EXPEDITIONS AND NOTES
CHUMMAKHANG EAST, 1990 AND
P. M. DAS
1. Chummakhang East, 1990.
A first ascent by the Sonam Gvatso Mountaineering Institute, Gangtok.
NORTH SIKKIM IS relatively uncrowded by expeditions and trekkers and so fields a number of peaks ranging from 5000 m to 7000 m which have not been climbed or have received few ascents. In 1938 Tilman returned from Tibet over the Naku la, west of Chomoyummo peak into Lhonak, into the Tasha Chhu and made the first ascent of Laschi (6212 m). This peak is also called Chummakhang main peak.1 In October 1946 an expedition led by T. H. Braham made an attempt on Chummakhang but they were beaten back by difficult icefalls and heavy snow.2 Our target was a separate peak at the head of the same Chummakhangse glacier from which Chummakhang (6212 m) originates. This mountain was unclimbed because of its formidable hanging glaciers and icefalls in its approaches. Lying southwest of Chomoyummo and being on the same connecting ridge Chummakhang and on the same glacier, we have referred to it as 'Chummakhang East' (6050 m) and it is clearly marked in Survey of India Sheet No. 78 A/9 on the scale 1 : 50,000. Our ascent route was along the southeast face which was steep but relatively safe from falling rock and ice.
A recce of this area was conducted by me alongwith two instructors in late winter in 1990 from which much knowledge of the topography, the terrain, the snow conditions, possible routes and camp sites was added. A study of the weather report for the last five years in the Sikkim Himalaya was also made. Eventually, the team left Gangtok on 31 May and acclimatization was done at Thangu during which nearby ridges were climbed for views of our objective. Base camp was established after two hours motoring beyond Yongdi by the Tista river at 4200 m and was occupied on 3 June. This base camp was conveniently located near the roadhead and we were able to dispense with porters and mules.
1 Exploring the Hidden Himalaya by Soli Mehta and Harish Kapadia, p. 22.
2. H.J. Vol. XIV, p. 66
During the next few days, the team trained on rock and ice. The rock around base camp was found to be excellent for free climbing being endowed with natural holds on firm granite. A number of routes were also set up by our instructors on difficult cracks during our training sessions. A recce team consisting of three members was sent up the Tasha Chhu. After two days, they returned to the base and reported that the chances of approaching the Chummakhangse glacier from the west were bleak. Thereafter, another recce was conducted by me and two members from the southeast while two members conducted a recce directly up the icefall of the Chummakhangse. On return it was concluded that the peak offered reasonable camp sites along the southeast face and a decision was made to commit ourselves to this route.
On 8 June with the rest of the team helping in the ferrying of loads, Nima Wangchu, Pasang Lakhpa, P.W. Sherpa and myself opened the route and occupied advance base camp (4820 m) on a moraine on the left of the Chummakhanqse icefall. My Bhutanese terrier. Ajeeba, also shared this camp with us. On 9 June the route to Cl (5200 m) was opened and occupied by the four of us. This camp at the base of the southeast face was reached after crossing the southwest ridge which comes down from the summit and we were able to appreciate the 850 m of climbing left. On the same day Nima Wangchu and Pasang Lakhpa broke trail through the soft snow for two hours above Cl to facilitate quick movement on the next day. Thereafter, the weather deteriorated and it snowed heavily for the next two days. I decided that all members should return to base camp to wait out the period of bad weather. On 12 June the weather cleared and nine of us moved upto ABC and on to Cl on the same day. On 13 June we left Cl at 0515 hours climbing on three ropes. Nima Wangchu. Pasang Lakhpa and P.W. Sherpa were on the first rope followed by Kesang Tshering, Pasang Sherpa and Vum Suan on the second rope. Nawang Kalden, S. K. Beniwal and myself moved up on the third rope. Within the ropes, the leads were changed but as we ascended the vertical ice-cliffs, Nima did a good lead and the first rope was able to fix 300 m of rope on ice. The day was warm and the sky was clear initially and we were accorded superb views of Siniolchu and the Kangchenjunga group on our left while Chomoyummo, Kangchengyao and Gurudongmar loomed behind us and to the right. After five hours of climbing on steep ice, we reached a long snow-plateau on the summit ridge. While walking up this gentle ground, a couple of surprises were thrown at us by the concealed crevasses. Finally the summit was reached at 1100 hours. The snow along the summit was corniced towards the west and northwest and a long connecting ridge with Chummakhang main peak could be made out. Towards the eastern side were steep drops along rockwalls towards the base of Chomoyummo.
The ritual of photographs, hoisting of flags and prayers over, I drove an aluminium stake on the summit and we descended at 1200 hours. We reached Cl for hot brews and descended to ABC. Both camps were wound up with the help of the rest of the team and we were all back in base camp by 1900 hours. During the next few days, we explored the valleys of the Lasha Chu and Yulekhangcha and the lakes of Gyapji Chho and Sugu Chho. The pass of Langdi la and a col alonq the ridge running south from Chummakhang main peak were reached. The area abounds in different varieties of dwarf rhododendron which were abloom-at this time and I spent three days with Nima stalking bharal, Tibetan snowcock and snow partridges, some of which we managed to photograph. The team eventually returned to Gangtok on 19 June in pouring rain but satisfied with a good climbing season.
Nima Wangchu. Nawang Kalden, Pasang Lakhpa. P.W. Sherpa, Kesang Tshering, Pasang Sherpa, Vum Suan, S. K. Beniwal & P. M. Das (leader).
Chummakhang East (6050 m). The first ascent on 13 June 1990.
2. Pauhunri, 1989
Sonam Gyatso Mountaineering Institute Pauhunri Expedition, 1989
The expedition led by Sonam Wangyal, made the 5th ascent of the Pauhunri (7125 m) on the Sikkim - Tibet watershed. The team followed the approach by the Tista river and made the ascent from the north. Base camp was established at Chholamo (5099 m). Advance base camp was established at Kangchungcho (5343 m) and Cl was established at 6209 m on a col. From there the summit was reached in seven and half hours of climbing by three members of the expedition, Nawang Kalden, Nima Wangchu and Pasang Lakhpa, all instructors of the institute, on 1 November 1989. High velocity winds touching upto 130 km per hour were experienced by the summit team.
The route from Cl to the summit was made difficult by a steep ice-slope of 150 m which was negotiated after fixing 500 m fixed rope most of which was fixed by instructor Nima Wangchu. The route from the last camp was long since there was no suitable place to pitch another camp.
Dates of the expedition 1989
1. Departure from Gangtok 17 October
2. Establishing of base camp (5099 m) at Chholamo 22 October
3. Establishing of advance base camp (5343 m) at
Kangchungcho 23 October
4 Establishment of Cl (6209 m) 25 October
5. Date of ascent 1 November
6. Date of winding up of ABC 4 November
7. Date of winding up of base camp 5 November
8. Return to Gangtok 8 November
The peak is best climbed in the post monsoon season. Even though the peak has been climbed from the northeast and the northern sides, the difficult northwest face offers sufficient challenge to future mountaineers. The roadhead of the expedition was at Chholamo and transportation of loads was done by yaks from Chholamo to advance base camp at 5343 m as porters are not easily available,
Ascents of Pauhunri
(7125 m) :
1. 16 June 1910 Dr. A.M. Kellas. Sonam A.J. 196,
and one HAP p. 113
2. 24 September 1945 C.W.F. Noyce, Ang H.J. Vol. XIII
Tharkay and Nangar p. 70
3. 24 September 1949 R. Walter and party Berge der
(French team) Welt
issue no. 7
4. 20September 1983 Bala Ram, Gurung, H.J. Vol. 40,
Shyam Bahadur p. 154.
Thapa, Prem Singh,
Dandi Sherpa and
Indian Army team led
by Col V. Y. Bhave)
5. 1 November 1989 Nawang Kalden H.J. Vol. 47
Indian team led by
The first three ascents were via the NE-N face, from the Tibetan side. The last two from the NW approaches to N ridge, from the Sikkim side.
The first ascent of Chummakhang East (6050 m) on 13 June 1990 and fifth ascent of Pauhunri (7125 m) on 1 November 1989 by teams from- Sonam Gyatso Mountaineering Institute, Sikkim.
CLIMBING GORICHEN II
COMMANDANT N. SHERPA
THE IDEA of the Gorichen expedition was mooted by Assam Rifles in 1985. But due to one reason or the other, it did not materialise till October 1989.
A team comp/ising 3 officers (including one medical officer), 1 junior commissioned officer and 16 other ranks under the leadership of Commandant N. Sherpa, VSM, undertook the challenging task of scaling the formidable Gorichen.
The team concentrated at Lokra in the second week of August and was given extensive training under Nb Sub R. B. Ghale, an experienced mountaineer.
Under the supervision of the leader, the team was moved to Jang on 6 September 1989 for the first stage of acclimatization. The team left Jang on the 20th and reached Mago on the 24th.
On the 30th the team moved from Mago at 0900 hours and reached Jithang and halted for the night. Next day on 1 October the team started from Jithang and reached Merathang for the night halt. The team reached Chokarsham base camp on the 2nd. Same day the leader sent a recce party towards Pt. 5806 to find out place of advance base camp.
On the 3rd the team established advance base camp and sent another recce party for Cl. On the 4th they established Cl and the leader with remaining party reached advance base camp on the same day. The recce party led by Nk Sonam Lepcha scaled Pt. 6247 at 1200 hours on 4 October.
On the 5th morning Nk Sonam Lepcha and party were sent at 0300 hours for finding a route to the peak and if possible to climb it. Nk Sonam Lepcha assisted by Nk Ganju Sherpa, Lnk Shiv Kumar Chhetri. Rfn Phurba Monpa and high altitude expert Sherpa Phurba from Darjeeling started from Cl.
The climb to the peak from Pt. 6247 was really very difficult. The party, as directed by the leader followed the southeastern route along the ridge line. A part of the climb was full of ice over the rocks which made the going further difficult. Nb Sub R.B. Ghale and other four members were sent as back-up party along the same route. Unfortunately Ghale's party while negotiating a steep climb to Pt. 6247, rolled down about 100 m. The whole rope was in trouble, Nb Sub R.B. Ghale and both the ropes were in contact with the leader who was watching the progress through a binocular.
Rolling down of Ghale's party did not panic others.. Nk Sonam's party proceeded with great care towards the peak. Nk Sub Ghale s rope suffered two casualties for whom evacuation had to be arranged. Fvacuation of the injured persons was a more hazardous task than (limbing the peak. However, everything went off well, the two injured persons were evacuated to the base camp which took 7 hours and from there, on the 6th morning, a helicopter took them to Tezpur military hospital. Unfortunately, the food stuff and the camera and other requirements were being carried by this party. The leader then asked Ghale to send two volunteers from his rope with the stores. Rfn Tsering Monpa and his mate Rfn Tsering went up with the camera. By that time, they were already late to catch up with the first party. However, they made a bold attempt and ultimately reached the top after two hours at 1330 hours. The first party had reached the top at 1130 hours and had to wait there till 1330 hours. When they all met, they took photographs and placed Assam Rifles flag and national tricolour, one ice axe and a cap on the top of Gorichen II (6488 m).
Thus the expedition to Gorichen was completed and the team successfully added a feather to Assam Rifles', mountaineering history.
Lnk Shiv Kumar, Rfn Phurpa Dondup, Rfn Tsering Monpa, Nk Ganju Sherpa, Nk Sonam Lepcha. Leader of the team was Commandant N. Sherpa.
From the available details and maps it appears that the team has climbed Gorichen II (6488 m). Gorichen I (6858 m) is further to the north. - Ed.
An ascent of Gorichen II (6488 m) in Arunachal Pradesh on 5 October, 1989 by a team from Assam Rifles, India.
Distances to Gorichen (Arunachal Pradesh Himalaya) :
The motorable road runs from Bomdilla to Tawang via Dirang, Sela pass and Jang. For Gorichen area Jang is the roadhead.
On road: Lokra to Dirang 186
Dirang to Sela pass 79
Sela to Jang 54
Trek: Jang to Thimbu 39
Thimbu to Mago 18
Mago to Jithang 11
Jithang to Merathang 10
Merathang to Chokarsham 8
Chokarsham to Pt. 5806 m 2
Pt. 5806 m to Pt. 6247 m 2
Pt. 6247 m to Gorichen II (6488 m) 1
(Reprinted from The Custodian 1990 with the kind permission of the editor)
MEDICAL REPORT OF THE EXPEDITION
TO KANGCHENJUNGA, 1988
DR RAVI RUPWATE AND DR MILIND CHITALEY
THE EXPEDITION WAS organised by 'Girivihar', a Bombay based club, in the months of March to June 1988 to Kangchenjunga (8586 ml.'A team of 24 members was formed about 2 years before the final attempt which included civilians from all walks of life'; accountants, businessmen, engineer, police inspector, lawyer and scientists.
All the team members were thoroughly examined at Seth G.S. Medical College and K.E.M. Hospital, Bombay, and careful medical history was taken with particular reference to illnesses on previous expeditions.
The usual inoculations for cholera, typhoid, tetanus were carried out one month prior to final departure. We did not consider it necessary to give BCG, polio vaccinations, gamma-globulin prophylaxis nor any antimalarial tablets since it is evident from other reports that malaria is relatively uncommon in Nepal.
Each member's cardio pulmonary exercise testing with PK Morgans Magna 88 computer system and complete spirometic lung functions were done at KEM hospital. Only one member was found to have higher blood pressure at rest, but he didn't get any problem from it during the entire expedition.
The total weight of medical supplies was 195 kg and delicate packing was done in 17 polythene boxes which were carried by 8 porters upto the base camp. In addition every member carried his own first-aid kit above C2 and both of us carried a comprehensive medical kit wherever we went. At the base camp and at the advance base camp (C4) there was allowance for a purely medical tent for day to day treatment and for replenishment of stocks at other camps. This system worked well but at higher camps priority was given to oxygen, food and other equipments than to medical packs.
1.See H.J. Vol. 45. p. 156 for details of the expedition. - Ed.
All the team members had previous altitude and Himalayan experience but none had gone above 8000 m. Regular fitness exercises in form of running, jogging, cycling, yoga and rock climbing were carried out and most members had done mountaineering courses at approved institutions in India successfully.
1. Illnesses on the approach march
Usual discomforts of blisters, infected wounds, loose motions were observed by us. Members were eating any local preparations and used to drink chang, rakshi and tomba (local alcoholic home made beverages) on the trip. Only precaution taken was to use boiled water while on march.
2. Illnesses on the mountain
The stay at Ramsej (4750 m) for 3-4 days and the trek to base camp (5550 m) in next 2-3 days contributed much to the acclimatization.
(b) Pulmonary oedema
We had one porter developing pulmonary oedema at Ramsej (4750 m) while doing load ferry and Dr Chitaley had to take him down to Torangtan (3050 m) where he made a rapid recovery. Another porter developed acute pulmonary oedema at C2 (6400 m) and was brought down to base camp immediately by two members. He required nasal oxygen, intravenous diuretics for relief of symptoms and luckily he could go up to C2 again after 5 days of complete recovery.
(c) Hypothermia and frostbite
Previous experiences of team members of high altitude and cold, and excellent equipment made this possibility a rare event. Two members were given pentoxyphylline tablets for continuous pains in both lower limbs with tingling and numbness with evident cyanosis. Both made good subjective and objective improvement in a period of four weeks.
Two of our members who could reach above 8000 m developed frostbites on fingers of hands and feet. They were given intravenous trental (pentoxyphylline) immediately and were flown to Bombay for hyperbaric oxygen treatment where they made a rapid recovery without surgical intervention.
Minor chilblains of lower limb fingers was seen in 70% of the members which were relieved in 4-6 weeks at sea level without any active treatment.
(d) Sunburns and snow-blindness
We carried a variety of anti-sunburn creams and lotions. Severe sunburn was not a problem but painful noses were seen in almost 80% of the members. Regular wearing of snow-goggles by all members prevented snowblindness but, many porters regularly complained of this due to dislike of wearing goggles especially in the morning hours.
(e) Other illnesses
Two high altitude porters continuously complained of non-specific chest pain and one was found to have Mitral Valve Prolapse on clinical examination. One porter was advised to undergo cardiac evaluation at the nearest cardiac centre. The other porter responded well to analgesics and sedatives at night where no objective evidence could be located.
High altitude dry cough was a universal problem which was most difficult to alleviate at night. A variety of cough syrups and lozenges were tried but most of them responded well to syruo linctus codine.
The only female member developed typical symptoms of breathlessness at base camp with wheezing and dry cough at night 'imes, with bilateral extensive rhonchi on auscultation which responded well to bronchodilator tablets and she didn't require any medication at lower camps, though she didn't have similar complaints at sea level nor on any previous Himalayan experience.
A cooking gas cylinder explosion at C'2. caused minor facial burns to one team member who made rapid recovery without any sequelae.
Regular nasal bleeding and passage of blood in the stools was a problem at higher camps where no local pathology could be found as a cause and subsided on its own after coming to lower camps.
The average weight loss at end of expedition (after 90 days) was about 5-8 kg in the members.
Though the morale of the team members was high throughout the entire course which certainly contributed to lack of serious illness, two members developed severe home sickness due to prolonged duration of expedition (almost 90 days) but were cheerful during the return march.
One porter had head injury due to stone-fall causing fractured nasal and maxillary bone with black eye and four broken teeth. He was stabilized with preliminary treatment at Ramsej and subsequently shifted to hospital at Biratnagar where he underwent surgical correction.
We were deeply affected by the sad death of our deputy leader Sanjay Borole due to severe exhaustion and exposure to cold while he was being carried down from C3 to C2 by two members and two high altitude porters at the end of the expedition. He was a good friend of all the team members and had a great psychological impact on the whole team. He could not be examined at that time, but he had apparently over exerted himself, suffered prolonged exposure due to extreme cold and developed pulmonary oedema. He was not autopsied.
3. Illness on the return march
Return journey was shortened to 7 days and no major problems were seen during that period except pain in the joints of lower limbs due to long tiring ups and down in the mountains. This eastern Nepal Himalayan range is full of leeches in May-June months which caused great concern to all in return march and it was a terrible sight to see painless continuous bleeding wounds on any part of the body invaded by leeches.
For further details, see 'Cardiopulmonary Functional Changes in Acute Acclimatisation to High Altitude in Mountaineers' by R.U. Rupwate, M. Chitaley and S.R. Kamat in European Journal of Epidemology,
Vol. 6, September 1990, Pp. 266-272. - Ed.
Details of medical observations on the Indian expedition to Kangchenjunga (8586 m) in pre-monsoon period 1988.
ON TOP EVEREST, 1989
ISABEL B. McCONNELL
THE IDEA FOR ON TOP EVEREST '89, a climbing-research expedition, began in 1980 with Walter L. McDonnell, M.D. and Robert Reynolds, Ph.D., nutritionist with the United States Department of Agriculture. Not until 22 July 1988 was a permit granted to a team of fourteen climbers for the South Col, standard Hillary route, for the pre-monsoon season of 1989. The group's official title was the American/Nepalese/Mexican expedition. Headquarters was located in the state of New Jersey.
Choronology of Expedition
7 January 1989:
Over 2 tons of food, supplies and equipment leave Beltsville, Maryland by truck for Los Angeles, followed closely by R. Reynolds and wife Becky to Kathmandu. US Embassy helpful in admitting to Nepal scientific instruments.
19 February :
Team's departure from Los Angeles to Bangkok.
Travel to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and to Kota Kinabalu on the island of Borneo, Sabah State. Main event was team training and publicity climb of Kinabalu a 1830 m vertical ascent of 4096 m peak in a rainstorm.
Arrival in Kathmandu.
Fly to Lukla and begin trek to base camp.
ON TOP EVEREST is first of 6 expeditions to arrive at base camp. Sherpas had already constructed dining, cook-storage and research shelters.
Cl (5790 m) was reached. Icefall route took 18 days to set through difficult conditions, called 'dangerous' by Sherpas. Sherpas, climbers and two New Zealand climbers did the route setting. Consequently, other groups eventually using the route had to be charged a fee for time and equipment. The teams cooperated, but there were individuals that did not pay for the use of the route as promised.
C2 or advanced base camp was established on a moraine of the Western Cwm at 6400 m.
C3 (7160 m) was established on the Lhotse face. Due to falling rocks, the New Zealand team requested and received permission to change to the South Col route. The Yugoslavians changed from the Geneva Spur route, also to the South Col route.
Scott Fischer, climbing leader, Wally Berg and Peter Jamieson made first summit attempt from C4 at the South Col. Due to a late departure at 5 a.m. and encountering very deep snow, the climb was aborted at 8380 m.
Second team consisting of Ricardo Torres and Walter McConnell moves from Cl to C2. Yugoslavians put 3 members and two Sherpas on summit and one team member fails to return. All camps had a premature celebration.
Fischer, Berg and Jamieson make a second attempt leaving at midnight in very cold weather hoping it will clear. Again they take no Sherpas. Jamieson and Berg turned back. Fischer proceeds to base of South Summit at 8710 m and returns because there is a 'whiteout' and he is alone. Second group moves to C3 where there are winds.
14 May :
Second group remains in tent all day. Other expeditions return to base camp.
Second team moves to South Col with Sherpas Ang Danu, Phudorje, Ang Pasang and Pemba Dorje.
16 May :
Torres and*.McConell leave the South Col with Phu Dorje, Ang Danu and Ang Pasang at 3 a.m. Ang Pasang returns to C4 with a broken crampon. McConell continues until he realizes he is alone and others are not visible in dark. He waits about one hour until dawn, sees the others far ahead. Base camp thought he was lost since he forgot to turn on his radio. He proceeds to 8230 m, then returns to South Col, tired and with three frostbitten fingers. He fell 50 m over rough ice in his descent.
Before base of South Summit, Sherpas helped Torres change his oxygen tank. The snow was very deep at this point, and Torres and Sherpas took turns leading and making a path. To quote Ricardo Torres' own story :
'We advanced for a while and Phu Dorje reached the summit. I stopped to wait for Ang Danu to cede him my place in remembrance and honour of Hillary and Tensing. I reached the summit and cried. We embraced and congratulated each other in brief, deep and warm friendship. An avalanche of emotions enveloped me: joy, fear, gratitude, exhaustion and yet more mixed and undefined feelings. We communicated with base camp and thanked the whole team for our success. We then took pictures with flags of each country.'
Weather conditions got bad, and after 20 minutes on the summit, Danu and Torres descended cautiously while Phudorje went ahead. At the edge of the South Summit, Torres slipped and fell 30 m and stopped himself with an arrest after many tries. Conditions were very slick. They passed Phu Dorje's ice axe on the descent. Upon returning to camp at the South Col, they realized that Phu Dorje was missing and presumed dead. After much discussion among climbers of all camps, at this point it was impossible to perform a rescue.
All camps were removed from the mountain and base camp cleaned and deserted on 23 May. The weather was very warm and monsoons were setting in. Two expeditions remained. They both had summiters after ON TOP EVEREST team departed, both encountering problems with heavy snow. Unfortunately 5 of the Polish team were killed in an avalanche.
ON TOP EVEREST '89 congratulates the 14 climbers who reached the summit that pre-monsoon season of 1989. The team also pays reverent respect to those 7 climbers who died in the attempt.
A research project conducted during the expedition was directed by Robert Reynolds, Ph.D. of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Department of Human Nutrition and ^supported by the U.S.D.A., the U.S. Navy, the National Institute of Aging and the Uniform Services, University of Health Sciences.
The purpose of the study was to find out what changes occurred in human body, how much energy was used, and what nutrients were consumed when team members were exposed to various altitudes, low oxygen supply, high physical demands, danger and long separations from family and friends.
Special diets were necessary for the research and were followed up by detailed, individual questionnaires. Body measurements, blood and urine tests, and examination of retinas of the eyes took place periodically. Climbers from other expeditions were tested upon request. The results of this intensive nutrition study will not be completed or published for two or three years.
The ascent of Everest (8848 m) on 16 May 1989 with scientific research being conducted by an American team.
LHOTSE SOUTH FACE EXPEDITION
'If you say A.....'
SO, THE SAME was decided by Jerzy Kukuczka. Two expeditions from Katowice have already tried to conquer this tremendous wall of the south face of Lhotse. But every time it lacked a bit of luck - one or two days without wind, when the attacking team was very high on the mountain. The third time a wonderful windless weather was in the mountains...
After overcoming serious persona! problems, we finally managed to organise a team strong enough to give an opportunity of climbing this face. The assumptions were made as follows : the fixed ropes will be arranged up to the second camp, the climbers gain acclimatization climbing the neighbouring six ithpusanders and the normal route on Lhotse. In the later case, the goal was also to pitch the camp at a height of 7400 m in order to protect a descent of the climbing team from the summit.
But nature completely changed these ambitious plans and attacked us with monsoon lasting until the first days of October. In effect the climbers were interested only in climbing the Polish route on the Lhotse south face. Luckily, the equipment store of the expedition was provided with ('just in case') several kilometres of ropes that were carefully stretched along the face and six camps were pitched at the following altitudes :
Cl (5800 m) on 13 September 1989
C2 (6200 rn) on 18 September
C3 (6800 m) on 28 September
C4 (7100 m) on 5 October
C5 (7450 m) on 8 October
C6 (7800 m) on 21 October
During the whole period of placing the fixed ropes, the weather was very bad with a great risk of avalanches on the face. It unfortunately affected our speed of climbing. The members of the expedition faced high moisture and sharp cold at the base camp permanently, hence, most of them were always feeling cold or suffered a painful cough. Just on 5 October 1989 the weather improved considerably allowing to pitch higher camps. Traditionally, in the middle of October strong winds begin to blow from Tibet. Also this time characteristic plumes of snow appears on the ridges indicating the beginning of autumn winds.
On 18 October Kukuczka and Pawlowski set out from the base camp with intention to reach the summit. The next day the wind stopped to blow. Taking advantage of good weather they reached the C6 on 21 October. On the following day, they continued their assault camping first at 8000 m and then at 8300 m. The weather was still excellent. Just after sunrise with a first glance of the sun on the face Kukuczka began to climb up towards the visible ridge. When he was just reaching it and trying to overcome the last obstacle, he suddenly fell off. The rope did not resist the 100 m long fall and broke. Kukuczka died falling down to the bottom of the face. Pawlowski couldn't inform the base about the accident, because Jerzv had the radio set in his rucksack. He began to abseil down using a spare rope he had in a rucksack. He spent a night on the rocky ledge at about 8100 m. Next day he met Kopys and Pawlikowski who supported the attacking team. They returned together to the base camp on 26 October 1989.
Unfortunately, the third attempt to climb the summit did not succeeded. And once again this bit of bad luck.....?
Jerzy Kukuczka (leader), Ryszard Warecki (deputy leader), Ryszard Pawlowski, Maciej Pawlikowski, Presemyslaw Piasacki, Tomas Kopys, Michal Kulej, Elsbieta Pietak and Witold Oklek from Polish Television, Lesnek Crech-radio operator, Yves Ballu from France, Fulvio Mariani from Switzerland and Floriano Castelnuovo from Italy.
An attempt on the south face of Lhotse (8516 m) by a mixed.team. Jerzy Kukuczka fell to his death on 24 October 1989 while attempting the summit.
NUPTSE NW RIDGE
The Stairway to Heaven
FOUR YEARS AGO, while guiding a group of trekkers to Kala Pathar, I saw this huge arena of rock and ice around the world's highest peak for the first time. Especially the beautiful ridge of Nuptse impressed me. A non-ending dream started. Later I learned that Nuptse was tried by 19 expeditions. Two of them did it successfully, three teams reached NW summit, the end of the impressive ridge to be seen from Kala Pathar. The ridge between NW summit and main summit is still unclimbed.
On 1 October 1989 we reached our BC in the middle of the Khumbu glacier, directly east of Kala Pathar.
On 8 October 1989 we established Cl (5950 m). This camp was pitched at the end of the rocky part, which is situated in front of the characteristic ice-pillar, traversing the left part of SW face of Nuptse. On this rocky part, we found some mixed rock climbing, where we could use some old fixed ropes from former expeditions. Rock climbing is not more difficult than 4th Degree (U1AA scale).
After the rocky part, follows a descent of about 100 m in mixed area. At the lowest spot of the descent, starts the very characteristic ice-pillar.
The ice-pillar offers nice ice-climbing, steadily changing the steepness (between 40° and 80°). The end of the p5illar is reached by a mixed couloir, 5th degree, mixed ice and rock climbing, 80° steep.
We fixed ropes all along the ice-pillar for safe return. Our second camp (6580 m) was established on the NW ridge itself shortly after the end of the ice-pillar on 14 October. There's a little plateau, which offers quite good places. Strong winds all the time on the ridge made life on the ridge's camping ground a little difficult.
After C2 a 100 m high gendarme had to be climbed and descended. A lot of cornices (Wachen) made the steep climbing rather difficult and dangerous. Especially the bad snow conditions last autumn made the climbing problematic.
Having crossed the gendarme, the NW ridge gives a clear route. It's a long and winding route with not much gaining of altitude, but beautiful view of Everest and Lhotse to the left and the lower peaks of Solo Khumbu to the right.
Several times 1 left C2 with Andreas and Hajo for fixing ropes at the difficult parts of the ridge. Finally they did not want to continue because they had enough of the extreme conditions on the ridge.
On 1 November I left C2 alone for climbing until the end for our fixed ropes'to 7050 m. I dug a hole for a single-person bivouac tent directly on the ridge. I spent a terrible night due to the storm on ridge. Next morning I left my tent at 8;45 a.m. and climbed in 472 hours to the NW summit of Nuptse (7742 m) / (1.15p.m.). Upto 7150 m the final climbing is very steep and because of the overhanging cornices quite dangerous. Afterwards the ridge is less steep, but because of the cornices I had to climb most of the time some metres below the ridge line, so it's more or less a long traverse in steep ice and snow.
150 m below the NW summit there's a short very steep gendarme, where I abseiled 10 m. The last 50 m before reaching the summit I had to remain on my knees, because the stormy wind didn't allow me to stand upright.
From the summit 1 could see the whole, very impressive ridge from the NW to the main summit. Due to my mental conditions and weather conditions I decided to return.
At 3 p.m. 1 reached my little tent. As I felt my concentration wavering I decided to spend one more night on the ridge in my bivouac tent. The next day in the afternoon I reached our BC with all the equipment of C3 and C2.
At the end of our fantastic party that night I don't remember how I reached my sleeping bag.
Andreas Dick, Thomas Simon, Thomas Stoger, Hajo Netzer and Ralf Dujmovits.
The ascent of NW summit of Nuptse (7742 m) on 1 November 1989 by the German team. The summit was reached solo by the writer.
Nuptse SW face with NW summit. Route of ascent marked. Note 6 (Ralf Dujmovits)
On the NW summit of Nuptse. Rto I: Nuptse central summit, Nuptse main summit, Lhotse and Everest. Note 6 (Ralf Dujmovits)
View from Nuptse NW ridge. L to r: Pumori, Gyachung Rang and Lingtren. Note 6 (Ralf Dujmovits)
Following the fixed rope on NW ridge of Nuptse.
NW ridge of Nuptse from C3. Note 6 (Ralf Dujmovits)
ANNAPURNA KOREAN EXPEDITION
C3 (7050 m) before starting for NW summit of Nuptse.
5 August 1989 : Departed from Korea and arrived in Kathmandu
11 August: Started the caravan
20 August: Arrival at BC (3800 m)
23 August: Installed ABC (5300 m)
I September : Permitted date for climbing in autumn season and started to make route
3 September: Installed Cl (6300 m)
II September: Installed C2 (7300 m)
17 September : The first team started from ABC for climbing Annapurna II (7937 m)
18 September: The second team started from ABC for climbing Annapurna II and IV (7525 m).
20 September: Installed C3 (7400 m) Climbed Peak IV, summiters : Jeong Joon-Mo, Cho Won-Bae and Dawa Sherpa.
21 September : Climbed peak II, summiters : Kim Yong-Kye and Jeong Kab-Yong.1
At 6 a.m. on this date, five members Kim, Jeong, Lee, Lhakpa and Pasang had started from C3 which was located around 1 km from I he summit for climbing peak II.
However, they returned to C3 soon due to continued heavy snow on the knife-ridge. After the discussion about the route condition among the members, they decided on rush tactics by Kim and Jeong with bivouac gears. Accordingly those two members started again from C3 for the summit at 7 a.m.
Since there have been no call from the summit team, Chang, the (limbing leader, switched on the radio at 3 p.m. and he communicated with Kim as follows and recorded:
Hello Kim, this is Chang. Can you hear me? O.K. ? Over.
'Where are you now?'
We are now just under the rock face of the summit. We are going to climb that rock face right now. We will be on the summit soon and have a bivouac in the course of descending. Over.'
'O.K. !. Good Luck. Do your best! Over.'
All the other members waited for a call from the summit team for the good news, but the above dialogue was the last one which was made between ABC and the summit team.
22 September : A search team moved to C3 and started to trace the I limbing route of the summit team.
25 September : After searching half of the route from C3 to the summit, team reached the conclusion that we had lost two members and that they had fallen down over the south face while descending from peak II.
26 September: Withdrew ABC. BC and to Kathmandu
4 October: Additional search of the north and south faces of peak II by airplane was done without any result.
1. The summiters did not return. They had communicated with the leader little the below the summit. The team presumes that they must have climbed to the summit. -Ed.
Yeungram University Alpine Club undertook the 1989 Annapurna II and IV expedition as the second expedition in the Himalaya in order to renew the challenge with Annapurna II where our 1983 expedition had failed in climbing to the summit.
1989 expedition team suffered continuous bad weather, and it was the reason why we made a decision on rush tactics to Annapurna II and lost two members.
We had several hard training programmes on a long term basis for this expedition. Accordingly, we had few problems in achieving high altitude adaptation and the physical condition of all the members was not so bad. The actual itinerary also was performed well without any major deviation from the original schedule. The only one problem we had in the equipment preparation was the shortage of fixed rope because the route condition between C3 and the summit was quite different than our anticipation.
With respectful condolence and sympathy of all the YUAC members to the bereaved families, we promise that we will succeed to the spirit of two members. For this, we are now proceeding to 1993-94 Everest expedition in winter season.
The ascent of Annapurna II (7937 m) on 21 September 1989 and of .Annapurna IV (7525 m) on 20 September 1989. Two climbers died on Annapurna II. The team was from South Korea.
CHUREN HIMAL CENTRAL PEAK
A SHORT BUT FORTUITOUS break in the monsoon weather resulted in a successful conclusion to my first Himalayan adventure, when with two doctors from Barts Hospital and Sheffield Medical School, we made an ascent of Jaonli, a 6632 m peak in Garhwal.
Returning to England in the auturnp of 1989, I soon became impatient to plan another expedition, and it was with considerable excitement that 1 discovered Churen Himal whilst browsing in the library of the Alpine Club in London. Churen is a large and complex mountain 120 km northwest of Pokhara on the western extremities of the Dhaulagiri massif. The mountain has three peaks of equal height (7371 m) and is relatively unvisited. Its first ascent was made by the Japanese in 1970, who climbed the central and western peaks and have subsequently made two further ascents of the west peak by the west ridge. The only other ascent of the mountain was one of the east peak reported by the Koreans in 1988.
The team consisted of Henry Chaplin, Christopher Burt, Roger Pyves and myself. We arrived in Kathmandu on 13 September 1989 and spent a week retrieving our air freight from Dacca, purchasing provisions and making plans with our Sherpas. Col Jimmy Roberts had lined up a qroup who put the rest of us to shame. Ang Jangbo (Sirdar) and Lakhpa Gyalu are both Everest veterans with ascents of Kangchenjunga and Dhaulagiri between them. Cooking was to be left to Passang (an expert at Banana Pie) and Kesar, who terrorised all the pigs from Pokhara to base camp.
Our 12 day walk from Pokhara to base camp afforded us with lantalising glimpses of the Annapurnas through monsoon clouds as we crossed the hills leading to the sticky heat of the Kali Gandaki river. From Kusma we followed the river north to Beni where we branched off to follow the Myangdi khola through Darbang where we began our climb. Two hours from Darbang the Dhaulagiri massif from Gushtung ,md Gurja Himal in the west to Dhaulagiri I in the east reveals itself .it first through the trees and then in the open.
We proceeded through Sibang and Lulang over a 3300 m pass to Gurja Khani which was a jungle of marijuana. Our first view of the mountain from the Budzunga Bara (4500 m) was obscured by heavy r.iin, but on our final amble into the Kaphe khola base camp on 1 October we had a magnificent view of Putha Hiunchuli and Churen's west face.
From base camp our route followed the original Japanese route to the central peak, which is long and circuitous. We established ABC (4750 m) on the Kaphe glacier and after some load carrying moved on to Cl (5090 m) several miles east of the mountain and under a tock wall leading to a large bowl under Dhaulagiri VI.
It took us several days to fix ropes up the wall, but by 10 October we. had pitched C2 (5850 m) on a spur of Gushtung North. From here we could look across to the three peaks of Churen in the west, to the south face of Dhaulagiri VI and the southwest face of Gurja Himal. We took it in turns to ferry gear up the wall and to break the route ahead. C3 was established in an airy position on the crest of a small ridge in front of the south face of Dhaulagiri VI. At 6190 m this was the first time^that we began to notice the wind. The weather was now clear in the mornings with clouds coming up the valley below after noon each day.
The route from C3 crossed a heavily crevassed bowl under the long ridge joining the east peak of Churen to Dhaulagiri VI and led to two ramps, the upper of which led to the east peak and the lower to a broad ridge leading to the central peak. C4 was established by Jangbo and Lakhpa at 6590 m on 19 October. Whilst we struggled on to C4 and Roger fixed ropes down the serac band leading to the lower ramp our Sherpas returned to base camp for a well earned rest.
They were soon back with us and made C5 (6830 m) on 25 October. The next day we all reached C5 late in the afternoon in very strong winds and the six of us huddled in a small Salewa tent rubbing each others hands and feet until we could muster the energy to pitch our other two tents. Our petrol stoves were giving trouble and we were getting dehydrated. Despite the very best intentions we did not leave for the summit until 9.30 a.m. the next morning. We started off as three pairs, but I soon sent Chris ahead to join the Sherpas and for an hour and a half lived in a dream world of my own with little interest in reaching the top. Henry and Roger had other ideas and we continued as a threesome.
Chris and the Sherpas reached the summit at 12.25 p.m. and we passed them on their descent. After an eternity of breaking through the crust of the snow we arrived at the summit ridge and a delicate traverse of fifty yards took us to the peak. We stood three-in-a-row peering down the abyss on the north side of the mountain and looking out to the Barbung khola and Tibet, and turned our attentions to the descent.
Back at C5 a gigantic raven had ransacked all our food, and we had little to live on until we got back to C3. Henry and Roger had frostbite in two fingers and Roger's feetiwere in a bad way, but we were all back at base camp by 1 November.
Our return journey to Pokhara took nine days and although Roger spent four of those on the back of a horse and four on the back of a porter, by the time we reached Beni I felt confident enough to send the following cable to my father in North Wales :
'All up. All safe. All digits'
An ascent of the central peak of Churen Himal (7371 m) on 26 October 1989 by a British team.
ABCs IN THE RUINSARA VALLEY
OUR WELHAM GIRL'S SCHOOL and the Doon School have had socials since ages, but imagine here were eighteen young girls to dance with one Dosco ! Credit for the brilliant performance up the Ruinsara valley to the destined peak, Kalanag in fact goes to the effervescent and rather determined Welhamites and the devoted staff members.
'Mr' Dutt (as the girls called me, some behind my back preferred Sandy) was bent upon pulling up the lot of ABC's (Amateurs, Base Campers and Climbers), even with a rope, up and up! Being an ex-Doon product and identified more now at Welhams, there was this need I felt to complete the equation; if Doscos can do it, why not us Welhamites.
The most important thing is the purpose of the expedition and this must be suited to the interests, abilities and the experience (including training) of the members concerned. Beware of the temptation to choose an area you would like to see and then inventing an aim as an excuse for going there. We have always aimed to encourage a spirit of adventure, and discovery. All adventure calls for a positive, determined approach from all the members, and should encourage initiative, a spirit of adventure, and the satisfaction of overcoming difficulties. Thus, doing the summit was only a bonus. The height and difficulty encountered surely brings about the accolades and recognition, it is however, the inherent need to ignite a feeling for the environment and to overcome survival conditions in wilderness which are more rewarding and important.
The Ruinsara valley was the most splendid training area. It offered all we needed for our Amateurs, Base Campers and Climbers as well. There were magnificent rock faces for the training in rope, rock craft at Seema and Ruinsara tal. Our naturalists were able to get nature's glory, the green jungles and the alpine meadows provided the picturesque setting for the flora and fauna project. There were of course the glittering peaks and the behemoth glaciers which will challenge the best of climbers. Ruinsara river, itself provided the backdrop of splendour and offered us enormous opportunity to boulder, jump and even crawl across.
There were four project groups, viz. Human, Flora, and an administrative/organisational team. Their diligence has produced enormous results; we have a study of behaviour, population, human relationship and finally details of occupations were identified, but no luck for animal lovers, while the bird watchers were in a veritable paradise.
The kids doing the Human project found out that the people of the Har-ki-Don valley worship Duryodhana of the Mahabharata fame and not the victors, the Pandavas.
The trek started from Sankri, overlooking the Supin valley. A few eating shops and necessary provisions are available here, Sankri to Taluka involves a few ascents and descents and is through a very dense forest of chestnuts, walnuts, willows and chinars. This part is now a big mule track and with the bridging of a few streams will become motorable by 1991 summer.
Seema in Hindi means limit or boundary. The Seema in our trek had no seema, it is placed at such a point that the trek to and fro to this camp is a very tough one, with many ascents and descents. The approach to Seema from Taluka brought us to terms with our physical abilities, and took long torturous hours either way. After about 9 km from Taluka, the trail crosses a stream over a bridge near a water mill, and then the trail goes through bushes and green foliage. Seema is really the last village and it is from here that an alternate trek to Har-ki-Doon via Osla originates.
The trail from Seema followed the Supin river along the left bank for 1 1/2
km to a small bridge, which we did not cross but turned right instead and climbed to the ridge. Finally to take a plunge down steeply to cross Ruinsara stream over a log, our amateurs and a few climbers were infact not willing to go ahead at all.
The camp besides the stream was our playground for a spirited game of rugby and was also the spot for the young cooks to show their culinary skills. Mrs Kaur bulldozed through the rugby game while Swaratmika and her troupe laid a big meal. It was here that we had to organise river crossing, using our ropes. The cold stream and its velocity shook our bones. At this camp, we said good bye to the villagers of Sankri who helped transport our excess baggage on their hard shoulders and with their mules. The team was now reduced to the projected size of eighteen girls, one escort, two highaltitude porters (HAPs) and a tough set of porters, total ten in all, who were all from Uttarkashi.
Climbing gradually, passing through dense forest we headed for Ruinsara tal, our proposed base camp. Now came the trouble, we had to cross debris of avalanches, and there was all 'chocolate' to walk on. The snow, ice and mud-slide formed a rather hot chocolate combination which was very tedious to cross. All unskilled kids, no experience of walking on snow and in fact carrying about 12-15 kg load for the first time. It was the spirited effort and co- ordination of the support staff, porters with their 40 kg loads and the girls eagerness to learn that helped us complete the journey to the tal in almost eight hours. We negotiated cliffs, traversed the glaciers, moraines and slipped and struggled on rocks plus debris to finally reach Ruinsara tal, a body of clear shimmering water, at 5 p.m. There were curses galore and tempers shot up, people wanted to retreat, the tal (lake) defused the crisis. This is an ideal spot for camping. The alpine meadows, the birch rhododendrons, polygonums, primulas beckon us all to return to the serene tal.
The pungent humour of the HAPs, 'Mr. Dutt's imitation of many of the kids, the Dumb Charade games, not to forget the Band - Aids and Sun - Tan lotion, even Musclax all helped us tackle their limits of physical self. It is not muscle that matters, you need presence of mind and humour to push up .ujing (in stamina terms only) trekkers.
Kiarkoti was to be the ABC (thecamp) and so at Ruinsara tal the amateurs (As) settled down. There was a capsule adventure course planned for them for one week; glissading, snow-craft, rope work, rock climbing, cooking and completion of assigned projects. The Base Campers (B's) I rckked to Kiarkoti. Climbing over a green slope, turning along a rocky cliff .it the end of the Swargarohini spur, they descended down to meet a stream. Rising higher and higher, walking and jumping over the rock-strewn moraine of Kalanag. Across the lateral moraine we gained the other side to be greeted by the vast grassy meadows of Kiarkoti, from there the Uandarpunch glacier is seen sweeping down from Bandarpunch and Kalanag peaks. This was the first time we saw some girls wearing out and losing confidence. The choice of the final climbers (C' s) was indeed simple i iow, with three girls, viz. Meghna Thapa, Dipti Garg and Anubha Shekhar there were the two HAP's and 'Mr.' Dutt.
The day dawned when the kids realised that the ropes were not brought to tow all eighteen of them up the heights of the peak, but to be used technically and to ensure safety in the dangerous and killing moraine, glaciers and crevasse crossings. At Cl was our last meal of cooked food, there was no way to light fire/stove and even prepare lea after the altitude of 5000 m. We had no gas stoves, kerosene stoves were not easy to take up and surely no firewood was possible. The stock of boiled eggs, dry fruits, sweets, biscuits and some tins of condensed milk was to push up to the summit and help us survive.
The strong winds of C2 (5180 m) and the icy nights spent at C3 (5640 m) make us cry even today. The ice axes used to pierce the tents saved us from ballooning into the glacier and the balaclavas, mittens, socks all worn in doubles and even triples brought us back without frost bites. Fine weather was our good fortune. The summit .iftempt on 30 May 1990 was not possible as we had lost a day acclimatizing (no extra day was planned at Seema). It was the white out on 31st that reduced our thrill of achieving the peak's heights. A day that will be down in Welham history as 'their' summit. The Welham mascot did finally fly atop the peak. Imagine two young girls, without any techrfcal know how, but for the expertise of our God gifted HAP's were able to achieve the peak. Now, it was the excitement to go back home and share the power of the glory. The retreat was very rapid and from the high point to Doon was a mere three days, a rush to return and enjoy our summer holidays, back home.
We had set about on a programme with a purpose and with our ABC project completed, there is all the hope that the movement of C's (climbers') will be even higher, in the days ahead!
A climb of Kalanag (6387 m) by the Indian ladies team in summer 1990.
West face of Bhagirathi III (6454 m.) Note 9 (Silvo Karo)