Asia, Tibet, Cho Oyu and Shisha Pangma, New Routes

Publication Year: 1994.

Cho Oyu and Shisha Pangma, New Routes. Our expedition was composed of Italian Marco Bianchi, Portuguese João Garcia, Poles Piotr Pustelnik, Mariusz Sprutta, Zbigniew Terlikowski and me as leader. In September, the weather in the Himalaya remained unsettled; it snowed every day. It cleared on September 28 and a longer period of fine conditions began. On September 4, we established Base Camp below Cho Oyu. We decided to climb the mountain via the prominent southwest buttress, climbed half way by the Zakopane expedition of 1986. We pitched a tent, and later another, at 6500 meters and fixed 200 meters of rope. Difficulties on rock were of UIAA IV. Despite unstable weather, two pairs made it to the summit from a 7000-meter bivouac. We followed a new direct route. (Our Polish colleagues from Zakopane had turned left toward the normal route.) Bianchi and I made the ascent from September 17 and 18, followed by Pustelnik and Garcia from September 21 to 24. The summit plateau was covered with knee-deep snow and very tiresome. We then moved to the south face of Shisha Pangma. The Base Camp—the cleanest I have ever seen—was quite far (four hours) from the face. We climbed alpine-style. From October 3 to 6, Bianchi and Pustelnik climbed the right side of the face, following more or less the 1989 Slovene ascent route and the 1982 British descent route. I pioneered a fully independent solo route via the couloir to the right of the 1982 Doug Scott route. On October 7,1 climbed the couloir (up to 50°) in a few hours. The upper part was enclosed by a 300-meter-high rock and mixed wall, which was more difficult than I had expected. After a hard struggle, I reached the ridge at 1:30 P.M. and the distant highest summit of Shisha Pangma (8027 meters, 26,336 feet). We climbed in each case to the highest points, which nowadays is proving a problem on both mountains. On Shisha Pangma, many parties arriving from the north finish their climbs on the central summit (8008 meters, 26,274 feet), about 45 minutes short of the true top. On Cho Oyu, teams often content themselves with reaching the edge of the summit plateau. What is more, they claim these as completed successful ascents! [Wielicki has now ascended ten 8000ers, four of them by new routes, one (Broad Peak) in a one-day push up and down, and three first winter ascents (Everest, 1980; Kangchenjunga, 1986; and Lhotse, 1988.—Editor.]

Krzysztof Wielicki, Klub Wysokogórski Katowice, Poland