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Asia, Pakistan, Nanga Parbat Attempt

Nanga Parbat Attempt. Todd Bibler, Harry Kent, Andy Lapkass and I attempted to climb Nanga Parbat from the Rupal valley. Our objective was to try the central pillar of the Rupal Face in as close to alpine-style as possible. We spent from July 5 to 22 acclimatizing on the smaller peaks south of Nanga Parbat. Among other unnamed peaks, our ascents included Middle Rupal Peak (18,000 feet) and Shagiri Peak (20,000 feet). We also climbed to 21,000 feet on the west ridge of Nanga Parbat above Mazeno Pass. While our acclimatization went well, the snow conditions above 20,000 feet were abysmal. This, combined with a period of unsettled weather, provoked us to abandon the central pillar and focus on the Schell route, which ascends the southwest ridge and crosses over onto the Diamir Face. We made a carry to 17,500 feet on July 27. Our first serious attempt came on August 1. However, a storm which brought 14 inches of new snow forced us to retreat from our first camp. After waiting for the snow to set up, we made our next attempt on August 7. We moved rapidly to 20,000 feet, but above we encountered knee- to waist-deep snow. After leaving a cache at 23,000 feet, we descended to Base Camp. Three of us elected to give up the climb because of the conditions and the extreme avalanche danger. Andy Lapkass continued. He returned to the route alone on August 15. Using the food and equipment we had left, he fought his way for the next seven days to the rock step on the Diamir side above 25,000 feet before giving up and descending. He cleaned the route of all but 300 feet of fixed rope.

Mark Hesse