American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Asia, Pakistan, Tirich Mir, Ascents and Tragedy

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

Tirich Mir, Ascents and Tragedy. On June 14 the three Japanese members of the "Barbarian Club Tirich Mir Expedition" led by Ayumi Nozawai arrived at Base Camp (4800 meters). Despite an initial period of unsettled weather they climbed in a lightweight semi-alpine style, establishing caches of food and equipment at 5500 meters, 6200 meters and 6600 meters before returning to BC on June 28. After five days resting they made a five day push from BC starting on July 3 and summitted at 3 p.m. on July 7. A semi-commercial expedition organized by High Adventure (UK) comprising seven climbers (four from UK, two from Australia, one from Canada) led by David Hamilton arrived in BC on June 24. Extensive snow cover on the glacier in late June meant that skis could be used with ease to supply the first three camps. By July 8 Camps 1, 2, and 3 were stocked but snow conditions had deteriorated and skis could no longer be used. David Hamilton and Grant Dixon reached the summit at 2:23 p.m. on July 17 (nine hours from C4). Stephan Fuller reached 7350 meters on the same day. The second summit team of Gerry Goldsmith and Phil Wickens turned back at 7350 meters due to the effects of altitude early on the morning of July 20. All ropes, tents and equipment were removed from the mountain and the expedition members were all back in BC by July 22. The eight members of the "South Korean Kyung G Expedition" to Tirich Mir led by Lee Hae Bong arrived in BC on the same day that the Japanese team summitted (July 7). Using three high altitude porters they quickly established C1 at 5600 meters and C2 at 6400 meters and C3 at 6650 meters. Beyond this, momentum slowed. It was several weeks later, at the third attempt, that they succeeded in getting two people up the gully between C3 and C4. On July 23, with two members resting in C4, the expedition leadership in BC made the decision to bring forward the expedition’s planned pull-out date from BC. Expedition members in C2 were told to start removing equipment from the mountain and porters were asked to arrive at BC in three days' time. The weather on July 24th was unsettled with high winds and turbulent cloud formations. This caused the Koreans in C4 to delay the start of the intended summit bid until 10 a.m. Throughout the day they progressed upward, maintaining radio contact with BC. By mid-afternoon they made repeated requests in broken English for route information from the British team in BC. At 7:15 p.m. they reported they were on the summit. No further communication was heard from them. The South Korean team abandoned BC two days later. No attempt was made to send a rescue team or search party to ascertain the fate of the missing men. They may have perished in a fall somewhere between the summit and C4, or they may have died somewhere below C4 while descending. (Missing, presumed dead: Cho Jun Young and Kim Jae Poo.) Members of other expeditions in the area expressed astonishment at the apparent inability of the Koreans to mount any rescue effort for their missing colleagues. A helicopter search eight days later found no trace of the missing men.

David Hamilton, Alpine Club

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