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Asia, Pakistan, Attempt on Malubiting

Attempt on Malubiting. After driving to Pakistan, we had to wait for three weeks before we were granted permission on June 3 for Malubiting (24,451 feet). Our original objective in the Batura was not allowed. Four expeditions had previously unsuccessfully attempted Malubiting. With our liaison officer, Captain Asghar Hussain, Dr. Bernd Melzer, Horst Caha, my brother Michael Gizycki and I had a dream-like flight past Nanga Parbat to Skardu. After two days we drove 30 miles along the Indus and into the Shigar valley to Yuno. The next morning was spent getting us, our 29 porters and equipment across the Shigar on a goat-bladder raft. We went on to Chutrun and up the Basha, which springs from the Chogo-Lungma Glacier. On June 11 we got onto the glacier. Once on the ice we could use only five porters, for whom we had boots and socks, and together we relayed loads to Base Camp on the glacier at 14,100 feet at the base of an eastern spur of Spantik. Base Camp was set up on June 18. On June 19 Caha and I reconnoitered and avoided an icefall in the Chogo-Lungma by traversing on the spur of Spantik. The main (west summit) lay behind the eastern, middle and northern summits. We studied the northeast face which led to the saddle between the eastern and middle summits, which seemed avalanche free. The ridges seemed too long. We set up a tent at 16,400 feet where Camp I was to be. All four of us set out again from Base next day at one A.M. While the other two set up Camp I, Michael and I went higher. There was a full moon and the daytime heat was such in the basin that we could not climb by day. The next night we left at midnight and after route-finding difficulties in an icefall in the dark, we set up Camp II at 18,000 feet. After a rest at Base Camp, Michael and I set out at ten P.M. of June 23 and reached Camp II at nine A.M. We left again at eleven P.M. by flashlight but were disappointed to find bad snow conditions: breakable crust. By early morning we were on a spur at nearly 20,000 feet where we camped until midnight. We had to rope at two difficult spots and had to battle more bad snow. We set up our tent again at 21,150 feet. We could see Caha and Melzer at Camp II. At midnight we left and worked past crevasses and difficult spots until we reached the col between the eastern and middle summits. We again set up the tent at 22,500 feet and went for a stretch along the south ridge of the middle peak. There seemed to be practically no possibility to cross to the col between the middle and main peaks as it had appeared from below. There was nothing else to do but to cross to the northeast face of the main peak and climb the wall. We left just after midnight on June 28 to do this. We had reached a 50° gully that led to the middle summit at 23,000 feet when one of my brother’s crampons loosened. He lost his balance but caught himself, although the crampon fell. The weather was getting worse. Without a crampon we could not go on. Back in the col it began to snow. The wind picked up so much that one tent pole broke. On the 29th the weather luckily improved so that we could descend the face. To our horror we saw that Camp II had been overwhelmed by an avalanche. Lower down we found strewn equipment. Then we came on Melzer—dead. Where was Caha? We struggled down to Camp I that night and to Base Camp the next day, where we found Caha. They had left Base Camp on June 25 and taken two days to get to Camp II. After leaving at nine P.M., at one A.M. on June 27 they heard a crack and sensed that an avalanche had sweep over Camp II. They kept on. At two o’clock there was another crack and Caha was flung by falling ice into a crevasse, from which he could crawl after regaining consciousness. He then found Melzer, who had died instantly with a snapped spinal column. Caha dragged himself to Camp I and the next day to Base.

PETER von GizyCKI, Deutscher Alpenverein