American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Asia, Nepal, Makalu and Lhotse, the Last of Messner's 8000ers

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1987

Makalu and Lhotse, the Last of Messner’s 8OOOers. Our expedition was composed of Reinhold Messner, Hans Kammerlander, Friedl Mutschlechner, Giuseppe Enzio, Fernando Bernascone, Wolfgang Tomaset, Denis Ducroz, Giuliano De Marchi, Sabine Stehle, Brigitte Oberhollenzer and me as leader. De Marchi and Enzio did not go on to Lhotse. We were flown to Tumlingtar on August 18 and on August 29 got to Base Camp at 5400 meters at the place called French Base Camp. On September 3 we placed Camp I at 6800 meters at the foot of the couloir that leads to the Makalu La. We followed the normal (French) route. On September 9, Camp II was set up on the col at 7400 meters and the next day Messner, Kammerlander and Mutschlechner established Camp III at 7800 meters. On September 11 they started for the summit, but Mutschlechner had kidney pains and all gave up at 8000 meters. The next week was stormy and snowy. On September 23 De Marchi and Ducroz left Camp III and nearly reached the summit, stopped 30 meters below it by an impossible cornice. The two had climbed the French route up to the shouder left of the summit. Very late, they reached their highest point and returned in the dark to Camp III. On the 24th the Pole Krzysztof Wielicki and the Swiss Marcel Rüedi, members of a Polish expedition, went to the summit. Wielicki got to the top between three and four P.M. and Rüedi much later. The next morning Wielicki descended, having waited all night in Camp III for Rüedi. In Camp II he met Messner, Kammerlander and Mutschlechner, who were climbing directly from Camp I to Camp III. They saw Rüedi descending very slowly. When they got to Camp III, they saw him 100 meters from camp, dead, seated in the snow. He had left Zürich only two weeks before. Messner and his companions left Camp III at six A.M. and following the tracks of Rüedi and Wielicki, reached the summit of Makalu at 11:30, going up the ridge that divides the west from the north face. This much more direct variant is more difficult and has a very steep section around 8000 meters. They found the place where Rüedi had bivouacked at 8100 meters. They returned to Base Camp the next day. A snowstorm on September 28 prevented any further ascents. We returned on foot to Sedoa and were helicoptered to Lukla. On October 10 we were at Everest Base Camp. We had an agreement with Eiselin’s expedition for access through the Khumbu Icefall. The bad weather kept them from success on their Everest attempts. On October 14 Messner, Kammerlander, Mutschlechner and Thomaset left Base Camp with Sherpas for Camp II at 6400 meters. The next day the climbers were kept nt-bound by wind until noon. Mutschlechner had to descend with a toothache, The other three and the Sherpas climbed to Camp III at 7450 meters. Despite a strong wind on October 16, Messner and Kammerlander set out and climbed the final couloir not without difficulty, but there the wind actually helped them, shoving them upwards; in an hour they ascended 250 meters. They were on the summit of Lhotse at 1:45. Thus, Messner completed his ascents of all 8000ers. The pair descended that night to Camp II and the next day to Base Camp.

Renato Moro, Club Alpino Italiano

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