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Asia, Pakistan, Nanga Parbat Attempt

Nanga Parbat Attempt. Our expedition was composed of Tony Lewis, leader, Scott Thorbum, Ron Matous, Dr. Mike Young, Rob Gustke and me. From Gilgit we hired jeeps on May 11 for the bone-jarring 12-hour ride to Tsharing in the Rupal valley. Our approach to Base Camp, located at 11,800 feet beyond Tap Alp, took one long day on May 12 with porters and donkeys. After scouting the Canadian route (Shagiri Icefall) and the Schell route to Camp I at 17,000 feet, we decided the latter was safer and more direct, if used between midnight and ten A.M. Between May 16 and 24 we each made five grueling nighttime carries. On May 23 we occupied Camp I. After fixing the difficult ground between 19,000 feet and Camp II at 20,000 feet with 400 feet of rope and ferrying loads, on June 3 we all moved to Camp II, which was perched on an icy knife-edge. June 4 and 5 were the only nice days we had between May 23 and June 27. Young headed down to Base Camp with flu symptoms and eventually left for the States. Finally on June 12 Lewis, Matous, Gustke and I plowed through deep snow from eight A.M. to seven P.M. to Camp III at 23,000 feet. Thorbum had to descend to Base Camp with a persistent G.I. problem. Our plan was to go alpine-style to Camp IV at 24,500 feet and then to push for the summit. Unfortunately, during the night of the 14th Lewis became altitude sick. Therefore, early on the 15th Gustke and I headed down with him. I left them at 21,400 feet and returned to Camp III. Matous and I hoped to climb upward the next morning but because of bad weather we headed down to Base Camp. On June 22 Gustke, Thorbum and I were back in Camp II for one last attempt. We knew we were in trouble when we found our cached gear under five feet of new snow. On June 24 Gustke and I gained only 1000 feet in hip-deep snow and reluctantly decided that further progress was impossible. It snowed 45 out of the 50 days we were in the Rupal valley.

Mark Udall