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Asia, Tibet, Everest, Various Activity on the North Side, and Cho Oyu, Various Activity

Everest, Various Activity on the North Side, and Cho Oyu, Various Activity. Ten commercial expeditions on the Tibetan side and two in Nepal (several of them commercial as well) made attempts on Everest, but not a soul got to the top. This was the first autumn season since 1987 in which no one summitted Everest. (Ten years ago, all four teams on the north side and all three from the south failed.) Fierce winds and new snowfall were the villains this autumn.

A highly experienced Nepalese Sherpa, Apa, and the Swiss mountaineer Jean Troillet, who himself has seven 8000ers to his credit, including Everest already in a remarkably swift ascent of the mountain in 1986, reached together the highest point on the vast mountain that anyone achieved this season, 8700 meters or only 150 vertical meters below the top, on the north side. Troillet had intended to descend from the summit by snowboard; he went down on one from 8700 meters.

Everest claimed one life this autumn. A South Korean expedition sent a party to the North Col very early in the season, on September 8, to deposit gear there. One of them, the expedition’s climbing leader, Choi Byung-Soo, was buried without trace by a big avalanche just below the Col.

Commercially organized efforts on Cho Oyu fared much better. On Cho Oyu’s normal route on the northwest side, 17 out of 22 teams managed to put a total of 75 people on its summit. A 19-member Italian team led by Giacomo Scaccabarozzi was faulted by others on Cho Oyu for leaving the mountain and deserting one of their teammates, Claudio Mastronicola, who was still there struggling to climb it and soon afterward had to be rescued and taken care of by other expeditions when he became seriously disoriented and frostbitten. One member of his group explained in Kathmandu that this had been a north Italian expedition with most members sympathetic to the movement favoring the north’s secession from Italy, while the man they had left behind was a southerner.

Elizabeth Hawley