Kangchenjunga, Ramtang, And Medical Research. Base Camp was established at Pangpema at 5100 meters on the north side of Kangchenjunga. Chris Comerie and his seven-strong climbing team attempted to repeat the 1979 Boardman-Tasker-Scott route on Kangchenjunga via the North Col. They retreated from Camp IV due to persistent high winds. Research equipment (2800 kg) was flown in by helicopter to BC from Kathmandu via Ghunsa. The scientists resident at Base Camp studied 71 subjects as they passed through BC. Areas studied included: respiratory defense, migraine, changes in body weight and fat distribution, changes in lung fluid and the physiological control of breathing.
The Ramtang team shared the same Camp I as the Kangchenjunga team, which was established around October 10. We then avoided most of the icefall by scrambling up the lateral moraine to gain the upper glacier, where Camp II was pitched at 5900 meters. The serac band above Camp II was climbed more easily than anticipated. From here, it was an easy walk to the foot of the south face of Ramtang (6700m). Most of the face was threatened by a high band of seracs and a formidable cornice, so we elected to climb the shoulder leading to the eastern summit. This turned out to be an easy névé slope of around 55° (AD). Fixed ropes were put in place to safeguard descent. These were removed five days later. On reaching the eastern summit, we decided not to traverse to the main summit (which appeared only marginally higher) due to the presence of huge and dangerous double cornices.
Ascents were made as follows: October 18, Richard Weller, Ulrich Stiener, Nga Temba, Na Temba and Sange Saila Sherpa; October 19, Roger McMorrow and Nigel Hart; October 21, Sally Glynn, Simon Currin and Sange Saila Sherpa; October 22, Denzil Broadhurst, Chris Smith, Gerald Dubowitz, Nga Temba and Na Temba.
After early doubts about the difficulties and dangers of Ramtang, the route proved to be relatively easy, objectively fairly safe and most enjoyable. Ramtang is a fine vantage point for viewing the Kangchenjunga massif, and we had the great privilege of being the first team to receive a permit to climb this fine mountain.
Simon Currin, United Kingdom