American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Asia, Afghanistan, Bandaka Sakhi, Attempt on East Face

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

Bandaka Sakhi, Attempt on East Face. Dr. Geoff Cram, Lawrie Holliwell, Dave Yates, Dave Robbins, Tony Charlton, Dr. John Burslem and I as leader drove overland from England via Kabul to a village called Zebak in northeast Afghanistan at the beginning of the Wakhan corridor. From Zebak we had a three-day trek, using horses and donkeys, into the mountains, approaching the Bandaka group from the north. I recommend this approach, provided one has a robust vehicle for the drive from Kabul to Zebak. Our primary objective, the east face of Bandaka, was abandoned after close examination, 9000 feet of steep climbing involving long ice-mushroomed ridges at high altitude with considerable avalanche risk. We lacked time, having only three weeks. Our energies were therefore directed at our secondary objective, the east face of Bandaka Sakhi (20,800 feet). We decided to attempt the 5000-foot face by a steep and sensational line leading directly to the south summit ridge. The first 3000 feet constituted snow and ice climbing, the last 2000 feet being steep rock with mixed climbing to the summit. We used two snow holes on the face for camps, the higher situated below the steep upper rock section. During this period we exprienced a week of bad weather which marooned two of us in the top snow hole for five days. We made a number of attempts to climb the loose and dangerous rock to the ridge. Because of the unstable state of the face we abandoned the attempt after some very steep and difficult climbing.

BARRY R. Whybrow, Alpine Climbing Group

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