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Asia, Nepal, Kanchenjunga, North Face Direct

Kanchenjunga, North Face Direct. Our expedition, led by Masatsugu Konishi, without oxygen climbed a new route on the north face of Kanchenjunga to the right of the British route of 1971. The face rises for 11,500 feet above the head of the Kanchenjunga Glacier with two huge rock bands and the summit rock face sandwiching three snowfields or hanging glaciers. After a long approach march, we reached Base Camp at Pang Pema (18,050 feet) on March 19. We spent ten days arranging food and gear and acclimatizing. Three pairs started on March 29 to rotate pushing the route upwards, with the leader assisting any pair. Led by Ang Phurba, eleven Sherpas carried loads. Camp I at 19,000 feet was established on April 1 at the site of British Camp II. Camp II at 21,325 feet was placed on the first snowfield on April 7. Between Camps I and II there were potential threats of avalanches and collapsing hanging glaciers. It took ten days to fix rope on the 1500-foot-high rock band to reach Camp III at 24,000 feet on the second icefield. This was the most crucial section of the route. Camp IV at 25,925 feet was made on May 1 by four aggressive Sherpas while all the Japanese descended to Base Camp because of heavy snowfall. Each summit team went to Camp IV for acclimatization and then descended to Base Camp, the first group on May 5 and 6, the second on May 7 and 8. On May 11 Ryoichi Fukada, Seiichi Kawamura, Shomi Suzuki, Sherpa Ang Phurba and I set out from Base Camp and reached Camp IV on May 13. We left on May 14 at five A.M., unroped up the 800 feet of fixed rope in the snow couloir above Camp IV. Each led a pitch in turn in the knee-deep snow. At last we reached the summit at 4:15 P.M. Only the summits of Yalung Kang and the central and south peaks of Kanchenjunga could be seen above the clouds. We returned to Camp IV at 7:50 in heavy snowfall. On May 17 Konishi, Motumo Ohmiya, Dr. Toshitaka Sakano, and Sherpas Pemba Tsering and Dawa Norbu set out from Camp IV at 3:30 A.M. Dawa Norbu led all the way to the top in knee-deep snow. Four climbers reached the summit at 5:40 P.M. Konishi had to turn back at 27,500 feet, still some 700 feet below the summit. They were all back in Camp IV at ten P.M. We cleaned the face of ropes, pegs and tents in the next two days. We evacuated Base Camp on May 25.

Nakaoe Sakashita, Sangaku Doshikai Club, Japan