American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Asia, Nepal, Annapurna, Second Ascent

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1971

Annapurna, Second Ascent. The British Nepalese Army Annapurna Expedition assembled in Kathmandu on March 16, personnel and stores having been air-freighted from the United Kingdom by the RAF. We were Major Bruce M. Niven, overall leader, Lieutenant Richard Summerton, Captain Douglas Keelan, Corporal John Anderson, Captain Gerry F. Owens, Captain Tim Taylor, Dr. David Jones, and I, as climbing leader. We flew to Pokhara and there repeated the French approach. The “Pass of April 27” of the French was reached a month before that date but deep snow and unenthusiastic coolies meant we did not reach Base Camp at 14,750 feet until April 5. It took a further three weeks to carry the final loads there. The approach was difficult due to heavy winter snowfalls lying late. Tim Taylor was evacuated by helicopter from Shepherds Camp (12,500 feet) to the British Military Hospital at Dharan with pneumonia. Advance Base, Camp II (19,600 feet) was first reached on April 16 but blown out by avalanches off the Sickle on April 24. Owens and Summerton survived, bruised! We attempted to bypass the Sickle for the next week, but were finally turned back on the northeast buttress at 21,000 feet by an isolated ice tower. While evacuating stores, Summerton was avalanched off the fixed ropes as he was filming. He sustained two broken ribs. Turning back to the French route, four of us finished the climb with limited Sherpa support between May 11 and 20. The back-up pair was Doug Keelan and Andy Anderson and the summit pair Gerry Owens and I. The only technical difficulty was climbing into and out of the Sickle bowl, where ropes were left. We used oxygen overnight and during the summit climb on May 20, climbing the final 2250 feet to 26,545 feet in only three hours. The final gully and icefield were steep, but the rest was at an easy angle. The dates on which the sites of camps were first reached (and occupied in parentheses) follow: Camp I, April 8 (April 15); Camp II, April 16 (April 19); Camp IIa on Northeast Buttress route, April 30 (May 3); Camp III, May 5 (May 12); Camp IV at 23,300 feet, May 16 (May 18); Camp V at 24,300 feet, May 19 (May 19). In general we followed the French route except for the Sickle.

M. W. HENRY Day, Captain, Royal Engineers

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