American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Asia, Tibet, Everest Attempt by a New Route

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

Everest Attempt by a New Route. Canadian Barry Blanchard and I attempted a new route on the north side of Everest without fixed rope, camps or supple-mentary oxygen. We followed the spur between the two large couloirs that go up into the pinnacles on the northeast ridge. Starting on October 4 we made three attempts on this route. The first try ended at 23,000 feet with me descending to get overboots and Blanchard trading his ski pole for a second ice tool as the route was harder than we had expected. On October 5 we reached 24,500 feet and Blanchard got pulmonary edema. On the third try on October 12, we left Advance Base at ten P.M., bivouacked at 25,000 feet at seven A.M. and continued up to 26,400 feet, where Blanchard had to turn back with cerebral edema; he had a headache and loss of vision. To retreat, we traversed to the north ridge since we thought it too difficult to down-climb our route. At the North Col, the Wyoming team gave us a bottle of oxygen, which I suspect saved Blanchard’s life. We descended to Base Camp at 17,000 feet. Two days later, we gave up on the new route and tried Messner’s North Face-Great Couloir line. We went from 17,000 to 27,500 feet in 50 hours. I did not sleep or eat anything and threw up almost everything I drank. At the high point I could not keep my hands and feet warm and often fell asleep while climbing. Blanchard climbed 100 feet higher and retreated too.

Marc Francis Twight

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