American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Asia, Pakistan, K2, Northwest Ridge Attempt

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

K2, Northwest Ridge Attempt. Our joint Polish-Mexican expedition was composed of Lucio Cárdenas, Manuel Casanueva, Antonio Cortés, Hugo Delgado, Enrique Miranda and Eduardo Mosqueda, Mexicans, and Roman Bebak, Dr. Grzegorz Benke, Eugeniusz Chrobak, Leszek Cichy, Zbigniew Dudrak, Marek Grochowski, Jan Holnicki-Szulc, Tadeusz Karolczak, Al- eksander Lwow, Krzysztof Pankiewicz, Boguml Slama, Ryszard Urbanik, Krzysztof Wielicki, Wojciech Wróz and me as leader, Poles. We left Skardu on June 26. Base Camp was established on July 8 at 17,400 feet on the Savoia Glacier. We placed Camp I at 19,500 feet a short distance from the wall descending from our goal, the northwest ridge, on July 10. Two days later we attacked the 2300-foot-high face. The slope was very steep and more dangerous than we had expected. After eight hard days in bad weather, we climbed the wall and on July 19 established Camp II at 22,000 feet on the northwest ridge. In this way we hit the ridge beyond the pinnacled section which stopped the Americans in 1975. Cárdenas had a lucky escape when he was hurled by an avalanche and fell 700 feet. He suffered only a fracture of the forearm. The ridge above Camp II was rocky and presented considerable difficulties. We traversed obliquely to the left. It was very difficult to find a place for Camp III. On July 26 we set up the tents at 23,300 feet in two separate small platforms 150 feet apart. From there the rock face was steeper and presented continuous difficulties. Camp IV was established on August 5 at 24,900 feet on the big spur where we found the fixed ropes of the Japanese expedition that was at the same time attacking K2 from the north. The Japanese turned up to the left of the spur. We attacked the depression on the right side. On August 7 Chrobak, Cichy, Pankiewicz and Wielicki established the depot of equipment at 26,100 feet near the top of the pinnacle uniting the northwest ridge and the north buttress. After August 9 the weather deteriorated. On only two days, August 14 and 15, was there an opportunity for the summit. (It was then that the Japanese climbed to the summit.) But we were not yet ready. The first summit party was moving from the lower camps and was stopped by bad weather (strong winds and snowfall) in camp IV on August 16. After this date, we made several attempts to climb to the summit, but all parties were stopped for the same reason, very strong winds. The last group, Chrobak, Cichy, Wielicki and Wróz, established Camp V at 26,500 feet on September 5. The next day Cichy and Wróz set out for the summit without oxygen, but they were forced back by strong winds and frostbite. They had reached 27,000 feet.

Janusz Kurczab, Polski Zwiazek Alpinizmu

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