American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Asia, Nepal, Mount Everest, German-French Expedition

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1979

Mount Everest, German-French Expedition. The German portion of my German-French Everest expedition was composed of 16 people. The main group took off from Munich on August 8, a week after Pierre Mazeaud and his French group of 14. To help the French in the Khumbu Icefall, I had sent Hubert Hillmaier, Joseph Mack and Georg Ritter a week earlier. The main party got to Base Camp between August 31 and September 5. On September 7 Hillmaier, Hans Engl and the Polish woman member, Wanda Rutkiewicz, occupied Camp I at 19,350 feet. Each climber, man or woman, had to carry 75 kilos (165 pounds) from Base Camp to Camp II at 21,150 feet to be considered for the summit. This helped build up supplies fast, aided acclimatization and raised Sherpa morale. The weather was variable while camps were being stocked. We had a bad storm on October 5 and 6, and windy days followed. On October 13 Mack, Engl and Hillmaier with Mazeaud and the Austrian Kurt Diemberger, who was accompanying the French, climbed to the South Col, but a driving wind prevented sleep. Radio contact with Camp IV on the col was interrupted and only late on October 14 did we hear the news from Mazeaud’s walkie-talkie. Engl had reached the summit without supplementary oxygen while Mack had broken trail for him nearly the whole way. Hillmaier caught up on the Hillary Step, where he took a rope from above on the 65-foot pitch. The two “old men,” Diemberger and Mazeaud, had carried oxygen bottles high while more climbers came up to the South Col. The next day was the big day for the French. Their leader, 49-year-old Pierre Mazeaud and 46-year-old Kurt Diemberger, on his fourth 8000er, with young Dr. Nicolas Jaeger and Jean Afanassieff, reached the summit, the first two after an eleven- hour climb. By a complicated hook-up, Mazeaud spoke by radio directly to France. On October 16 Sigi Hupfauer, Swiss Robert Allenbach, Polish Wanda Rutkiewicz, Willi Klimek and Sherpas Mingma and Ang Dorje reached the summit, the last two without oxygen apparatus. Wanda Rutkiewicz was the third Woman and the first European one to reach the summit. Finally on October 17 Bernd Kullmann and Ritter climbed to the summit, no longer with ideal weather.

Karl Maria Herrligkoffer,

Deutsches Institut für Auslandsforschung

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