TWO SPANISH CLIMBS

FRANCISCO SONA CIRUJEDA

A. SHISHA PANGMA EXPEDITION, 1990
IN 1989 The High Mountain Army Group tried to climb Everest by the North ridge. It was impossible to reach the summit due to the weather and snow conditions. To reach 8530 111 wasn't enough for members of our group.

Waiting for another permission for Everest in 1992 our group chose the Shishapangma for 1990 for the following reasons: First, because it is a great mountain, one of the fourteen 8000 ers, second, this mountain hasn't been climbed by any Spaniard and, third, the easy approach rout^ can be made by trucks up to the base camp.

Through our Military Attache in Peking we obtained the permit for this mountain for October. The bureaucracy and the approach to the base camp took eight days. We arrived on 23 September 1990 at the base camp.

Reaching the base camp by vehicles, we had some acclimatisation problems and some members of the group had to descend to Qo-Chiang (3200 m) for better adaptation. On 28 September, nine members of the group were well acclimatised and began setting up advanced base camp (5500 m).

From 1 to 9 October the expedition team was divided in groups which set up Cl (5750 m), C2 (6400 m) and C3 (6900 m) after this work all the groups returned to the advanced base camp to rest and prepare the final plan to reach the summit. It was discussed whether it would be advisable to install another camp near the ridge and all the members agreed that it was possible to reach the summit without this camp, depending on the weather and the physical conditions.

On 11 October with very low temperatures the first group of six people started from the advanced base camp and reached C2 after a long hard day. The following day they climbed till C3 with no problems and had very good acclimatisation. It was decided not to install another camp and to go forward to the summit. Simultaneously another group started from the advanced base camp and reached Cl. in order to make a second attempt or support the first group if need be.

Very early in the morning 13 October the first group started from C3 on way to the summit. At 17.30 all the group: Major Santaeufemia, Captain Gan, Warrant Officer Exposito and Staff Sergeant Arellano and the civilian climbers Martinez Selles and Vidal, reached the main summit. After a short rest they returned to C3 reaching it at 22.30 after a long and hard journey.

The following day, 14 October, the weather turned bad and the first group decided to descend to C2 and divided into two groups. Due to the bad weather conditions and the poor visibility one of the groups couldn't find C2 and decided to make a bivouac in the extreme conditions (-35° C and 100 Km/h wind). At 01.30 Joan Martinez Selles died due to exhaustion and hypothermia. The other two members of the group who had local frost bites attempted to reach C2, reaching there in very bad conditions.

Joan Martinez Selles was born in Barcelona on 9 July 1957. He was married and worked as a medical doctor. He was one of the best Spanish climbers and he had been to many other expeditions, and on many difficult climbs in the Alps and the Spanish Pyrenees.

Today his body lies on the north Shisha Pangma glacier, the place he chose for his last climb.

B. SATOPANTH, 1991
Satopanth (7075 m) is located in the Garhwal Himalaya and it was the goal of the High Mountain Army Group in the spring of 1991.

The route to the base camp goes along the Ganga river, at the end of the Gangotri glacier, at Gaumukh we continued over the glacier to the base camp which was located at Nandanvan (4400 m). Our base camp was located lower than originally planned due to the great amount of snow which prevented our 70 porters from going any further.

Therefore the 13 members of our expedition had to carry all the equipment by themselves to Cl at Vasukital (4900 m), subsequently we set up C2 (5100 m) and C3 (5950 m), the last one was set up close to the NE ridge which leads to the summit. This ridge is the key to the mountain. It is 800 m long and very steep on both sides.

We needed three days to prepare the ridge with four hundred metres of fixed rope, essential for the security of the climbers on the way to the summit. In addition to the technical difficulties of the ridge (over 65° slope on hard ice), there was a lot of powder snow on top of it making the climbing very dangerous.

On 17 May, four members of the group Major Juez, Warrant Officer Exposito and Staff Sergeant Fernandez and Mora, at dawn, crossed the difficult ridge; it took them two hours. Four hours later they reached the summit at 14.15 hrs. Until then the weather was good but a strong storm caught the successful climbers returning to C2.

The expedition was carried out from 24 April to 30 May 1991 in traditional style, setting up three camps.

Summary: Ascents of Shisha Pangma (8046 m), October 1990 and Satopanth (7075 m), May 1991, by a Spanish army team.