American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Asia, Nepal, Kanchenjunga Attempt from the North

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1984

Kanchenjunga Attempt from the North. Our members were Alois Farber, Georg Hess, Franz Leutgäb, Walter Schmidt, Dr. Klaus Wiener, my wife Dietlinde as Base-Camp manager, and I as leader. We approached from Dhankuta via Dhoban and Ghunsa in 19 days and arrived at Base Camp at 5050 meters at the beginning of April. From there to Camp I at 5700 meters we followed the route of previous north-face parties. From shortly above Camp I the route, between the British route on the left and the Japanese route on the right, was completely new. We climbed the comer between the west face of the north col and the north face to 6600 meters. We fixed rope from 6000 to 6600 meters because of the steepness (45° to 70°) and occasional rockfall from the north ridge. Camp II was at 6600 meters in a snow cave, which protected it from powder-snow avalanches after heavy snowfalls. We crossed the bergschrund at 6750 meters, climbed right on mixed terrain toward the big rock band of the north face, up a snow-and-rock couloir to Camp III at 7200 meters above a rock spur. We climbed the rock band by a snow couloir, a rock gully and a final 100-meter rock wall and emerged at 7450 meters, to cross the third plateau towards the summit couloir and to pitch Camp IV at 7900 meters below the summit-pyramid rocks where the British, Japanese and our routes rejoined. Sherpa Ang Chappal and I spent the night of May 1 there but during the night the weather deteriorated and we descended to Base Camp, where we had the only two consecutive fine days (May 3 and 4) in May. From then on the weather was continually bad except for May 14. Despite that, Ang Chappal and I, followed by Dr. Wiener and Schmidt, reascended, hoping for a second and third summit bid. Ang Chappal and I reached Camp III on May 9 through immense snow masses but on May 10 decided to abandon the expedition. We had a number of misfortunes. One porter from the approach march became seriously sick on his way back and died at Kangbachen. Sherpa Nawang Tensing fell on the moraine, suffered a concussion and had to leave. Leutgäb was seriously frostbitten (he had lost the tips of his toes on Annapurna IV in 1974) and had to leave. Both would have strengthened the climbing party. The weather was nearly the worst the Sherpas and I have ever experienced in the Himalaya. Despite occasional rockfall from the north ridge, I regard our new route as the safest although not the easiest. Japanese, Czechoslovaks, Americans and South Tiroleans used the approach via the “Ice-building,” which collapsed in 1930 and killed Chettan, a Sherpa of G.O. Dyhrenfurth’s International Himalayan Expedition. Parts of the “Building” collapsed in April 1983 when we were safely climbing on the north col’s west face. Doug Scott’s north ridge route is in the lower part also not too safe. The great gully he used to climb up to the north col was very noisy with rockfall on certain days.

Hermann Warth, German Volunteer Service

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