American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Mountaineering Club of Alaska

  • Club Activities
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  • Publication Year: 1985

Gasherbrum IV, Northwest Ridge Attempt. We left Dasso with eleven American members, a liaison officer, sirdar and 132 porters on May 8 and arrived at Base Camp at 15,500 feet on the West Gasherbrum Glacier on May 19. Actual climbing began on May 23. Camp I was established at 18,000 feet on the hanging glacier on May 25. A steep couloir provides access to the northwest ridge, 3000 difficult feet above. Camp II was located just below the crest of the ridge under the protection of a large rock, the site of the 1983 camp. The couloir required 4000 feet of fixed rope and provided good ice climbing. Camp II was established on June 2 and consisted of two small tents perched on a four-foot- wide shelf cut into the ice. A long traverse on steep ice and snow on the west side of the ridge led to Camp III at 22,000 feet; it was established on June 15. Two tents were placed inside a covered bergschrund which served as a great campsite on the exposed northwest ridge. A steep snow slope, varying from icy sastrugi to hip-deep powder, led up to the crest of the ridge from the north side. The final ropes to Camp IV were fixed on June 25 on a rare calm and cloudless day at 24,000 feet. Because of the lack of supplies and hardware, rapidly deteriorating weather and lethargy after so long a stay at altitude, we decided to call it quits. We had already robbed a large part of the lower fixed rope for our push to Camp IV. We had initially planned on using the 5000 feet of fixed rope left in place by the Swenson team of 1983 but found it to be frozen in and useless. We left Base Camp on July 2. The expedition members were Geoff Radford, Peter Keleman, Josh Lieberman, Andrew Lapkass, James Jennings, Chris Blatter, Dan Curley and me as climbers, Dr. Michael Clifford and Dr. Ronald Wemple, team physicians and liaison officer Mohammad Akram.

Werner R. Landry

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