American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Asia, India—Eastern Karakoram, Rimo II and IV

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

Rimo II and IV. An Indo-International expedition, led jointly by Sonam Palzor and Doug Scott, climbed Rimo II (7373 meters, 24,190 feet) and Rimo IV (7169 meters, 23,520 feet). The Indian members were Sonam Palzor, Tsewang Smanla, Kanhaiya Lal, Mohan Singh, a radio operator, a doctor and Liaison Officer Rajiv Kakkar. The “foreigners” were Britons Doug Scott and Nick Kekus, Canadians Rob and Laurie Wood, Austrian Robert Schauer, American Stephen Sustad and Indian Sharavati Prabhu. There were interminable administrative delays and it was 19 days before they could leave Leh on June 16. Schauer was so distressed that he left the expedition at Panamik on June 18. On June 22, they arrived at Base Camp at 4200 meters on the North Terong Glacier. The original objective was to have been first to climb the unclimbed west ridge of Rimo III with fixed ropes and then for the “foreigners” to climb the also unclimbed south buttress alpine-style. Advance Base was set up at 4750 meters on June 28. Altercations had developed with some of the student porters who quit but the liaison officer and Sonam Palzor got supply going with local men. Rob Wood had severe chest pains and was obliged to leave. There was some dissension when the Indians wanted to cross Ibex Col to repeat the Fotheringham-Wilkinson route on the east of Rimo III, but the conditions for crossing the col were bad. Camp I was placed at 5300 meters. There was much new snow and it seemed preferable to the “foreigners” to switch to the west ridge of Rimo II, which actually is really a shoulder of Rimo I. The Indians preferred a snow couloir between Rimo II and III. They agreed for the Indians to climb the couloir while the others would climb the technically more difficult but safer west ridge. Then, all would meet at a notch below the final steep, rocky ridge and continue on together. On June 10, Kekus and Sustad on one rope with Scott and the two women on the other climbed the ridge to bivouac at 6000 meters. The next day they ascended steep ice and rock gullies. Kekus and Sustad bivouacked on the ridge crest at 6660 meters and the others three rope-lengths lower to accommodate the expected arrival of the Indians. Having climbed the couloir, the Indians were on the col lower down, ready to move out. On July 12, Kekus and Sustad saw to their amazement that the Indians were not heading for the notch, as had been agreed on, but were climbing instead the west-southwest snow face of Rimo IV! Kekus and Sustad continued on upwards and at three P.M. completed the first ascent of Rimo II. Laurie Wood had such a bad altitude headache that she could not go on and Sharu Prabhu found the climbing too technical, and so Scott had to give up the chance to go to the summit. The Indians completed their ascent of Rimo IV, descended to the east and returned via Ibex Col. This was the second ascent of Rimo IV, which was first climbed in 1984 by Indian Army Engineers. Scott, Kekus and Sustad then hoped to make an alpine-style ascent of the south buttress of Rimo III, the original objective, but unexpectedly, without consulting co-leader Doug Scott and the other “foreigners,” Sonam Palzor cancelled the expedition, much to the distress of the “foreigners.” There are disquieting reports of poor relations and troubles between the two sides and foul language from the student porters brought from Leh. The Nubra valley porters worked well with the expedition.

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