American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Asia, Pakistan, Chogolisa Southwest Face Ascent and Tragedy

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

Chogolisa Southwest Face Ascent and Tragedy. Our expedition was composed of Mlle Brigitte Aucher, Lionel Desrivières, Philippe Dubois, Phillippe Dutilloy, Jean-Marie Salmiche, Roland Marill, Dr. Eric Ronnier and me as leader. We had planned to reach the Kaberi Glacier and the southwest face of Chogolisa by following the Saltoro and Kondus valleys to the Kaberi Glacier. This route, which was used by the Austrian west-ridge expedition in 1975, seemed the most logical. Nevertheless it was forbidden by the Pakistani authorities while we were in Skardu because of the Pakistani-Indian boundary dispute. While they offered us another objective, we decided to keep to our original one and to look for another way to the mountain. The long ridge between Chogolisa and K6 has many high-altitude passes and information we received in Skardu made us believe that we should be able to cross and reach the Kaberi Glacier. This information was incorrect and we had to make six reconnaissances before we could find a way. We left Skardu on June 26. Up to Base Camp at the confluence of the Chogolisa and Bueton Glaciers at 4700 meters, there was easy walking. We reached there on July 4 after the first three reconnaissances had failed. We reconnoitered more until July 11. We had easy going to reach a 5500-meter pass, but on the Kaberi side we placed 300 meters of fixed rope on a 45° to 50° snow slope. Camp I was at 4600 meters where the side glacier which we descended met the Kaberi, twelve hours from Base Camp. Camp II on a plateau at the bottom of the southwest face at 5500 meters and ten hours from Camp I was occupied on July 17. Camp III, on the south ridge at 7000 meters, was reached by very steep snow slopes on the southwest face. It would have been very difficult to place a camp between II and III without special equipment. We fixed rope from 5750 to 7000 meters. Camp III was established on July 24. At nine P.M. on July 25 Aucher, Dubois, Galmiche and Monier started for the summit. On July 26 the rest of the team reached Camp III in the morning intending to climb to the summit the next day. At eleven A.M. the four reached the summit, having completed a new route on the southwest face and the third ascent of the peak. At noon it began to snow. At one P.M. Aucher and Dubois started to descend, while Galmiche and Monier, who were planning to ski, waited for better conditions. At 3:30 the latter two began to ski down the snow slopes to the east of the route they had climbed. At five P.M. they found the debris of an avalanche and then the bodies of Aucher and Dubois at the bottom of the summit slopes. Obviously they had been caught by an avalanche and hurled down the slope for more than 700 meters. Their bodies could not be brought down. On July 27 all of us left Camp III and we were back in Base Camp on July 31.

Christian Blot, Club Alpin Français

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