American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Asia, Nepal, Putha Hiunchuli Attempt

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

Putha Hiunchuli Attempt. Our expedition members were Kevin O’Meara, Jack Bennet, Madeleine Simmons, Barbara Pollyea, Celso Frazao, Steve Tripp, Peter Muller, Lyna Anderson and I as leader. On April 9, we placed Base Camp at 15,000 feet above the Karpe Glacier, southwest of the Dhaulagiri Himal. We hoped to provide expedition experience for newcomers to the Himalaya as well as to reach the summit. We attempted the south ridge. Two major shelves separated by an active icefall guarded the bottom two-thirds of the route. We avoided the icefall by a circuitous route that involved fixing 1000 feet of rope on mixed rock and ice. Due to a very dry winter, we encountered hundreds of feet of hard névé ice. During April, we established three camps. Camp III was at 19,400 feet below the final 1000-foot ice tower that led to the second shelf. We fixed rope up the ice wall to 20,000 feet. Daily afternoon snowstorms had not caused real delays, but at the end of April, a major storm pinned us in Camp II for four days. Muller and Anderson went back to Base Camp. The rest of us and Sonam Sherpa with difficulty reached Camp III on May 4. The next morning, O’Meara, Sonam and I climbed toward our high point on the ice. The windblown snow below the ice tower was a thick, avalanche-prone slab; the ground blizzard continued. Since we would have to go up and down this slope to establish Camp IV, we decided not to take a risk with the avalanche danger. Base Camp was evacuated on May 10.

Hooman Aprin

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