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Asia, Nepal, Api, Winter Ascent and Tragedy

Api, Winter Ascent and Tragedy. Api (7132 meters, 23,399 feet) is difficult to approach and the climbing route is long and dangerous. It was first climbed in 1960 by Katsutoshi Irabayashi, Gyaltsen Norbu, M. Terashi and Y. Tsuda from the northwest; Italians made the second ascent in 1978 from the southeast. Other attempts have failed. In December 1983 a Polish expedition of 11 men, led by Tadeusz Piotrowski, made the third ascent, the first in the winter. Base Camp at 9850 feet and Advance Base at 13,125 feet were established on December 10 and 12. Camps I and II were placed on the first-ascent route at 16,400 and 18,050 feet on December 14 and 19. On December 22 Piotrowski, Andrzej Bielun and Zbigniew Terlikowski started up the northwest ridge toward the summit, bivouacking at 19,025 and 19,700 feet. On December 24 the trio began the final push. Terlikowski climbed slowly and Piotrowski accompanied him, while Bielun pressed ahead. At 5:30 P.M. he was seen reaching the summit. At 21,000 feet Terlikowski gave up but Piotrowski kept on, getting to the summit at seven P.M. He did not meet Bielun. His descent was made in darkness, cold and wind. He lost his way, slipped and fell 150 feet, but was not injured. He spent Christmas Eve in a snow hole. The next day he reached Camp II. Terlikowski was there but Bielun was not. They searched for him in deteriorating weather. They waited for him for 2½ days in vain. While searching for Bielun, on December 28 Wojciech Jedlinski, Ryszard Kowalewski and Jacek Gocyla climbed P 6050, a high point on the ridge, to look for him.

Józef Nyka, Editor, Taternik, Poland