American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Asia, Nepal, Kangchenjunga from the North

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1990

Kangchenjunga from the North. Our expedition consisted of Lou Whittaker, leader, George Dunn, Phil Ershler, Jim Hamilton, Robert Link, Larry Nielsen, Dr. Howard Putter, John Roskelley, Eric Simonson, Craig Van Hoy, Ed Viesturs, Jim Wickwire, Skip Yowell and me. We also were joined by Nawang Gombu and six Sherpas. Four Indonesian climbers traveled to Base Camp as training for a future Himalayan expedition of their own. Political trouble between India and Nepal delayed the arrival of our gear until long after we got to Base Camp at Pang Pema at 16,500 feet at the north foot of Kangchenjunga. Outfitted with little more than the hope that our equipment would join us soon, we established Camp I three days later at 17,000 feet on the gently sloping Kangchenjunga Glacier. On April 13, we sited Camp II just above a small icefall at the head of the glacier below the Twins and at the foot of the 3000-foot wall leading to the north col. When our gear finally did arrive, it was only 75% complete but it renewed our enthusiasm. Choosing a line between Scott’s and Messner’s up the west wall, we established Camp III in the bergschrund at 21,500 feet on April 20. Steep ice and rock complicated by bad weather slowed progress. Not until May 10 could we place 24,000-foot Camp IV above the north col and along the north ridge. Seven days later, Camp V was established and occupied by Phil Ershler, Craig Van Hoy and Ed Viesturs. May 18 dawned beautiful and the three joined Scott’s route and traversed the north face to the summit, which they reached in 8½ hours. Van Hoy and Viesturs climbed without oxygen. On May 21, Link, Nielsen and I repeated the ascent with Link leading strongly through deep snow deposited by the previous day’s storm. Nielsen and I climbed without supplementary oxygen.

Greg Wilson

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