American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Asia, Nepal, Kumbhakarna (Jannu) Attempt

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1988

Kumbhakarna (Jannu) Attempt. Beverly Boynton*, Randal Harrington, Evan Kaplan, Chuck Schaap, James Springer, Callum MacKay (our only Briton) and I as leader left Kathmandu on March 23, hoping to climb the French route on the south ridge of Kumbhakarna. We established Base Camp at 15,000 feet on April 6. Numerous load carries mixed with periods of bad weather finally led to placing Camp I at 17,500 feet. An easy snow gully, a corniced ridge and a small icefall put us in a spectacular cirque at Camp II at 19,500 feet. Springer and Schaap had to return to Base Camp to recover from flu. Daily snowstorms covered our tracks and we had to break trail in new snow every day. Because of delays and shortage of time and fuel, we decided to make an alpine-style attempt from Camp II. Bev Boynton dropped out to allow the formation of two 2-man teams. Kaplan, Harrington, MacKay and I set out on April 26 as the bad weather continued. After climbing 700 feet of fixed ropes, we kept on along the difficult corniced ridge in a mild blizzard. Five pitches of thin climbing ended on easier snow slopes below the first tower on the south ridge (Tête du Butoir). Though the bad weather continued, the night at the first bivouac at 20,400 feet was starry. On April 27 a short pitch of névé ice and steep snow led to a plateau below the Tête du Butoir. In a blizzard with no visibility, we tried to traverse to the second tower (Tête de Dentelle) above a 4000-foot drop to the Yamatari Glacier. Moving in sometimes hip-deep snow across the steep face, we could see that the avalanche danger was rapidly increasing. We returned to the plateau below the Tête du Butoir, camped at 21,000 feet and listened to the blizzard. The morning of April 28 was sunny with signs of another storm forming. With supplies running out and the terrible weather, we gave up our try. We believe this was the second American attempt and the 18th attempt in all on the mountain.

Hooman Aprin

*Recipient of a Vera Watson-Alison Chadwick Onyszkiewicz Memorial Fund Grant.

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