rocky, eastern slope of the Hump Ridge. This was (he Rock Traverse. The 2 km long route across the Plateau headed straight for the base of the upper icefall. This walk was quite exhausting on sunny days, when the Plateau, enclosed as it was, .seemed virtually like a furnace to climbers trudging through the .slush of soft snow. C3 was almost exactly in the middle of the upper icefall. A narrow platform to accommodate four tents in a line was carved across the 40° slope of an ice-hump, and the camp was occupied on 25 April.
Camp 4 (7275 m)
The route to C4 continued up the Upper Icefall with long weary stretches over the huge ice-walls. Movement almost came to a standstill for three days till 2 May, because of bad weather. It now snowed everyday. On 8 May, a storm lashed the SW face for more than ten hours. C3 suffered the most. Three out of four tents collapsed, one torn to shreds by lumps of ice and snow being: hurled down the icefall.
Camp 5 (7680 m)
With C4 established, an important stage of the expedition was reached. Hrishikesh and two HAPs opened the route to C5 which was on the Great Shelf. From C4, the route proceeded to climb up on to the Shelf and then jump over many crevasses, two of them very big, to reach the lone 5-man tent put up at the camp pitched at the base of Central peak avoiding avalanche prone area.
Camp 6 (7725 m)
The Yalungkang end of the Great Shelf ended beneath the rock feature Sickle. The route from C5 headed straight for the Sickle over the undulating, crevasse-ridden Shelf. Taking advantage of comparatively good weather on 11 May Charuhas went to C6 along-with two HAPs. A three-man tent was put up. On 12th mom-ing, they were greeted by heavy snowfall. Finally when the weather cleared at 9.00 a.m., the three started. The Gangway connects the Great Shelf to the col between Yalungkang and Kangchenjunga and from below the col the route branches off the Gangway to head for the main summit. Charuhas's team started climbing up the Gangway, fixing rope. As they reached 8100 m, conditions worsened. They had to retreat.
Due to the prevailing weather conditions, a summit team could leave for C6 only on 14 May. Uday Kolwankar and two HAPS, who made up the summit team, took eight hours for the same journey. When they arrived exhausted at C6, they found the lone tent battered and caved in. So the next few hours were spent in re-setting the camp. Uday decided to postpone the summit attempt on the 15th and utilise the day for resting and preparing for the attempt. On 16 May, Uday and his companions got up at 2.30 a.m. and by 5.30 a.m. were ready to go. They started following Charuhas's route and soon reached his high point. After that they were seen heading up the Gangway when clouds blocked the view.
Meanwhile, San jay started down on 16th thus starting the withdrawal of the expedition. Clouds lay heavy on the SW Face and they had blocked the view of the summit attempt. Vasant who had returned to BC on same day to arrange things for the return, opened the walkie-talkie set at BC every half hour after 3.00 p.m. There was no contact.
On the 17th at 7.30 a.m., the regular call-time there was no contact. It went on till 2.30 p.m. when atlast Uday spoke. His fingers and toes were affected by frostnip and those of the HAPs by chillblains; they were returning to BC as soon as possible. Their batteries had been too weak for their voices to carry in the bad weather.
They had proceeded beyond Charuhas's high point without fix-. ing rope and by 1.30 p.m. had reached about 8440 m. Clouds had already shrouded the summit ridge of Kangchenjunga and now it began to snow, accompanied by whipping gusts of wind; the resultant chill reaching the very bones. Uday and his companions waited for the weather to clear, but in vain. By 2.30 p.m., all three realised that their fingers and toes were numb. They decided to return.
45. Jannu seen from Kangchengunga. Note 3
46. Looking south from Kangchenjunga; Talung (7349 m) in foreground and Kabru peaks behind. Note 3
Sanjay had left C2 on 1 May. But by the time he reached C4, dry cough had started giving him trouble; he had also grown a little weak. So, he started down from C4 alongwith Anil on the Kith. Due to snowfall and Sanjay's weakness, they reached C3 only at 3.30 p.m. and had to stay there for the night. On 17th Sanjay, Anil and Jayant left C3. They had to come down the vertical icefall on which the freshly fallen soft snow slid off when .stepped on. The climb down to the Plateau sapped Sanjay's strength so much that he could not proceed further without help. While Jayant stayed with Sanjay, Anil ran ahead to C2 to summon help. Doctor, who was at C2, sent three HAPs with warm clothing and hot drinks to help. Sanjay, Jayant and the three HAPS then brought Sanjay across the Plateau on a make-shift sledge made of a Karrimat. Now there were two main hurdles before C2, the big crevasse between the Plateau and the Rock Traverse and the ladder on the Traverse. By now it had started to snow. Sanjay himself offered to handle both the hurdles. He jumped across the crevasse and was helped across the Traverse till the ladder. By 7.00 p.m., at the top of the ladder, Sanjay was too exhausted to proceed further. The patch was such that nobody could do much, in those exacting conditions. In those awful circumstances the group valiantly struggled to get Sanjay down the ladder. But, at 7.30 p.m., Sanjay Borole succumbed to hypothermia brought on by exhaustion and exposure with terminal stress. The devastating news of Sanjay's death reached BC on 18th morning. Everybody sat stupefied in one of the tents at BC, desperately seeking an explanation and solace in each other's company, but seeing the same anguish and feeling of utter helplessness reflected in each face.
Respecting the locals' custom whereby cremation could not be curried out above a certain temple near Ramser, the last rites of Sanjay were performed on 23 May, on the banks of the river Simbua, 60 km away from and 3300 m lower than C2. The team members left BC in groups to start the return march. Putting the huge experience gained on Kangchenjunga to further use would lie the best way of paying homage to a mountaineer like Sanjay.*
*See 'Correspondence' in this volume.—Ed.
AT 10.15 a.m, ON 21 SEPTEMBER, six members of the second assault team of Kamoshika Alpine Club Cho Oyu Expedition team reached the summit of Cho Oyu. At 8201 m, this Himalayan mountain is the sixth highest in the world.
The summit is not a knife ridge but a large undulating snow-plateau just like a huge wave with the peak at the southern end. A huge cornice overhangs the northern side. Apart from the northwest side where our team climbed, there are vast, extremely steep, blue-black walls of two thousand and several hundred metres. To the east, the black outline of Everest accompanied by Lhotse could be seen.
Several members of this expedition, the leader Michiko Takahashi (formerly Imai), Akio Hayakawa, Kenji Kondo, and I were also the members of Japan Everest winter expedition team in 1985. Kamoshika Alpine Club also attempted Everest in the winter of 1983. Both expeditions failed due to the intense weather conditions. In 1985, the team reached 8450 m. After that, the leader decided to gain the summit of a high mountain and chose Cho Oyu for this autumn. Takahashi, the representative of Kamoshika Alphine Club, accepted this plan. His nickname is Dump-san (Dumptruck) because he is really energetic and he weighs 85 kg. He had already gained five summits of more than 7000 m and succeeded in all expeditions for which he had acted as a leader. He is a man of great ability and good luck.
Dump-san had recently been enthusiastically involved in paragliding and expressed his desire to paraglide from the summit. At first, everyone was surprised to hear such an exciting and adventurous plan and in admiration finally agreed to it.
Dump-san made many flights for 150 days this year in training for Cho Oyu. 'I am accustomed to climbing high mountains, but to achieve the record for paragliding at the high altitude I need to increase my experience and skill in paragliding,' said Dump-san. He trained in the Japanese Alps in practice for the severe Himalayan weather conditions.
After gaining the summit, we began to prepare for this exciting adventure.
A colourful paraglider spread on the snow made us forget that we were on the summit of an 8000 m mountain. The area of the paraglider was about 25 square metres. It was made of nylon and weighed 4 or 5 kg. It was shining on the monocolor world of snow and rocks.
Dump-san carefully checked the direction in which he would jump and the wind conditions and made a runway on the southern slope. Two Sherpas helped us to dig up the knee-deep snow and we checked the lines which suspended the body one by one. Dump-san put on a safety belt and prepared for a flight. Kato and I supported him by lifting both ends of the parachute to get full-blown.
Dump-san waited for a good wind. 'As the air is thin, I can jump even if the wind velocity is 10 metres;' he said. He began to run, lifting the paraglider up against the head wind. But he failed as the wind began to turn and the parachute did not open.
He tried again and again. Each time he regained his breath by using oxygen. He tried again. This time he could not run properly because he got out of breath and floundering in deep snow.
Then the lines got entangled. We could see that Dump-san was irritated. We prayed and shouted in our hearts. 'Please take a flight!'
Dump-san himself thought he would better give up flying, but at the fifth try, he finally soared up into the sky.
Seeing that Dump-san gliding as if he were sucked into the glacier, Kato kneeled down on the snow. Amazing! I was struck with his dare-devil courage. It was 11.45 a.m.
This was about a ten-minute flight and the direct distance from the summit to the landing point was about 5 km. The descent altitude was about 2600 m, this altitude difference requires four days to ascend and two days to descend. This flying broke the world record of flight made by French Pierre Gevaux from Gasher-brum II (8035 m) in 1985.
After climbing, Damp-san lost 10 kg and suffered from palsy in his hands and legs for a while due to the rapid descent. 'If I couldn't've flown, I would've been an ordinary braggart,' laughed Damp-san.
Summary of events:
The team left Lhasa for Xigatse by six jeeps, one minibus, and three trucks.
Seven Sherpas joined the team at Tingri. The main camp was settled at the tip of Gyabrag glacier (4950 m).
The base camp was established above Gyabrag glacier (5700 m). The team carried the loads of about 2.5 tons in total to the base camp in three relays by 20 yaks.
Cl was established at 6350 m, above the northwest-by-west side of Cho Oyu. Afterwards, the bad weather continued and the team spent those days in carrying the loads to Cl.
C2 was established. Taking the route at the right end of the ice-fall which drops to the northwest-by-west side, the team put up C2 at the bottom of the west side grand cirque (7200 m). As the weather improved, the route was advanced.
C3 was set up at the bottom of the rock band (7700 m), the highest part of the west side. The team easily passed the route through a couloir, just above C3, to the rock band.
Hayakawa and Kondo gained the summit without using oxygen. They advanced to the southern side of the vast snowfleld of the summit, having some trouble in climbing in the knee-deep snow. At 12.15 p.m., four hours and half after they left C3, they reached the summit. Suddenly and luckily, Everest and Lhotse appeared through the rift in the dense fog. They fixed national flags of Japan and the Republic of China and then descended to C2.
Okura, K. Takahashi, Ohtani (TV Asahi), and Sherpas, Nima Dorji and Ang Dawa reached the summit. Ohkura, Kato, Ohtani, and two Sherpas did not use oxygen. After reaching the summit, Takahashi descended directly about 2600 m in altitude from the summit to the base camp by paraglider.
Leader M. Takahashi, Kobayashi (TV Asahi), and three Sherpas, Lhakpa Tenzing, Ang Phurba, and Mingma Tenzing gained the summit. That is, all the members of Kamoshika Alpine Club reached the summit.
The base camp was withdrawn.
The team returned to Lhasa.
Members: Michiko Takahashi (formerly Imai) (leader), Yoshitomi Ohkura (co-leader), Kazuyuki Takahashi, Akio Hayakawa, Kenji Kondo, Tomoji Kato.
Paragliding from summit of Cho Oyo (8201 m). Note 4
DR GERHARD SCHMATZ and O. FORNO
(1) The German Ascent (Dr Gerhard Schmatz)
We climbed Cho Oyu over the west face and the northwest ridge (Chinese route).
On 4 April, 1988, we left Kathmandu and passed the Nepalese/ Chinese border at Kodari/Zhangmu (Friendship bridge). The next day we drove to Tingri. For acclimatization purposes we stayed there some days. Then we went by truck to Kyetrak.
On 16 April, we started the approach with the yaks. We reached BC (c 5400 m) only on 20 April, since the yak-drivers went on strike several times.
— Cl at c. 6300 m on 25 April
— C2 at c. 6700 m on 2 May
— C3 at c. 7350 m on 9 May.
We had no Sherpas, we used no oxygen and no walkie-talkies. We made the ascent in the alpine style.
On 10 May, at 8 a.m., Hans and I started for the summit. About half an hour later Heinz followed us and again half an hour later, Stefan. After a relatively short time, Heinz turned back. His fingers were frozen. Stefan continued up to the so called 'yellow band' (7500 m). There he turned back because of health reasons.
Shortly after 2 p.m., Hans England I reached the summit. We came back to C3 around 6 p.m.
Although it was a stormy night, Stefan decided to make another attempt the next morning. Heinz refused to do so because of the very low temperature, but he stayed in the camp in order to wait for Stefan.
At noon time Hans England I started to descend. We spent another night at c. 6300 m and reached BC on 12 May.
In the night of 13/14 May, Heinz Zembsch arrived in the BC and told us the following:
Stefan Worner had reached the summit on 11 May around 6 p.m. and returned to the camp around 10.30 p.m.
The next morning, Stefan was unable to descend. Heinz tried by all means to move him — it was impossible. Apparently, Stefan died of an oedema in his brain.
In the afternoon, Heinz decided to start the descent, since he was in a very bad condition. He had spent three nights at an altitude of more than 7300 m. He spent the night of 12/13 in a bivouac on about 6700 m and reached BC only in the following night.
From 14 to 17 May, we tried to get to Stefan's tent. Both attempts had to be stopped because of very strong snowfall and danger of avalanches.
In the same time, an American tried to climb higher, but he too had to stop and to turn back because of the very bad weather conditions.
(2) The Italian Expedition (O. Forno)
After having skied down McKinley (6194 m), Pic Lenin (7134 m), Huascaran (6768 m) and Xixabangma (from 7000 m), I could not resist the temptation of attempting the descent of an 8000 m mountain. From the pictures that I saw, Cho Oyu, 8201 m, seemed the ideal mountain, to make my dream come true. On 5 April, with seven people very strong in skiing, I left Italy, direct to Kathmandu and then Tingri. When we reached the base of the mountain, we found out that skiing from the summit was unfortunately impossible, because of lack of snow from about 7500 m to 8100 m: too bad! We went up anyway and brought two pair of skis up to 7000 m, just in case. . . Skiing was definitely impossible, but what we did, I believe it was great: without Sherpa and without support of oxygen, after only 25 days from our departure from Italy, we reached the summit. Four of us, out of eight, were successful, and this also was a good result, considering the many health problems the other four had.
The expedition story, in summary, went about this way. On 5 April we left Italy. We were eight: Gerolamo Gianola, Ugo Gianola, Erma Pomoni, Flavio Spazzadeschi, Sandro Benzoni, Giuliano De Marchi (doctor), Lino Zani and myself, Oreste Forno (leader). We reached Tingri through Nepal/Khasa on 10 April. The acclimatization started in Tingri, where we spent 4 days. On 14 April, Ugo and Gerolamo Gianola had to go back to Khasa (border village) to recover from a beginning of pneumonia and acclimatization problems; De Marchi had to go with them. The rest of the group reached BC at 4860 m by truck, on the same day. On the 16th, supported by yaks, used for the transportation of the equipment, we left for the ABC, which was installed on 20 April at 5350 m. On the 19th De Marchi and Gerolamo Gianola were back with the group, but on the 20th Benzoni had to go down to BC, because of acclimatization problems; Pomoni went down with him.
On the 21st De Marchi, Zani, Spazzadeschi and myself went up, and after a 7 hour ascent we installed Cl at 6000 m just above the base of the mountain, on the NW side. The same day we went back to ABC. On 24 April Gerolamo Gianola had to go down to BC, because of problems with his eyes (retina haemorrhage). On the same day the other 4 of us left for Cl. On the 25th we installed C2 at 6500 m below the icefall on the ridge, and in the evening we went back again to ABC, where Pomoni and Ugo Gianola had returned. On the 28th all six of us left for Cl. On the 29th De Marchi, Zani, Spazzadeschi and myself reached C2. On the 30th De Marchi, Zani and Spazzadeschi went up with one tent at 7000 m, at the end of the icefall; I had decided to stay one more day at C2, and then reach my mates the next day at C3, which was supposed to be elevated at 7400 m. On 1 May, instead of elevating C3 at 7400 m, my companions left early in the morning to attempt the summit, which was reached by all three between 4 and 6 p.m. In the meantime (same day) I reached the camp at 7000 m, where I spent the rest of the day waiting for my friends to return. They were back at midnight. At 1 a.m. (2 May) I left for a solo ascent for the summit. This was possible because of the moon. The temperature ranged in that night between -30° and —40°C; a very strong wind blew all night. At 9 a.m. I was on the summit, and at noon I was back at C3, where my friends were waiting for me. My friends left at 1 p.m. (2 May) for the ABC; the weather seemed good, so I decided to stay one more day at C3. In the night the weather changed and I was caught by a bad storm, which lasted 36 hours. I was able to go back to ABC only on 5 May. There were no more attempts for the summit from our others. Ugo Gianola and Pomoni went up to 6500 m to remove C2; Gerolamo Gianola and Benzoni had left earlier for Italy.
ANNIE WHITEHOUSE and STEVE LANGLEY
1) Ama Dablam Expedition 1987 (Annie Whitehouse)
THE AMERICAN 1987 AMA DABLAM expedition was successful in reaching the summit of Ama Dablam. The team, led by Annie Whitehouse, was a tightly knit and experienced group committed to the goal of a safe, quick alpine style ascent, Team members Included Todd Bibler, Michael Dimitri, Eric Reynolds, Sandy Stewart and Clay Wadman.
The team established Tawache base camp on 9 November in Pheriche (4243 m), a small village located in the Imja valley between Tawache and Ama Dablam. For acclimatization the climbers adhered strictly to the 'climb high sleep low' theory. There was much sleeping and climbing done in the days preceeding the climb. Before the initial reconnaissance of Tawache began Todd Bibler soloed Pokalde (5806 m) and Clay Wadman soloed Lobuche (6119 m).
The proposed highly technical route on Tawache, a steep couloir up the northeast face was lacking ample ice formation and had deep, heavy snow to the base, thus making the route unfeasible. The climbers decided to proceed with their next objective: the classic southwest ridge of Ama Dablam.
On 19 November we established base camp at Mingbo (4500 m). Mingbo, a summertime yak grazing pasture was also the site of the famous Silver Hut used in 1961 by Barry Bishop's American Medical Expedition for high altitude physiological testing. The hut Is long gone, but the high snow covered meadows provided an excellent base camp site.
As we were all well acclimatized, we began climbing the day after our arrival at base camp. Our plan was to climb in two-person teams using no fixed ropes or prepared camps. Sandy Stewart and Eric Reynolds were the first team to reach the summit on 24 November. Climbing unroped along the gendarmed ridge of rock, snow and ice they arrived at a level spot where they were able to spend the first night. The next day they led over 10 pitches of belayed climbing up mixed ice and steep rock up to 5.8 in difficulty. That night they arrived, carrying all their equipment with them, to an ice-shelf at 6400 m nearly out of food and fuel, they left early on the morning of the 23rd for the summit. Sandy led another steep pitch of blue ice and then they climbed unroped up 60° snow-flutings, reaching the summit at noon. They were blessed with good weather and conditions as well as spectacular views of Everest, Lhotse, Nuptse, Makalu and other Himalayan giants from the summit. After a short rest, they down climbed and made one rappel to reach their high camp of the night before. After a night without food or drink they down climbed and rappelled the ridge and reached base camp a couple of hours after dark.
Todd Bibler and Michael Dimitri had left base camp the same day as Eric and Sandy. Michael was feeling the effects of reduced oxygen at those elevatons and was unable to keep up to Todd’s pace. Michael decided to return t bace camp, as he left decidedly worse as he went up. After 2£ days on the mountain they reached 5950 m. Michael decided to turn back, so he and Todd made their way down to base camp. Todd started up the mountain again on 25 November, hoping to catch Annie and Clay who had started their ascent on 23 November.
48. Langtang Lirung from southeast. Note 8 (R. Palaj)
49. Annapurna South, south face from Landrung. Note 10 (Will Silva)
50. Kedarnath (6940 m) south face. Route of 1988 Italian ascent. Note 10
Todd caught up with and passed Annie and Clay the day on the day he left base camp. Annie and Clay were climbing at about the same pace Eric and Sandy had climbed. But Todd was planning to make an even quicker, solo ascent. Todd gained the summit the same day as Annie and Clay. As soon as it was light, Todd left his crevasse bivouac site while Annie and Clay started for the summit from their bivouac site about 300 m below Todd's. On Thanksgiving day, 26 November, Todd reached the summit alone at 10 a.m. Annie and Clay were just at the base of the steep snow-fluting when they met Todd on his way down. The day was bitterly cold and windy, so Annie and Clay continued upwards reaching the summit at about noon while Todd continued his quick descent to base camp.
Todd solo and Annie and Clay following a day behind made their way down the ridge. They rappelled and down climbed the rock and ice, exposed to long drops below.
To Sherpas and Tibetans Ama Dablam is a sacred mountain, representing an actual God. Lamas often wear a pouch slung over their right shoulder. In this pouch they carry a picture of a particular God; this pouch is called a Dablam. Ama is the Tibetan and Sherpa word for mother. Ama Dablam sits contentedly with the ridges being her outstretched arms and her Dablam (the hanging glacier at 6610 m between the southwest and northwest ridges) for all to see.
The small size of our expedition in combination with each member's unique strengths and contributions made this expedition enjoyable and highly rewarding. Ama Dablam's sheer slopes proved to be a beautiful and challenging climb.
(2) Canadian Ama Dablam South Ridge Expedition, 1988 (Steve Langley)
Up until 8 April everything was going perfectly, all six members of the team were fit and well in C2 atop the Red Towers. We had enjoyed two weeks of perfect weather and had been moving a little faster than planned.
The initial frustrations with weather problems which had prevented the planned flight to Lukla and scuttled a planned warm up climb were forgotten.
We came into Namche light and planned to buy most of our food, fuel and kitchen supplies there. This worked well and seemed to be far cheaper than the alternatives of getting supplied in either Canada or Kathmandu.
By 26 March Kansha (Kunde) our Sirdar had gotten us to a good height (4880 m, same site as the 1982 American Women's expedition used) base camp which gave us easy access to the south ridge. And one trip with yaks had established a cache at 5510 m. just before the start of the 3rd class section of the ridge. Cl was occupied (Power and Langley) at 5760 m on 29 March, Situated just before the start of the 4th class climbing we found a number of readymade tent platforms. We then fixed all the ridge to the small hanging glacier on the east side of the ridge, this proved just large enough to chop two tent platforms. Up to this point all climbing had been done in runners or rock shoes, the rock being beautiful dry pitches in the 4th class to 5.5 range. As soon as the line was fixed, loads moved up very quickly as team members could move at their own speed on their own sechedule. It was possible to go from base camp to C2 and return in a single day. C2 (5940 m) was occupied on 3 April (Power, Dickey andLangley).
Tom and Geoff led the crux pitches on the Yellow Tower in perfect weather. On dry rock wearing Fires it was delightful 5.7.
The top of the Red Towers turned out to contain a number of perfect tent platforms on dry ground so we moved C2 from the rapidly melting platforms on the tiny glacier to the KOA quality campsite atop the towers.
Tom, Geoff and I fixed the mixed pitches on the 2nd step. Because of the exceptionally dry winter much of what should have been ice turned out to be steep angle rubble. Geoff put in a tense day leading the worst of this, but was rewarded with some fine steep ice-pitches leading onto the mushroom ridge.
By 9 April we had stripped Cl, fixed half way to C3 and had all members acclimatized and ready to go in C2. Peter, Eory and Charlie had done the lion's share of the heavy work moving equipment up the mountain and were keen to get out in front.
That day Charlie and I went out to the end of the fixed rope at the top of the 2nd step and fixed the Mushroom Ridge and the Ice Step. The Ice Step turned out to be much easier than expected, never exceeding 60 degrees but the weather was changing and by the time we finished we were in a snow and electrical storm. Reversing the Mushroom Ridge was tense as we felt the ground currents surging through our bodies. When we got to the second step the lightning had stopped but blowing snow had cut visibility, still we felt an amazing sense of euphoria, the technical climbing was over, only a 610 m 50 degree slog separated our high point from the summit.
Charlie started the 150 m rappel down while I waited for his signal to follow, after a long wait I presumed that the wind had prevented me from hearing and I started down. Switching ropes 3 times I suddenly found that the rope had been completely severed. Panic gripped me as I looked 180 m below me and saw a familiar shape in the snow.
Geoff and Rory took charge of the difficult task of reaching the body and establishing that Charlie was indeed dead. It was well past dark before they returned and we settled down for a troubled night. Shock, apathy and the weather prevented us from moving the next day. On the 11th we all returned to base camp.
Tom and I returned to the mountain on the 13th, the snow was still falling but we felt we had to try again. To quit would mean admitting that this was a stupid, pointless sport and yet we did not have quite the spirit to wait until the weather cleared. We gambled that by the time we were setup in C3 the snow would have stopped. The first night we made C2 but the storm grew in strength. The next day the step was plastered with snow and we had to jug the whole way to the Mushroom Ridge. The food cache Charlie and I left had been vandalized by birds so after setting up C3 in an ice-cave we had a small supper and settled: down for a cold night.
The storm was still raging the next morning but with no food reserves we decided we had to give it a go. After ploughing our way past the only major crevasse system between us and the summit Tom started the lead beneath the Dablam which would lead us into the ice-flutings leading to the top. The snow was still falling and avalanche conditions extreme, we had to wonder whether the summit was worth 3 lives. Charlie would understand that we didn't just quit but indulged the mountaineers' fantasy that if we exercised good judgement we could live forever.
We abandoned our attempt at about 6610 m on 15 April.
Tom and Susan Mitchel were married on 18 April by the Rim-poche in Thyangboche.
If you ever get to our base camp you'll see a chorten, Charlie lives there now, say Hi to him from me.
Members: Steve Langley (leader), Geoff Powter (deputy leader), Peter Roxburgh (doctor), Charlie Eckenfelder, Rory Mclntosh and Tom Dickey.
P. SILCOCK, J. CASHMORE, A. JONES, J. WARE and C. PILLING
THE CONSTRUCTION of the 110 km Lamosangu-Jiri road has linked the settlement of Jiri to the Nepalese capital of Kathmandu. The reduction in travel distance has considerable implications upon the trade and economy of the town which is situated in the lower foothills of Eastern Nepal.
The construction of the road seems to have encouraged immigration into the area. The indigenous population is derived from the Tibeto-Burmese hill people, with the predominance of the Jirel caste, particularly now in the area of Jiri Bhandar. The Jirels live in small farmhouses and practice subsistence agriculture.
The research was conducted in four settlements located in the Jiri valley. The area described as New Jiri refers to the frontier type linear town which has appeared directly through the effects of the road. This is expressed in the junevile house ages, and its location on the end-point of the road itself.
Jiri Bhandar forms a collection of traditional Jirel farmhouses scattered up along the valley slopes behind what is now New Jiri.
Jiri Bazar is located 3 km back along the road, 100 m up the valley side. Having been linked by the road since 1980, one may envisage a stage of development in advance of New Jiri, from which interesting corollaries may be drawn. Since 1961, a weekly market bazar has been held here, which attracts traders from great distances.
In contrast, Those (rhymes with Jose) represents the next settlement beyond Jiri, at the bottom of the valley. This town has traditionally been associated with business and the Newer caste. The effects of the road have been detrimental to this community.
* This is an abstruct1 edited from a full and detaileu report made by the 'Cambridge Expedition to Nepal 1986' comprising the above member" The report makes a post-construc tional assessment of the road , a study of the patten of house construction of the newly built houses — comparing them with the old traditional designs, and finally the economic changes in trade and migration that the road has brought about. It is the last aspect that is highlighted in this abstract.—Ed.
In studying the growth of Jiri in terms of physical expansion, assessment of the overwhelming influence of the road has been possible.From our findings, the following appears to have occur red:
— an absolute increase in the number of buildings throughout the whole valley.
— some evidence of speculative building in anticipation of road completion, and the advantages thereby to be gained.
— a general increase in housing standards, in terms of building materials and amenities now available. Usage is restricted to those with access to surplus income.
— the caste is the main influence in the interpretation of Nepalese architecture.
— the settlement of New Jiri was created by the road link for associated functions such as trade and tourism.
— the economic growth has been unequally distributed, both in spatial and in social terms.
— the indigenous hill people have suffered greater impoverishment.
— in the long-term, the concept of road development in reducing hill-migration may prove invalid.
Our main study location, Jiri, is a linear settlement of approximately 1000 people at the endpoint of the Lamosangu-Jiri road, which is entirely responsible for the development of this settlement. Blaikie (1979) has argued that such settlements develop as important 'break-of-bulk' points for goods brought by road from Kathmandu, for further transportation by the more traditional porterage system. The number of retail/wholesale outlets has grown considerably since the completion of the road and now serves as an important centre of trade for the hill regions of Eastern-Central Nepal. Our object was to examine the nature of this trade at Jiri, Jiri Bazaar and Those.
Clearly there are significant differences in the characteristics of the traders and their trade between the three locations. There are other, more subjective differences however, which cannot be easily displayed as data, but which are equally important.
Here we examine the way that road development has influenced the development of Jiri in long distance trade patterns which connect the economic centre of Nepal (essentially Kathmandu and the plains) with the hill economies.
Because road transport of goods is cheaper than porterage transport, the end of the road will always be the point at which the mode of transport changes; the 'break-of-bulk' point. At this site the opportunity exists for traders, who act as wholesalers rather than retailers, to buy goods, transport them to Jiri by truck, and .Mlore them until they are sold to shopkeepers in the hills beyond the road. Our data shows that a total of 56% of traders in Jiri perform all these roles, of whom almost 75% sell goods on credit and over half buy goods on credit. Nationally, roads permit the introduction of more imported goods into the hills and so ensure the maintenance of a hill trade deficit. The hills, because of population pressure and land degradation, are unable to export as much as they import.
The role of tourism is central to the structure of trade. Our figures showing the proportions of shops selling basic goods (rice, tobacco, grain, mainly to locals) and trekkers goods (drinks, noodles and biscuits, mainly to tourists) do not demonstrate clearly that Jiri is more oriented to the tourist trade. However the Jiri traders offer larger amounts of credit to particular individuals, and a higher proportion of their total credit, to retailers in the tourist-oriented areas of Solu-Khumbu (the Everest region) than to traders in the other villages. This means that much trade in Jiri is seasonal and the busiest period of wholesale trading is at the start of the trekking season in late September and early October. Clearly, credit extensions allow the wholesale purchase of goods in advance of the start of the season.
It is important to note the scale of the credit system which the large wholesalers operate. One Jiri trader lends upto Rs. 45,000 or approximately Rs 1500 to each agent with whom he deals in the Solu-Khumbu. Alongside the United Nations estimate for average National income per head for Nepal of Rs 100 per year, this is a considerable figure. The system works as follows:
The Jiri wholesaler hires a truck, often in combination with other traders in the village, to import Indian and terai produced goods to the end of the road. These are held in his house or rented rooms in Jiri. Often of the average 5 or so rooms rented by a trader, 4 will be used entirely to hold stock. The hill retailer sends teams of porters instructed to purchase goods from a particular Jiri wholesaler and carry them back. These goods may be bought on credit or with cash. The extent to which this form of trade pivots on the endpoint of the road alone is clear from our data: 41% of the 57 traders in Jiri, as opposed to only 1 trader in both Jiri Bazaar and Those, sold goods on credit to porter teams. The demand for space at the end of the road is reflected in the high rents paid in Jiri, averaging Rs 191 per room per month.
Not all credit is offered to porter teams though. There is, in all villages, an important system of credit offered to locals — generally upto Rs 500. This is clearly due to the seasonal nature of agriculturally derived income. This explains why the average numbers of debtors owing to each shop does not follow the same pattern as the average value of the debt. Those, it seems, is the most highly directed of the three villages towards the provisions of localised systems of credit.
The available data immediately illustrate the dramatic impact of the developments of the Lamosangu-Jiri road; 93% of all traders in Jiri said they come to Jiri specifically to exploit the prominent trading potential that the road offers. Of the 57 traders that are now fully established in Jiri, only one is a lifelong inhabitant of Jiri itself, and only three others come from the nearby village of Those. This leaves a staggering 53 from 57 traders originating from completely different districts. Conversely, the .settlements of Jiri Bazaar and Those are traditionally established trading settlements, Jiri Bazaar is a small village of approximately 400 people with a weekly Bazaar on Saturdays for local trading in all products, mostly of an agricultural nature. The data illustrates this more traditional factor in that 50% of the present traders have been attracted to their locations because of the road, compared to 93% for Jiri itself. This aspect is accentuated further by the third village of Those, a mere three hours walk from the road, and the nearest off-road village to Jiri. Incredibly, no single trader in Those has been attracted because of proximity to the road, illustrating the dramatic concentration of importance Jiri has established as a 'break-of-bulk' location. All of the major traders in Those are Those-born and bred in comparison with just one trader from 57 in Jiri.
When asked what impact the road had made upon Those as a trading centre, 7 of the 8 major traders indicated that trade had significantly declined since the road's completion, and that several traders actually moved to Jiri from Those. The primary reasons for trade declining are twofold:
(a) Jiri now acts as the major credit 'break-of-bulk' point for Eastern and Central Nepal, formerly held by Those.
(b) The new road itself has reoriented the tourist/trekking industry away from Those, formely a major stopover for Everest trekkers, to a route through Jiri itself.
The impact of these two factors are that porterage and trekking routes have been totally altered to the detriment of Those but to the advantage of Jiri. This is further illustrated from our questionnaires as 75% of Those's traders could only foresee a good future for Those if the road was extended to Those itself.
Many traders of Jiri and Those considered this to be a viable possibility. It is interesting to note from the above percentages that in Jiri there was a uniform division between those who said they would stay if the road was extended (40%) against those who would move with the road (42%). In the more traditional local market location of Jiri Bazaar it is interesting to compare that 86% of existing traders would stay even if the road was extended, compared with just one trader (7%) who said he would move. This more conservative attitude to potential change is probably a reflection of the average length of residence of Jiri Bazaar's inhabitants, on average nearly twice that of Jiri. Perhaps more important is the relationship between whether a trader owns or rents his shop as a determinant of attitudes to his location.
In Jiri, of the 21 traders who said they'd move if the road moved, 17 were in rented premises, allowing the necessary flexibility associated with such an upheaval. Of the 4 remaining owners who said they would move, 2 were from Those and 1 other was particularly aware of the potential difficulties of selling a building in a less desirable location. Conversely, in Jiri Bazaar, of those who were landowners, none showed any desire to move in the future, and of those renting only 1 trader said he would move, and only then if the road went to Those where he originated from.
In short,, during the period since the completion of the road, Jiri alone has become locked into a very new and very different system of economic organisation which contrasts markedly with that of the surrounding areas. Based on a system of credit and long distance trade which requires entrepreneurial skills and capital, it has been associated with the in-migration of a diversity of outsiders and the exclusion of local farmers. They, in particular, have been unable, because of the stringencies of subsistence, to generate the security on credit to make the leap from an economy of use to an economy of cash exchange. The Jiri balloon is of course liable to deflate whenever the road is extended, and the shrewdest of the new traders are wary of investing in ownership of their own homes where their investment is likely to depreciate rapidly if the availability of further aid for road construction continues.
The principal criterion for road construction was cost-effectiveness. In a developing country, labour intensive methods both keep costs down and ensure that local people are involved in the development projects. This has advantages and disadvantages. It reduces total costs but may give rise to varying construction standards. It generates cash for the local economy but temporarily replaces more traditional sources of income, such as agriculture, which may be permanently affected.
The whole nature of trade in the Jiri valley has been radically altered, though the principal beneficiaries have undoubtedly been the in-migrating wholesalers as opposed to local traders and subsistence fanners. The move from traditional locally-oriented trade to a regional and national scale has been based on an intricate credit system extending from Kathmandu to the Solu-Khumbu, between which Jiri acts as the principal cog in the mechanism of economic integration.
51. Tiger Tooth seen from the Dome. Note 17 (Yokoyama)
52. View from summit of Tiger Tooth. Note 17 (Yokoyama)
The expedition was organized by the Cracow Student's Alpine Club. The members of the expedition met in Kathmandu on 2 December 1987. On 7 December the alpinists and the luggage drove in a hired truck from Kathmandu via Trisuli Bazar to Hryagu. On the next day, the caravan of 64 porters started from liryagu and reached Kyjangin (3800 m) in three days. There the hase camp was established in a local hotel on 10 December.
The primary aim of the expedition was to assault the mountain through its virgin southeast face. However, we had to change our plans due to unfavourable conditions including little amount of snow and ice, rock-fall and serac-fall danger. Thus we decided to try to make the first winter ascent of Langtang Lirung (7234 m) climbing the known route via southeast ridge.
On 11 December the advanced base camp (4250 m) was established on the edge of the cracked Lirung glacier. On 15 December Cl (5100 m) was set up at the foot of a large couloir leading to the ridge. The ridge was exposed and interesting for climbing. From Cl up to C2 we secured the route by fixed ropes. On 23 December, after many efforts to find a place for a tent, C2 was established (5800 m), at the base of a huge fault in the ridge. On 26 December, while climbing the fault Ryszard Knapczyk was hit by falling rocks which broke his shoulder-blade. He managed to descend to the base camp without help.
On 2 Jan uary 1988 C3 (6500 m) was established on the side of wide snowflelds in the summit part. Weather conditions began to change on that day — wind started to blow and ominous clouds appeared.
On 3 January, Czyzewski, Kiszka and Potoczek left C3 at 6.20 a.m. and headed towards the summit. The increasing wind made their advance difficult. At 1.40 p.m. the three climbers reached the summit. The visibility was good. At 5 p.m. they were back in C3.
On 5 January an attempt to reach the summit was made by Dudek and Papaji but strong wind forced them to retreat.
Hence the camps were wound up and on 8 January the expedition started the march down the valley.
Our success was the first winter ascent of Langtang Lirung. Out of twenty expeditions who attacked the summit, we were the sixth to reach it.
The following 10 members took part in it: Mikolaj Czyzewski, Stanislaw Dudek, Janusz Hariasz, Kazimierz Kiszka, Ryszard Knapczyk, Wojciech Maslowski (leader), Jan Orlowski (deputy leader), Ryszard Papaj, Adam Potoczek and Jerzy Friediger (doctor).
Expedition team and objective
THERE WERE MANY EXPEDITIONS BEFORE US, who tried to-climb the east ridge of Manaslu in Nepal. But only two of them reached the 8163 m high summit. These two were in 1985 an Austrian and in 1986 a Polish team. My expedition in spring 1988 consisted of 5 men and 2 women. Most of them had experience in the Himalaya and Karakoram before.
In Switzerland, it is quite hard to find supporters and sponsors for mountaineering expeditions. There have been too many Swiss expeditions before us! In this situation, we had to finance almost all expedition costs by ourselves. To keep down costs at a reasonable level, we didn't employ local high altitude porters and most of the food supplies were bought in Kathmandu. We only brought food for the high camps from home. like many other expeditions to 8000 m peaks, we didn't want to use oxygen.
Approach and base camp
After 3 busy days in Kathmandu, we were driven by a local bus to the little town of Gorkha. From there, we started the approach march to base camp, high above the village of Sama. This took us 10 days and on the 4th of April, we reached the site for our base camp. We found a lot of snow at 4500 m. The snow didn't disappear during the whole time up there.
Days on Manaslu
At the beginning, the weather was quite good. This allowed us a steady and fast progress. Above base camp we found snowy slopes, which led us to the big couloir. Through this couloir, we gained the east ridge of Manaslu at about 5600 m. It was quite steep in the upper part and we decided to place 250 m of fixed ropes below the top of it. At 5900 m, we dug a platform for Cl Into the snow, just below the rim of the snowy east ridge. Above Cl, we found ropes of a previous expedition, which led up to 6000 m. After some work on this section, we could use these old ropes again. The most difficult section on this route is a traverse through the steep south face underneath some rocky gen¬darmes at 6000 m. Snow and ice on that face was steep, about 60°. A few rocks gave me the opportunity to place some pitons, when I did the first traverse. But snow was quite soft and my snow stakes couldn't give me the protection I needed. After climbing 150 m through this steep face and fixing ropes all the way, the traverse was safe and the route open.
The slopes behind it were easy to do with skis. From 6000 m to 6500 m, our skis were a big help and we could avoid most of the strenuous trail breaking.
After less than two weeks, we had built the two camps and installed all the fixed ropes we needed. All the difficult sections were climbed and we only waited for the right weather to do the sum¬mit push. But then we had to wait. Several attempts ended at Cl or above in snowfall and poor visibility.
All team members had many ups and downs. On 28 April Ursula Huber, Beda Fuster and Richard Ott started for their suc¬cessful attempt. They spent one night at Cl, continued the next day to C2 at 6800 m and went up to 7500 m for a bivouac the third day. 1 May was a perfect day. They left their bivouac at 5 a.m. and reached the summit at 1.20 p.m. They got there just in time, before once again, bad weather arrived. For Ursula Huber it was a special success. She is the first Swiss woman, who reach¬ed the summit of an 8000 m peak. They were also the third team to reach summit via the east ridge.
The weather became suddenly bad. In fog and snowfall, they had to descend down to C2, where already the next group was ready for the summit. Late at night, they finally arrived there. Snow¬fall during the night was heavy. In the morning we found half a meter of fresh snow on the slopes above us. Avalanche danger was high and snowfall seemed to continue. We did the safest thing and descended down to base camp. In heavy snowfall, we finally reach there, exhausted and tired.
At the next spell of good weather, Pierre Andre Lever, Eli Satchel and I started for our last attempt. The weather was fine, but the winds above 6500 m were very strong. Wild gusts threw snow and ice particles against us. It was difficult to keep standing and it was impossible to set up our tent on the site of C2. The only possibility for us was, to bring it further down to a more protected spot at 6500 m. After a stormy night there, we continued our ascent to 7600 m, looking for a place to bivouac. The whole area was storm beaten. We only found rocks and ice — no shelter at all. In this conditions we had no chance to set up a tent or to dig a cave into the ice. We lost a lot of time search¬ing for a place to bivouac. Late in the afternoon, we decided to descend, avoiding frostbite and exposure. Clouds and fog gave us a hard time, finding the right way down. It was dark when we finally reached our tent at 6500 m.
Manaslu 8163 m Route Sketch
The next day, we had again heavy snowfall. We had had enough and started with clearing the mountain to abandon the expedition.
The expedition was successful, three members were on top of Manaslu and we all came back safe and healthy — what else do we need?
THE 1988 AMERICAN ANNAPURNA SOUTH EXPEDITION includ¬ed Ken Andrasko, Jim Beall, Chris Bretherton, and myself as leader. I had first seen the peak from the west, from Poon Hill, during a trek in .1983. Though an outlier of greater mountains, Anna-purna South is a dramatic and aesthetically pleasing peak in its own right, and I chose it as the objective of my first Himalayan climbing expedition. My attention was drawn particularly to the sweeping southwest ridge, but on returning home we discovered it had been climbed by the Japanese in 1978.1 From my photographs it seemed one might safely ascend the south face by way of a central spur. This south ridge splits the face bounded by the Japanese ridge on the west, and the ridge connecting Annapurna South with Hiunchuli, on the east. We knew from the 1970 account of a French party which climbed the face just west of our objective from the Kyumnu khola, that the south ridge could not be reached from that valley.2 We planned instead, to get onto the ridge from the glacial cirque above the Chomrong khola.
Travelling north for 4 days from Pokhara along a popular trek¬king route to the Annapurna Sanctuary, I reached Chomrong village with our porters on 3 April. Jim, Chris, and Ken had left a week earlier with our Sirdar Ongel Sherpa, to reconnoitre and site a base camp. They had learned that travel up the Chomrong khola is impossible due to the cliffs and gullies that drop down the steep-walled gorge right to the water. Instead, guided by a local goatherd, we continued up the forested ridge above, the village past summer pastures, across grass slopes and rhododendron forests on the east side of the ridge, and established our base camp on a grassy knoll at 3775 m on 5 April.
Initially, we climbed snow-gullies and grass slopes along the ridgecrest to a rock tower which blocked our progress at 5000 m. Realizing we'd made an error in reconnaissance, we crossed a grassy col above base camp to descend into the Kyumnu khola and view the ridge from the west. A kilometre of gendarmes with deep gullies between them, connects the mountain's lower slopes with the south face. As the French had concluded in 1970, we found no feasible route along this lower ridge.
After another few days of thrashing around in jungles, cliff-bands, and gullies, we found a route into the cirque between Annapurna South and Hiunchuli. We traversed a series of mea¬dows, benches, and cliffs far above the Chomrong khola and the glacial terminus, fixing about one hundred metres of rope across cliff bands. We first occupied advance base camp, at 3600 m on the west bank of the Chomrong glacier, on 14 April.
The Chomrong glacier consists of avalanche debris which falls from all sides of the cirque. Hanging glaciers on both peaks, and on the connecting ridge which forms the cirque headwall, drop ice frequently and irregularly via numerous gullies. I climbed one gully on the Hiunchuli side to 4500 m to choose our route from across the valley; this gully was swept by a large avalanche the following day. Each afternoon's snowfall slid off the slopes start¬ing with the next day's mid-morning sun. We left base camp at first light, climbing up avalanche runnels, crossing a large dange-rous gulley at the head of the glacier, and climbed up a west trend¬ing snow-gully to occupy Cl at 4350 m on 18 April. The tents sat on the crest of a small spur that extends south from the couloir. While the site itself was safe, the slopes immediately below it were avalanche prone. Hauling loads to this camp was extremely dangerous. One evening a 15 cm deep slab released beneath my foot as I walked along the crest. The following day, Ken narrow¬ly escaped with his life when he was swept 500 m down in an avalanche that released just below the camp. The many near-misses had a sobering effect on team morale.
We continued up the broadening couloir on snow with a few short sections of ice-climbing, and reached a col at 5180 m where we occupied C2 on 30 April. Within a few days we had ferried our remaining food up from advanced base, and despite deterio¬rating weather started up the ridge we had come to climb. A few pitches of steep ice above C2 led up onto the hanging glacier in mid-face, which is seen prominently from the south and west. We kicked steps up loose, steep snow to establish C3 at 5600 m at the head of the glacier, on 5 May. A mixed ice and rock pitch led back to the ridge crest, which became a corniced knife-edge. C4 was sited on a snowdome on the ridgecrest at 5850 m, and we moved in on 7 May. That afternoon Chris and Jim climbed the ice-ridge above camp to attempt a rock tower head on. They were stopped by steep, loose rock at about 6100 m. The following day, Ken and I climbed up the ridge in bright sunlight, and saw that the west side of the ridge was steep, blue ice. We began to tra¬verse the rock tower on the east side, but were soon overtaken by the clouds and snow which had arrived by mid-morning every day. Two hundred metres of traversing over loose rock and rotten ice led into a steep couloir behind the tower. The couloir would reach the ridge crest, but we could see air through the bases of seracs hanging a hundred metres above us. The following day we were confined to camp by a violent storm. From below we had seen that another section of snow-knife-edgie and another1 rock tower still lay between us and the summit glacier. With little food remaining and in the face of the monsoon's arrival, we retreated to C2 on 10 May. We reached advance base the following day, and cleaned up that camp and returned to base camp, removing all fixed ropes, on 12 May. Leaving only tram¬pled mud and our faded prayer flags at base camp, we returned to Pokhara on 15 May.
53. Kang Yissay (6400 m) from Longmaru la. Note 19 (Dhiren Pania)
54. From summit of Kang Yissay II (6100 m) looking to the northwest ridge of the main peak (left).
55. South face of Biale (6730 m) from Masherbrum B.C. on the Yermanandu glacier. The route of 1988 attempt marked. Note 20 (M. Searle)
Above 5180 m, Annapurna South's south ridge offers climbing which is both challenging and aesthetic. However, the avalanche danger up to that col, and the technical approach and low alti¬tude of the only suitable advance base camp, make this route a diffi¬cult proposition.
THE EXPEDITION WAS ORGANISED on the level of Republic Slovenija, but its official name was the 'Yugoslav Dhaulagiri I Winter Expedition'. It was meant to be a little pocket expedi¬tion in alpine style without high altitude porters. It was also planned to reach the summit from the Thank khola valley following the east ridge — without artificial oxygen. This was the first Yugoslav winter attempt in Himalaya, which successfully ended climbing activities on this beautiful mountain.
In 1981 we were the first to climb the south face in alpine style (and to descend by the east ridge).1 We continued in the fall of 1985 by making a new 'Slovene route' on the east face2 and in the spring of 1986 the Belak and Kregar party climbed this mountain, follow¬ing the Slovenian eastern route (bottom part) and normal northeast ridge (upper part).3 But the above mentioned climbers in alpine style had to return three times just below the summit, because of impossible weather conditions, we reached 7650 m only.
The result of Slovenian climbing on Dhaulagiri I is now as follows:
Two difficult new routes on the south and the east face and from 4 December 1987 the summit which is our eighth summit above 8000 m.
15 November, we flew by plane to Jomosom.
16 to 22 November, we made an aclimatization march to the Dhampus col and French col region. Meanwhile Sardar and cook Nima, walked with 18 porters from Pokhara to the eastern side of the mountain. Both parts of the expedition joined at Larjung village and on 27 Nevember we established BC at the place called Hiangde Chuli at 4100 m.
30 November the last loads arrived and BC was equipped for two months stay.
Snow on the mountain had abnormally melted (in 3 weeks of sunny weather) which caused a lot of difficulties when passing the bottom rocky part (1800 m) of the face. Snow conditions in the upper part (2300 m) above the plateau were reasonably good. The main difficulty was insufficient acclimatization (being done in a week's time at an altitude of about 5500m). This was also the reason of the dramatic experiences during the final ascent to the summit.
1 December we began the ascent at 8 a.m. and by 11 a.m. we crossed the dangerous icefall. By night we reached 5600 m, following the already known route.
We were forced to bivouac in the open air in unpleasant places along the exit cleft of an extremely brittle rock band. A whole day was lost. (We made the ascent unroped).
2 December. During the morning I descended to 5100 m to get a few pegs and a hammer which had been left there. After that all four continued ascending over the cleft and along a tongue of hanging glacier to a plateau at 5860 m. We crossed the plateau by evening and bivouacked (in a tent) in a big crevasse at the foot of the NE ridge.
3 December. Accompanied by strong wind, we continued climb¬ing along solid snowslopes upto 6600 m, where we established a tent at 3 p.m. We were resting and preparing ourselves for the linal ascent to the summit.
4 December. Kozjek, Kregar and Tomazin left the bivouac toward summit at 15 minutes past midnight, Belak at 2 a.m. We were climbing a whole day and night. The upper part below the sum¬mit was receiving severe blows of the SW whirlwind (150 km p.h.). Tomazin reached the summit at 5 p.m., Kregar at 5.20 p.m. with wind blowing at least 200 k.p.h. They were not able to stand there in an upright position. Because of extremely critical situa¬tion at 8050 m I decided to turn back. Kozjek bivouacked at 8000 m without any bivouac equipment.
Descending from the summit took a whole night. I was wait¬ing 9 hours for Tomazin in a hole at 7100 m.
5 December. Tomazin and I reached the crevasse at 6600 m at 3.30 a.m. Kregar returned there at 8.30 a.m. Kozjek at 5 p.m. All four members bivouacked a night from 5 to 6 December in the tent at 6600 m. Weather conditions were worsening.
6/7 December in the morning Kregar and Tomazin began de¬scending to BC. They reached it establishing one more bivouac a day later — on 7 December. Meanwhile Kozjek and I were pre¬paring for another attempt towards the summit. We began our ascent at 9 p.m. and by the first sun rays we reached a traverse to the upper slopes at 7450 m. The wind was strengthening more and more. Initial signs of oedema (Kozjek) and a hurricane on the summit discontinued during our effort. By night we descended to 5100 m where be bivouacked in the open air.
8 December. We descended to BC. During the night from 7 to 8 December the hurricane wind was blowing below 6000 m and the temperature lowered by 10 °C. This was only an introduc¬tion to a final weather deterioration. On 12 December about 50 cm of fresh snow fell.
Both the big toes of Kozjek got frozen in the bivouac at 8000 m. Despite medical treatment (oxygen) the signs of oedema did not withdraw, so Kozjek on 13 December descended to the valley. At the same time we ordered porters and finished the expedition.
16 December. We left Larjung on the way to Jomosom. In the next few days all the flights were cancelled because of strong wind, so we were forced to walk to Pokhara through Tatopani — Beni — Kuzma and the Karkinera pass. In four days we reached Kathmandu (on 24 December).
Members: Stane Belak (leader), Pavel Kozjek, Marjan Kregar and Dr Iztok Tomazin.
|19 August 1987||We leave Japan|
|20 August||Arrives Kathmandu|
|30 August||Start the caravan|
|9 September||Set up base camp (4300 m)|
|14 September||Camp 1 (5150 m)|
|20 September||Camp 2A (5550 m)|
|27 September||Camp 2 (5850 m)|
|1 October||Camp 3 (6300 m)|
|4 October||The top (6986 m)|
|10 October||Back to Kathmandu|
|25 October||Back to Japan.|
When we started from Betrawach, we employed 82 porters in order to carry up to base camp.
The snow line started above 5000 m. After gathering our equip¬ments in a natural cave at 4900 m, we set up Cl (5150 m). From Cl to the top we fixed ropes. At first I planned a short distance between Cl and C2, but it turned out to be very long. And we had to set up C2A (5550 m). The route was over the right side of the ridge, which had trails of avalanche on both sides. The weather was almost fine after the monsoon. From C2 to C3 the route was on the ridge and we set up C3 at 6300 m. It was extremely windy. On 4 October, we started from C3 at 9.30 a.m. The day was very windy from the early morning. At 1,30 p.m. we stood on the summit. The summiters were Koji Shibuya, Yasuhiko Matsuda and two Sherpas, Dorje Sherpa and Kusang Rama Sherpa.
Members: Haruo Makino (leader), Shew Ishikawa, Koji Shibuya, Yasuhiko Matsuda, Yasuhiro Yahara.
Ganesh V 6986 m
TO PEAK ->
THE FIRST TIME I saw the south face of the Kedarnath Peak in a picture I was impressed most of all by the great rise it pre¬sented, and I suddenly thought that if we succeeded in climb¬ing it, it would be the realization of a dream followed for a long time. Sometimes my companions and I met to dream about that picture, discovering the weak points of the wall, trying to imagine the bivouacs and measuring the rises.
Our trip from Delhi to Kedarnath was an adventurous one be¬cause of the bad weather conditions and when we arrived at Kedar¬nath we thought that it would have taken us another day's jour¬ney to reach the base camp. But it wasn't so, as the unceasing rains, which had slowed our bus-trip, persisted and we needed three more days to look for a good place where we could install the base camp. At the end we prepared it in a narrow valley at 4040 m; it was possible to reach it from Kedarnath in three hours, following first the left bank of the Mandakini river till a glacial lake and then going along the stream which nourished the lake, till a glade full of granitic rocks.
On 14 August the base camp was ready, we sent back the por¬ters and the nine of us remained, seven climbers, the cook and Kali the liaison officer.
During the following days the weather was always bad; in the morning the sun shone for no more than two hours till the clouds from the south hid it until the late afternoon, when, at the sunset, the sky became partially clear. In spite of it we began to work on the 15th and went on climbing the wall with food and equip¬ment. After having installed an advanced base camp at 4500 m we set some fixed ropes till the height of 4900 m where, during a terrible downpour, we succeeded in putting up a tent in which three of us slept the night.
The first part of our route (from 4500 to 4900 m) passed through the narrower and less dangerous points of the gullies, which very often released stones. After the night at 4900 m the following day we had good weather so that we could reach the plateau which is exactly under the south face at 5200 m and there we established Cl.
Till the end of August (2 weeks) we could just reach the height of 5200 m and install about 1000 m of fixed ropes, a part of which we had found abandoned by the previous expeditions of 1981 and 1987.
Upto this stage the difficulties we met were the steep slope of 45° on the ice and the passages on the rock (from 3rd to 5th grade).
On 30 August Sala, Farina, and Villa attacked the triangular rock, and after having overcome difficulties of 5th grade they reach¬ed the height of 5550 m.
The following day Sala and I installed C2 at 5700 m on the sum¬mit of the Triangular Rock. And on 1 September we equipped the ridge, which goes to the Middle Rock Wall, upto 5900 m. There the slope of the ice was 60°.
On 2 September, Corti and Chindamo relieved us at C2, stripped it down to install another camp at 6000 m; but then a hard snow¬fall forced them to a terrible bivouac with Villa and Farina who had reached them. At that moment we understood it was im¬possible for us to climb the south face directly from the Top Rock Wall because we had only five days at our disposal; on 8 September we had to be back at the base camp to strip it down, as we had agreed with our agency-man.
So we decided to go on in an alpine manner, abandoning all the superfluous stuff and carrying food for three days and passing round the Top Rock Wall on the left.
On 4 September we faced the Middle Rock Wall, we were six; Villa, Corti, Sala, Farina, Chindamo, and I, while Vassena was at the base camp because he suffered from bronchitis ever since we had arrived there.
At about 1 p.m. we reached the ridge at the height of 6300 m and decided to prepare a bivouac. It took us five hours to dig two implacements for our tents in the ice.
Our route passed on the right side of the Middle Rock Wall, which linked the lower side with the ridge.
There we met considerable difficulties on the ice (with a slope which reached 75°), and on the rocks (4th grade). On 5 Septem¬ber we climbed the steep ridge till the Top Rock Wall and crossed the plateau on the left; at about 2 p.m. we reached the ridge which leads to the summit at 6600 m, where we met difficulties because of loose snow.
During the night the strong and terrible wind lowered the tem¬perature to — 40°C and in the morning Corti, who had gone out of the tent for about 10 minutes, came back frozen. Farina and I assisted him immediately and after more than an hour we suc¬ceeded in re-establishing his circulation by giving him hot drinks and by massaging him. Evidently now he was no more able to climb up to the summit with us, so Farina and I decided to stay with him and told Villa, Chindamo and Sala to go for the sum¬mit for (us. In two hours and a half, after having overcome 150 m on ice and rocks and the final big ridge, Villa, Chindamo, and Sala reached the summit of the Kedarnath Peak on the morn¬ing of 6 September; while we, who had stayed at the last bivouac began the descent on double ropes by the route we had traced.
In the evening after a painful descent we met with the other three at Cl and the following day we went back to the base camp. After two days we were in Kedarnath again.
Members: Mandelli GianMaria, leader, Chindamo Domenico, Corti Romano, Farina Mauro, Sala Lorenzo, Vassena Felice, Villa Gian Battista- they are all instructors at the climbing school 'Attilio Piacco' of the Valmadrera C.A.I. (Italian Alpine Club).
SANAT KUMAR GHOSH
BANDARPUNCH I (6316 m) lies in the Garhwal Himalaya in the Uttarkashi District of U.P. It is located approximately 30 km north of Uttarkashi as the crow flies. It may be approached from the east through Son gad or from the west from Osla through Ruinsara gad. We selected the first route.
We reached Son gad (2440 m) on 21 September. That day we started our first day's trekking and moved westwards keeping Son gad on our left. After one and half hours we reached Thatch (2590 m), where we pitched our first transit camp. Next day after six hours of tiring trek through dense jungle, we made our second day's shelter in a cave (3500 m) near the confluence of the Chhaya gad and the Son gad. That day the weather was cloudy and it rained throughout the day.
On the 23rd after a tough trek of seven hours we reached and established our base camp at 4420 m. On the 25th three members and all high altitude friends ferried load to Cl (5330 m), in bad weather. 26th was cloudy. We left at our base camp a two-men tent, food and fuel for our return journey and proceeded towards the west. We first negotiated a huge rock face and tra-vessed it towards the right. After five hours movement through steep slope amidst vigorous snowfall, we established Cl. Bad weather with vigorous snowfall continued upto the 28th noon. We engaged ourselves on 28th to open the route through the ice-fall to C2.
Illustrated Note 1:
Bhrigupanth (6772 m) north face from Kedar tal. Two members of the Spanish expedition (J. Vicente ) climbed from the col between Thalay Sagar and Bhrigupanth to the summit.
Illustrated Note 2:
Kangtega (6779 m) south face: A Japanese expedition (K. Murakami) attempted the south face in summer, 1988. They climbed a steep ice-wall but frequent avalanches defeated the attempt.
Illustrated Note 3:
Japan-China-Nepal Friendship expedition climbed Everest from north and south several times in 1988. Among many things were live T.V. coverage and an air balloon (above) sent to predict the wind and weather for the next day.
29th September was also cloudy with snowfall. We all left Cl for a recce and load ferry to C2. All seven of us, tied in two ropes climbed down to the base of Bandarpunch glacier and pro¬ceeded towards the west. We moved through a net of hidden crevasses. After one hour we reached the base of the icefall, around 150 m in height, and started negotiating it through the centre. We climbed straight up for one third of the icefall and then traversed towards the south. On the last slope we fixed about 30 m rope. After four and a half hours tough negotiation with the icefall we reached C2 (5570 m) on a broad icefield below the northern wall of Hanuman peak. We returned to Cl. And next day we established and occupied C2.
1 October was very clear with blue sky and bright sunshine. Taking with us minimum requisite food, one tent and equipment, all seven of us on two ropes started for C3, the summit camp, through the lower icefield keeping Hanuman peak on our right. We were very cautious because of the hidden crevasses in the in¬nocent looking icefield. After crossing the wide icefield we had negotiated a long ice-slope of gradient more than 50°. In the upper portion of the slope we negotiated a number of large cre-vasses. The slope ended just below the rocky northern shoulder of Bandarpunch. We reached and established C3 (5840m) near the rocky shoulder. Bandarpunch I stood to our west.
On 2 October, the seven of us, started our summit attempt at 7.30 a.m. The weather was fine at the higher altitude, while a huge cloud concentrated at the lower level. Opening the route was very tiring through the knee-deep snow; sometimes it was waist-deep. We climbed westwards through the face of the peak in a zig-zag way to avoid crevasses. While climbing we were tra¬versing towards the left. At C3 we had decided to follow the northern shoulder, but from closer inspection we notice a huge bergschrund. So we started traversing more towards the left. In a steep patch of gradient more than 65" we fixed one full length rope. We were on the top of Bandarpunch I at 2.25 p.m. We stayed there about 15 minutes. A beautiful panorama of peaks was visible from there. Very cautiously we descended to C3 by the same route. Next day we wound up C3 and C2 and reached Cl. On the 4th we were at base camp; on the 6th at Uttarkashi.
Members: Sanat Kumar Ghosh (leader), Shyamal Hazra, Shakar Manna and Sanat Kumar Pal.
MONESH DEVJANI AND LT COL B. S. SANDHU
(1) Manirang, 1988 (Monesh Devjani)
MANIRANG (6593 m) LIES ON the Kinnaur-Spiti divide, above the village Mane in Spiti and dominates the entire group Manirang was first climbed in 1952 by Dr J. de. V. Graaff. In 1986 M. H. Contractor and A. Samant approached it from Ropa in the south and made an ascent of Manirang South (5888 m).* Their account aroused our interest and we decided to attempt Manirang in May-June 1988.
* See H.J. Vol. 43. p. 63.
We set of for Spiti on 24 May. An overcrowded bus off-loaded us at the suspension bridge on the Spiti river. After spending a cold and miserable night in a pit by the bridge we left with our luggage for the village which is a good 2 km away and 150 m higher from the bridge.
Mane is divided into upper and lower Mane villages. They are separated by the nala flowing down from Hersang (5440 m). Lower Mane is very green and abundant in vegetation which is rare in Spiti. After a day spent in repacking and procuring rations, we left for Sopona with our caravan of mules. Two hours of steady climbing brought us to Sopona lake. AH along the way we had views of the Spiti river, the Spiti peaks to the north, Kanamo (5964 m), Dankhar gompa and the Kamelang group of peaks. We followed the tracks on the right of the river and some stiff climbing of 4 hours brought us to Sopona — our first days halt. Shapely peaks with ample climbing possibilities rose all around and ahead Manirang dominated the valley. The weather now seemed to be taking a turn for the worse. As there seemed no feasible route ahead for the donkeys we moved up the next day and worked for nearly 4 hours at cutting out a track. We moved up the next day. It was extremely cold as it had snowed all night. We crossed the nala over a snow-bridge and climbed up on the slopes on the left of the nala. It began snowing again and crossing the snow-tongues became difficult for the donkeys so they dumped our loads on the scree slopes there. We then established a camp below a huge rock on the slopes and christened it Dump Camp (c. 4700 m). Bad weather and ferrying occupied us for the next 3 days. Finally on 7 June we established base camp on the moraine at 5000 m below the NW face of Manirang. We then ferried loads to our intended site of ABC about 120 m below the crest of Manirang pass. From here we had a full view of our route on the SW face of Manirang and Manirang South.
The Manirang pass (c 5490 m) is open from June to October. It is usually used by shepherds and traders who cross over from Ropa valley to Mane. Since the opening of the road to Ropa the num¬ber of traders crossing over has decreased considerably, though shepherds do still go. Another pass known as the 'Gunsang la' by the locals is said to be approachable from Sopona and can be used all year round to cross to Ropa.
On 10th ABC was fully established and occupied. On 11th Mike, Pasang and myself left for Cl. After climbing steep scree and snow-slope we reached a level spot (c. 5700 m). We decided !o take advantage of the good weather and attempt Manirang the next day. The morning was very cold with the wind blowing across. At 6 a.m. we left camp and began climbing some steep scree slopes to 3 rock spires which took us lj hours to reach. Then we traversed onto the snow-slope to the left. The wind was biting cold and the sun came late but offered no respite from the cold. The slope now steepened and we put on our crampons. The snow gave way to hard ice which made the going quite difficult. The rock band that lay ahead looked quite loose and it became evident that keeping in mind the difficulties ahead and the equip¬ment we had we would have to come up again to make another attempt with more equipment. We were now at c. 6200 m. We made a long descent to BC which we reached at 4 p.m. The route was discussed and plans made for the second attempt, but it was never to be. On the 14th the weather turned bad and showed no signs of relenting. After 3 days we moved upto ABC to wait for s brief break to attempt Manirang or Manirang South but it never came. Time was now running out and after 8 days still showed no signs of improving. On the 21st we decided to call it off and retreated to BC and were back in Mane on 24 June. The next day the weather cleared. Manirang had played a cruel joke on us. To sum up this area has tremendous climbing oppor¬tunities and is certainly worth a visit.
Members: Ashwin Joglekar (leader), Zarir Mistry, Yezdi Kham-bata, Michael Pinto, Monesh Devjani, Pasang Bodh.
(2) Paratroopers on Manirang (Lt Col B. S. Sandhu)
The advance party and all the 'other' parties gathered at Sumdo and left along the Spiti road, past the ancient Tabo monas¬tery with our nine tons of baggage strangely smelling of the 20 kg fresh grapes, which had now happily fermented.
Some strange virus had, off and on, attacked our members all along the Hindustan-Tibet road and I now attended my first and last conference with the local big-wigs with a temperature of 39 °C. Few days later I awoke to the sight of my dome tent floating down the Spiti river. I mused for a while on the gusty winds buckling the sailing dome until the thought of my wife being still in the tent made me gurgle an alarm.
I was glad to be out of the coma and gladder when the young¬sters had moved the entire expedition, bag and baggage, without losing a day or their enthusiasm all the way to the base camp. A good show, indeed. With an assortment of donkeys, ponies and one yak we reached the base camp along the Yangcho at 4000 m in a week.
Later, half of us moved up for work on snow from an advance base camp at 4800 m. The training in snow-craft went apace with the tasks of ferries to ABC and practice of rope-work and skills needed for the freedom of the hills. The 'upper' half of the team performed magnificently and made a first ascent during their height gain of a peak of over 6000 m. The peak was not exactly a cow peak. Between Sorab, Umed and M. K. Singh over 200 m of rope was fixed and four metre summit cornice overcome before the flat of the untrodden summit was gained.
The 'lower' half now moved up learning and practicing skills of movement over snow and ice and repeated the ascent of Manirang South. The cynic is right about there being always a first time. In over 30 years of climbing there was not a drop of liquor in the base camp. Nascent unwariness of young Paratroopers to the risks of drink and bounds while they travelled up the Hindustan-Tibet road led some of them to unseemly displays. For chastisement we had been dry ever since. A wretched donkey helped cracking its load of 'Medicinal Rum'.
We now gathered at the base camp. The caragea brevifolia which replaces here the dwarf juniper found elsewhere in the Himalaya had turned brown.
Rest, recoup, growing of assorted beards and visions of exotic food and girls occupied us. One evening one of the visions was realized. Over 500 sheep came up the westering sun and flowed past devouring the sparse greenery. The sheep were home-bound to Ropa valley across the Manirang Pass. They headed for a spot of sun above the base camp to a rill of clear water and lagered for the night. Next morning they filed past the advance base camp, silent and shuffling, disliking the waste-land of ice and snow, not grazing but bleating furiously. Before afternoon they crossed the pass. I wondered if we shouldn't have paid Rs. 650/- for a 10 kg sheep. It would have been our first bit of fresh meat in 30 days. I slept and dreamed of a sea of sheep decked in paper money.
Rock — snow — and ice work were over. For the expedition we selected Manirang, 6593 m the monarch dominating the entire area. Manirang is the highest peak in the western catchment of Spiti-Satluj. In two days of reconnaissance Sorab and I approach¬ed the mountain from the north and Umed Singh and Jagdish the southwest face. We decided on the southwest ridge of Manirang. Umed Singh found signs of an old camp on the southwest route.
From the ABC we walked along the north terminal moraine and then up a steep scree slope to camp at 5700 m. In two ferries we carried five tents, climbing gear and food and 14 of us stayed up. The other 16 members went down, some more reluctant than others to support the next day's attempt. Over to my diary, 'Winds toss the dense cloud and the sky is a question mark of weather. Patter of hail a few times during the night. Leave camp (minus 4°C) by 7.30 a.m. up the frozen scree. Come under a hail of loose stone. Some plainsman up above clearly moving like a buffalo. I empty my lungs, duck to avoid another volley and wait for the stonefall to stop.'
'The sun too is now on the slope; not warm but comforting. Through a stone-gully clamp up the rope, the lead group has left. One is soon on the snow-slope — 300 m in two hours. Fix crampons. The slope steepens and we stop often. There are yet 500 m to go to the summit. The climbers are now dots spread about half a km along the rising slope. Thick clouds envelop us. On the final ridge the wind starts and obliterates our tracks. In between the gaps in the clouds I see the lead group on the sum¬mit rock pyramid — 150 m to the summit. 2 p.m. I am a dot in the middle of the line. Climbers desperate in the cold, blinded by snow, struggle up manfully, some trailing ill fitting crampons unable to will their minds and hands to refix them.'
'Once above the surrounding hills the full force of the wind is upon us. Instinctively one turns one's back to the wind and cowers though this skewers one's line of climbing. Now there are more struggling, gasping, mindless dots on the sky-line. In this desperate weather there is no getting to the summit. The mountain is harder than we had thought. We leave five ropes in situ and turn back. The day to the mountain.'
My diary records 'At 3.30 a.m. hear the gas stove singing that marvellous melody when someone else cooks while you still luxu¬riate in your sack. By 5 a.m. the camp is silent, the soft clink of cramponed feet fading above the camp. The sky is clear, star-filled. The cold minus 7°C . Over familiar ground the climbers moved fast. By sun-up they were at the beginning of the ice-slope. By 10.30 a.m. having fixed two more ropes, the lead pair reached the summit. By 11.30 a.m. seven paratroopers gained the summit, another two were still on the ropes below, exhausted and chilled, unable to will themselves up.'
'Sixteen stocky, braying donkeys and one melancholy yak arrive at the base with their various owners, to carry 30 pony loads of our baggage. Means much load breaking and arithmetic for Ashok Sinha and loss of two days before we reach the road. Waiting for the last of our baggage to arrive, we tuck ourselves into the Tabo P.W.D. Rest House. On the second day, twelve loads have yet to be fetched; another day at Tabo is welcome.
That night the rain began. The VIP suite dripped in over six places. Moving cots around for a dry space, we failed to hear the commotion in the next suite. Four of the climbers jumping into the only dry bed, the flank ones awoke with soaking sleeping bags. By the second evening we were sleeping on the sofas, din¬ing tables, windowsills and the cook under the sink. Who would you hurrah — The rain or the P.W.D.?
En route on the return the education of an extremely instructive tour of the Solan Brewery was sadly wasted; the dumb lot of para¬troopers failing to imbibe education without a corresponding amount of beer. There hadn't been any. The only reverse of the expedi¬tion was made up, later at Chandimandir. After a warm welcome and a reception by the Colonel of the Regiment and Paratroopers, the team dispersed on 8 October 1988.
SANAT KUMAR GHOSH
THE HOWRAH MOUNTAINEERING CLUB organized an expedi¬tion to Bara Shigri glacier in July-August 1988, with the purpose of climbing Kulu Pumori (6553 m).
We left Manali by a Matador van on the morning of 13 July. We hoped to have better weather in Lahul-Spiti after going over the Rohthang pass, but that hope did not turn into reality. Added to this we had the misfortune of being left in the lurch by the driver of the Matador van, who, though taking full fares, stopped 8 km from Chhatru at Bara Dohrni (3710 m). So, we had to pitch our tents there itself when it was raining. In the afternoon of the same day there came the ponywallah with a few horses and mules to carry our belongings to Batal, another day's journey.
From Bara Dohrni we had to trek 24 km in one day to reach Chhota Dhara (3660 m) and then on 15 July reached Batal by vehi¬cle. There we stayed in the only bungalow which was in a dilapi¬dated condition. On the 16th we started our trek to the mountains. As per the schedule that day itself we were to have pitched our first transit Camp at Reti-Lamri (4110 m), just below the snout of the Bara Shigri glacier. Our trek started at 6.45 a.m. Half an hour's trek and we were at Karcha. Crossing the Karcha nala, a little above, there came to our view a snow-bridge and we made for that. On the snow-bridge we found a huge fissure of 1 m width. We could jump over it but the horses and mules would not be able to do so. The water of Karcha down below was quite deep and so the ponywallah dared not negotiate from there. We made a bridge over the fissure, about 6 m in depth, by stuffing stones, and then the horses and mules passed over the fissure rather easily and once again came to the bed of the Chandra. The whimsical course of the Chandra compelled us to negotiate the upward and downward slopes of the ridge from time to time. We had jumped across two more feeder nalas on the way and at last reached Reti-Lamri, the site for our first transit camp.
The next day in the morning the ponywallah took his dues and went away, leaving us to carry our belongings by ourselves. We pitched our tents right in front of the snout of Bara Shigri glacier with the purpose of establishing our base camp at Concordia, the end point of the 46 km stretch of the glacier. En route two more transit camps would have to be set up on the glacier. The weather throughout was terrible. For three days all members fer¬ried loads to the site of the second transit camp at 4330 m. On 20 July we proceeded towards the south, half an hour after which we crossed over a nala and then negotiated the upward slope to reach above the snout of the Bara Shigri glacier. We set up our second T.C. on the medial moraine in front of Lalana glacier.
Similarly on 24 July we set up our 3rd T.C. on the same medial moraine of the glacier near the Lion-Central nala at 4730 m. We established our base camp on a medial moraine in the middle of Concordia at 5030 m.
The next day (27 July) my deputy, Shankar, Amitava, Sibkumar, Naresh and two porters were sent to establish and occupy Cl. From BC at first we trekked down to the lower part of the glacier to our right and east towards the end of Concordia. Then we climbed up higher to the south and reached the glacier coming from Kulu Pumori and Kulu Makalu region and in the process we had to get past a number of crevasses. Cl was established on the icefield at the foot of Kulu Makalu at 5430 m.
On 28 July the advance team lead by my deputy, Shankar went to recce a C2 site and at the same time to ferry requisite provi¬sions there. On their way back the right leg of Sibkumar got severely stuck knee deep in a crevassee. In an effort to rescue him Shankar got stuck in another crevasse thus bringing danger to himself as well. However, the united effort put in by the rest of the team rescued them. They could not reach C2. They climbed the cwm between the peaks Kulu Pumori and Corner, left of the SW ridge of Kulu Pumori and dumped their loads there.
29 July was a significant day of the expedition, for that was the day for us to establish C2 high on the ridge. Apprehending stonefall we all had helmets on. After going on for an hour and a half we reached by a spot on the slope of the ridge which would some¬how accommodate two tents.
On 30 July we got up at 3.30 a.m., readied ourselves quickly, took with us some food and necessary climbing equipment and started at 4.30 a.m. We began our climb along the SW ridge. After nego¬tiating the sharp upward slope of the ridge for five hours at a stretch we reached a chimney from where the rise of the peak was about 80°. We had two routes from there to the peak — (1) along the SW ridge which we had used so far and (2) along the west face of the peak: At both places we found fixed ropes used by an earlier expedition.
We chose to take to the second route. After some rest we tra¬versed to the west face. We started fixing rope right from the spot we took rest. In the midst of rock-fall every now and then we went on negotiating the sharp slope. After fixing rope for 180 m we reached the summit slope from where the summit was 120 m away. We reached the summit at 1.15 p.m. The highest point of the peak is a cornice of ice. This is one of the highest point of the peak is a cornice of ice. At 2 p.m. we started descend¬ing along the same route very cautiously and reached C2 at 8 p.m.
On 1 August Sushanta (Sr.), Sushanta (Jr.) and Shyamal along with two HAPs climbed on unnamed peak (c. 5580 m) to the right of Concordia and returned to base camp the same day.
(Translated by Kaneshige Oniki)
Diary of events
4 August: Left Delhi for Manali by airplane and taxi.
6 August: Travelled from Manali to Batal by truck (via Gram-phoo).
9 August: We walked to the base camp from Batal (with 22 mules). We established our base camp (3850 m) on the right bank near the end of Bara Shigri glacier.
Illustrated Note 4:
A Japanese expedition (T. Hasegawa) attempted Everest in winter 1987-88 via NE Couloir – NE Ridge. Strong winds upto 200 km defeated them but they believe that this route can be climbed in winter only.
Illustrated Note 5:
Panchchuli II (6904 m) was attempted by an Indian team (Aloke Surin) in autumn, 1988 from the east, from Darma valley. Bad weather foiled their attempt. Seen above:Meole glacier icefall, Panchchuli II (right) sough ridge descending to south col. Panchchuli III (6312 m) on left. (Aloke Surin)
Illustrated Note 6:
Brammah I (6416 m) was skied down by N.C. Dominique. He came down 2000 m slope seen above.
11 August: The start of transferring loads up to Cl; between BC and Cl our route was traced along the right bank of the glacier (it took us 4 hours on the way to and 2J hours on the way back). There was already a path.
13 August: Cl (4150 m); we set up Cl on the snow facing the peak White Sail and its glacier.
14 August: Bringing up food and equipment to C2; the cre¬vasses were seen at the junction of a glacier from Central Peak. On climbing further, the area became a flat moraine. Until C2 there was no need to wear more than the ordinary canvas shoes.
17 August: C2 (4600 m); in the middle of the glacier we set up the C2 after levelling the rubble.
18 August: Transferring loads up to C3 (5100 m); three mem¬bers — Oniki, Yokoyama and one of the porters, left BC for Manali. Yokoyama and the porter came back BC after shopping for some foodstuff.
21 August: C3 (5100 m); about an hour's climbing from C2 on the glacier, we found a possible route through a glacier which came from Cathedral Peak. Over crevasses, on a steeper slope we could proceed until we reached a plateau, and set up tents there.
22 August: Reaching the top of the Dome; from the col between Tiger Tooth and the Dome, three members — Morito, Kurashima and Sekiguchi — reached the top via the west ridge of the peak Dome in order to decide our route to the Tiger Tooth.
24 August: Two members — Morito and Seki — left the moun¬tain for returning to Japan.
26 August: C4 (5400 m); on the col between Tiger Tooth and the Dome we set up the last camp. Three members — Takeuchi, Ishihara and Kurashima — started fixing the route on the southeast wall of Tiger Tooth. Two porters supported them. Meanwhile Yokoyama, Fujimoto, Ogiwara and the liaison officer tried again climbing to the top of the Dome as their acclimatizing exercise, but one of them —■ the liaison officer — gave up half way, due to equip¬ment trouble.
27 August: Four members — Ishihara, Kurashima, Takeuchi and Yokoyama —r finally reached the summit of Tiger Tooth.
28 August: Six members — Matsushima, Imai, Fujimoto, Harada, Sekiguchi and Ogiwara reached the summit again as our second success. Then we cleared the C4 and C3 before going down to C2.
29 August: After dismantling C2 and C3, all the members gathered at the base camp.
30 August: Three members — Imai, Yokoyama and one of the porters — brought down the rest of the stuff from C2 and Cl. Other eight members left for Manali.
3 September: All the climbing equipment, etc. and the porters came back to Manali from the mountain.
Summary of Activities
The advance party and the main body of the team approached the BC, separately. At the base camp all the members of the ex¬pedition joined together. The advance party and the members for transferring the climbing stuff to higher camps worked consecutive days. We had a whole day's rest every four days.
The southeast wall of Tiger Tooth may be figured at approximate¬ly 450 m in height. Along the wall our route was going diagonally up on the steep face (1st pitch — 4th pitch). In the middle there was a gap along the rock ridge which was going up to the left and then the route met with a snow wall (5th p. — 8th p.). Further climbing up on this snow wall and another rock ridge the route traversed to left. Then going up straight a little while, it came on to a large terrace (9th p. — 12th p.). A wall mixed with snow and ice (14th p. — 16th p.). After cutting through snow eaves it arrived on the summit.
The difficult parts of this mountain were encountered between C4 and the summit.
1st rope pitch to 4th pitch: A snow wall, 45-55 degrees in steep¬ness, 160 m in length (use of 4 snow-fix-bars and 4 pitons).
5th: For 5-6 meters going straight up along a crack in the rock face then traversing to the right (grade IV), we kept going upward to the left, came to a small terrace and climbed on to a stairway-like rock to a large terrace. 40 m in length (use of 4 rock pitons and two fix-bolts for roping down).
6th: Grade IV of a chimney ridge — 35 m in length (use of 3 rock pitons and 1 rock nut).
7th: Small cracks (grade IV) route toward the left (grade III) 35 m in length (use of 4 rock pitons and 1 friend).
8th: A direct route via a delta-shaped snow wall (70 degrees in. steepness). Then we cleared a convex face from its left side, 30 m in length (use of 1 screw ice piton and two rock pitons).
9th: A face with rock and snow; going diagonally to the left we then changed to the vertical line, 35 m in length (use of 4 rock pitons).
10th: After traversing to the left we made use of a stone as a securing point. 30 m in length (use of two rock pitons and 1 sling for the stone).
11: Traversing a snow wall we climbed straight up. 40 m in length (use of screw ice pitons and two rock pitons).
12th: A rock ridge (grade IV) and on to a large terrace through an ice-wall of 50-60 degrees in steepness. 40 m in length (use of three rock pitons).
13th: To the highest part of the snow wall through rock ridges.. Then to the left via a gap (grade III). 40 m in length (use of I friend and two screw ice pitons).
14th-l6th p.: Just below the top we had to go directly up. its ice wall of 60-70 degrees in steepness. Lastly cutting off the caves of snow, we reached the top. 100 m in length (use of two snow-fix-bars, two rock pitons and a climbing ladder).
Members: Masamitsu Matsushima (leader), Tadashi Imai (climbing leader), Hitoshi Yokoyama, Hajime Takeuchi, Hiroyuki: Kurashima, Santoshi Ishihara, Kunihiko Fujimoto, Izumi Harada,. Toyoshige Sekiguchi, Tetsuro Ogiwara, Fumio Morito, Sigeo Seki and Kaneshige Oniki, Anil Kumar Shakya (liaison officer), Bhola, Ram, Yog Raj Thakur and Dorje (H.A.P.); Purn Ram (cook).
LT. COL. H. S. MANN, SM
FOLLOWING THEIR SUCCESS ON Kamet and Abi Gamin in 1986,. the mountaineers of the Regiment of Artillery achieved another feat by climbing Nun (7135 m) and Kun (7087) m) peaks in the-Zanskar range of the Kashmir Himalaya.
The expedition led by Lt Col H. S. Mann, SM, consisted of appro¬ximately 95 members including ladies and teenage boys and was an ambitious mountaineering venture, the largest undertaken by the Gunners and in the Army so far.
Initially the ladies and boys climbed Ladakhi (5640 m) and Hanu-man Tibba (6004 m) and other surrounding peaks.
Shinkun Peak (6065) 5 July — 20 July 1988
The rest of the team carried out a long trek from Darcha (near Keylong) in Lahul valley to Padam in Zanskar valley across Shin¬kun pass, a distance of nearly 130 km over an altitude ranging upto 5780 m. The rugged Zanskar valley was replete with a large variety of alpine flowers at this time of the year. We were able to identify and photograph the beautiful and rare blue poppy. En route the team successfully climbed Shinkun peak by placing 12 members in two attempts. Bad weather prevented more attempts. We also-sighted large herds of ibex and bharals. The members were gene¬rally greeted by the high pitched whistle of marmots throughout the valley. Zanskar is truly the valley of gompas, blue poppies and marmots. At Padam, the team was blessed by His Holiness the Dalai Lama of Tibet. At the end of this training, the members were fully acclimatized to take on the challenge of the Nun-Kun peaks.
CLIMB OF NUN-KVN PEAKS: AUG. 88
Nun from western Approach
This team had 24 climbing members and 6 support members. Major B. S. Rai, SM, was officer-in-charge of this team, with Maj P. K. Sharma as his deputy. The team established base camp (4270 m) in Tanak nala on 30 July. We then established Cl (4880 m) on the terminal moraine and at the base of the massive icefall. Our main hurdle now was to force a route over this heavily crevassed and frequently avalanched icefall.
In the next two days, 5 members opened the route over this ice-fall. Using 9 fixed ropes and two ladders, they established C2 (5640 m) on 3 August.
They now began to tackle the steep ice-slope to C3. In two days and in total bad weather, they fixed 21 ropes and established C3 (6400 m). Nk Appla Naidu did a tremendous job in fixing most of the ropes and was always the lead climber. Capt Satish Kumar's team of 8 members ferried loads to C3 for the first summit attempt en 6 August.
The first successful attempt on 6 August by 5 members led by Maj B. S. Rai, necessitated fixing of another 15 ropes to the summit. The climb through the rock-gully where they had to trudge through hip-deep soft snow was both tiring and effort consuming. Five gun¬ners reached the summit at 1300 hours. The second successful attempt on 8 August placed 7 members and a third attempt on 11 August placed 9 members. The teams were led by Capt Satish Kumar and Maj P. K. Sharma respectively. In total, the team fixed as much as 2000 m of rope on the mountain.
Kun, the rocky peak had taken five lives last year and two this year. Possibly this is the reason why this peak is seldom attempted by Indians. This team had 27 climbing members and 8 support members under Maj H. S. Gill, SC, with Maj I. S. Sandhu as his deputy. The team established base camp (4730 m) in Shafat nala on 2 August. The area of base camp was full of marmots and re¬ferred to as the 'Marmot Villa'. By now, the weather had deterio¬rated and further progress was made in extremely hostile conditions.
The route to Cl was opened over the heavily crevassed icefield by fixing four ropes and two ladders. During the route opening, one member fell into a crevasse. Luckily he was discovered by his team mates and rescued post-haste, Cl (5180 m) was next to a huge bergschrund and under an area which was called 'Rabbit Rock'. Cl: was established on 5 August.
Illustrated Note 7:
In 1987, an American expedition (next to Bhagirathi I). They attemped the unlimited Peak 6561 m off Gangotri glacier (next to Bhagirathi I). They attempted the SW buttress which was first tried by British climbers in 1984. The three member team was defeated by bad weather at 6250 m. (Don Cauthorn)
63. Michael J. cheney.
64. Dr M. L. Biswas
The climb over Rabbit Rock ridge was on snow, ice, rock and verglas. The team had to fix three ropes to reach the ridge. The main obstacle to C2 was the opening of the route over 460 m of near vertical ice-slope on the right of White Needle peak. Gill's team of 8 members did an excellent job in fixing 10 ropes in 2 days. This slope was so steep and slippery that members had jumar all the way upto C2 (6250 m). Below the eastern slopes of White Needle and on the vast snow-plateau, we had our first view of Kun.
C3 (6400 m) was an easy 2 hours walk over the snow-plateau. It was below the col between Kun and Pinnacle peak (also called Lingsarmo). C3 was established on 11 August.
The first summit attempt by three members led by Capt Balaji started at 5 a.m. in bad weather. By 10 a.m. the weather and visibility had improved to a reasonable degree. But the team had to return 180 m short of the summit as they ran short of ropes and other technical equipment. Two more attempts on 15 and 16 August were aborted 60 m short of the summit due to hostile wea¬ther and total white-out conditions. Both these attempts were led by Maj I. S. Sandhu.
On 17 August the mountain was kind to the gunners and finally relented to accept our humble homage in the form of 7 members. The team led by Sandhu also had the oldest member of the expedi¬tion, a JCO, aged 47 years. In two more attempts on 19 and 21 August, we placed 8 and 7 members respectively. Six members of the third team had earlier climbed Nun. One novice signalman also reached atop Kun. 22 members managed to reach Kun in three successful attempts.
Nun from Eastern Approach
The climb of Nun from the eastern side was the first Indian attempt. It had earlier been climbed by the Japanese and British teams.
The 9-member team led by the young Capt Ashok Kumar G. consisted of most experienced and highly motivated climbers of the team. With Capts Davis and Surinder as his two deputies, Ashok had all the reasons to be confident of success. Till C2, the route was common to that of Kun. The route to C3 involved the climb of White Needle peak. White Needle had a corniced ridge on its right and steep slopes on its left. It took Ashok's team three days of very hard climbing, at times in hostile weather, to open the route. The team fixed 16 ropes and ultimately reached the summit of White Needle on 11 August and established C3. After this exhausting climb, the team returned to base camp to rest and recoup.
On 19 August with Ashok in the lead, they started opening the route to C4. The route involved crossing a huge bergschrund and then traversing along the eastern slopes of Nun. After fixing 3 ropes and literally doing gymnastics, they forced their way to C4 (6700 m) on 20 August.
The team had now to cross another huge bergschrund and then climb a near vertical ice-slope so as to reach the eastern summit ridge. On 21 August, Ashok and Surinder, front pointing on this ice-slope, fixed 5 rope lengths and reached the eastern summit ridge. By 10 a.m. the weather began to deteriorate and soon it became a white-out. The team returned to C4.
The team again attempted on the 22nd and 23rd, fixed two more ropes on the ice-slope leading to the summit plateau. The weather, once again, deteriorated and the team was forced back just 60 m short of the summit. The weather was giving us just 2 to 3 hours of climbing time. We, therefore, decided to creep up the moun¬tain and establish C5 on the summit ridge. We also changed the summit team as by now, after two aborted attempts, Davis's team was quite exhausted and needed rest.
On 24 August, four members under Surinder started for the summit at 0615 hours. They were carrying heavy backpacks in¬cluding tent and necessary food for C5. They fixed another four ropes before reaching the broad summit plateau.
The mountain was now benign. At 1230 hours, after 7 hours of exhausting climb, 4 members, become the first Indians to plant flags atop Nun from the east.
KANG YISSAY (6400 m) is located in the Nimaling plains across the Markha valley about 70 kms from Leh in Ladakh. On the 9th morning, we reached Martseland from Leh. Here too we were misled. I and Bholaram visited Martseland village for arranging the mules, but none of the villagers gave us the correct informa¬tion and their behaviour was also quite casual. One of them told us to go to Hemis (about 4 kms from Martseland) where there was a probability to get mules. Finally in the afternoon we met a horseman with whom we made a deal, but an expensive one. He agreed to accompany us the next day as he had to go to Spitook to get his mules. Generally, foreign trekkers pay Rs 200-250 per day per mule and they also distribute handsome gifts. This has
become a tradition. As a result, the pony-men expect gifts from every hirer.
On 12 August, at last, we were able to start our trek (already four days behind schedule) with apprehensions of future unforeseen problems. We moved towards the southeast and entered into a nala coming from Shang village. Walking on the lateral/medial morraine, we had to cross the nala several times, as there were DO bridges. We followed the horseman and after two hours trek we saw a green patch in the deserted rocky mountains, which have a completely different view. We moved ahead of Shang vilIage towards the southeast following the nala coming from Chockodo village. At Chockodo two nalas meet — one flowing from the Langmaru la while the other flows from Miru, and after the meet¬ing they flow as one down to the northeast to Shang village finally Joining the Indus river. From this junction we turned left to reach a spot which was 2 kms further to village Chockodo. The campsite was surrounded by different types of barren rock mountains.
13 August — according to schedule our summit period — we were still at Chockodo. We trekked further towards the SSE, fol¬lowing the nala coming from the Langmaru la. We trekked for two hours and as the weather was turning to be stormy with dark rainy clouds and strong winds, the horseman refused to cross the I,angmaru la to reach the Nimaling plain and so we were forced to camp at the base of Langmaru la. In the evening, when the weather cleared a little, we acclimatized ourselves by trekking up to the base of the pass. On the way we saw a huge flock of bharals coming from the north of the Langmaru la.
Next day, 14 August, we reached the top of the Langmaru la (MOO m) — a steep, tough and tiring climb. Here we got the first clear view of Kang Yissay (6400 m) and we could also view the other surrounding peaks of about 6000 m towards the southeast. The Markha valley stretched in towards the southeast. We des¬cended the pass and pitched our tents at Nimaling plain. This was our base camp. Nimaling is a huge plateau, which provides good grazing. There were lots of shepherds moving around with their sheep. The Nimaling river flows down from the southeast towards Markha valley. Here we could see the peak in front of US. As the sky was clear we had high hopes of reaching the sum¬mit within two days.
On 15 August, we moved further towards the south and crossed one of the ridges of Kang Yissay and pitched our tents. From; here we could see the north face (full of fresh snow with many hanging glaciers) quite clearly. The route of the north face seems lo be an interesting, difficult and technical climb. Our approach was to attempt the northwest face. In the morning we had a heavy downpour at C-I. The clouds, coming from the Markha valley blocked the view of Kang Yissay and surrounding peaks. On 16 August at 6.00 a.m. the weather was so bad and cloudy that Kang Yissay had disappeared from sight. Though it was an enjoyable sight to see Kang Yissay play hide and seek with us, we were really tensed up and doubtful about our attempt if the wea¬ther continued to be bad. In the evening when the weather clear-ed a bit, we climbed the north ridge and conducted a reconnaisance upto the base of Kang Yissay and decided about our summit ap¬proach route.
17 August — summit attempt — fortunately the weather gods were favourable and kind to us. We woke up early at 4 a.m. and were ready to move by 6 a.m. We climbed the rocky ridge to reach the base of the peak around 7.30 a.m. Dolphy (who was suffering from headache for the last 3-4 days) continued to suffer from it and by the time he reached the base of the peak it was Unite severe, so he decided to go back. Jayant volunteered to ac¬company him. Sujata, Vandana, Vinod, Bholaram (HAP) and I diluted climbing the northwest face. After the initial climb, Vandana had some problems with her climbing boots and hence was forced to return, while the rest of us moved ahead. After climbing about 50 m, we traversed left then crossed a crevasse and moved further up another 30 m. At this point Vinod's crampons gave way. So he and Bholaram (HAP) were forced to descend while Sujata and I moved ahead. On account of bad weather and snowfall of the previous few days, fresh snow had accumu¬lated on the last patch of 200 m which helped us to gain firm lootings but it reduced the pace considerably. We came to the base of the cornice ridge, which was about 70°-80°. We moved further ahead and after reaching the top of the cornice hump, we traversed towards the NNW to reach the summit at 1.15 p.m. We reached the base of the peak at 2.30 p.m. It had taken us almost 7&frac; hours since the time we had started from the camp.
Members: Jayant Deshpande, Sunil Apte, Dolphy D'Mello, Vinod Patel, Vandana Narkar, Sujata Bhagwat and Dhiren Pania (leader).
History of the Peak
The peak, Kang Yissay I (6400 m), is the main peak with its subsidiary Kang Yissay II. The approach to the main peak is from the north or northeast, while the approach for the subsidiary peak is from the northwest ridge. The difference in height between the main mid the subsidiary peak is about 300 m. Teams who have climbed the subsidiary peak, have in many cases claimed that they have climbed the main peak (6400 m). About 6 teams in all have attempted or climbed the main while all the rest have climbed or attempted the subsidiary peak, as per study of references and local Information.
Kang Yissay I (6400 m)
|Year||Team (leader)||Face climbed||Result||Reference|
|1980||Oundle School, London Jonathan Stephen Lee)||north and south||attempted||IM 6 p. 99
HCNL 35 p. 6
|1982||Irish (Trevor Mitten)||climbed||IM 11 p. 108
HJ 39 p. 214
HCNL 36 p. 26
|1984||Welsh (Trevor Williams)||north ridge||climbed||IM 15 p. 125|
|1985||DAV-West Germany (Dieter Oberbichler)||east ridge||climbed||IM 16 p. 145|
|1985||DAV-West Germany (Dieter Oberbichler)||east ridge||attempted||IM 16 p. 145|
|1987||British Group||north ridge||climbed||IM 21 p, 183|
|Kang Yissay II (6100 m)|
|1981||Nanzan Alpine Club, Japan (Seigo Inaba)||north west ridge||climbed||IM 9 p. 86|
|1982||J&K Mountaineering Club, Indian (N. Ahmed)||Following northeast ridge.
Then traversed to southwest
|1983||Norwegian team (Olav Basen)||north west ridge||climbed||IM 14 p.120|
|1985||Sendoi Alpine Club, Japan (Toshio Arai)||southwest ridge||climbed||IM 18 p.208|
|1985||Austria) Group (Sattek Harald)||north west||climbed||IM 16 p.145|
|1986||Assam Youth northwest Forum Group, (Nasim Akhtar)||north west||climbed||IM 19 p.148|
|1987||Explorers and Adventures, Bombay (K. Saraswati)||north west||climbed||IM 21 p.183|
|1988||Paramount northwest Trekkers, Bombay (Dhiren Pania)||north west||climbed|
IM = Indian Mountaineer
HJ = Himalayan Journal
HCNL = Himalayan Club Newsletter
BIALE (6730 m) is a massive fortress-like mountain on the water¬shed between the Baltoro glacier and the Sarpo Largo glacier west of the Muztagh Tower and northeast of the Trango Towers. It can be seen from the main track up the Baltoro glacier between Urdukas and Goro, although it is hidden behind (but much higher than) the ('alhedral and Lobsang spires.
When we were attempting the east ridge of Masherbrum in 1985, Biale dominated our views looking northwards across the Baltoro, with its three prominent buttresses and castellated summit ridge. The east ridge of Masherbrum was a problem for the year 2000, but Biale looked tantalisingly climbable. Mark Miller, Simon Yates and I had climbed in the Hushe area in 1986 and Simon and Sean Smith had climbed several notable peaks around the Gondoro glacier in 1987 and I persuaded them that Biale would be a good objective for this year. My long-time Himalayan climbing partner, Nick Groves, made up the climbing team of five. Maryrose Fowlie walked in with us and stayed several weeks at base camp on her way back to New Zealand.
Our 1988 Karakoram expedition also had geological objectives. After three previous expeditions to the Biafo glacier (1984), K2 and Masherbrum (1985) and the Hushe — Gondoro glacier area (1986) u team from the University of Leicester had mapped and sampled wide area of the Central Karakoram. One 'blank on the map' was the area north of the Baltoro along the northern margin of the Karakoram granite batholith. One of our objectives was therefore to fill in this blank on the geological map, collect samples for geo¬chemistry, geochronology and microprobe work from the Muztagh, Hi ale and Trango Towers and also to collect granite samples at spe¬cific altitudes on Biale for fission track dating and determination of uplift rates.
Biale is unclimbed and when I applied for permission to the Ministry of Tourism in Islamabad they had never heard of it. How-over, having ascertained that the mountain was actually in Pakistan they gave us permission and we flew out to Pakistan on 1 June. After five days of beaurocracy in Islamabad, including a minor epic when Mark managed to roll the jeep, we were all set for the three day trip to Skardu. The jeep had suffered about 15° of shear¬ing to starboard and Sean and I received some amazed looks and lots of head shaking from villagers as we drove lopsidedly all the way up the Karakoram highway.
At Skardu we bought all our basic food rations and hired 30 porters for the 9 day walk-in to base camp. Our liaison officer, Capt Naveed Ghaznavi did a marvellous job hiring the porters, and proved himself to be extremely easy-going, friendly and helpful in every way. Very soon we were all firm friends with Naveed and as a result life at base camp and throughout the whole trip was totally relaxed, laid-back as far as horizontal and generally very good fun. It was probably one of the most enjoyable expedi¬tions that we'd been on.
The main track up the Baltoro glacier sticks largely to the lateral moraine on the south bank until Urdukas. Our BC was to be on the north side of the Baltoro, but we did not know if our attempt was to be from the Dunge, Biale or Muztagh glaciers. Mark and Simon went ahead and spent three days recceing these approach routes and found an excellent site for BC at the confluence of the Biale and Baltoro glaciers. The rest of us arrived on 20 June after quelling a minor porter strike at Uli Biaho BC. Porters rarely go along the north side of the Baltoro where there is no track and the going is somewhat more difficult. The only other expedition on this side of the glacier was a small Swiss-Polish team — the Karakoram professionals, Voytek Kurtyka and Erhard Loretan, who climbed a spectacular line on the Nameless Spire (Trango Towers). No trekkers or porters passed through our BC the five weeks we were there.
Our first excursion was a three day attempt to climb the lower Lobsang Spire — the southernmost of the long line of about seven granite spires that divides the Biale from the Muztagh glaciers. These spires all have very steep or vertical south faces and a 50°-60° northern slope following prominent jointing sets in the granite. We climbed up snow and ice-gullies between the lower spire and the main Lobsang Spires (where the Child-Scott-Thexton route goes) and put a bivi camp on the high col at 5200 m between the two spires. The views from here were inspiring, perched on a knife edge ridge looking down to the Biale glacier with the Cathedral's cliffs westwards and the Muztagh Tower in the east. I was suffer¬ing from splitting altitude headaches and went straight down first thing in the morning. Mark, Simon, Sean and Nick climbed a few pitches up steep ice to the summit ridge where they could look down on to the motorway-like moraines of the Baltoro glacier and up to the Gasherbrum range and Chogolisa. The ice was in a very unstable condition and the summit, although only 100 m or less above, was a long traverse away so they abseiled down back to the col and that night went all the way back to BC. From high on the Lobsang spire we could see the entire south face of Biale and the approaches which included a dangerous looking icefall near the top of the Biale glacier. It looked like a long and complicated route winding through the crevasses to gain the far eastern bank of the Icefall but the weather was calm and clear, the mountains looked ,stupendous and we were all in high spirits and hopeful.
During 28-29 July, we all carried ropes, gear and bivi tents up to dump at the foot of the icefall and then found a route through the maze of crevasses and serac barriers which wound up through: the icefall to the far right-hand edge. We left the gear stashed in a bergschrund tied on to the rock wall above, and descended back to BC as driving snow swept up from the Baltoro. The first attempt on Biale lasted six days during the first week of July. On I July we left late in the afternoon, bivied at the foot of the icefall mid climbed through the icefall by headtorch during the night. We nrrived at the dump at first light and climbed on to the large snow plateau, put up bivi tents and rested all day. Nick climbed up to the main ridge connecting the south east end of Biale with the Lobsang ridge where he could peer over into the Muztagh valley. The snow softened drastically during the day, and walking became a tiring ordeal, involving wading through knee-deep soft snow. Most of the days were spent sweltering inside tents trying to escape the devastating heat of the Karakoram sun, our climbing was largely done between midnight and dawn.
Next day we left at midnight, crossed the large snow basin and ascended a series of steep snow and ice gullies to gain the main connecting ridge joining Biale with the summit of the Cathedral. Three pitches of rock climbing midway were needed to climb a band of granite cliffs. All the ground to the right of us was threatened from a band of overhanging seracs on the summit ridge of Biale. Long, tiring snow plodding up a seemingly endless con¬vex slope brought us to the main ridge dividing the Biale glacier from the Dunge glacier and the most fantastic views in every direction.
The campsite was at 6000 m, perched on the crest of the ridge. Thousand metre high granite cliffs plunged straight down to the Dunge glacier directly below us. We could look across westwards and down on the huge cliffs of the Trango Towers and Nameless Spire. Two or three massive snow peaks west of Biale denned the border ridge between the main Baltoro drainage to the south and the Sarpo Largo glacier over in China to the north. South of us we could look along the summit ridge of Cathedral, which was at the same height, and over to the spectacular sight of Masher-brum looming up above the clouds, dominating everything to the south of the Baltoro. To the east we could see K2 just visible behind the pyramid of the Muztagh Tower plus the whole Broad Peak massif, the Gasherbrums, Hidden Peak, Sia Kangri, Baltoro Kangri and Chogolisa. Away in the distance over the Biarchedi massif were the peaks at the head of the Siachen glacier, the Apsarasas and Teram Kangri ranges. It was, I think, the most spectacular vantage point I had ever had the privilege of wit¬nessing.
It was a magnificent clear, cold starry night, but soon after dawn clouds started welling up from the south. Mark, Simon and Sean moved further up the ridge to the base of the 500 m headwall and bivied. Nick and I decided to wait a day to see what the weather was going to do. I had another splitting altitude headache, and during the night I started to have breathing problems, feeling nauseous and dizzy. The next morning a fiery red dawn was soon enveloped by thick storm clouds and we had no option but to re¬treat. Mark, Simon and Sean had already descended, leaving be¬fore dawn, and got all the way back to BC that day. I was feel¬ing extreme altitude effects and going very slowly. Nick and I spent another night bivied out on the plateau while the storm developed. That night 2 feet of snow fell, adding to our problems and we spent 5 hours the following morning wading down through the Icefull, now looking completely different. It was a harrowing descent but at least my headaches vanished as we got lower. Finally staggering back into BC late in the afternoon to find the whole place under flood water, as our ablation valley campsite slowly turned into a lake. Hakim was digging trenches vainly try-Inn to divert the torrents away from the kitchen tarpaulin. Mary-rose and Naveed had spent several days walking up to Concordia and were weathering the storm in style at the army camp at Goro.
Rain and storms lashed the Baltoro for two days and the camp-Kite was totally flooded out. We went across to Urdukas to meet Home friends trekking up to Concordia and collect mail. Maryrose left to walk out and catch her flight back to New Zealand.
Two further attempts were made on Biale from 10-14 July and 22 July; both were defeated at 6000 m when three-day storms set in. I decided not to go up again after my altitude problems on the ridge, and Nick had had enough after the second attempt. He trekked up to K2 base camp when Mark, Sean and Simon tried for I he last time. The evening they returned rain began lashing down and for four days storms swept the Baltoro. It was a real shame that, despite good weather during most of June and July, the three bad spells of weather all arrived when we were high on Biale. The upper 500 m headwall looked like it would have been steep with some technical climbing, but feasible.
On 25 July Hakim went across to Urdukas, collared about 10 passing porters and brought them across to our BC. We packed up, burnt all the rubbish, and left no trace of our 5 week stay. Nick had still not appeared back from K2 BC so we went across to Urdukas, Sean and I waiting a day there for him.
Members: Mike Searle (leader), Mark Miller, Sean Smith, Nick Groves, Simon Yates, Maryrose Fowlie, Capt Naveed Ghaznavi (l.o.)