American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Asia, Nepal, Annapurna III, South Face and West Ridge

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1980

Annapurna III, South Face and West Ridge. Our expedition was composed of Peter Melling, Robin Whittam, Alan Deakin, Eric Penman, John Whittock, my wife Linda and me as leader. We had hoped to make a new route on Annapurna III. We left Kathmandu on October 5 for Base Camp at 11,500 feet with 26 porters. On the approach Melling fell 60 feet down a crag, sustaining a fractured leg and pelvis and a dislocated shoulder. He was evacuated by helicopter seven days later and remained in the hospital in Kathmandu for six weeks. We established three camps at 13,000, 15,000 and 17,000 feet respectively. Above Camp III we spent five days attempting to find a route through the heavily crevassed glacier, but we had to give it up owing to large crevasses and dangerous séracs. We eventually discovered a route via a rock buttress (UIAA grade V). Fixed rope was discovered on this section, a remnant of the 1978 American expedition. From Camp III on October 26 all six of us launched a summit assault which resulted in Mrs. Linda Rutland and Whittock reaching the summit via the south face and west ridge on November 6 after ten bivouacs. Throughout the ascent the weather was good although extremely cold, at times reaching —35° C. Both summit climbers sustained minor frostbite to fingers and toes. The actual route taken was a combination of the Italian 1977 and the American 1978 routes. Above Camp III at 17,000 feet we used only snow holes and bivouac equipment. We had no Sherpas or oxygen. We returned to Kathmandu on November 16.

Ron Rutland, Lancashire Teachers Mountaineering Club

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