American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Japanese Himalay Expeditions

  • Feature Article
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1961

Japanese Himalayan Expeditions

I. HIMALCHULI, 1960

Jiro Yamada

In commemoration of the centenary anniversary of Keio University, an expedition to the Himalayas was programmed, and this was the earnest desire of our club since before the war. In no time the Himalayan committee was established and we decided on Annapurna II as objective of our climbing. An application for the peak was immediately submitted to the Nepalese Government. Nearly a half year later we received word from the Nepalese Government that the permission for said peak was given to an English team.

Consequently we were forced to change our objective, and Dhaulagiri II was selected. To reconnoiter around the peak a reconnaissance party was formed with four of our club’s members. Among them leader K. Kato is known as a member of the successful ascent of Manaslu in 1956. They left Tokyo in August, 1959, for Nepal. They placed Base Camp on the northern foot of Dhaulagiri II and for a month surveyed all possible routes to reach the summit; however, no accessible route was found. The mountain was so completely guarded with narrow gorges and steep ice walls. (See A.A.J., 1960, 12:1, pp. 67-8.) On the return to Pokhara they came down along Marsyandi and made a short trek to Mushi Khola from Khudi. They viewed Himalchuli from the west side and found an accessible route on her lower glacier.

Upon receipt of their confident report, the committee took up the plan of Himalchuli. Already the leader and other members had been decided. They are all ex-students or students of Keio University except the cameraman. Their names are as follows: Jiro Yamada, Leader; Hideki Miyashita, Assistant Leader; Hisashi Tanabe, Kimimasa Nakazawa, Shigeru Murata, Koichiro Ohmori, Yoshiro Kawada, Masahiro Harada, Susumu Takashio, Doctor; Katsuhisa Kimura, Cameraman.

The advance party, consisting of two members, left Tokyo on March 7. This party made necessary preparations and arrangements with the Nepalese Government and Himalayan Society. Employment of Sherpas and porters See plates 55 and 56. was a very difficult problem, for the noted and good Sherpas had already been contracted with other expeditions. They spent more than two weeks for this matter and were able to reserve fifteen Sherpas including local porters. They were the cooks, Lakpa Tsering and Ang Tsering V, high altitude Sherpas Ang Tensing, Ang Numgyal, Mingma Tsering, Pemba Norbu, Nima Dorje, and local porters Nima Sundder, Kazi, Pasang Tensing, Ang Gyalbu, Jyabyan Tensing, Pasang Sonum, Bagto Bahador, and Dorje.

The main party left Tokyo for Hongkong on March 12 by boat and flew from there to Calcutta. All members and equipment concentrated at Pokhara on April 10. That day they started on a ten-day’s march to Base Camp. On April 19, Base Camp was pitched on the big spur derived from the Sickle Ridge, at an altitude of 13,780 feet. They spent the following days finding a route to the Sickle Ridge below the first step of the snow plateau. Camp I was established on April 25 at an altitude of 17,000 feet and Camp II on May 1 at 18,900 feet on the first step. On May 3, not long before day-break, an unfortunate accident occurred at Camp I. An avalanche from the upper glacier flowed near the camp site. A few blocks of hard ice jumped out from the flow and attacked the tents. The local porter Kazi was struck on his head seriously and found unconscious, and another local porter Pasang Sonum suffered injury on his humerus and ribs. The body of Kazi was buried with reverence in the deep crevasse just above the camp, following the Sherpas’ custom of singing sad songs. The injured patient was carried down to Base Camp to be sent to the hospital in Pokhara on a stretcher improvised from a ladder.

Climbing, however, went on and Camp III was established on the second step on May 7 at an altitude of 20,700 feet. On May 19, Camp IV was established at 21,650 feet and Camp V on May 22 at 23,000 feet. Finally, on May 23, Camp VI was placed on the broad snow col between main peak and west peak. For want of oxygen, they suffered heavy headaches, and altimeter showed 23,950 feet. Two climbers slept that night in Camp VI breathing oxygen at one litre per minute. The attack members, H. Tanabe and M. Harada, left Camp VI at five. The release of oxygen was increased to two litres per minute. After hard climbing for six hours, they reached a rock wall beneath the summit, but it was not so difficult. Above the rock wall was a very steep ice wall which nearly prevented them from going up. By means of much step-cutting they climbed the ice wall, traversing to the southward. When they reached the top of a high snow head at 1:10 p.m., they found themselves on the summit of Himalchuli. The summit was long, horizontal snow ridge declining to the west and a big cornice overhung to the eastward about two or three meters (six to ten feet) long. A bamboo pole with Nepalese, Japanese and Keio University flag was placed on the top and they took many pictures. This was not easy because of strong winds, and this impressive scene was taken through a 500 mm telelensed camera by the cameraman who situated on the shoulder (about 24,275 feet) of the west peak. Thirty minutes had passed unawares and they took their route to Camp V.

Deep emotion seized them when they met with two other members at the snow col. Snowy winds swirled and roared around them. After a short rest, they went down to Camp V.

On the next day, May 25, the weather was changing badly and winds blew hard from the east. Second attack members, H. Miyashita and K. Nakazawa, started from Camp VI at six and reached the summit at 2:10 p.m. When they returned to Camp VI the sun was completely down.

On May 28 all members met at Base Camp and toasted each other for the first ascent to Himalchuli with some glasses of whisky. Fifty porters came up from the villages on June 2 to carry our loads from Base Camp. On the day we left our Base Camp, Himalchuli was veiled deeply in the dark clouds of monsoon.

I. THE ASCENT OF NOSHAQ

Y. Sakato

The Academic Alpine Club of Kyoto succeeded in making the first ascent of Chogolisa (25,110 feet) in 1958, and in 1960 sent an expedition party to Noshaq (24,574 feet), the second highest peak in the Hindu Kush. The party had two objectives: to make scientific investigations in the Afghan Pamir and to try the ascent of Noshacq. Members were as follows: Prof. Yajiro Sakato (Leader, Biologist), Dr. Riozo Yosii (Biologist), Dr. Hideho Sawata (Geologist), Yukiharu Hirose (Chemical Engineer), Toshiaki Sakai (Student), and Goro Iwat- subo (Student).

Negotiations with the Government of Afghanistan lasted for three weeks at Kabul; we could not get permission to journey through the Wakhan corridor and our activities were restricted to Noshaq and its adjacent regions. Leaving Kabul on July 1, we reached Ishkashim on the 14th and after two days march on horseback, Base Camp was made in the Qasdeh valley at the altitude of 10,100 feet. The following ten days were spent making Camp I (12,500 feet) and Camp II (14,750 feet) on the moraine of black slate, which covered almost entirely the surface of the lower part of the Qasdeh glacier. The only possible way to the summit was to go upon the main glacier as far as the inner sanctuary and then climb the southern slope of the mountain.

While we were taking rest at Base Camp, a Polish mountaineering party arrived there quite unexpectedly. We were very much surprised to know that they intended to climb the same mountain, which news I had heard at Kabul as an uncertain rumour. Next day we started again. Camp III (18,200 feet) and Camp IV (20,670 feet) were established on August 9 and 12 respectively. Observations from Camp IV show that the way to the top is divided into two parts: the lower half consists of a narrow snow ridge and steep arête approximately 2300 feet in height, which is not so difficult, and the upper half is a broad and gentle snow slope.

Since one of us had unfortunately come down with a bad cold and had to stay at lower camps, and the villagers who helped us did not venture to climb on the snow, we could not pitch a higher camp on the arête. So I decided that two members would try the summit from Camp IV. Meanwhile the Polish leader, Mr. Chwascinski, and I had talked the matter over and agreed that, if possible, Polish and Japanese climbers would form one rope-party and try the summit together. But their arrival at Base Camp was three weeks later than ours, and by the time of departure of our summit party they were not acclimati2ed enough to try the summit with us. (See “Polish Hindu Kush Expedition” in Climbs and Expeditions.—Editor. )

On August 17 Sakai and Iwatsubo left Camp IV at 5:30 a.m. and in six hours reached the junction point of the arête and snow slope, the climbing being rather easy and pleasant. It took an extraordinarily long time to ascend obliquely on the vast snow slope, and they suffered from rarity of air and deep soft snow. They stood on the final snow ridge at five p.m., from where the top was seen to be 2000 feet distant and 325 feet higher, a hill of small rock pieces. At last they reached the highest point at six p.m. After half an hour’s stay of taking pictures and burying a small doll as monument, they came hurriedly down the snow flank. It was completely dark when they decided to pass the night in one of the small crevasses. Next morning they started early, climbed down the arête and arrived safely at Camp IV at eleven a.m. Leaving Base Camp on August 24, we visited Lake Sheva. We made some biological and geological investigations in the regions on the way to and from the mountain. Kabul was reached on September 17.

II. THE JAPANESE YETI EXPEDITION, 1959-1960

F. Yamasaki

We, seven members (T. Ogawa, the leader, J. Hayashi, F. Yamasaki, H. Otsuka, T. Yoda, Y. Ozaki, and Gyaltsen Norbu) with about 100 porters left Dharan Bazar on December 2, 1959 for Namche Bazar and arrived there on the 17th. The Base Camp was set at Phurtee, a small village about two miles west of Namche Bazar. We stayed about fifty days in the Khumbu area, searching for the Yeti. Our chief aim was to collect definite evidence of the existence of the Yeti, and for that purpose we chose specially the coldest season, thinking that Yeti, if such an animal lives in the Himalaya, must come down to lower places in the severe winter to get food.

But despite all our efforts we could not find any definite footprint of the Yeti. This winter we had almost no snowfall in that area. The weather seemed to be quite exceptional this year. The minimum temperature at the Base Camp, 11,500 feet high, was -12.4°C. (+10°F.) in the middle of January and even in the mountain zone as Dudh Pokhari, 15,420 feet high, it was no less than -20°C. (-4°F.) at the end of that month. We were shown at Namche Bazar some meteorological notes of last year, though there were no temperature data. In January of last year there was snowfall seven times and the maximum depth of snow reached to 250 cm. (8 feet 2 inches). Because of the lack of the snow, we encountered much difficulty in finding Yeti tracks.

On the other hand, thanks to the scarcity of the snow, we could walk easily through almost all valleys of this area about Namche Bazar. At first we went along Bhote Kosi, and examined especially one of its tributaries, the Langmoche river. As the next step, we went to Khumjung, Thang- boche, Pangboche, and Chukhung along Imja Khola, and its tributaries. Some of us reached Lobuja Khola. In the third search, about a half of the members went to Dudh Pokhari, and the other half to Langmoche and Lhenjo. On the 5th of February we left Phurtee with 45 porters, and via Lungbesi we came back to Kathmandu on the 19th of February.

III. THE ASCENT OF API

Yasusuke Tsuda

Doshisha University Himalayan Expedition 1960, consisting of Yasusuke Tsuda, leader; Katsutoshi Hirabayashi, deputy leader, Yasushi Egami, Motoh Terasaka, and Takeshi Uenishi left Calcutta on April 1. Sirdar Gyaltsen Norbu, Lhakpa Gyelbu, Ila Tenzing (cook), Dawa Tenzing II, and Temba Tenzing accompanied the party as high altitude Sherpas.

Passing through Tanakpur, Pithoragarh, Jhulaghat, and Garbyang, we established Base Camp at Api Khola at 11,500 feet on April 21. Following the same route taken by Sr. Ghiglione’s party in 1954, we established Camp I at 14,750 feet on April 28, and Camp II at 17,400 feet on May 2. The route was the same as Italian party’s in 1954, but the condition of ice fall was worse, according to Gyaltsen’s opinion. The 2500 feet from Camp II to Camp III were most difficult. After three days of hard work, in which we fixed 1000 feet of rope, the party established Camp III at 19,900 feet on May 5. Camp IV was established at 21,555 feet on May 9 and an attempt to reach the summit was made on May 10 by Hirabayashi and Gyaltsen Norbu in fine weather. They left Camp IV at six a.m. and reached the corniced summit (23,399 feet) at 11:40 a.m. The next day, Terasaka and I reached the summit again as the second summit party.

IV. JUGAL HIMAL, 1960

Hisayuki Ito

In 1949, Mr. H. W. Tilman explored Lantang Himal and Jugal Himal and introduced their scenic beauties to mountaineers. Then, in 1955, a British women’s expedition made a successful ascent of Gyaltzen Peak, and in 1957, another British party made an attack on the main peak (Big White Peak) in vain. This climb was prevented by an avalanche which took three human lives. In 1958, Mr. K. Fukada and his party from Japan explored this area. (A.A.J., 1959, 11:2, pp. 245–246.) The party consisted of the following eight members: Hisayuki Ito, leader; Shoji Iwase, deputy leader, medical doctor; Setsuo Futatsugi, Kunitoshi Ishihara, Yukihiko Kato, Kanenori Haruta, Tsuneo Inagaki, and Eiji Haneda. Sirdar Pasang Phutar I, Dawa Thondup, and seven other Sherpas accompanied the party as high altitude porters.

The purpose of our expedition was to climb the Big White Peak (23,240 feet) which is the highest mountain of the Jugal Himal range and was named by the above British women’s expedition. We arrived at Base Camp (14,100 feet) on April 18 and a route was taken leading to Purbichyachu Glacier on which we set up camps, Camp I to Camp V. The support for the attack party was satisfactory and preparation for attack was all ready. But bad weather interrupted us and we were unavoidably compelled to give up attack on the Big White Peak.

Though we failed to get to the top of Big White Peak, on May 7, Ishihara, Kato, and Pasang Phutar did succeed in climbing from Camp IV to Madiya Peak (22,310 feet) located just in front of the Big White Peak. This peak was named by our party. Madiya means “Central” in Sanskrit. We think this Madiya Peak is a suitable name for such a peak in Jugal Himal, because this peak is located at the innermost part of the Jugal Himal range and at the end of both Purbichyachu and Dorje Lakpa Glaciers. Haruta, Inagaki, and Dawa Thondup made a second ascent of Gyaltzen Peak (22,000 feet) on May 10.

V. PUNJAB HIMALAYA EXPEDITION

Sadako Hosokawa

The Japan Ladies Alpine Club sent an expedition to the Pir Punjab Range which climbed Deo Tibba (19,687 feet). (First ascent by Mr. and Mrs. Jan de V. Graaff and K. E. Berrill in 1952; second ascent by Rudolf Rott in 1955; third ascent by Eileen Gregory in 1956.—Editor.) The party consisted of seven: Mrs. S. Hosokawa, leader; Miss K. Hamanaka, assistant leader; Mrs. M. Okabe and the Misses K. Hara, Y. Sugiura, Y. Okugawa and Nima Lhamu from Darjeeling. On September 5 we arrived at Manali via Mandi from Pathankot, where the Sherpas, Gyaltsen Norbu, Lakpa Tsering, Dawa Thondup, Pasang Dawa and Lakpa Gyelbu, had joined us. We started on an acclimatization trip up to the Rhotang Pass on September 9 and finally left Manali on September 14 with Sherpas, four high altitude porters, 24 coolies and 12 mules, relaying the loads twice because of a lack of coolies. We reached Base Camp at Seri (13,400 feet) in the Jagatsukh Nala on September 18. Four days later we established Camp I at 14,500 feet at the end of the glacier at the head of the Duhangen Nala. On September 24 we set up Camp II across the Duhangen Pass on the Malana Glacier at 16,400 feet, before retiring to Base Camp for a rest. Hamanaka and Okabe left Base Camp on October 1 and arrived the next day at Camp II. The next four days were spent in establishing Camp III. (The meaning of the original manuscript here was a little obscure and although the ridges are clearly indicated in maps and photographs in the Himalayan ]ournal of 1952, the route followed is difficult to identify.— Editor.) Piton Ridge, which had been chosen by the Graaff party and by Miss Gregory, was dangerous because of falling ice and so seemed impossible for us. We decided to take a new route to get down off Watershed Ridge and up on the icefall we named “Deo Tibba Glacier” along Piton Ridge. The whole of October 3 was spent descending the steep wall to Deo Tibba Glacier from Watershed Ridge. On October 6 Camp III was pitched on the icefall at 17,400 feet. Hamanaka and Okabe started from this camp at eight a.m. with the Sherpas Gyaltsen Norbu and Dawa Thondup, got over the icefall and reached the summit at noon. They were back in Camp II at 6:30 p.m. after evacuating Camp III at three and reached Base Camp the next day. We climbed some minor peaks near Deo Tibba. Hosokawa and Okugawa ascended an unnamed peak south of Base Camp, Hosokawa, Hara and Nima Lhamu, an unnamed peak southeast of Base Camp and Hara, Sugiura and Okugawa a peak (16,932 feet) above the Malana Glacier. On October 20 we started the return trip to Manali and to Japan.

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