American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Asia, Nepal, Kangchenjunga Ascent and Tragedy

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1993

Kangchenjunga Attempt and Tragedy. Our expedition consisted of Hannes Grimm, Walter Hadersdorfer, Edu Koch, Dr. Gerhard Reif, Michael Saumwe- ber, Karl Schrag and me as leader. On March 4, we left Basantpur with 156 porters. After traveling through Dhoban, Sokathum and Ghunsa, we got to Base Camp at 5100 meters at Pang Pema on March 19. From Gunsa on, because of the altitude, we had to make many carries with nine porters and 13 yaks. Colds brought from Europe weakened the team. We set up Advance Base at 5400 meters at the foot of the west-southwest ridge on March 20 and Camp I at 5750 meters on March 25. We had problems with the lower wall on the 1983 Warth route because of blank ice and the high bergschrund. Vertical pitches had to be jümared. On April 5, Koch fell on the last rope-length below the glacial plateau. Despite a broken ankle, he descended under his own power to Base Camp, but he had to be helicoptered out. We placed Camp II at 6600 meters on April 7. We abandoned the Warth route on April 17 and Schrag and Dr. Reif climbed the Messner route almost to the north ridge at 7000 meters. We fixed rope between 6100 and 6600 meters and above 6700 meters. On April 23, sirdar Ang Phurba fell unconscious while cooking in a closed tent but was revived with oxygen. On the 25th, Grimm, Hadersdorfer, Lhakpa Nuru Sherpa and Ang Dorje Sherpa climbed to Camp II, hoping to establish Camps III and IV. At eleven P.M. Grimm and Hadersdorfer found the Sherpas unconscious and failed to revive them with oxygen. Despite strict warnings, the Sherpas cooked in closed tents. Their bodies were buried in a crevasse. We gave up the expedition. It is our opinion that the Warth route is the safest on the north face but it has very difficult rock and ice climbing. The Scott route is threatened by falling ice and rock and has avalanche danger.

Wolfgang Sinnwell, Akademischer Alpenverein, Munich, Germany

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