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Asia, Nepal, Makalu, West Face, Attempt, Ascent, and Tragedy

Makalu, West Face, Attempt, Ascent and Tragedy. A 30-member team that had as its goal an alpine style ascent of Makalu’s west face, with Makalu via Makalu La as an acclimatization climb, was arranged in Russia last spring. The essential part of the team was from Novokuzhetsk in Siberia. Moreover, it comprised the leading high altitude climbers from Moscow, Ekaterinburg and Novosibirsk. V. Savkov, A. Foight and V. Bachkirov were the expedition leaders. Base Camp (4900 m), Camp I (5700 m), Camp II (6400 m), Camp III (7400 m) were all established on the Makalu La route, and everything was in accordance with the plan until May 10. The gale that followed devastated Camp III, tore to pieces some tents and prevented the first summit bid. The same storm made much harm to those scaling Everest 20 kilometers away. This gale killed Rob Hall, Scott Fischer and others.

On May 14 after the gale, when the leading group was at 7800 meters, A. Shlecht, an experienced ice climber, slipped on hard ice and fell to his death. Having buried the body, and deeply shaken by the tragedy, the leading party climbed down to BC. After several days, having recovered from the shock, the climbers gave the mountain one more go. Ten of them made it to the top.

On May 31 V. Bachkirov, A. Goigt, V. Stalkovski and G. Sokolov climbed up to the foot of the west face, being greatly delayed by the gale and the tragedy following it. But on June 1 the weather was appalling. It was snowing and the wind was raging high on the mountain. There was no improvement the next day. After waiting for five days the climbers decided that the monsoon had come and it was not possible to tackle the route.

So the expedition was over. Ten of the team reached the summit of Makalu by the normal route: G. Sokolov, V. Koroteev, I. Plotnikov, N. Kojemiako, V. Bachkirov, A. Foigt, S. Bogomolov, V. Stalkovski, A. Vegner, J. Outechev. Nobody except for J. Outechev used artificial oxygen. There were no high altitude porters. It was the most mass-scale attempt on Makalu.

Vladimir Bachkirov, Kaliningrad, Russia