American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Asia, Nepal, Nepal Himalayas, Various Ascents, and Elizabeth Hawley's Law of Economic Development

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1997

Nepal Himalaya, Various Ascents, and Elizabeth Hawley’s Law of Economic Development. This season saw more teams from southeast Asia than ever before, although they are not yet coming in large numbers. Over the years, as countries have become more affluent, they have sent increasing numbers of climbers to the Nepalese Himalaya; this was true of Japan as it emerged from the economic ruin of World War II, of Spain and South Korea in later years, and now, it seems, of Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia. But the southeast Asian climbers appear to be just in the initial stage of their Himalayan skills and strength as they set altitude records for their nations. While an Indonesian woman, Clara Sumarwati, succeeded in her second attempt on Everest and became the first Indonesian ever to “conquer” the great mountain on September 26 (she summited by the standard route on the Tibetan side), she was heavily dependent on her Sherpas, who were veterans of Annapurna I and earlier Everest ascents, and she used artificial oxygen at a high rate of flow.

Her successful effort had been preceded in the summer month of July by that of the unsuccessful attempt of a three-man Indonesian team under the leadership of Endang Suhendra to scale Everest’s neighbor, Nuptse. They did not try to climb their originally planned route up a pillar on its southern side because this looked too formidable for them, and their one climbing Sherpa, Chuldin, opened the route for them on the northwest ridge, but they were actually on the mountain for only a few days: they found it “very difficult” because this was their first time on a high mountain, and one member suffered slightly from altitude sickness. When new snow fell and avalanching resulted, they decided to abandon the climb. They said that all three of them and Chuldin had reached a high point of 7200 meters together in their brief time on Nuptse.

In the autumn, Malaysians were successful on two 7000ers, Annapurna IV and Putha Hiunchuli (7246 m). On Putha Hiunchuli, two Malaysians and a Singaporean went to the top on two different dates, October 16 and 19, but they literally followed in the footsteps of a French- Swiss team who had summited three days before them. On Annapurna IV, only one Malaysian reached the summit, and this summiter, Ramakrishnan, reported that he was tied to two of the four Sherpas who went to the top with him in order to balance him when the wind was strong, and that he used bottled oxygen part of the time on his summit day, November 10. It is quite rare for climbers on under-8000-meter peaks to use oxygen. Even so, his fingers and toes became mildly frostbitten. Coping with the rigors of extreme cold and very high altitudes can be a serious problem for southeast Asians.

Elizabeth Hawley

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