AAC Publications - http://publications.americanalpineclub.org

Asia, Nepal, Dorje Lhakpa, Winter Attempt and Tragedy

Dorje Lhakpa, Winter Attempt and Tragedy. Before this season, all climbs on Dorje Lhakpa (6966 meters, 22,854 feet) had been made on its west ridge, and seven of the ten previous ascents had been successful. Greg Collum and I planned to make an attempt alpine-style by its northwest face to the northwest ridge. In Kathmandu, Kurt Schmierer and German Marcus Breitfeld joined us. By November 30, we had made our way around the icefall to camp at 20,000 feet at the base of the ridge. The season seemed unusually cold, and the other three all got some minor frostbite that day. On December 1, we gained the ridge and camped near 21,000 feet. That night, high wind blew Greg’s pack away. We decided that Marcus and Greg would retreat while Kurt and I would continue up. Schmierer and I reached a high point of 21,800 feet (6645 meters) on the 3rd, but because of the cold and difficult rock, we decided to retreat also. On the 5th, Kurt had just finished the last rappel off the ridge when I looked down and saw him sliding backwards down the low-angle but icy slope and into a large crevasse. He must have fallen either from a crampon popping off or from losing consciousness on the easy slope. I immediately went down to him, but I could find no pulse or breathing. The next day, I descended without incident.

Andrew Selters