Asia, Pakistan, Chogolisa

Publication Year: 1976.

Chogolisa. The Upper Austrian Karakoram Expedition was composed of Gustav Ammerer, Alois Furtner, Fred Pressl, Fritz Priesner, Christoph Pollet, Hilmar Sturm and me as leader. On August 2 and 4 members of our expedition stood on the southwest summit of Chogolisa, on the mountain where Hermann Buhl fell to his death through a cornice. Buhl and Kurt Diemberger in 1957 attacked the northeast summit of Chogolisa from the north, from the Baltoro and Chogolisa Glaciers. Because of its trapezoidal form, Chogolisa has two nearly equally high summits connected by a 3000-foot ridge. In 1958 the Japanese Fujihira and Hirai climbed to the northeast summit by the Buhl-Diemberger route. Though it was not clear which summit was higher, Eduard Sternbach and G.O. Dyhrenfurth give 25,110 feet for the southwest summit and 25,066 for the northeast. This would seem to agree with our estimates by eye. We were interested by Chogolisa’s nearly completely unexplored south side and the Kaberi Glacier. We jeeped to Khapalu on June 18, crossed the Shyok River and made the 11-day approach (with two storm days) with 62 porters via the Hushe, Saltoro and Kondus valleys and the Kondus Glacier. We had to set up Base Camp just above the confluence of the Kondus and Kaberi Glaciers at 13,775 feet because the porters couldn’t and wouldn’t go higher in the new snow. The 12-mile distance to the foot of the south face of Chogolisa was an acute supply problem, since we had no high-altitude porters. Yet in a week we had Camps I and II at 15,425 and 16,750 feet on the Kaberi Glacier and Camp III at 18,700 feet, involving a difficult but possible route. Between Camps II and III was a giant icefall. Above the icefall and Camp III rose a 3300-foot- high, 50° ice slope to the 22,000-foot col at the foot of the 1¼ -mile-long west ridge. The keys to the ascent were the icefall and the ice face. On July 7 as we were attempting to bypass the icefall on a heavily corniced ridge, I fell 100 feet with a breaking cornice, was held by Pressl, but was unhurt. Two days later we managed to bypass the icefall on the flank of the ridge with 650 feet of fixed rope. Because of bad weather and new snow, it took until July 26 to climb the ice wall, where we fixed 4250 feet of rope, and to establish Camp IV in the col. Good weather from July 29 to August 6 gave us our chance. Pressl and Ammerer left Camp IV on August 1 and postholed the long flat stretch of the west ridge and pitched their bivouac tent at 23,000 feet. Their 12-hour effort on August 2 ended on the southwest summit of Chogolisa at three P.M. Two days later Furtner and Sturm also reached the top. Camps were evacuated and we left Base Camp on August 13.

Eduard Koblmüller, Österreichischer Alpenverein