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Asia, Tibet, Gaurishankar, Northeast Ridge, Attempt

Gaurishankar, Northeast Ridge, Attempt. Gaurishankar (7134m) lies on Nepal’s northern border with Tibet; it is visible from Kathmandu on the northeastern horizon, and it was once thought to be the world’s highest mountain until the British Survey of India made more careful measurements. All climbing attempts until this autumn on this rugged mountain were made with permits from the Nepalese government, for the Tibetan/Chinese authorities did not open it to mountaineers until a few years ago. A British attempt led by Don Whillans in the autumn of 1964 did go around from Nepal’s southwestern side to the northwest in Tibet and reached 6700 meters before avalanching turned them back. Since then no one had repeated this approach; in fact, the mountain is seldom climbed from any side.

In September, two well-known Japanese mountaineers, Yasushi Yamanoi and his wife Taeko (who was known by her maiden name, Taeko Nagao, until she married Yamanoi recently), went onto the northeast ridge but were quickly turned back at 6300 meters, where the ridge became very narrow and steep and numerous mushrooms blocked the way. It was not possible to escape from the ridge because of extreme danger on the north face from many falling seracs, so they abandoned their attempt on September 23. They thought the climb might be possible in colder weather in mid-October, but they do not recommend attempting the mountain from Tibet at all: the local people demanded a lot of extra money, and they were informed that the road leading to it is frozen after the end of October.

Elizabeth Hawley