Asia, Pakistan, Gasherbrum IV Attempt

Publication Year: 1981.

Gasherbrum IV Attempt. Todd Bibler, Don Frederickson, Matt Kerns, Craig McKibben, Jim Nelson, Dr. Charles Scherz and I as leader began the trek to Base Camp from Bongla on June 12 and arrived there some days later. We spent 2½ weeks ferrying loads to Advanced Base Camp at 20,000 feet on the upper Gasherbrum Glacier. After a period of stormy weather, we attempted the south face, hoping to intersect the south ridge higher up. At 22,500 feet we encountered thin, loose snow over very loose rock. We abandoned the route and decided to attempt the east face or the original Italian route on the northeast ridge. After more bad weather, McKibben, Kerns, Nelson and I climbed the Italian icefall to the base of the east ridge. Bibler and Frederickson continued to the base of the northeast ridge, but gave it up because of deep snow and lack of supplies. Meanwhile Nelson and Kerns descended in deteriorating weather, leaving their food for McKibben and me. We remained at our 22,500-foot camp during a spell of bad weather. We made several attempts on the east face but had to retreat because of avalanches and bad weather. We returned to Base Camp after 34 days above to find that Jim had been evacuated due to a bowel obstruction. Porters had carried him to Base Camp. He was then evacuated to Skardu by helicopter and from there by plane to Islamabad, where he was operated on ten days after the onset of his illness. He has since made a complete recovery.

Steven J. Swenson