American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Asia, Nepal, Ama Dablam

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1982

Ama Dablam. On April 11 our Australian expedition arrived at Base Camp for the north ridge of Ama Dablam after a 16-day walk-in from Karantichap. This was at 16,800 feet at the head of the lateral moraine valley of the Ama Dablam Glacier, south-southeast Chhukhung. We were Andrew Henderson, Lincoln Hall, Tim Macartney-Snape, Damien Jones, Karen Robins and I as leader, Australians; David Pluth and Hooman Aprin, Americans; and Leo Eutsler, Canadian. After several days’ acclimatization and organization, climbing began on the left side of the huge, slabby wall that buttresses the north ridge proper. (We believe that the French and New Zealand parties took the right side, while the original unsuccessful 1959 English expedition took the same route as we.) After steep and often difficult climbing on excellent granite, Camp I was made at 18,000 feet on April 20. More steep and spectacular rock climbing followed and on May 24 Camp II was established below a steep snow couloir at 18,900 feet. The couloir was climbed to gain the crest of the north ridge proper and our route merged thereafter with the French route. From this point impressive climbing on snow mushrooms and under cornices led to a big rock gendarme at 19.500 feet. Halfway up this tower was the site of Camp III (II for French and New Zealanders), which was established on May 3. The already bad weather now deteriorated further. During the 35 days on the mountain only four were wholly fine; most had four- to five-hour snowstorms from one P.M. on. The 1000 feet above Camp III were the crux. We climbed many difficult mixed and ice pitches, progress being slow. On May 12 Macartney-Snape, Hall and Henderson established Camp IV under a huge ice tower where the ridge turns and makes its sweep to the summit. For two days they fixed ropes above the camp and on May 14 they left in a bid for the summit. After some tricky climbing over huge cornices and ice formations, they bivouacked at 21.500 feet. On May 15, they reached the summit at midday and by 10:30 P.M. had returned safely to Camp IV. All members were in Base Camp the next day. Three days were spent in cleaning the equipment and some fixed ropes from the mountain. The expedition left for Lukla on May 21.

Kenneth McMahon, Australia

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