American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Asia, Tibet, Everest, Kangshung Face Attempt

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

Everest, Kangs hung Face Attempt. In the post-monsoon season, we were a small team with no support personnel or porters, although we had 43 yaks and a small group of family and friends who accompanied us to the Kharta and then the Kama valleys as far as Pethange and some as far as Base Camp before returning to civilization. The seven climbers were Andy Politz, Ed Viesturs, Dr. Gary Troyer, Jan Schwartzberg, Donnie Mims, Joe Dinnen and me. We chose a line up the left side of the buttress directly below the South Col because the right side, done brilliantly a few months before by Ed Webster and his team, was no longer an option due to daily and sometimes twice-daily avalanches. The route on the left offered an only slightly more protected line up a gully, with a traverse out onto the face itself. The climbing was steep but quite straightforward. Lying at the junction of Everest and Lhotse, one was in the path whenever either mountain avalanched. After fixing ropes and placing most of the necessary food and equipment at Camp I at 19,500 feet, we experienced a large avalanche, which carried away much of the equipment and food. Fortunately, no one was hurt. It was by then too late to try another route and time and supplies were running out. We decided reluctantly to turn back. A word to save others some of the headaches we encountered. The Chinese Mountaineering Association liaison officer spoke only Chinese. Our interpreter spoke Chinese and English and so it was not possible to speak with the Tibetans. Neither man actually went farther than the roadhead at Kharta. Also, take precautions that nothing is stolen. The yak drivers seem to have developed a help-yourself attitude toward gear, clothing, food and fuel.

Richard W. Tyrrell

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