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Asia, Pakistan, K2, Northwest Ridge Attempt

K2, Northwest Ridge Attempt. Our expedition consisted of Alan Rouse, leader, John Barry, Alan and Adrian Burgess, Phil Burke, Brian Hall, John Porter and Dave Wilkinson, with Jim Hargreaves, Base-Camp manager, Dr. Bev Holt and Jim Curran, film maker. With 200 porters, we arrived at K2 Base Camp on May 23. We retained 10 porters to help ferry gear onto the Savoia Glacier, where Advance Base was established at the foot of the west face of K2, the Base Camp site used by Japanese and British west-face expeditions. From there we established Camp I at 6100 meters in the hanging valley that separates the northwest and west ridges. Above is a 700-meter mixed face which was fixed-roped in roughly the 1982 Polish line to Camp II at 6800 meters. Above the snow slopes, old Polish ropes led leftwards through mixed ground into diagonal gully-and-ramp systems. Porter and Rouse had fixed new rope up to 7400 meters by the third week of June. However, continued bad weather was slowing progress, with only the odd spell of fine. Brian Hall returned home with a damaged knee and John Porter left to return to work on July 1. By July 8 Adrian and Alan Burgess reached the high point and Adrian managed one more rope-length before the weather once more showed signs of breaking. The inevitable decision was reached that with too few active climbers to continue a fixed-rope ascent and not enough good weather to risk an alpine-style push on technically difficult ground, the northwest ridge had to be abandoned, Wilkinson, Barry, Burke, Rouse and the Burgess twins made a short foray on the Abruzzi Ridge before being turned back by bad weather. The same day, July 16, Renato Casarotto had his fatal crevasse fall. The whole team tried unsuccessfully to rescue him, and for many, this, the sixth death on K2 that summer, was the turning point. By the 20th, only Rouse and I were left. What happened later is well documented elsewhere in this Journal.

James Curran, England