American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Asia, Nepal, Manaslu Attempt and Tragedy

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

Manaslu Attempt and Tragedy. A 16-person German-Austrian expedition led by Michael Dacher hoped to climb Manaslu by the normal northeast-face route. On May 3, three members established Camp IV at 7400 meters. Then disaster struck and Camp IV was never reached again. A party of five had set out that day from Camp III, but two of them realized they could not make it all the way to Camp IV and turned back. One of these two, German Wilhelm Klaiber, apparently fell while descending the fixed ropes going back to Camp III. No one saw him fall. He simply disappeared and was never seen again. During that night there was heavy snowfall. The three in Camp III, Germans Fred Bässler and Arthur Wirthensohn and Austrian Dieter Oberbichler, the deputy leader, descended on May 4. Oberbichler now fell; again no one saw him fall, but the other two suddenly came upon his body as they were moving down. He must have shot past them, for he had been behind them. Oberbichler was already dead; the two tried to bring his body down with them, but while doing so, Bässler broke his ankle and got mild frostbite and Wirthensohn got badly frostbitten fingers on both hands. A final summit push was attempted with six members moving up from Base Camp on May 9, but they got no higher than Camp III because of heavy snowfall. The climb was abandoned on May 11.

Michael J. Cheney, Himalayan Club, and Elizabeth Hawley

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