American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Asia, Pakistan, Broad Peak

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1958

Broad Peak. The Austrians climbed their fourth of the fourteen "8000ers” last summer, reaching the summit of Broad Peak (26,400 feet), the world’s twelfth highest peak, where they used neither high altitude porters nor oxygen. Indeed, although they had porters to help them onto the Baltoro Glacier, they carried all their supplies themselves on the final relay to Base Camp at 16,000 feet beside the Godwin-Austen Glacier, as well as on the mountain itself, and attribute their excellent acclimatization to this fact. On May 13, 1957 they began their reconnaissance up a rib on the western face of Broad Peak. They climbed a snow gully, rock, and then steep snow to Camp I at 19,000 feet. Steep ice, easier snow, and a steep ice-step led to Camp II at 21,000 feet. This camp, which lay at the lower side of a big plateau, was reached on May 21. The climbers were able in the next section to use some of the ropes fixed by the German Herrligkoffer’s expedition, which, in 1954, made the only other attempt on the mountain and had failed at 23,600 feet. All four members of the expedition left Camp III at 22,650 feet on May 29 in a summit try, but they reached only the col between the middle and main summits. A storm forced them back to Base Camp until June 7. On June 9 the four, Markus Schmuck (leader), Fritz Wintersteller, Kurt Diemberger, and Hermann Buhl, climbed to the summit of Broad Peak.

While the last two packed supplies off Broad Peak, Schmuck and Wintersteller climbed the highest, though unnamed, summit of the Savoia Group (24,147 feet), which lies between K2 and the Mustagh Tower. In ten hours they crossed ten miles of the Godwin-Austen and Savoia glaciers and climbed up snow slopes on skis to camp at 20,000 feet. On June 19 they ascended in twelve hours the remaining 4000 feet of the southwest face to the summit, first on hard snow and then in deep powder. They were back at Base Camp just 52 hours after their departure.

Diemberger and Buhl left on June 20 to attempt Chogolisa— formerly Bride Peak—(25,110 feet). On June 25 they left Camp I at 20,650 feet, traversed to the beginning of the southwest ridge of Chogolisa and camped in a saddle at 22,000 feet. After a day of storm, on June 27 they climbed to a col at 23,000 feet, where they unroped. Thence they followed the corniced summit-ridge to within 1000 feet of the top, where at 1 P.M., in cloudy and windy weather, they turned back. On the return Diemberger, who was ahead, felt the cornice settle. Missing Buhl a short while later, he first waited for him and then retraced the tracks until they led off into a break in the cornice. Hermann Buhl, the only man to have climbed two 26,000-foot peaks (Broad Peak and Nanga Parbat) had plunged thousands of feet to his death. His companions later searched in vain for his body.

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