American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Asia, Nepal, Gyachungkang, South Face

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

Gyachungkang, South Face. Our expedition of ten French and three Nepalese military men climbed Gyachungkang’s previously unclimbed south face. The peak itself had been climbed only once, by Japanese in 1964. We approached from Jiri in two weeks and set up Base Camp on April 22 at 5020 meters on the moraine of the true right bank of the Ngojumba Glacier. To figure a route through the icefalls defending access to the south face took ten days of effort and reconnaissance. On April 28 we set up Camp I at 5800 meters on a snowy spur after we had climbed a rocky ridge that let us bypass the first icefall. On April 30 we placed Camp II at 6200 meters after winding in a complex route through the glacier where we were often exposed to falling ice. There the ascent of the south face really began. An 800-meter-high ice slope, which in places was very steep, led to Camp III, installed on May 4 and 5 at 7200 meters on a platform hacked into a narrow snow ridge. The dry, cold weather at the end of April gave way to unstable weather. Preparing the route was difficult, especially in the rock barrier between 7300 and 7500 meters, where we climbed a series of chimneys. On May 11, R. Flamatti and Pierre-Alain Royer set out for the summit but were driven back by storm at 7850 meters, suffering frost-bitten hands and feet. On May 12, Eric Gramont and Frédéric Maurel succeeded in climbing an overhanging dihedral just below the easier snowy summit slopes and reached the summit (7952 meters, 26,089 feet). On May 13, Gérald Trésallet and I and on May 15, Alain Estève and Hubert Giot got to the top.

Jean-Claude Marmier, Lieutenant Colonel, Ecole Militaire de Haute Montagne

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