American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Asia, Pakistan, Gasherbrum I, Ascent and Ski Descent

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

Gasherbrum I, Ascent and Ski Descent. The aim of the expedition was to ski from the summit of Gasherbrum I down the north face of the mountain. Members of the expedition were Janez Golob (leader), Marko Car, Simon Copi, Urban Golob, and Matic Jost and Dr. Iztok Tomazin (deputy leader and expedition doctor). They didn't use porters above Base Camp. Urban Golob was injured during the approach to the Baltoro Glacier. Other members started to work above Base Camp on June 12, but because of bad weather they reached only 6750 meters by the end of the month. On July 3 Car and Tomazin climbed the Japanese (north) Couloir in 13 hours and established Camp 3 at 7000 meters. From there they started their long summit push at 6 p.m. on July 4. They climbed the whole night, mostly in knee-deep snow. At 6:53 a.m. on July 5 they reached the summit (8068 meters) of Gasherbrum I in clear weather but very strong wind. They were the first summitters this season. One hour later they started to descend, Car on a snowboard, Tomazin on skis. Two hours later they reached Camp 3. Because of exhaustion Car and Tomazin decided to continue with the hardest part of their skiing — the Japanese Couloir — the next day, which they did the next morning in very strong winds. In two hours they reached Camp 2 at the bottom of the north face. From there they continued skiing down the glacier, finishing at 5300 meters. In the evening of July 6 they reached Base Camp. The descent consisted of three different parts. The first part was from the summit to Camp 3, where the hardest section was a 50° slope immediately below the summit. The rest were slopes and couloirs from 35° to 50°. The second part was the Japanese couloir from 7000 to 6400 meters with an average angle of around 50° and sections up to 55°. In the narrowest part the gully was less than two meters wide. In the 25-meter-high rock barrier in the lower third of the couloir they had to use fixed rope for their only abseil. The third part was below Camp 2, where the only difficult section was an icefall between 6000 and 6300 meters. There, some tricky skiing over crevasses and snow bridges was necessary. They finished their skiing at 5300 meters. Two days later Copi and Jost also tried to reach the summit but the storm forced them to turn back from 7500 meters together with three members of a Basque expedition. On July 10 a member of the Korean Gasherbrum I expedition fell unroped into a 15-meter-deep crevasse below Camp 1 on Gasherbrum’s south glacier. Tomazin broke off his attempt to reach the summit of G1 for the second time by a solo ascent of the north face. Together with Car, Copi, Jost and two members of the Pakistan Army Gasherbrum II expedition, he descended from Camp 1 to the place of the accident. During the examination of the injured Korean, Tomazin fell to the bottom of the same crevasse and was injured also. The evening descent of the rescue team to ABC at 5400 meters was dramatic with some more falls into crevasses, the worst being by Pakistani guide Ali, who was later evacuated by helicopter from Base Camp because of injuries sustained in his fall. On July 11 the Korean team reached their companion at ABC and helped him to reach Base Camp. Ali and Tomazin were able to descend without help.

The Slovene GI ski expedition left Base Camp on July 15.

Janez Golob (leader), and Dr. Iztok Tomazin (deputy leader), Planinska zveza Slovenije

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