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

Asia, Nepal, Annapurna's West-Northwest Spur, Attempt and Tragedy

Annapurna’s West-Northwest Spur, Attempt and Tragedy. Between Annapurna I and Varah Shikhar (Fang) lies a summit of over 7700 meters from which a prominent spur descends to the valley of the Miristi Khola. Our expedition, consisting of Michel Drapier, Philippe Dumas, Roger Fillon, my son Pierre Sigayret, Patrick Taglianut and me, French, Pemba Norbu, Nepali, Louis Craig and André Laperrière, Canadians, hoped to climb this spur, to reach the nameless peak and then to climb the west ridge to get to the summit of Annapurna. Our Base Camp, reached on March 19, was 4000 meters on the moraines of the Miristi Khola about 2½ hours’ walk below the usual Annapurna Base Camp. From Base Camp we followed the moraine of Annapurna’s northwest glacier up easy terrain, which was exposed to sérac falls. Camp I was placed on March 22 at 5000 meters in an ice cave as protection from avalanches. From Camp I to Camp II the route followed the secondary glacier and turned left over the séracs. A 45° ice slope, on which we fixed rope, let us reach a glacier shelf, where we established Camp II at 5600 meters on March 25. From Camp II we climbed the western side of the main northwest spur to gain its crest. We followed this snow-and-ice crest to place Camp III at 6100 meters on April 6. There were continuous fixed ropes from Camp II to III. From Camp III we crossed almost horizontally left in the direction of a secondary spur on hard ice partially exposed to avalanches. We then ascended the icy spur until it turned to rock. Camp IV was placed at 6900 meters on August 21. Again ropes were fixed. From there Pemba Norbu, my son Pierre and I climbed to a high point of 7200 meters on April 23. When no one ascended from Camp III, we went down and discovered the tragedy. On April 21 Taglianut and Dumas had stayed in Camp III. Apparently a snowslide had precipitated their tent into the void. In spite of extensive search, the bodies were not found.

Henri Sigayret, Groupe de Haute Montagne