American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Asia, Nepal, Kanchenjunga, via First-Ascent Route

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1981

Kanchenjunga, via First-Ascent Route. Our 20-person expedition left Munich for Kathmandu on March 9 but had delays caused by customs on the Indian frontier, final permission difficulties, a shortage of motor transport and a lack of porters. The two-week march to Base Camp had to be done in several groups. In the Yalung Valley we followed the glacier to Base Camp. Every afternoon there it stormed with snow showers. Finally on April 29 Camp II was well established and several tents were up at Camp III at 23,000 feet. The material for Camp IV was being carried up despite deep snow, which led to making various depots at different heights. On May 6 the Swiss Marti and Germans Franz Oppurg, Giri Göbl and Georg Ritter returned from Camp IV sick from a respiratory virus. We saw that the summit could be reached only if we made more use of the Sherpas. Many supplies were still lacking at Camp IV. On May 12 Ritter, Göbl and Oppurg reached Camp II with two Sherpas. On May 14 the three sahibs and five Sherpas started from Camp IV. Only Ritter, Ang Tsangbu, Nima Dorje and Lhakpa Gyalbu reached the camp. These four left for the summit at 6:15 A.M. on May 15. After leaving the ramp, they climbed the 40° snow couloir toward the summit ridge, unroped to save time. At 11:30 they left the broad snow gully still 1300 feet below the summit. Following the British route of 1955, they climbed a snow strip upwards on the south side of the summit cone. Above the strip, they had to make a delicate 500-foot-long traverse to a difficult 20-foot crack, which gave access to the summit ridge. At 1:50 P.M. Lhakpa Gyalbu, followed by Ritter and Nima Dorje, reached the summit (8598 meters, 28,208 feet). They found tracks from the Japanese who had climbed to the top the day before from the north and a flag from the Indians in 1977. As the three descended, they found Ang Tsangbu, who had been climbing without oxygen, waiting 250 feet below the summit. In three more hours they were all back at Camp IV.

Karl Maria Herrligkoffer, Deutsches Institut für Auslandsforschung

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