Nilgiri North. The Australian Army Expedition was composed of Philip Pitham, David Evans, New Zealander Mark Whetu, Peter Allen, Peter Lambert, Dr. Bruce Fox, Terry McCullagh, sirdar Maila Pemba and me as leader. We arrived at Base Camp at 13,300 feet on October 8, only 20 minutes from Herzog’s Base Camp on Annapurna I. The amount of rubbish accumulated there is staggering. I thoroughly briefed our sirdar. All our rubbish was collected throughout the expedition and burned at the end. (The Sherpas would not allow burning during the expedition.) Our campsites were left as clean as we found them. Most of our fixed rope was removed. We quickly established Camp I at the foot of the prominent couloir on the southeast aspect of the Nilgiri North buttress on October 9 at 14,750 feet. Four days of snowfall kept us tent-bound but when it cleared, we had continuous good weather until the end of the expedition. During the bad weather Dr. Fox contracted pneumonia and had to be evacuated by helicopter on October 15. Camp II at 17,725 feet at the top of the couloir on a very narrow col was occupied on October 16. Because of the exposed position, tents were not erected and advantage was taken of a small schrund. The route above Camp II involved technical climbing over a narrow ridge. This was the most enjoyable part of the climb. After seven days, rope had been fixed to just below an 800-foot face. Whetu, Pitham and Evans moved up to the end of the ropes on October 23 and then climbed up the face and around a large ice cliff to establish Camp III in the darkness. The next morning they reached the summit (7061 meters, 23,166 feet). On October 26 Maila Pemba, Allen, McCullagh, Lambert and I also reached the summit. On both occasions temperatures were down to —25° C and strong winds were prevalent. This was the second ascent of the southeast face and the fourth of Nilgiri North.
Zacharakis Zaharias, Captain, Australian Army Alpine Association