American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Asia, Hindu Kush, Pakistani-Afghan Frontier, Koh-e-Urgund Attempt, Koh-e-Awal

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

Koh-e-Urgund Attempt, Koh-e-Awal. Unfortunately our undertaking turned out sadly. Two of my companions, Werner Bergmann and Horst Kaltow disappeared on August 30 near Camp II on Koh-e-Urgund, presumably buried in an avalanche. Before that, I had fallen sick and had to leave early with my wife Iris, crossing on foot from Zebak to Dasht-e-Rewat. We arrived at Base Camp in the Urgund-e-Bala valley at 14,750 feet on August 10. On August 13 Bergmann, Gernot Eisenmann, Herbert Holzmayr, Kaltow and Iris Trübswetter climbed Wala Peak 259 (19,029 feet; F)  from the northeast by the glacier and finally the north ridge, while Paul Lenk and Dieter Linnemann ascended the peak between Wala 282 and 283 (18,734 feet; F) by a snow gully on the west. On August 15 Bergmann, Eisenmann, Heinz Heidenreich, Holzmayr, P. Lenk and Ernst Schiebler climbed the foresummit of Wala 260 (18,078 feet; F) from the northeast while Christian Stacheder, my wife Iris and I traversed around Koh-e-Awal (or Avval) (Wala 291) via the “Krakow Plateau” and the Awal (Avval) col. On August 16 Bergmann, Heidenreich and Holzmayr climbed Wala 261 (17,389 feet; F) by the south ridge and descended a scree gully to the north, while Kaltow and Iris climbed Koh-e-Awal (19,029 feet; NR) by a snow gully from the west to the north ridge. They ascended via the Awal col and the “Krakow Plateau,” the original Polish ascent route. Because of my illness, two days later Iris had to accompany me to the valley. On the 18th Kaltow and Linnemann climbed Wala 260 (18,373 feet; F) from the northeast over the north peak; Bergmann, Eisenmann, Heidenreich and Schiebler ascended Jurm I (19,095 feet; Wala 282; NR) by a snow gulley on the west while Holzmayr and P. Lenk established Camp I on a spur at 16,400 feet on the ridge north of Koh-e-Urgund (23,420 feet). On August 20 Kaltow, Linnemann and Stacheder repeated the ascent of Wala 261, while Holzmayr and P. Lenk climbed P 6010 (19,718 feet; F) on the north ridge of Koh- e-Urgund, which they reached from Camp I by steep ice from the northeast. On August 23 Bergmann, Holzmayr, Kaltow and P. Lenk established Camp II at 19,000 feet in a saddle still two miles from Koh-e-Urgund on its north ridge, while Eisenmann, Antje Lenk, Linnemann and Stacheder repeated the ascent of Koh-e-Awal. Bergmann and Kaltow climbed P 6130 (20,112 feet; F) on Koh-e-Urgund’s north ridge on August 24, coming from the north. Bad weather then intervened. On August 28 Koh-e-Awal was again climbed by a steep snow gully from the west which led to the north ridge near the summit (NR) and descended the southeast ridge (NR). Meanwhile Kaltow and Bergmann had reoccupied Camp II on Koh-e-Urgund. Light signals on the evening of August 29 were the last signs of life from them. It stormed again on the 30th creating serious avalanche danger. In good weather on August 31 there was no sign of anyone in Camp II. Indistinct tracks seem to indicate that they were probably buried in an avalanche as they tried to descend in the bad weather. The expedition was abandoned on September 7 after an extensive search.

Thomas Trübswetter, Deutscher Alpenverein

 Peaks may be identified on Jerzy Wala’s map. All altitudes were by aneroid except for that of Koh-e-Awal (Wala 281), which is taken from his map. First ascents are marked “F” and new routes “NR”.

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