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India, Himachal Pradesh, Kumaun, Changabang, north face, attempt

Changabang, north face, attempt. Andreas Amons, Cas van de Gevel, Melvin Redeker, and I tried to climb 6,864m Changabang by its north face in the autumn. Arriving at base camp on August 25, we spent the first 12 days acclimatizing and load carrying to advanced base. The walk over the Bagini Glacier proved to be long and tiring, full of loose blocks. Although we were supposed to be in the monsoon, throughout this time the weather was perfect. On September 9 and 10 we fixed 300m of rope on the 1996 couloir, because we wanted to climb capsule-style with portaledges. [This line was tried in June 1996 by a British party, who retreated at 6,200m—Ed.]. The climbing was perfect, with superb, steep, solid ice.

The monsoon finally arrived, with seven days of rain, snow, and mist, or as our British neighbors, attempting the west face, put it, “fucking ming.” When the weather finally cleared, we were unable to find our gear left under the face, even though we had tied it in and dug holes seven meters deep. About 10m of new snow must have accumulated below the face. With half our gear gone, we decided to climb in a lighter style. Again bad weather arrived, and with avalanches falling we retreated to base camp, which we left on September 29.

The weather seemed to be a bit off last autumn, with clear skies in August and rain in the middle of September. The north faces of Kalanka and Changabang looked absolutely great, but they are not places to be when snow starts falling.

Mike van Berkel, The Netherlands