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Asia, Nepal, Gurja Himal, Northwest Spur and North Ridge

Gurja Himal, Northwest Spur and North Ridge. Our expedition was organized by the Lyon Section of the French Alpine Club and supported by the Féderation Française de la Montagne. The members were Pierre Buttin, leader, Mlle N. Brocard, Mme Y. Buttin, T Dietz, J.P. Frésafond, R. Gillot, J. Leroudier, Mme Ch. Leroudier, B. Mathieu, S. Sarthou, J. Soubis, R. Thomas and I. After being refused permission for Nilgiri, we heard only two weeks before departure that we had obtained permission for Gurja Himal. Wishing to climb a route different from that of the Japanese in 1969, we had the choice of the south face or the north ridge. We had no information on these and so after an aerial reconnaissance, we chose the north ridge. The south face would have required more equipment and time than we had available. Thomas and Mathieu drove a truck with our equipment from Lyon to Pokhara. We others arrived at Kathmandu by plane on September 16. From there, with sirdar Mingma Tsering, Sherpa Pasang Phouroua, cook Dawa Tondu, kitchen boy Da Tenzing and liaison officer T.B. Gurung, we reached by plane first Pokhara and then Dorpathan. We left the latter on September 29 with 70 porters. In four days, after crossing the 15,425-foot “Italian Col”, which had a difficult snowy couloir requiring fixed ropes, we got to the “Japanese Base Camp” at the foot of Churen Himal, high in the Kaphe (or Gustung) Khola at about 13,000 feet. The next day we placed our Base Camp 1000 feet and an hour higher towards the Dhaulagiri VI glacial basin. From October 3 to 17 we established three camps, helped in the early part by ropes fixed by the Japanese expedition to Dhaulagiri IV. Camp I was at 16,400 feet at the foot of a rock band which gave access to the glacial plateau between Gurja Himal and Gustang; Camp II at 18,700 feet on the plateau at the foot of the northwest spur; and Camp III at 21,325 feet on the spur. On October 21 Sarthou and Mathieu left Camp III at seven A.M., climbed to the top of the spur, gained the north ridge, crossed the “Lyonnais Col” at 23,000 feet and reached the summit (23,600 feet) at three P.M. Meanwhile the Buttins, Soubis and the two Sherpas placed Camp III bis on the normal (west face) route at about 21,650 feet, ready to receive Sarthou and Mathieu. The latter came through Camp III bis to Camp II, thanks to the track. On October 22 all those in Camp III bis reached the summit by the Japanese route. High winds and the lack of acclimatization among some prevented the other four from reaching the summit on October 23. Camps were evacuated on the 24th.

Bernard Amy, Club Alpin Français