American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Asia, Nepal, Dhaulagiri Himal, Cho Polu, First Ascent, Previously Unreported

  • Climbs And Expeditions
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  • Publication Year: 2000

Cho Polu, First Ascent, Previously Unreported. Spanish mountaineer Nil Bohigas reports that he did very quick solo climbs to the summits of Cho Polu and of nearby Pethangtse in the autumn of 1984 and several days later also soloed Baruntse. However, he had no official permission for these ascents, and no one except a few of his friends knew about them until recently.

Bohigas says that he went up the north face to the northeast ridge of Cho Polo to the top on the same day, in late October or early November, on which he had just climbed Pethangtse (he does not remember the exact dates). He stayed at a bivouac at 6000 meters, left a cache of supplies there, went out

at night and summitted Pethangtse (6710m) before sunrise in a very quick ascent and descent untroubled by any technical difficulties. He then moved south to Cho Polu. “I found the main difficulties on the north face’s first section, especially on the descent. I reached the summit by the northeast ridge. 1 descended by the same route and I reached the glacier at night.… I did not take more than 16 hours in total. Three days later I soloed Baruntse.”

He had already pioneered a new route on the difficult south face of Annapurna I with just one teammate, Enric Lucas (see 1985 AAJ, p. 285) and now “I felt perfectly acclimatized to the altitude.” He also reports he found good snow conditions, which must have been significantly better than those the Germans encountered this autumn, and he does not mention any problems with the wind.

The Germans, without knowing the above exact details, found the claim by Bohigas to have summited Pethangtse and Cho Polu on the same day “unbelievable” because they were sure he would have had “just not enough time” to descend Pethangtse, cross an estimated five kilometers of plateau between these two mountains and scale the difficult north side of Cho Polu.

However, it is a truism that what one man cannot do another person can; skills, strengths and experience vary enormously. Also, one must consider the facts that the Germans had worse weather; they did not climb alpine style but pitched two fixed camps, which meant they

carried heavy loads in their ascent, whereas Bohigas carried nothing; and they were a team of two men aged 59 years, one 35 and one, Walters, 26, the same age as Bohigas in 1984.

Elizabeth Hawley

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