American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Asia, Nepal, Makalu Attempt

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1989

Makalu. Attempt. We arrived at Base Camp on August 29. The team members were Australian Greg Child, Irishman Terry Mooney, Indians Sharu Phrabu and Praful Mistry and Britons Rick Allen, Andy Parkin, Mark Miller, Sean Smith, Simon Yates, Alan Hinkes and me. Advance Base was established at 5500 meters on September 1. The west face of Makalu was the main objective, but it was totally out of condition. A German-Swiss group had permission for the same route at the same time. They left it for another year. The Roger Baxter-Jones Couloir was our secondary objective, but after heavy snowfalls in mid-September, this was too prone to slab avalanches. Six of us reached the Makalu Col, but conditions were dangerous. On September 29, Rick Allen and Alan Hinkes left the 7000-meter camp and climbed straight up to the west of the Roger Baxter-Jones Couloir and slept on the north side of the divide. The next day, they went down and across to camp with the Spanish team at 7780 meters on the original route. The following morning, they followed the Spaniards, who had to retire because of frostbite. Alan and Rick continued to 8100 meters. Although Alan was dubious, Rick pushed on until he was avalanched past Alan who had a poor belay and let go of the rope. Rick fell 500 meters over rock and snow. His head was badly lacerated. Alan managed to get him down to Makalu Col, where Spanish and Polish climbers gave much assistance. Dr. Pepe Aced came up from 7000 meters with Sherpas and others and brought Rick down to 7000 meters. Greg Child and I came up from Advance Base and got him back down there the next day. On October 5, he reached Base Camp, where he received 30 stitches in his head. He was evacuated by helicopter on October 7 along with a frostbitten Spaniard. The government of Nepal now seems to allow any team to climb any route despite its already being booked. There were at one time this autumn 50 climbers from ten countries all climbing toward the Makalu La!

Douglas Scott, Alpine Climbing Group

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