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Asia, Pakistan, Nanga Parbat, Diamir Face, Polish-American Expedition

Nanga Purbat, Diamir Face, Polish-American Expedition. Our team was made up of Poles Piotr Pustelnik, leader, Józef Gozdzik, Marek Grochowski, Leszek Sikora, Dr. Piotr Jedlikowski and me from the United States. After difficult and sometimes unpleasant negotiations with the Ministry of Tourism officials in Islamabad on June 5 to 7, we arrived at Chilas and Bunar Bridge on June 8. At Bunar Bridge we hired our cook, Sadder Khan, and completed our porter arrangements with the Khan family, which assisted each and every expedition going to the Diamir Base Camp. We arrived at Bunar Bridge and left for Diamir, the first camp, in three hours, with no prior arrangements. The Khans are well organized! We arrived at Base Camp at 4150 meters on June 10, along with a 15-member Korean expedition from Seoul, a Scottish team of five and a Swiss group of five. At Base Camp we found three Korean expeditions that had been there for several weeks. Before the trip, I had been concerned about queuing and tent space problems on the Kinshofer route, but these fears were unfounded. After being in Base Camp for a week, a Czech team of five and later a Basque team of five and then another Korean team of six turned up. That meant we needed to share ropes and tent space in the high camps. It also worked out to share food and route information to everyone’s benefit. I was also concerned about getting sick from unsanitary conditions. This turned out to be a very real problem. I was plagued by diarrhea during most of the expedition. Weather conditions from June 10 to the end of June were sunny, with mild temperatures, and were generally excellent for climbing. Then the weather became unsettled, with high winds and afternoon storms. By the time we went for the summit and until we left Base Camp in mid July, it rained or snowed much of each day. Temperatures in the high camps were -30° C at dawn. We reached Camps I, II, III and IV at 4800, 5800, 6700 and 7250 meters on June 12, 17, 24 and July 11. Our first summit attempt ended at Camp III on July 4 when one of my companions dropped his pack. Pustelnik and Gozdzik made the summit on July 12, along with four Basques. They left Camp IV at four A.M. and were on the summit at 12:35, having climbed the central couloir. On July 14, we left Base Camp. We found the route consistently steep, a physical struggle, but safe. The hardest days were climbing the 1000 meters from Camp I to II and the final push, which is 850 meters or so. Some of the liaison officers assigned to the teams in Base Camp were inexperienced, uninformed about local conditions, demanding and often absent. Out of the 41 days spent at or above Base Camp, Pustelnik and Gozdzik spent 20 nights in a high camp. Grochowski and I spent 17 nights in a high camp. Sikora contributed much but became ill and was forced to leave early.

R.D. Caughron