American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Asia, Pakistan, Trango Towers Attempts

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

Trango Towers Attempts. Canadians Jim Brennan and Greg Foweraker and Americans Dan Cauthom, Greg Collum, Matt Kerns, Pat McNerthney and Mark Wilford and I established Base Camp on the Trango Glacier in late May. Like other expeditions, we had difficulties persuading porters to carry to actual proposed campsites; they declare each year that base camps are further and further down the glaciers. An additional headache is the decision by the porters to make the crossing of the Dumordo River an additional stage, whether expeditions use the bridge or wade the river. More than a week of perfect weather in late May and early June gave opportunities for the teams to explore. Wilford and I established a camp on the Dunge Glacier, hoping to make two-man alpine ascents on the Great Trango and Nameless Towers. We humped loads to the base of the Nameless Tower and fixed 200 meters of rope up the 1988 Swiss-Polish route. On the Trango Glacier Brennan and Foweraker climbed high on the Woolums-Selters route, but being unacclimatized descended. McNerthy and Collum climbed several pitches on the huge southwest buttress of the Great Trango Tower but decided against this route because of its enormous size. Cauthorn and Kerns climbed a small peak of less than 6000 meters in the Uli Biaho chain to reconnoiter a route on the Great Trango Tower and watched a storm approach, which lasted for three weeks, dumping much snow. On June 23, the weather cleared for four days and efforts resumed. The Canadians attempted the Yugoslav Nameless Tower route but descended after nine pitches when their stove failed. Kerns and Cauthorn tried the Rowell-Schmitz-Hennek and the Woolum-Selters routes but, like Collum and McNerthney on the latter route, found the snow too deep and dangerous. Wilford and I returned to our route, dug our gear out of the ice, pulled up our ropes behind us and committed ourselves to a new independent big-wall route right of the Swiss-Polish route on the impressive northeast face. We had difficulties of 5.10 and A4. Expanding flakes seemingly glued together by ice and much hooking characterized the route. We climbed seven pitches in five days before being trapped for seven more days in a two-man porta-ledge when a major storm moved in to coat both us and the peak with ice. Ropes, Jümars and the pulley froze and became useless necessitating desperate maneuvers to get us both united at a belay. The frozen porta-ledge collapsed twice at night in the midst of a spindrift cascade. After twelve days on the wall, we had reached 19,200 feet, but the weather remained bad. We rappelled and waded exhausted through dangerous, deep snow to Base Camp on July 4.

Greg Child

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