American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Asia, Pakistan, Gasherbrum IV, West Face Solo Attempt and Tragedy

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

Gasherbrum IV, West Face Solo Attempt and Tragedy. Slavko Sveticic died while attempting to climb solo the west face of Gasherbrum IV (7925 meters). We were: Slavko Sveticic, Milan Zver, Jurij Oblak, Pakistani liaison officer Capt. Mohamad Umar, cook Nazir and me. On May 28, we started from Tongal (near Askole) with 52 porters and arrived at Base Camp on Gasherbrum IV Glacier below the west face on June 3. In BC (4800 meters) we met the Korean Gasherbrum IV Expedition led by Mr. Cho Sung Dae who accepted us with friendliness and warmth and gave us full support during the whole expedition. The next day Slavko started with his first acclimatization climb. He planned to acclimatize on the west ridge of Gasherbrum IV and then start his solo climb on the west face. On June 5, we established Camp 1 in Hidden Cwm (5500 meters) below the west face and on June 7, Slavko reached 6600 meters on the west ridge and returned to BC to rest. He started his third acclimatization climb on June 9 and on June 10 reached 6900 meters on the west ridge, spending the night in winds on the ridge. In the next days the weather was bad. We waited in BC with Slavko, who decided to start his solo climb with the first day of good weather. On June 15 we left BC and climbed together with Slavko to Camp 1. The weather was fine and next day on June 16 Slavko started his climb direct from the Hidden Cwm up a very steep couloir, in which he found pitons up to about 6200 meters. On the first day he reached about 6500 meters and bivouacked. The weather was clear and we could follow his climb with a telescope. The next day he climbed to 7100 meters. On the last part we could not see him; clouds covered the upper part of the mountain. In the evening he reported he had climbed very bad loose rock during the day. On June 18, in the morning, he found rocks covered with snow. He waited the whole day and bivouacked one more night. On June 19 the weather got worse. It was snowing in BC and on the mountain. At 6 p.m. Slavko decided to start his descent the next day. That was the last contact with Slavko. Next day (June 20) it was snowing in the morning but later cleared for a short period. Korean climbers reported from ABC that they saw him descending, but they also saw avalanches on the west face. Nobody knows why he didn't call us. Nobody knows what happened to him while descending. The next days we waited for him in Camp 1. Korean climbers looked for him from the west ridge. Even a helicopter flight made on June 25 couldn't give us any new information about Slavko's destiny. We never saw him again.

Tomaz Jamnik, Planinska zveza Slovenije

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