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Asia, Nepal, Annapurna—Dhaulagiri Area

Annapurna—Dhaulagiri area. During two years spent as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Pokhara from 1962 to 1964 I managed to get time off for occasional treks and climbs in the nearby mountains, which are here somewhat belatedly reported. The first major trek was made in July 1963 when Paul Ahrens, Bert Puchtler and I along with Sherpa Lhagpa Tenzing and six porters seeking to escape monsoon rains walked to the village of Tukucha (pronounced Tukche) on the Kali Gandaki which formed our base of operations for the next three weeks. From there we proceeded in a day and a half to Dambush Pass (16,400 feet) to the north of Tukucha Peak and Dhaulagiri. From the pass it was an easy climb (though excruciating because of the altitude which we were not yet used to ) to the summit of 18,500-foot Little Tukucha Peak just south of the pass. This was first climbed by the Swiss in 1960. Returning to Tukucha for a day’s rest we then set out for Tirichho (or Tiritso), the “Great Ice Lake” at 15,600 feet north of Annapurna explored by Maurice Herzog in 1950, which now in July was ice-free. Here we succeeded in climbing via the south ridge a prominant 19,000-foot peak north of the lake probably first climbed by Marcel Ichac of the 1950 French expedition. After another day’s rest back in Tukucha we hiked to Muktinath and Nyeshang La, the 17,000-foot pass between the Kali Gandaki and the headwaters of the Marsyangdi Kohla. From here two attempts were made to climb the c. 20,000-foot peak south of the pass but we were turned back by bad weather and uncertain snow conditions.

In 1964 I managed to reach all three of the same areas again having returned to Tukucha on a Peace Corps teaching assignment via the Marsyangdi Khola and Nyeshang La. On the way a side trip was made to Tirichho which this time, the first of May, was still frozen over. George Peck and I climbed a small 16,750-foot peak near the west end of the lake. In early June Charles Bell showed up in Tukucha where I was then teaching school and I took a few days off to climb to Dambush Pass with him. A long but easy snow ridge walk brought us to the top of the 19,050-foot mountain just north of the pass which we have called Dambush Peak.

The only other real climb was in October 1963 when Bert Puchtler and I made our third attempt to get high enough to explore the base of Machhapuchare, 20 miles north of Pokhara on the southern flanks of the Annapurna massif. We placed a high camp on a moraine somewhat over 15,000 feet and ascended Mardi Peak (18,300 feet) via the snow couloir between it and Machhapuchare to the north east.

Douglas Bingham