American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Asia, Tibet, Everest, North Face Attempt

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

Everest, North Face Attempt. Our team was composed of five women: Stacy Allison, Evelyn Lees, Liz Nichols, Melly Reuling and Mimi Stone*, and ten men: Q. Belk, Dr. David Black, Peter Goldman, Michael Graber, Wes Krause, Bob McConnell, George Schunk, Ben Toland, Rick Wyatt and me as leader. On August 6, after struggling against landslides and flooding rivers, we arrived at Base Camp at 17,000 feet on the remote Tibetan side of Mount Everest and were ready to attempt the Australian route on the north face. Well in advance of the post-monsoon period, we intended to stock four camps by October. Supplies were carried to Advance Base at 18,400 feet with the help of yaks. In continuing beautiful weather, we established Camp I at 19,200 feet on the Rongbuk Glacier by August 17. The climbing between Camps I and II was the steepest on the route. We ascended on a snow-and-ice spur, often at night, to avoid avalanches and ice and rockfall. The crux was a nearly vertical rock pitch. Camp II was a well-stocked snow cave. From there we intended to launch our summit assault. Camp III at 25,000 feet was also a snow cave, dug into what the Australians called White Limbo, an ominous snowfield which stretches across the entire north face. Camp IV, at 26,600 feet in the Great Couloir, was stocked with tent, stove, fuel and oxygen. After two months, the weather changed from summer to what soon would be winter. Michael Graber and Mimi Stone made the first summit attempt on October 15. They were turned back at 28,000 feet by strong wind. Mimi now holds the American women’s altitude record. A second summit-attempt team consisted of Wesley Krause, Q. Belk, Stacy Allison and me. A fierce blizzard hit us on October 20 when we were climbing White Limbo. We were forced to retreat to Camp II for three days. When the snowstorm ended, we climbed to Camp III and spent three more days waiting for the wind to abate. The storm complicated our descent off the mountain and delayed our departure from Everest by two weeks.

Scott Fischer

* All five received Vera Watson-Alison Chadwick Onyszkiewicz Memorial Fund Grants.

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