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Asia, Nepal, Gyachung Kang, Attempts

Gyachung Kang, Attempts. Two teams went to the 7952-meter Gyachung Kang, which stands on the Nepalese-Tibetan border between Cho Oyu and Everest, this autumn. It is very seldom attempted by climbers—probably partly because it is nearly 8000 meters high, but also because it is steep and difficult—and only three expeditions have ever gained the summit, all of them from its western slopes. This autumn’s attempts by two parties of three Japanese and six Poles were made from the southeast, and they got no higher than 7000 meters. Like so many expeditions on the very high mountains in the post-monsoon, both were defeated by deep snow.

The Japanese, led by Takashi Shiro, aimed to go to the summit via the southeast ridge, but they stopped at 6700 meters, 100 meters below their final ridge, on October 11 while they were on a snow face of the south ridge, because they had run out of pickets. The Poles, under the leadership of Ludwik Wilczynski, managed to reach 7000 meters on a southeast pillar on October 3. They had climbed mostly at night because of the avalanching that warm daytime hours brought. But deep soft snow forced two members to spend 15 hours slowly plowing through it one day, and they were hit—but luckily not injured—by an avalanche. Their climb was abandoned after an important tent was covered by snow.

Elizabeth Hawley