American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Asia, Nepal, Varah Shikhar (Fang), West Ridge Attempt

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1985

Varah Shikhar (Fang), West Ridge Attempt. On September 13 Scott Fischer, Joe Hladick and I were in Pokhara, ready for our nine-day trek to Base Camp. The monsoon broke the day before we arrived there, giving us for the first time a full view of our proposed route on the west ridge of Varah Shikhar. We were pleased with the overall technical difficulty of the ridge but concerned with its length. As an alpine-style team of three climbers—soon altitude problems reduced us to two—we planned to carry everything necessary for the duration of the climb from Base Camp. Three miles of climbing to the summit after gaining the ridge itself had us quite worried. We left Base Camp at 11,500 feet on September 26. Beside all the normal necessities, we had 1200 feet of rope and 14 days of food and fuel. We moved to Camps I, II and III at 16,000, 17,500 and 20,000 feet on September 26, 28 and 30 respectively. It was from Camp III that Hladick had to turn back. Fischer and I made Camp IV at 21,000 feet on October 3 and Camp V at 22,500 feet on October 6. Here bad weather pinned us in our tent. Four days later, with supplies running short, our choices were cut to two: to push through the storm to a higher camp where a summit bid could be made if and when the storm broke or to sit and retreat when it broke. We chose the former. On this last push we reached a high point of 24,000 feet but with weather conditions worsening and high winds persisting, we were unable to establish a camp. We were forced to retreat to our Camp V site. It wasn’t until October 15, supplies exhausted, that we finally started the descent, bad weather still hanging on. We reached Base Camp on the 16th, having spent 21 days on the route.

Wesley Krause, Mountain Madness

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