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Asia, Pakistan, Nanga Parbat Attempt via the Mazeno Ridge

Nanga Parbat Attempt via the Mazeno Ridge. The west ridge of Nanga Parbat is about eight miles long from the Mazeno Pass. It is the longest ridge of any of the 8000ers and remains unclimbed. Although Nanga Parbat is very popular, there has been surprisingly little activity on this major feature. From July 20 to 22, there arrived in Islamabad Serge Effimov and Valeri Perchine from Russia, Ang Phurba and Nga Temba from Nepal and Alan Hinkes, Sean Smith and I from the U.K. We planned to climb the Mazeno Ridge in three stages. After getting to Base Camp at 3500 meters on July 26, we climbed a minor summit opposite Nanga Parbat on the 28th and then the more difficult P 5750 of Lilley Peak (5971 meters) via a new route on the northwest side in a four-day round-trip from Base Camp. Phase two involved climbing the Hanns Schell route on the south side of Nanga Parbat to 6900 meters (Camp IV). Then Effimov, Perchine and I traversed to place a fuel-and-food cache on the west ridge at 7300 meters, about 400 meters above the Mazeno Gap. Hinkes, Ang Phurba and Nga Temba placed a dump at 7000 meters, all on the stormy August 16. Smith was plagued by headaches and had already descended to Camp III. Hinkes and the Sherpas went down all the way to Camp I. On the 17th, whilst descending steep, loose rock between Camps II and I on the Schell route, a massive rock avalanche roared down. Effimov and I found shelter. Smith was turned upside down on the belay 150 feet higher. Perchine, who was about to abseil, was swept down when a rock hit him in the chest. Smith sustained bruised ribs, a crushed toe and a smashed helmet but was otherwise all right. He climbed down with what was left of the abseil rope. Perchine halted his fall 100 meters lower in a shallow depression and was lucky not to fall another 1500 meters. He suffered broken ribs, a cracked pelvis and lacerations on hands and face. It took two days to get him down to Base Camp. Hinkes and the Sherpas had survived another huge rockfall the day before. Hinkes decided to go home. Smith went to Gilgit for a medical check and Perchine remained at Base Camp to recover for the next few weeks. The remaining four members went around towards the Mazeno Pass. After two days of walking from Base Camp, we arrived to camp at 4800 meters on the moraine of the Mazeno Glacier, some three kilometers south-southeast of the Mazeno Gap. The next morning, Effimov, Ang Phurba, Nga Temba and I set off to climb the ridge which goes north to P 6880, the first of the seven Mazeno summits. In our 25-kilo rucksacks, we had food and gear for an estimated eight days up and down along the Mazeno Ridge, to the summit of Nanga Parbat and a descent down the Schell route. We moved together over the glacier and climbed roped on 45° to 50° ice slopes. After 12 hours, we found a suitable campsite on the crest of the ridge at 5850 meters. We spent August 26 climbing around and over the pinnacles of the ridge to camp at 6400 meters. On August 27, we climbed up ice and snow to P 6650 and then over the first of the Mazeno summits, P 6880. We continued east along the ridge, over P 6650, to camp on a wind-swept saddle to the east. On August 28, we climbed P 6970, which is as far as we got. Ang Phurba was definitely worried about the descent. There was no way we could split the party and so we retreated. We were back in Base Camp on August 29 after a good seven-day outing on new ground. After collecting, burning and burying 45 sacks of rubbish from around Base Camp with the help of local children, we packed up. On September 1, we walked out to the roadhead with our 18 loads on the backs of donkeys.

Doug Scott, Alpine Climbing Group