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Asia, Nepal, Annapurna II Tragedy

Annapurna II Tragedy. Klaus and Jochen Schlamberger, Hans Gsellmann and I tried to climb Annapurna II by the north face and northwest ridge of Annapurna IV. We were at Base Camp at 15,100 feet on April 11 but were held there by bad weather until April 20. In the next ten days we were able to set up a camp at 18,700 feet, a snow cave at 21,000 feet and a tent at 23,000 feet. We did much of this on skis. Bad weather forced us back to Base Camp. On May 4 Klaus Schlamberger and I climbed the 6000 feet back to the snow cave for a bivouac. The next morning we got to Camp III and after a short rest climbed on toward the ridge that connects Annapurna IV and II. On the exposed northwest ridge of Annapurna IV we were surprised in what had been fine weather by sudden violent wind squalls. We were both skiing on the very steep slopes of the ridge. I ascended into a hollow 100 meters ahead of Klaus and waited for him just below the connecting ridge at 24,450 feet. The storm grew more violent and as Klaus did not turn up in 20 minutes, I left my skis and descended to look for him. It suddenly clouded in and reduced visibility to a few meters. I shouted and moved about. Hoping to find him in Camp III, I descended. I was lucky to find the camp, but he was not there. At dawn I renewed my search in fine but cold weather and climbed to where I had last seen him. From there I went straight down the 35° slope. I found his pack 1250 feet lower. His lifeless body was some 650 feet lower still. Gsellman and Klaus’ brother Jochen were ascending from Camp II to Camp III. Later that afternoon we buried him in a crevasse. Klaus must have been thrown off balance by a wind squall and fallen. The expedition was abandoned.

Robert Schauer, Österreichischer Alpenverein