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Asia, Nepal, Lhotse Shar, East Ridge Attempt

Lhotse Shar, East Ridge Attempt. Alan Burgess, Joe Frank, Dick Jackson and I had hoped to traverse from Lhotse Shar to Lhotse via Lhotse Middle. We arrived at Base Camp on August 28 and established staging camp at 19,000 feet from where we could fix a small amount of rope on steep ridges above. The rope began at 20,000 feet and led to easy ground at 21,700 feet. From there the southeast flank of the mountain consisted of wide open slopes averaging 40° interspersed with short but steeper séracs. On September 27, at 23,000 feet we triggered a five-foot-thick avalanche. With great luck we were carried only 30 feet and stopped at the edge of an ice cliff. However, the avalanching snow stripped the entire slope we had just climbed. We descended, carefully. A week later, we tried again, but snow conditions were even worse with the whole of this side of the mountain covered by vast areas of slab. We abandoned this route on October 8. We then changed to the south spur from which a Spanish team had recently withdrawn because of four avalanche fatalities. Unfortunately, the time taken in changing the permit lost us so much time that we were hit by the big storm of October 19. Four feet of snow fell in Base Camp and two avalanches destroyed two of our tents with direct hits. I was in one of them, but the snow stopped six inches from my shoulder.

Adrian Burgess, A.A.C. and Alpine Climbing Group