American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Asia, Nepal, Manaslu, South Face

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

Manaslu, South Face. A Tyrolean expedition led by Wolfgang Nairz made the third ascent of 26,760-foot Manaslu by a third new route, the 10,000-foot south face, a face route of sustained difficulty. Yet success was immediately marred by the death of two members. It was a strong team: Nairz, Reinhold Messner, Dr. Oswald Ölz, Andi Schlick, Franz Jäger, Hansjorg Hochfilzer, Horst Fankhauser, Hans Hofer, and Josl Knoll. After a 10-day march up the Marsyandi valley and the Dona Khola, they got to Base Camp at 14,100 feet on March 29. The first problem was a 2000-foot-high, difficult rock buttress. Then followed the “Ice Labyrinth”, which led to Camp II at 19,200 feet and Camp III on the southwest shoulder at 21,650 feet. The ice ramp between Camps III and IV on the edge of the summit plateau at 24,275 feet was of extreme difficulty. On April 25 all was in readiness. Messner and Jäger moved up the comparatively easy summit plateau in good weather while Fankhauser and Schlick came up to Camp IV in support. At ten A.M. Jäger felt he might hold Messner back and started to return to Camp IV. Messner continued alone up two steep snow pitches and along the final rock ridge to reach the top at two P.M. He started down almost immediately since the weather was threatening. Soon it was a howling blizzard; after wandering confusedly in the wild storm, he finally made it back to Camp IV at about dark. Jäger had not returned! Fankhauser and Schlick set off into the raging night in the direction of Jäger’s shouts, but they could find no trace of him. After vain searching, they were forced to dig a snow cave to save their own lives. During the night Schlick headed out, never to be seen again. In the morning Fankhauser and Messner searched for the two in vain. Finally they had to abandon the search and beat a retreat down the ice slope, now covered by four feet of new snow. Conditions precluded any further search.

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