American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Asia, Nepal, Makalu Attempt

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1988

Makalu Attempt. The 1987 Franco-American Makalu Expedition consisted of Michel Fauquet, leader; Americans Michael Crosset, Fred Phinney, Barry Rosenbaum, Jay Sieger and me; Canadian Bill Clifford; and French Denis Pivot, Annie Pivot and Christian Fournier, ably supported by Patrick Sance, Kathleen Pope, and Sherpas Kikeme, Pemba and Lhakpa. The attempt was by the normal route. After a 14-day trek, Base Camp and Camp I were established on September 17 and 21 at 5200 and 6100 meters. In continuing good post-monsoon weather, Camp II was fully established on October 1 at 6700 meters at the foot of the pitch to the Makalu La. Fixed ropes were placed to the right of the usual couloir to the col because of avalanche danger and Camp III, the high point, was established on the summit ridge on October 16. Sanse and

Fauquet survived without serious injury a ride on a wind-slab avalanche while fixing rope. High winds prevented immediate advance and the team regrouped for summit bids starting from Base on October 18. On October 19, a large unseasonal storm struck, halting all activity in the region. Base Camp was buried by four feet of snow, and Camp II was demolished by nine feet of snow and wind-slab avalanches. Camp III could not be revisited because of extreme avalanche danger. Fortunately, Camps II and III were unoccupied during the storm. Crossett escaped from Camp I with snow shovels strapped to his feet the following day. After a week of attempting to rescue gear, we descended. Morale, esprit and friendship were strong features of the expedition.

James F. Fries

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