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Asia, Pakistan, K7 Attempt

K7 Attempt. Bob Wightman, Bob Brewer, Luke Steer and I hoped to make the second ascent of K7 by a new route, the southwest ridge, capsule style. We arrived at Base Camp on July 23. Camps I and II were placed at 4600 and 5000 meters on July 25 and 29. To there, we had followed the basic line of the 1980 British attempt, though we were further left on steeper but safer ground. The 300-meter second tower had excellent rock with pitches of UIAA VII. Camp III was at 5400 meters on the small snow patch below the third tower. This tower provided exciting high-standard climbing. It was a 1500-foot-high fin curling around only ten feet wide at the top and then becoming a knife-edge for most of the summit. We bivouacked below an unstable-looking pinnacle at 5700 meters. On August 7, Brewer and I tried to cross the pinnacle, but although we could have climbed it, there was no protection and we couldn’t carry our gear across. We had to drop rightwards into the Japanese couloir, losing 600 feet of altitude. Wightman’s pack fell with his down gear, sleeping bag, stove and radio. He spent the next five nights without a sleeping bag. In a nasty day with deteriorat ing weather we reached a bivouac between the third tower and the “Fortress.” On August 10, we established Camp V at 5900 meters. The climbing on the Fortress was incredible. Here all the routes met and only one line was feasible. The Japanese climbed this with aid in excellent weather. We had to contend with icing and eventually had to climb 30 feet with aid. This was all we used in 88 pitches. On August 12, after 18 days of continuous climbing, we were running out of food and the weather was doubtful. We had reached a high point of 6150 meters. We were within 200 meters and a day of cracking the Fortress. Above would have been mainly on snow and ice with faster progress. We decided to abandon the attempt. It took two days to descend in blizzard-like weather.

Dai Lampard, British Mountaineering Council