American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Asia, Nepal, Cho Oyu

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1960

Cho Oyu. The International Women’s Expedition, which was attempting the third ascent of Cho Oyu (26,867 feet), met with tragedy, resulting in the death of the Belgian, Claudine van der Stratten, of two Sherpas and of the leader Claude Kogan, the petite French climber who held the women’s world altitude record and made numerous first ascents in the Himalaya, Andes, and elsewhere. The group reached Base Camp (18,350 feet) on September 14 and despite the unsettled weather following the monsoon, in the next two weeks set up Camp I (19,700 feet), Camp II (21,000 feet), an intermediate camp (21,650 feet) and Camp III (22,300 feet). On October 1, Claude Kogan, Claudine van der Stratten and the Sherpa Ang Norbu were established at Camp IV (23,300 feet). The weather turned both bad and warm. The next day, while the lower camps were being evacuated, the Sherpa Sirdar Wongdi and Chhowang tried to climb to the high camp but were buried by an avalance a little above Camp III. After a two hour struggle Wongdi freed himself but could not rescue his companion. Although the weather began to clear on the 4th, it was not until October 11 that Dorothy Gravina, English, and Jeanne Franco, French, could reach the site of Camp IV. They had already days before seen through field glasses that the camp had been swept by an avalanche. On the spot they could find no traces of their companions. The other members of the party included Margaret Darvall and Eileen Healey, English; Micheline Rambaud and Colette LeBret, French ; Loulou Boulaz, Swiss and Nima and Pem-Pem, Tenzing’s daughters and his niece Dhoma.

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