American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Asia, Nepal, Kanchenjunga, North Face

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

Kanchenjunga, North Face. Our expedition consisted of Swiss Guides J-P. Rieben, Bernard Polli, René Mayor, Vincent May, Marco Bruchez, Gervais Filliez, D. Michellod and me as leader, Dr. Claude Pfefferlé and Sherpa sirdar Pasang Gyalchen. After a 17-day approach, we established Base Camp at Pangpema at 16,400 feet on September 10. We were originally given permission for only Yalung Kang because the main summit of Kanchenjunga was already reserved, but the other expedition did not turn up and so we were allowed to try for Kanchenjunga, paying an additional $1000. Between September 11 and 30 we placed three high camps: Camp I at 17,400 feet at the foot of the enormous north face and Camp II on the terrace below the north col. Because of avalanches and rockfall from the col, we climbed the first ice barrier directly by the 1980 Japanese route. Camp III was in the shelter of a sérac at 21,325 feet. Bad weather kept us at Base Camp until October 13. On October 19, May and Bruchez established Camp IV in an ice cave on the north ridge at 23,950 feet and on the 20th dug a shelter in a snow bank at 25,250 feet on the great upper terrace. On October 21 they got to the summit in ten hours by the British route and returned to Camp V by moonlight. Rieben, Mayor and Michellod arrived at Camp V that same day, hoping to climb Yalung Kang. The next day increasing wind and avalanche danger forced all five back to Camp II. Tents were destroyed in a wild night. On October 23 everyone descended to Base Camp with gear in a foot of new snow. Bruchez and Michellod suffered frozen feet and were evacuated by helicopter from Ghunsa.

Denis Bertholet, Club Alpin Suisse

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