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Asia, India-Garhwal, Thalay Sagar Attempt

Thalay Sagar Attempt. “Third time lucky” didn’t work in 1982 on Thalay Sagar’s north flank. We got to within 350 feet of the summit on June 26 but had to retreat because of a slight mishap. In excellent conditions we reached our previous high point in eight days and on June 17, Joe Brown and I completed three extremely difficult pitches and found a splendid bivouac site. After a few days of bad weather we two, plus Bill Barker, Malcolm Howells and Clive Rowland, climbed to the bivouac and on June 25 set out for the summit. We were soon held up by a holdless slab in which Brown placed his first ever direct-aid bolts. He managed to fall from the second one and was left suspended from a sling by his left ankle in a most undignified manner. The pitch took three hours to complete but proved to be the last really difficult one before the summit cone. While looking for a higher bivouac site, Brown and Howells dropped Howells’ rucksack, which apart from containing his bivouac gear, carried the cooking pots and stove. We all retreated to the previous bivouac site and decided to rush the summit the next day. On the 26th, Brown, Barker, Howells and Rowland left early with no bivouac equipment while I retreated down the face to find the dropped rucksack. They quickly reached their previous high point and completed two more comparatively easy pitches to the base of the summit cone. The first pitch of very loose, steep black rock defeated the others and Brown had to be used to find a solution. He was faced with a similar pitch and 250 feet of easy snow, but it was five P.M. Retreat was decided on and the attempt was abandoned at about 22,550 feet (6875 meters). Maybe the adage should read, “Fourth time lucky.”

J.V. Anthoine, Alpine Climbing Group