American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Asia, India-Garhwal, Thalay Sagar Attempt

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

Thalay Sagar Attempt. Kitty Calhoun and I started up the north face of Thalay Sagar on September 18 with seven days’ food, one rope and a portaledge. We hoped to climb the face’s central couloir. Climbing on the lower apron was slowed by thin 60° to 75° ice; it was difficult to find anchors on thin ice or in slabby rock. Where the ice was thin, it required delicate hooking. After four days we had entered the couloir and gotten to nearly 21,000 feet, but the perfect weather changed to become unstable. Within a minute after snow began to fall, spindrift avalanches would funnel down the couloir, most strong enough to knock the leader off run-out pitches. Above was the crux ice of the climb, three or four pitches of steep waterfall-ice. For eight storm days we lived off one-and-a-half day’s worth of food and fuel and when it finally cleared on the ninth day, it was bitterly cold and we were too weak to continue. Throughout the climb we found no hope of chopping any sort of comfortable bivouac ledge; in our portaledge we endured almost constant avalanches during the storm days. Slowed by the difficulty of finding anchors, we took two days on the descent.

Andrew Selters, American Alpine Institute

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