American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Asia, India-Garhwal, Shivling Tragedy

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1983

Shivling Tragedy. After delays, Richard Cox and I reached Gangotri on August 31. The walk-in with seven porters to Base Camp at 14,600 feet at Tapovan was from September 1 to 3. We acclimatized until September 17. Advance Base Camp was established at 16,750 feet below a rock buttress descending from the north ridge. From there we made a reasonably safe approach onto the northeast face of Shivling to fix the initial snow slope and made carries to Advance Base and to the top of the fixed ropes at 17,225 feet. We set off for the face on the 18th with food for 12 days and much climbing equipment to bivouac at 17,725 feet below the first rock band. The band proved difficult (UIAA V, Al) but on good rock. On September 19 we bivouacked below the second rock band at 18,375 feet and then carried up equipment and fixed the remaining rope to that height. The second rock band involved ice of 70° to 80° and mixed climbing (V and VI). On September 22 we started to climb the main icefield, not as difficult as the 60° angle suggested but with some hindering soft snow. We reached the top of the icefield at five P.M. Cox led through the first pitch on the upper rocks. An anchor failed while he was hauling sacks, causing him to fall some 65 feet, injuring his ankle and possibly giving him a concussion. By nightfall I had managed to get him back up to the belay for a make-shift bivouac. That evening the weather deteriorated and the next day we were pinned there at 20,000 feet by heavy snow. By the morning of the 26th the weather had cleared but Richard Cox’s condition was so bad that it was imperative to descend. He was unable to stand and had to be lowered down the face. At eight P.M. that evening an accident occurred in which it is believed that he became detached from his Jümars and was killed in the resultant fall. On September 27,1 managed to descend by rappel to Base Camp.

Nicholas Kekus, England

This AAJ article has been reformatted into HTML. Please contact us if you spot an error.