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Asia, Nepal, Tilicho, Sherpa Winter Ascent

Tilicho, Sherpa Winter Ascent. On January 24 the first all-Sherpa expedition climbed Tilicho. We were only three climbers: Dawa Gyalzen Sherpa, leader; Gyalzen Sherpa and I. This expedition we arranged as an individual test and to change the Sherpa attitude toward mountaineering, which we approached more as sport. We left Kathmandu on January 4, accompanied by a liaison officer, B.B. Rana. We walked up the Kali Gandaki valley until we reached Jomosom on the 14th. There we met our advance party of nine porters, a Base Camp cook and a mail runner. Base Camp was established on January 17 above Lamphu Dome at 14,450 feet. On the 18th we three carried two days’ food and climbing gear to Camp I on the flat above Tilicho Lake at 16,825 feet and returned to Base Camp for one day’s rest. We departed from Camp I on January 22 at 7:30 A.M. We carried only five days’ food and five coils of rope. We fixed about 1000 feet on the rocky ridge which we climbed most of the day. We spent the night at 18,475 feet. Leaving some food at the rocks, we set off for another day’s climbing at 7:45 on the 23rd and had some difficulties on the rocky ridge. We also had snowfall during the afternoon but managed to reach 21,175 feet for the night. The wind was so strong that we felt we were in a helicopter about to take off. We overcame our nervousness by teasing each other. The next morning we faced a steep 1000-foot slope which we climbed, arriving at the summit at 1:45. Visibility was poor. We could stay for a mere ten minutes after placing a picture of our King and Queen in the snow, pitching a Nepalese flag and taking photographs. Hampered by snowfall, we reached Camp III at six P.M. We descended on January 25 to near Camp I but could not find it. Due to heavy snowfall, it seemed as if our camp had moved to somewhere else. We spent the night without food or tent. That night Dawa joked while Gyalzen complained of dying from hunger and myself of cold. Three feet of fresh snow fell. We established communication with our party when we found Base Camp at 9:30 on the morning of January 26. The weather did not permit us to fly from Jomosom and so we walked, arriving at Pokhara on February 3.

Sarkey Tshering Sherpa, Sherpa Cooperative