American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Asia, Pakistan, Tirich Mir Attempts

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

Tirich Mir Attempts. This season’s unusually poor weather and associated dangerous conditions in northwest Pakistan also affected Tirich Mir (7708 meters, 25,290 feet), where our expedition of Steve Callen, leader, Mike Aughey, Dave Harries, Steve Hart, our only New Zealander, Dave Wilson, Mike Woolridge, Hilary Young and I were attempting the west ridge. Porter rates were high. The three-day approach from Shagrom now has a standard rate of 530 rupees per porter. However, their generous nature and hospitality more than compensated and we were impressed by their honesty and reliability under adverse conditions. Base Camp was reached on August 11 in heavy snow and from the 14th to the 24th, during the only period of settled weather, everybody established food and equipment dumps at 6600 meters, having camped at 5400, 5950 and 6300 meters. Some then climbed Dirgol Zom (6778 meters, 22,238 feet) by both the north face and the east ridge. The west ridge of Tirich Mir was inspected to 6800 meters. On August 30, after a short spell of poor weather, Woolridge and I left Base Camp, followed a day later by Harries and Hart. We reached our Camp IV site near the dumps after three days. A sudden, prolonged and heavy snowfall buried our tents overnight and we moved them to the safest place, protected by a small overhanging sérac barrier. In the subsequent days, we were unable to reach our food and gear. We were avalanched three times and were finally able to make an arduous three-day descent to Base, which we reached on September 8. On September 14, while some members began the walk out, Harries and I started reascending in improving weather. It took five days to reach Camp IV. Unable to find equipment or food under five or six meters of compact avalanche debris, we were beginning to move up for a quick attempt when bad weather struck again. After two days of snow and temperatures of -30° C, a break allowed another tiring descent to a completely deserted Base Camp. We made the four-day walk out to Shagrom, which we reached, rather hungry, on September 26. Two expeditions were given permission for Tirich Mir prior to us. The jeep road from Chitral is particularly hair-raising and the Italian Gervasutti Memorial Expedition, led by Franco Ribetti, failed to reach the roadhead when their jeep went off the road, killing the liaison officer and Dr. Alessandro Nacamuli. The West German team, led by Siegfried Ludwig, abandoned their efforts a little below our Camp I due to the conditions.

Lindsay Griffin, Alpine Climbing Group

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