American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Asia, India, Kumaon and Garhwal Himalaya, Chaukhamba I Attempt

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1996

Chaukhamba I Attempt. During September and October 1995, a British team consisting of Steve Adderley, Malcolm Bass, Julian Clamp, Paul Monico and Simon Yearsley attempted the first ascent of the northwest ridge of Chaukhamba (7138 meters) in the Garwhal Himalaya. We established Base Camp at Sujnderbarn (4600 meters) on September 14. From there it took us 10 days to establish ABC at the base of the Chaukhamba massif, some 24 kilometers up the Gangotri Glacier. Two HAPs were used for the first eight kilometers on the lower moraine. A late and heavy monsoon had left a large amount of snow on the glacier which assisted progress by covering many of the crevasses. ABC (5377 meters) was situated at the base of the icefall below Meade’s Col (6053 meters). On September 27 Malcom Bass and Julian Clamp set off to place a tent and food supplies on Meade’s Col, directly at the foot of the Northwest Ridge route. Routefinding through the complex icefall below the Col proved very difficult, taking seven hours to gain 200 meters of height. From there mixed ground led up to the bottom of the large serac that forms the base of Meade’s Col. After 13 hours of climbing the Col was reached at midday, where the team sat out the poor snow conditions before returning to ABC. Following a two-day delay due to bad weather, there remained sufficient supplies to allow only two climbers to attempt the Northwest Ridge. On October 1 Malcom Bass and Julian Clamp commenced the summit attempt, accompanied by two other climbers to assist in load carrying to Meade’s Col. The next day, the two-man team continued up easy snow slopes of Meade’s Col and climbed four pitches of mixed ground (Scottish Grade II/III) to gain the ridge proper. An exposed camp was placed on the ridge at the base of a prominent granite buttress. In the face of very high winds and unusually cold temperatures, which made open bivouacs impossible, the climbers felt that they would not be able to move fast enough to reach the summit and return with their remaining two days of food and gas. They therefore decided to retreat from the camp at around 6400 meters.

Julian Clamp, England

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