American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Asia, Nepal, Everest, West Ridge Attempt

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

Everest, West Ridge Attempt. Our team members were Jim Sano, leader; Chas Macquarie, climbing leader; Todd Bibler, Sandy Stewart, Claude Fiddler, Alex Moad, Shari Kearney, Lucy Smith, Doug Dalquist, Eric Reynolds, Annie Whitehouse, Rennie Jackson, Sue Giller, climbers; Susan Buren, doctor; and Rodney Korich, Base Camp Manager. We attempted the Yugoslavian route on the west ridge to the top of the west shoulder and from there the 1963 American route up the Hornbein Couloir. We reached Base Camp at 17,800 feet on August 20. On August 24 we established the route to the base of the winch at 19,200 feet. Beyond, we had a very dangerous rockfall section with difficult steep rock pitches. We set up a winch system which eventually lifted four tons of food and equipment for the higher camps. Camp I (Advance Base) was occupied on the Lho La at 19,800 feet on August 27. We placed Camp II about halfway up to the west shoulder at 22,300 feet on September 6. Camp III was established on September 10 at 23,500 feet near the top of the shoulder and Camp IV on September 16 at 24,700 feet at the end of the west ridge where it joins the summit pyramid. From September 18 to 24 storms halted operations. The route leading to Camp V was difficult and took much route preparation. Camp V was placed in the Hornbein Couloir at 27,000 feet on October 2. The first summit attempt was to have been made by Todd Bibler and Ang Jangbo. They spent the night of October 2 at Camp V but a fierce storm destroyed their tent and forced them back. That storm caused avalanches which took out several hundred feet of rope between Camp IV and V. During the storm we all retreated to Advance Base. After it, Chas Macquarie and Eric Reynolds went back to Camp IV to refix the ropes to Camp V. After them, Rennie Jackson, Annie Whitehouse, Eric Reynolds and I were scheduled to make the second summit attempt. We were at Camp IV during another storm with high winds on October 11 and 12. I descended to Camp III to wait out the storm. Eric, Rennie and Annie stayed at Camp IV. On October 13 it cleared and the three went up to Camp V. They made their summit attempt on October 14 and made it to 28,000 feet before they had to turn back because of high winds. Annie Whitehouse made an altitude record for American women. After the second summit attempt the winds did not die down. Chas and I ascended once more to Camp IV to help the three down. Annie had frostbitten fingers. The winds along the west ridge at Camp IV and above we estimated at 100 mph. In all 18 tents were destroyed by the wind. After much thought and discussion we decided to clear the mountain. We had 18 Sherpas with Per Temba as sirdar, an excellent crew.

Anne Macquarie

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