American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Asia, Nepal, Makalu Attempt

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

Makalu Attempt. Our members included Americans Peter Getzels, Brad Johnson, Peter Carse, Dr. James States, Brian Cox and me as leader and Britons Adrian and Alan Burgess. Our objective was a light-weight ascent of the northwest-ridge first-ascent route without supplementary oxygen nor high- altitude Sherpas. We established Base Camp on April 6 at 17,500 feet just 20 minutes below the British Advance Base for the west face and next to a small painted mani wall. Camp I was placed at 21,500 feet on April 16, with a temporary acclimatization camp at 18,500 feet. Due to the new peak fees in Nepal, we were the only expedition on our route, which necessitated our fixing the entire route up to the Makalu La. Therefore, Camp II was not established on the col at 24,500 feet until May 13. It was our hope to reach the summit from this camp. On the evening of May 13, however, two or more feet of snow fell, making trailbreaking difficult. Most members withdrew by June 15. Brad Johnson made one final attempt on the 16th with the British west-face expedition, which a week before had switched to our route. This attempt also failed at 25,600 feet. I count the friendship and cooperation between our small American expedition and the much larger British expedition as one of the major successes of our trip. One last addendum: it should be stressed how important it is to change porters in Tashigaon on the approach. Lowland porters are definitely not up to the challenges of the relentlessly poor weather on the Shipton Col.

James McEachen

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