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Asia, Tibet, Shisha Pangma Ascent, Attempts and Tragedies in the Post-Monsoon

Shisha Pangma Ascent, Attempts and Tragedies in the Post-Monsoon. Only one climber reached the highest summit of Shisha Pangma in the post-monsoon when Briton Nikola Kekus completed his climb. All others stopped at the lower central summit. Some 11 expeditions were on the mountain. Led by Kekus, 6 Britons, 3 Americans, 2 Canadians, 1 Australian, 1 Norwegian, 1 Argentine and 1 Spaniard were on the normal route. On October 4, Kekus climbed to the true top and on the 8th Argentine Daniel Alessio and Briton Richard Forsyth made it to the central summit. [See below.] On September 20, Frenchmen Jean- Christophe Lafaille and Dominique Caillat climbed from Camp II to 7300 meters to rescue a French climber of another expedition who had been avalanched, saving his life. Lafaille made a quick solo of the normal route to the central summit on October 7 and stopped there because the winds made it too dangerous to continue on to the true summit. Two days later, he set out alone to pioneer a new route on the right side of the north face to the west ridge, which joined the Kukuczka route of 1987 on the ridge top. He made it to western summit but turned back because he had no more time left. [See below.] An expedition of 7 Americans, led by David McNally, climbed the normal route. On October 9, Larry Hall, Ted Handwerk and Bruce Hennessey made it to the central summit. Tragically, Tod Gassen died in a crevasse fall on September 18. [See below.] On the same day as the above Americans, October 9, Australian David Hume went to 7990 meters. Hume was with an expedition of 6 Americans and 1 Australian led by Michael Sinclair. [See below.] Led by Um Hong-Gil, 13 South Koreans were also on the normal route. On October 11, Cha Jin-Chol, Han Hwang-Yong, Kim Hun-Sang, Lee Dong-Heon and leader Um got to the central summit. This expedition had climbed Cho Oyu in September. Unsuccessful were 6 Czechs led by Leopold Suslovsky, who climbed on two lines on the southwest face. They climbed a new route between the Loretan and the Slovene route to 6900 meters on September 24. On September 30, they then attempted a line to the left of this first route at the western end of the southwest face to reach the west ridge at 7200 meters. While descending the next day from the ridge, they were caught in an avalanche and Zdendek Slachta was killed. The expedition was immediately abandoned. Erik Decamp and Catherine Destivelle, 2 noted French climbers, climbed the Loretan route to join the northwest ridge at 7950 meters on September 20 and then turned back because of serious avalanche danger. [See above.] They went next to Annapurna. Two members of a team of 9 Frenchmen led by Jean-Michel Brick reached 7800 meters on September 24 but were avalanched down to 7300 meters. One struggled back and the other was rescued the next day by Jean-Christophe Lafaille. They gave up the climb. Of 9 Italians led by Agostino De Polenza, two members got to 7500 meters on the normal route on September 8 and quit because of deep snow. They then went to Lhotse. Led by Grigorio Nespoli, 8 Italians got to 7300 meters on September 21 and gave up because of bad snow conditions. 6 Slovaks led by Peter Caplick√Ĺ got to 6800 meters on September 22 and then abandoned their alpine-style attempt because of a snow storm.

Elizabeth Hawley