Asia, Nepal, Ama Dablam, West Face Attempt

Publication Year: 1980.

Ama Dablam, West Face Attempt. Our expedition, consisting of Merv English, Geoff Cribites, Ken Hyslop and me as leader, was attempting a direct line on the west (Mingbo) face of Ama Dablam. We climbed up the right side of the great central gully below the right-hand ice bulge on which the American expedition in the spring of 1979 had its Camp III. This involved continuous water-ice with some steep bulges. We bivouacked a short distance below the ice bulge on a steep ice arête. The following day, October 24, we climbed steep water-ice for two pitches and then up a rock step to easier ground adjacent to the left ice cliff. Just before exiting left onto the top of this ice cliff at 21,000 feet to spend the second night, a large ice avalanche came off the central “dablam” ice cliff, directly under the summit. Armchair-sized blocks of green ice came screaming down at us. Ken Hyslop was killed; I suffered a broken arm, finger, rib and ankle and the other two were badly bruised and shocked. Two days of arduous descent rappels brought us to the lower slopes of the face. Here we were kindly helped by Reinhold Messner and Dr. Oswald Ölz, members of the Austrian Ama Dablam expedition, led by Wolfgang Nairz, to descend the remaining distance to our advanced camp at the bottom of the face at 17,500 feet.

Peter Hillary, New Zealand Alpine Club