American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Asia, Nepal, Gangapurna from the North

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

Gangapurna from the North. Our expedition was to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the Slovensko Planinsko Društvo (Slovene Alpine Club). We were delayed five days in Kathmandu trying in vain to find a precious load which had our ski poles, Base Camp tent and all our tent supports. We traveled by special bus to Dumre and walked to Manang in nine days. We had difficulty with porters on the approach. They shortened the days’ stages and even demanded 100 rupees per day instead of the official 25 rupees. At Manang we hired mules because of a shortage of porters. On the precipitous footpath to Base Camp, the animals panicked and eleven loads fell 1000 feet to the bottom of the valley. On October 8 we finally reached 15,900 feet, beyond which most of the porters would not go. We had planned for a higher Base Camp but had to settle for Base Camp I there. We provided ten porters with clothing and footgear. On October 10 we carried to Base Camp II at 17,550 feet, next to the French Grenoble expedition to Glacier Dome. That evening a blizzard began. When we had plowed back through three feet of snow on October 13, we found Base Camp II demolished. The sky cleared but there were hurricane winds and - 20° C temperatures there. We had only 18 days left. The north ridges from Gangapurna and Glacier Dome embrace a hidden cwm. The center of the north face rises 6000 feet to the summit of Gangapurna. Being pressed for time, and because of strong winds on the western side of the face, we decided to ascend the left (eastern) 4250-foot-high side and reach the northeast ridge at 23,000 feet. On October 16 we set up Camp I at 18,050 feet. We continued into and up the cwm and then fixed 650 feet of rope on the face to 20,000 feet, the site of Camp II. Rope was then fixed up to 22,500 feet. Camp III was to have been established at 22,000 feet. Marjan Kregar and Pavel Kozjek were to have made a summit push but wind and cold drove them back to Base Camp II on October 24. Camps I and II were swept in that storm by avalanches. We realized that a Camp III on the ridge would be of no use and so we decided to climb the mountain from Camp II. On October 27 Kozjek, Kregar, Emil Tratnik and I set out from Camp

II in the moonlight and reached the ridge in the early morning hours. We fixed the last 650 feet of rope to protect the descent. We had fixed in all 4000 feet of rope. At nine A.M. we started unroped up the technically easy northeast ridge. The wind grew stronger and stronger and at times we had to crawl. We completed the new route to the summit (7455 meters, 24,457 feet) at 12:40. In 100 mph wind and - 30° C temperatures, we had to leave in 15 minutes. The wind abated lower down and with the fixed ropes we reached the support party of Božidar Alic and Boris Kofel at Camp II. We evacuated the high camps and were in Manang on October 30. The other members of the party were Marjan Brišar, Vid Mesaric, Andrej Beg and Marjan Novak.

Stane Belak, Planinsko Društvo Ljubljana Matica, Yugoslavia

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