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Asia, Pakistan, Nanga Parbat's Mazeno Ridge and Accident

Nanga Parbat’s Mazeno Ridge and Accident. Pole Wojciech Kurtyka and I hoped to try the Mazeno Ridge to the top of Nanga Parbat. We were joined on acclimatization climbs by Richard Cowper. On July 25, we arrived at Tarshing and for three days acclimatized to the north of Tarshing. On July 28 to 30, we walked to Mazeno High Camp at 4900 meters. On August 1, Cowper and I climbed “Mazeno Spire,” the southern-most point on the long ridge to the west of the Mazeno Glacier, which appears as a spire when seen from Base Camp but actually is not so steep. There was no sign of anyone else having been there. Kurtyka, Cowper and I set out to climb the highest peak west of Mazeno Glacier, “Mazeno West Peak.” After a 2000-foot climb up an avalanche chute and a final snow basin, we came to the summit (5700 meters), again with no signs of having been climbed before. Kurtyka and I viewed the west end of the Mazeno ridge, which we hoped to climb on the way to the summit of Nanga Parbat. We came down unroped, with Cowper a long way behind. Kurtyka was some 100 feet lower than I when fresh snow from the upper basin avalanched. I scampered toward rocks on the side of the couloir but the moving snow caught me as I ran. I managed to get my axes in and held my position for a time, but the weight of snow built up and suddenly I was away, tumbling 1200 feet, bouncing over rock and ice cliffs. After I came out at the bottom, I was partially buried but able to pull snow away from my face, release my rucksack’s belt strap and breathe more easily. I wriggled out, only to find that I had severely wrenched the tendons of my right ankle and one of the pins in it from my accident on the Ogre in 1977. For three days we sat at Base Camp but it was obvious my leg was not going to get better and so we gave up the expedition.

Douglas Scott