American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Asia, Nepal, Himlung Himal Attempt

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

Himlung Himal Attempt. Our party consisted of Steve Tenney, Bob Rosso, Kirk Bachman and me as leader. We had little information about the peak, knowing only that the summit had been reached once, by Japanese via the east ridge from the glacier above the Larkya La in 1984. Two other attempts, one in winter, were by the same route. Our attempt was by the south ridge. We left Kathmandu on April 3 and reached Base Camp at 13,700 feet on the Himlung Glacier on April 11. Fresh snow made moving up the glacier to the foot of the south face difficult. We cached food and fuel at Advance Base at 14,400 feet on April 15. We then explored the Ratna Icefall and left equipment and fuel at 16,400 feet. On April 18, we climbed back through the icefall and bivouacked at 17,000 feet on the south ridge. After a heavy snowfall we determined that the ridge would require more time and gear than we had and so we moved left to the “Wishbone Couloir.” After spending all day climbing the couloir, at dark we still had not found a suitable bivouac site. We climbed a few pitches in the dark to reach the western spur of the south ridge and pitched camp at 18,500 feet. April 20 was spent fixing lines over a very difficult traverse. We spent a second night at a pinnacle bivouac and the following day climbed to the top of the western spur. The climbing on cold, brittle ice and steep rock was of high standard. The next morning we reached the actual south ridge. Because of the difficulty and the condition of one of the members, we descended from a high point of 20,050 feet. It took two days to get back to Base Camp on April 23. We hope to return to finish this beautiful route next year.

Kevin Swigert

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