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Asia, India—Garhwal, Kamet West Ridge Attempt

Kamet West Ridge Attempt. Our expedition was a joint effort of the Royal Air Force and the Indian Air Force. British airmen were Robert Appleyard, G. Stamp, Gordon Turner, Brian Kirkpatrick, Philip Smithson, Colin Scott, Martin Owens, Paul Horth, Robert Nelson and Chris Rawlins and I as leader. Indian airmen were co-leader S.S. Puri, A. Bhagwanani, A.K. Singh, P.H. Singh, B. Chowl, N.Nizzamudin, Kumar, Mandel, Barnabus and civilian Nema Norbu. On September 12, we established Base Camp at 5200 meters on the Pachmi Kamet Glacier. Advance Base was placed on the 16th at 5700 meters below the south face. The route above lay up a series of steep gullies and ribs on the face to join the west ridge at 6900 meters. During nine days, the entire face was fixed with rope. Camp I was established on October 1 at 6900 meters on a shelf just below the ridge crest. From there, technical difficulties were less. The first summit bid was from October 5 to 8. On October 6, Camp II was placed in a snow col at 7300 meters. Above Camp II, the route led up a snow slope to rejoin the ridge proper. The ridge there became a knife-edge guarded by gendarmes for about 100 meters. On this summit try, two turned back soon when they could not warm hands and feet. The other four turned back in fierce winds just below the knife-edge at 7650 meters. The summit party then had to carry out a rescue of two Indian climbers who had fallen some 200 feet just above Camp II. A second summit attempt from October 9 to 11 failed due to a lack of effective support and fatigue.

Michael W. Palmer, Major, Royal Air Force