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Asia, Nepal, Khatang Attempt

Khatang Attempt. Because of adminstrative difficulties, we were eight days late in arriving at Base Camp above Lumdung Khaka. Our original intention had been to climb the hitherto unclimbed southeast ridge of Khatang, but when we saw the difficulties, including a 300-meter-high rock step, we realized we would not have the time. Instead we spent the eleven days available to us in an alpine-style attempt on the northeast ridge, which had been climbed twice, most recently by Swiss in 1987. We placed Advance Base at 4800 meters. We had to climb a difficult icefall to reach the foot of the ridge at 5700 meters. The first group of three had to abort at the top of the icefall because one was suffering from the altitude. A group of four, including me, set out on a three- or four-day push and camped on the first day in the snow bowl below the ridge. The next morning, we ascended broken rock onto the col and followed the ridge on alternate rock steps and steep snow crests, finding fixed rope from the Swiss. There must have been another four feet of snow since their attempt. There were long sections of steep, firm snow. As we gained height, however, the snow conditions deteriorated until we were moving very slowly through thigh-deep snow. The lack of belays made the exposed slope very dangerous and prompted a retreat. The highest point reached was 6160 meters, depressingly far from the 6782-meter (22,250-foot) summit. The northeast ridge of Khatang is an impressively steep line, but the southeast ridge would present a considerable challenge.

Michael Davidson, Alpine Club