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Asia, Pakistan, K2, Ascents by Germans, a Kirghiz, an Australian and Swedes and Deaths on the Descent

K2, Ascents by Germans, a Kirghiz, an Australian and Swedes and Deaths on the Descent. The Northlight Expedition was led by German Reinmar Joswig and further composed of Germans Peter Mezger and Ernst Eberhardt, Kirghiz Anatoli Bukreev and Australian Andrew Lock. They arrived a week late on July 6 at Base Camp. On July 20, they got for the first time to Camp III but had to descend to Base Camp because of bad weather. They climbed on July 24 to Camp I and on the 25th to Camp II. Mezger found that a tent had been destroyed by the wind and most of his clothing and equipment had blown away. He began to descend, but on meeting with Eberhardt was encouraged to climb back up; he could be equipped by the others. That night all five slept at Camp II. The 26th was stormy. Eberhardt descended toward Base Camp and the other four remained in camp. When the weather improved on the 27th, they worked upwards. By July 29, all four were established at Camp IV at 8000 meters, along with Rafael Jensen and Daniel Bidner, members of the Swedish expedition led by Magnus Nilsson. All six set out for the summit at four A.M. on July 30 in brilliant but cold weather. At ten A.M., Mezger reported by radio that he and Joswig were at the Bottleneck, fixing the 80-meter-long traverse with rope. A noon report told of bare ice and sugar snow on the traverse. They finally radioed at two P.M. that they had completed the traverse and had 250 or 300 meters left to climb. At 5:15, Mezger reported that he was on the summit. Bukreev had arrived at 4:30, Lock and Jensen got there at 5:30, Bidner and Joswig at eight P.M. They descended in the clear, moonlit night. Bukreev was back at Camp IV at eight P.M and Lock shortly after him. Jensen left Bidner, who then had some problems in the dusk finding the route to the Bottleneck. At ten P.M., Jensen could see two headlamps below the summit, presumably Mezger’s and Joswig’s. After a while only one was visible. From somewhat below, Jensen shouted advice to Bidner on the best way down. When the two were finally together, Jensen found Bidner suffering from cerebral edema and helped him through the Bottleneck. Their progress was very slow since Bidner’s condition was deteriorating. At four A.M., Jensen left Bidner below the Bottleneck to get help from Camp IV. Bidner was not moving and barely conscious. A short time later, Jensen observed Bidner falling off the mountain. At six A.M. on July 31, Jensen arrived at Camp IV alone. The three survivors, Jensen, Lock and Bukreev, waited until eleven o’clock, hoping for the appearance of the two Germans, Mezger and Joswig, who doubtless had fallen off the mountain on the descent, Mezger probably at the Bottleneck and Joswig higher. They then resumed the descent. Englishmen Alan Hinkes and Victor Saunders at Camp III were notified of the serious conditions of the three. They ascended toward Camp IV and then assisted the survivors back to Base Camp. Lock and Bukreev got there on August 1 and Jensen, escorted by Roger Payne and Julie Ann Clyma, on the 2nd. One of the fixed ropes broke under Payne’s weight and he narrowly escaped. Jensen was evacuated by helicopter because of severe frostbite. The others walked back to Askole. (This report was put together from the diaries of my good friends Peter Mezger and Ernst Eberhardt and, supplemented by information supplied by the latter.) [Further details have also been added thanks to reports from Andrew Lock and the Swedes.]

Peter Bartel, Deutscher Alpenverein