American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Asia, Nepal, Everest Attempt

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

Everest attempt. Raging winds brought progress on our four-man attempt on the south pillar of Everest to a standstill as the jet stream lowered prematurely. Despite our 70-day vigil at 5500 meters and over, the outrageous winds never abated and those who ventured high invariably returned unsuccessful and with frostbite. We established Base Camp on August 23. At the time of our first summit bid, in late September, the jet stream lashed the mountain ferociously, catching the first pair, New Zealander Kim Logan and Australian Mike Rheinberger, in their bivouac at 8075 meters. After a horrifying night when they used their bodies to prevent their tent from being demolished by the extreme winds, they began their long descent via the South Col to the Western Cwm. As they crossed the wind-swept col, they were both blown off their feet successive times and it was certainly then that they began to develop frostbite. Their cold injuries ended the expedition for them. Australian Jon Muir and I continued our attempt alone for another six weeks. Three times we ascended the icefall from Base Camp to Camp II in the Western Cwm, where we waited for a week or more each time for the wind to abate. On numerous occasions we got ready to depart when the weather again deteriorated. The frightful blizzard starting on October 19 all but ended the effort for all. A week later Jon Muir and I reascended the icefall to our destroyed advance camp. For two more days we remained on the mountain completely alone, ever hoping for a break in the weather which never came. We had been high too long and both of us felt seriously deteriorated. On the last day of October, we packed up our tiny camp and headed down the glacier. In the icefall, suddenly all hell broke loose. With a crack, an area 100 by 200 meters in size lurched violently. Huge crevasses opened around us and other chasms snapped shut. The snow-covered ice buckled like the rise and fall of surf on a wild coastline. After five seconds all movement ceased as quickly as it had started. Lugging heavy packs, we negotiated the collapsed section, climbing vertical steps where there had been none and ambling past horizontal ladders which had previously been vertical. It was dark before we stumbled into Base Camp, exhausted.

Peter Hillary, New Zealand Alpine Club

This AAJ article has been reformatted into HTML. Please contact us if you spot an error.