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Asia, Nepal, Annapurna IV

Annapurna IV. To celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Oberland Section of the German Alpine Club, Ulrich Kamm, Dr. Peter Weiden- thaler, Ulrich Eberhardt, Heinrich Gentner, Georg Gruber, Heinz Hüttl, Franz Leutgäb and I as leader undertook to climb 26,041-foot Annapurna II. We met in early March in Kathmandu. We started the 10-day, 100-mile march up the Marsyandi from Dumbre. On the ninth day the party arrived at Pisang under the north face of Annapurna II. The left side of the two-mile-wide wall has hanging glaciers, icefalls and avalanche danger. In the middle and right of the wall are buttresses, which offered a steep and difficult but objectively less dangerous route (the route previously climbed by Japanese in 1971 and 1973). From Base Camp at 11,825 feet we quickly set up Camps I and II at 13,800 and 16,600 feet. To climb the 45° to 55° buttress took two weeks; we fixed 4600 feet of rope. Five Sherpas, equipped and fed like us, worked with us in three-day stints, carrying loads of from 35 to 55 pounds. We established Camp III at 20,000 feet on April 14 and Camp IV at 22,800 feet a week later. Stormy, windy weather followed. Finally on April 26, Gruber, Hüttl and Leutgäb made use of good weather and in several hours reached the west ridge, the site for Camp V. Since they could not see further along the ridge, they went ahead to the best view point, which happened to be the summit of Annapurna IV (24,688 feet). This was about 500 feet higher and about 650 yards distant from the proposed camp site. The Sherpas reported this to the liaison officer, who communicated with the foreign ministry, which forthwith withdrew our permission for Annapurna II*. Leutgäb and Gruber descended with frozen toes. While the Sherpas were evacuating the camps, unobserved I again climbed Annapurna IV solo to leave the Oberland pennant on the summit.

Peter Bednar, Deutscher Alpenverein

* The expedition was fined 6000 rupees and all members and organizers were banned from climbing in Nepal for three years.