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Asia, Nepal, Thamserku Attempts, 1988 and 1989

Thamserku Attempts, 1988 and 1989. In the winter of 1988, Dr. Ed Farrar, Canadian Dan Culver and I attempted the second ascent of the west ridge of Thamserku. Although previous sightings and photos had shown a frozen snow arête leading to the summit, we found very shattered and unstable rock gullies due to very dry conditions. After five days on dry, loose faces, we attempted the south ridge. Two days later, on December 7, 1988, we established Base Camp at 13,700 feet between the north face of Kusum Kanguru and the south ridge of Thamserku. Farrar left the expedition and Culver and I made a fast alpine attempt. From a small camp at 15,000 feet on the east ridge, we started up the east side of the south ridge with five days’ supplies and minimal hardware. We bivouacked at 17,200 feet at the base of a 250-foot rock buttress on December 9. Medium-quality rock ended at a steep snow-and-ice face intercepted by bands of shattered rock. Above, good rock and three pitches of good snow led to our second bivy at 18,500 feet. Steep rock put us on a snow ridge which we climbed to bivouac for a third time at 19,500 feet. The great final tower would have required many more pitches of rock climbing. We had much more ice gear than rock anchors and barely enough to rappel down what we had already climbed. We ended our winter attempt at Bivouac III and descended on December 12 as a winter storm approached. Dan Culver and I returned in April of 1989. We fixed the lower section to Bivouac III (now Camp III) in ten days. We noticed that much more snow and ice had melted and the newly exposed rock was extremely dangerous. On April 13, we left Camp III, hoping to climb the rock tower alpine-style. To our surprise, the whole snow ridge leading to the tower had melted, leaving very bad rock. At midday, 200 feet up the tower we had run into so much loose rock that when a large flake that I was jamming behind broke off and shot down the west face, we decided that the route was too risky in these dry conditions. We returned to Base Camp on April 14.

Hooman Aprin, Unaffiliated