American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing
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Asia, India, Garwahl Himalayas, Chaukhamba

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1953

Chaukhamba. There were several expeditions to the Garhwal Himalayas in 1952. The most notable was the French party which climbed Chaukhamba, 23,420 feet, in the Gangotri group. The mountain had previously been attempted unsuccessfully by the Austrians in 1938 and the Swiss in 1939, who miraculously escaped from an avalanche that swept the party down from their camp on the northeast ridge and killed two Sherpas. Following the Swiss route from a base camp on the Bhagirath-Kharak Glacier, the expedition placed an advance base camp at the foot of the peak on June 8th. Camp 1 at 15,800 and Camp 2 at 17,700 feet were established in the next two days. From Camp 3 at 19,500 feet Lucien George and Victor Russenberger, the only Swiss members of the party, made the climb to the summit on June 13th. Edouard Frendo had to turn back less than 500 feet from the summit. A second ascent was unsuccessfully tried by Gérard Géry with two Sherpas the next day. They reported that the chief difficulties were caused by the threats of avalanches between Camps 1 and 2 and the deep snow that lay on the northeast face. Other members of the expeditions were M. Lecam, P. Repiton, and Mile. Marie Louise Plovier.

An English party consisting of T. H. Tilly, D. C. Bryson, J. A. Jackson, K. Kempe, and R. K. Misra were also climbing in this region at more or less the same time. After exploring the Bhagirath-Kharak and Satopanth Glaciers, they gave up all hope for Chaukhamba because of the wintery conditions and reconnoitred the Bagneu Glacier where they attempted a 20,260-foot peak, which they named “Avalanche Mountain.” After being caught in a rather serious snow slide, they gave up the ascent for the time being and turned to Nilkanta, 21,640 feet. Later, Jackson and Bryson returned to Avalanche Mountain and climbed it. Their second attempt on Nilkanta, which they made along with Russenberger and George, was stopped by the beginning of the monsoon high on the mountain.

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