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Asia, Pakistan, Masherbrum Attempt

Masherbrum attempt. Our expedition was conceived as a fairly light-weight, semi-alpine-style attempt to climb the north face and west ridge of Masherbrum (7821 meters, 25,660 feet) with a small group of friends. We were Chas Macquarie, Eric Reynolds, Renny Jackson, Ron Matous, Rick Wyatt, Dr. Scott Hobson and I*. We flew to Skardu in two groups on May 14 and 16. On the 18th we set out for Dasso by jeep. About eight miles short of our destination, we came across a 30-yard gap in the road, where it had slid into the river. This caused us a day’s delay and an extra walking stage. Admirably directed by liaison officer Captain Zia Ullah Niazi and sirdar Mohammad Hussain, the 55 porters helped us without real problems to our last camp on the Baltoro Glacier, Urdukas, on May 27. A first reconnaissance was discouraging. On the 28th, our last 25 porters carried to our operational Base Camp at 15,000 feet five miles up the Mundu Glacier. All the photos we had seen of the west ridge, taken from the Baltoro or from Payu Peak, had the bottom 2000 to 3000 feet hidden by intervening ridges. The 5000-foot north face below the col at the foot of the west ridge proper was laced with ice cliffs and littered with avalanche debris. After studying the face, we worked out a route we thought might go if we climbed early in the morning: around, under, over and beside the ice cliffs. After several days of bad weather, before it ended, we began to carry to Advance Base Camp, three miles farther up the glacier. On June 5 in clear weather we all carried loads up the initial icefall, to 17,500 feet. On the 6th, also in clear weather, five of us were at or above the cache. Suddenly a sérac broke off the ice cliff above us, starting a large avalanche that came down the ramp that all five of us were climbing. Fortunately we could all run, take shelter and remain untouched, though all our tracks were obliterated. This was a convincing demonstration of the objective hazards. We decided that the route was too dangerous. Our high point was about 18,000 feet (5486 meters).

On June 19 most of us started up the Yermandendu Glacier, on the 20th made the third or fourth crossing of the Masherbrum La, and finally emerged at Saling and Khapalu.

Anne Macquarie

* Recipient of an Alison Chadwick Onyszkiewicz-Vera Watson Memorial Fund grant.