American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Asia, Nepal, Mount Everest Post-Monsoon Attempt

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1973

Mount Everest Post-Monsoon Attempt. The British expedition which attempted the southwest face of Everest in the post-monsoon period was fighting from the beginning against time. It was led by Christian Boning- ton with Lieutenant Colonel James Roberts as deputy. They reached Base Camp on September 14 and in five days had a route worked through the Khumbu Icefall. Camp II (Advanced Base) at the foot of the southwest face was established on October 1 by Nick Estcourt and Dave Bathgate, who put in the route to Camp III at 23,000 feet the next day. Doug Scott and Mick Burke pioneered the route to Camp IV at 24,500 feet on October 10. Hamish Maclnnes and Dougal Haston finished preparing the route to Camp V at 26,000 feet on October 14. Since the face had considerable snow cover, no fixed ropes from previous expeditions were usable, but conditions were generally good. Two snowstorms had delayed the team and as Chris Bonington and Sherpas moved up, the terribly strong post-monsoon winds began to slow down their effort. A bad four-day storm hit at the end of October and all but Graham Tiso were forced back down off the face. On November 6 they started fixing ropes towards Camp VI. By November 14 there were finally enough supplies at Camp VI for Haston, Maclnnes, Scott and Burke to move up, hoping to establish two men there. Their plan had been to climb the rock band by starting up a snow gully in which Haston had climbed some 250 feet in 1971. The gully was now nearly 1000-feet of very difficult rock! This was out of the question. Haston then looked around the corner to the “Escape Route” to the south ridge, but continual 100-mph winds ruled this out. They had no choice but to give up the attempt. On the way down, an Australian who had been helping in Base Camp, Tony Tighe, came up to meet the party and was tragically killed by a collapsing ice wall in the icefall. Kelvin Kent and Dr. Barney Rosedale also were members of the expedition. (We are grateful to Doug Scott for supplying this information.)

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