American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Asia, Nepal, Dhaulagiri IV

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1976

Dhaulagiri IV. On May 9 two of the Osaka Mountaineering Federation party reached the summit of untrodden Dhaulagiri IV (25,135 feet) by its western approach, but they failed to return. They fell into the Konabon amphitheater from 24,600 feet where they seem to have bivouacked for the second night. Our 16-person expedition left Pokhara on March 15, accompanied by 70 porters and 5 Sherpas, arriving at the tongue of the Kaphe Glacier-Ghustung region in the southwest of the Dhaulagiri group. It had taken a week to cross the Budzunge Bara Pass (14,750 feet) because of heavy snowfall. A larger, heavier party would have been worse delayed. (The mountain had been attempted nine times and 14 climbers had died on the peak.—Editor) On April 11 Camp III was established at 18,875 feet on the north ridge of Ghustung North, where we overlooked the huge upper glacier basin surrounded by Ghustung, Gurja Himal and Dhaulagiri VI. Two more camps and a 2625-foot ice wall led us to Camp VI near the top of Junction Peak (c. 23,625 feet), which connects the ridges from Dhaulagiri IV and VI and Churen Himal. On May 2 we began chopping steps in the ice across Junction Peak and down to the west col (22,300 feet). On the 5th H. Nakamura, T. Kodama, S. Fujiwara, M. Otsu and H. Yamamoto followed fixed lines to Camp VII at 22,650 feet, carrying a week’s provisions. The next day dawned clear but windy. Two left Camp VII but with little hope for the summit. The ridge was steep, sharp and icy and with unfavorable weather they gave up at eleven o’clock at 23,625 feet. From camp it was 2½ miles and 2625 feet, but they felt it feasible. However, luck was not with them. The wind rose and past midnight tore the tent in half, forcing them to abandon the site. Shiro Kawazu and Sardar Pemba Norbu came up to help them retreat to Camp V. Kawazu was in good shape and wished to make a long assault from Camp VI with young Etsuro Yasuda. After a lengthy discussion he was given permission if they did not push beyond their physical limits. May 8 was a calm, sunny day. They left Camp VI at eight A.M. to reach at 3:50 P.M. 24,000 feet, where they bivouacked. A mechanical disorder with their walkie-talkie prevented receiving, but they could send messages. On May 9 they were last seen from Camp VI by S. Kashu and Sherpa Nima Kanchha at four P.M. just below the summit before clouds covered the scene. The lower camps got an excited message from Kawazu at 7:30 reporting that they had reached the summit at 5:30 with poor visibility and strong wind and that they were forced to bivouac where they were at 24,600 feet. He talked over the radio for a last time at 8:10. The next morning Kashu and Kanchha started to meet them but the summiters were not to be seen. Finally they were found lying together beyond the bergschrund on the south face 5000 feet below. With great sorrow we abandoned further activities. The expedition leader was Tetsuya Nomura; I was climbing leader. The other members not mentioned above were N. Nishimura, F. Kimura, A Yoshimi, Miss K. Uekawa, Mrs. K. Nishimura and T. Yokoyama.

Shiro Nishimae, Mountaineering Federation of Osaka, Japan

This AAJ article has been reformatted into HTML. Please contact us if you spot an error.