AAC Publications - http://publications.americanalpineclub.org

Asia, Nepal, Everest

Everest. After the brilliant success in 1965, India waited 19 years to put a woman on top of Everest. A seasoned team during May climbed Everest by the traditional southeast ridge. On May 9, from Camp V at 27,800 feet, Phu Dorjee became the first Indian to reach the summit solo. On May 23 Miss Bachendri Pal, Dorjee Lhatoo, Sonam Palzor and Sherpa sirdar Ang Dorje made an ascent directly from the South Col in excellent time. (Lhatoo took under five hours.) Bachendri Pal was the first Indian woman and the fifth in the world to climb Everest. Ang Dorje was the second man to make the ascent twice without oxygen. We established Base Camp, Camps I, II, III and IV at 17,700, 20,000, 21,600, 24,000 and 26,200 feet on March 16 and 24 and April 9, 15 and 29 respectively. The potential of the team was greatly marred by continuous bad luck. At the beginning, an avalanche from the Lho La claimed the life of one Sherpa and injured six others. A kitchen boy died of pulmonary edema. A group, already poised at the South Col, had to come to the help of the Bulgarian summit pair of Ivan Valtchef and Metodi Savov, who on request had been permitted to come down the southeast ridge. An ice avalanche on the night of May 15 buried one of our strongest groups at Camp III and all save Bachendri Pal were injured. Out of our 40 Sherpas, only 12 reached the South Col. Of the climbers, 4 out of 7 women and 11 out of 13 men reached the South Col. The composition of the team was Lieutenant Colonel Prem Chand, deputy leader; Majors Kiran I. Kumar and Jai Bahaguna, N.D. Sherpa, Dorjee Lhatoo, Rattan Singh, Lopsang Tshering, Magan Bissa, Phu Dorjee, Sonam Palzor, Chandra Prabha Aitwal, Bachendri Pal, Rekha Sharma, Rita Gombu, Harshwanti Bisht, Sharawati Prabhu, Dr. Minoo Mehta, Dr. Meena Agarwal and I as leader.

D.K. Khullar, Colonel, Principal, Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, Darjeeling, India