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Asia, Pakistan, Gasherbrum IV, Northwest Ridge Attempt

Gasherbrum IV, Northwest Ridge Attempt. Tom Dickey, Charlie Fowler, Alex Lowe and I arrived at the Gasherbrum Base Camp on May 19, hoping to climb a new route, the northwest ridge of Gasherbrum IV. We had established a route through both icefalls on the South Gasherbrum Glacier by May 29. On May 30, we watched members of the international Gasherbrum I expedition descend an icefall that bypassed that icefall. The slope avalanched, carrying two climbers with it. Our team was close and we were at the accident site within minutes. One was not buried and not seriously hurt. The other was completely buried, but a small bit of his pack was visible. We quickly dug him out, but he did not survive. We established a camp at 20,000 feet in the glacial cirque below Gasherbrum IV on June 1. From June 3 to 5, we placed fixed rope on the snow face that led to the ridge crest. We returned on June 10 and placed more rope until bad weather turned us back near the crest of the ridge. On June 17, after a period of bad weather, we went back to our high point for a summit attempt. We were turned around again at 23,000 feet by a severe storm and thin powder snow over rotten rock. Because of more bad weather, another thwarted summit attempt and dangerous snow conditions, we abandoned our climb. On July 1, we left Base Camp and arrived in Hushe three days later after crossing the Ghon- dokhoro La.

Steven J. Swenson