American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Asia, Pakistan, Nanga Parbat Ascent and Tragedy

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1995

Nanga Parbat Ascent and Tragedy. Our expedition was originally to be led by Arturo Santolaria, but he was injured in a traffic accident and I took over as leader. The other members were José Ramón Agraz, Joaquín Castillón, Lorenzo Ortiz and Antonio López. We were also accompanied by Dr. Manuel Avellanas. Climbing the Kinshofer Route on the Diamir Face, we were the only expedition on the mountain. We trekked from Bunar to Base Camp at 3900 meters from May 7 to 10 with 84 porters, whom we had contracted after costly and patient negotiations. The weather on the approach and in the next days was poor. We established Camps I and II at 5000 and 6000 meters on May 18 and 28. We dug out and used some 450 meters of old fixed rope between Camps I and II and fixed much more ourselves. We were hampered by bad weather and deep new snow. On June 18, we reached our previously placed dump at the site of Camp III, which was covered by three meters of snow. On the 19th, I had to give up personal hopes of the summit and descend in order to return to make arrangements in Islamabad. On June 20, Ortiz and Agraz set up Camp III at 6600 meters and were joined on the 21st by Castillón and López to establish Camp IV at 7200 meters. After a day of rest, the four set out at two A.M. for the summit in variable snow. At 7800 meters, they made a mistake in the route, but corrected it and at 11:15 A.M., Ortiz, Castillón and Agraz got to the summit. López, who had fallen behind, had suffered cerebral edema at 7900 meters. In the early afternoon, his companions joined him and helped him to walk under his own power back to Camp IV, where he recuperated at the lesser altitude. He also responded well to medicines. At six A.M. on June 24, López called Dr. Avellanas and me on the radio to say that he was in good shape and that we could leave in good conscience. They would start the descent in 15 minutes. At 8:30 A.M., at the end of a section of fixed rope at 6850 meters, a slab of snow broke under López’s feet and he fell 2000 meters to his death. The place into which he fell was continually swept by avalanches. There was too great a risk to retrieve his body. The rest of us were all back in Rawalpindi by June 27.

Antonio Ubieto, Peña Gaura de Huesca, Spain

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