American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Asia, Nepal, Reconnaissance of Dhaula IV (Dhaulagiri IV)

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1963

Reconnaissance of Dhaula IV (Dhaulagiri IV). Our small expedition, consisting of James Roberts, four Sherpa porters and a liaison officer, left Pokhara with 20 Tamang porters on September 10. Rain fell daily. Marching past Baglung and Beni and thence up the Mayandi Khola, we reached the small village of Lumsum on September 16. The weather remained fairly fine for the next four days. On the 17th we crossed a pass of about 10,700 feet and on the 18th arrived at the large village of Gurjakhani (8500 feet). Reconnaissance on the 19th and 20th north of Gurjakhana were inconclusive and served only to show that the existing survey map sheet was most inaccurate. The monsoon was active again until September 26. We left Gurjakhani on the 27th with 23 local porters and established a first base camp the following day at 13,800 feet. We reconnoitered from there and from other camps until October 5, on which date a proper base camp was finally chosen at about 13,700 feet by the side of a river flowing down from Dhaula IV towards the Ghustung Khola. Meanwhile we had penetrated to a height of 16,000 feet on the glaciers and icefalls descending from the southwest side of Dhaula IV. The outlook was not promising as all lines of ascent appeared to be heavily overhung by ice cliffs, liable to avalanche. To gain a more distant view of the mountains two Sherpas and I climbed a peak of about 19,000 feet immediately south of Putha Hiunchuli on October 9, after camping at 15,600 and 17,500 feet. As a result of views obtained during this ascent it was decided to continue with a limited attempt on Dhuala IV, which could be expanded into an all-out attempt should favorable progress be made despite the unpromising appearance of the lower part of the mountain. Camps were established as follows on the southwest approaches to Dhaula IV: Camp I, 15,700 feet, October 13; Camp II, 17,700 feet, October 18; Camp III, 19,200 feet. On the 20th an enormous ice avalanche swept the route between Camps I and II, confirming the dangers of this route, the only feasible one on the mountain. Although a dump of equipment was lost, we decided to persevere. On October 22 Nawang Dorje, Ang Pema and I climbed a 21,200-foot peak to the immediate west of Peak 23,539 feet (“Gurja Himal”), for which the name of Ghustung Himal is proposed. On the 23rd these two Sherpas climbed to about 21,000 feet along the route to the summit of Dhaula IV. Watching progress from below, however, I saw that the way lay under ice cliffs and in view of the avalanche of the 20th decided that the route had to be judged unjustifiable under the prevailing conditions. On the 24th I descended with the two Sherpas to Camp I. That day the remainder of the party, Mingma Tsering, Pemba Tenzing and Angchering (L.O.), climbed Ghustung Himal. Base Camp was reached on October 25, Dhorpatan on November 7 and Pokhara on the 16th. Dhaula IV is climbable by a strong party by the route discovered and H.M. Government of Nepal has granted provisional permission for a U.K. expedition to this mountain in the autumn of 1964.

James O. M. Roberts, Alpine Club

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