American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Asia, Nepal, Kangchenjunga, North Face Attempt

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1986

Kangchenjunga, North Face Attempt. We arrived at Base Camp at Pangpema on April 6 after a 13-day trek. The team consisted of John Roskelley, leader, Dr. Robin Houston, Gregg Cronn, Kim Momb, Canadian Laurie Skreslet and me as assistant leader. We reached the North Col (23,500 feet) on April 22 after 27 pitches of mixed ice and rock. The route was to the right of the British route and partially the same as that followed by Messner and the New Zealanders. The leading and fixing of the headwall to the ridge was done over a period of seven days by the entire team. We shared the north side of the mountain with the Yugoslav Yalung Kang team, which had been in Base Camp two weeks before us. From April 22 when we reached the col until May 13 when John Roskelley and Kim Momb got to the high point of 25,600 feet, we carried loads and established camps on the col and at the base of the sugarloaf. Early on the morning of May 15 Gregg Cronn began to suffer symptoms of cerebral edema at Camp III. Laurie Skreslet assisted him in the descent to Camp II on the col, where Roskelley and Momb were. Oxygen was given and Skreslet and Momb helped Cronn to descend the fixed lines to Camp I, where Robin Houston and I met them and aided him in getting to Base Camp in about 14 hours from Camp III. His recovery was complete. We decided to abandon the mountain on May 16. There were many reasons. We were exhausted both from the rescue and the 45 days on the mountain. Supplies were low in all camps, particularly those on the ridge and the prospect of resupply and a chance at the top were remote. Sherpa porters were not used above Advance Base at 17,000 feet and we used no artificial oxygen for climbing. Lines were fixed on the route to the North Col. Objective danger both from rock- and icefall is significant on all routes on the north of Kangchenjunga. The route we did was clearly the safest.

Jeff Duenwald

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