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Asia, Nepal, Pumori Tragedy

Pumori Tragedy. Jon Giersson, Thorsteinn Gudjonsson, Kristinn Runarsson from Iceland and I from Scotland established Base Camp on October 2 at 5300 meters west of Kala Pattar. Our permit was for the south ridge of Pumori, but as an Australian team was already gaining the ridge from the southeast side, we decided to try a new route gaining the ridge via steep mixed ground on the west face, to the right of Rick Allen’s and Sandy Allan’s descent route of 1986. We placed a camp at 5800 meters on the upper Changri Shar Glacier and fixed 400 feet of rope on steep mixed ground during the next ten days. On October 4, Giersson had chest pains and left for home. We decided on a few days of rest before a lightweight push for the summit. I fell ill and descended to Pheriche. On October 17, Gudjonsson and Runarsson climbed to the high camp. At two P.M. on the 18th, they were seen from Base Camp climbing the ice above the fixed ropes and disappeared from view behind a sérac at 6400 meters. Neither the Base Camp staff nor I ever saw them again. I spent October 20 and 21 searching the glacier below the west face. Nor did a subsequent helicopter search reveal anything. However, Australian Jeffrey Williams reported that he saw the two missing climbers reaching the summit during the afternoon of October 19. Possibly they may have bivouacked near the sérac and continued by moonlight. How they might have climbed from the sérac to the summit unobserved remains a mystery.

Stephen Aisthorpe, Scotland