Asia, Tibet, Everest, Great Couloir

Publication Year: 1992.

Everest, Great Couloir. Our expedition was composed of Italians Graziano Bianchi, Battistino Bonali, Dr. Giuliano De Marchi, Fausto De Stefani, Sergio Salini, Wolfgang Thomaseth and me as leader and Czechoslovak Leopold Sulovsky. We set up Base Camp at Rongbuk on April 4 and, with the aid of yaks, Advance Base on the Central Rongbuk Glacier at 5500 meters on April 12. Salini left the expedition on the 14th. Camps I, II and III were at 6100, 6195 and 7600 meters. Much of our route was to the left of the Australian one. Camps II and III had only one tent each and room for two climbers. The first summit attempt was begun from Advance Base by De Marchi and De Stefani on April 30. They took three days to reach Camp III, where they were held up for a day by bad weather. On May 4, they bivouacked at 8000 meters and the next day at 8350 meters, below the rock barrier in the Great Couloir. They had hoped to climb to the summit on the 6th, but De Stefani was struck by cerebral edema. On the 7th a very difficult rescue began with the whole team involved. This lasted five days and De Stefani was sent back, by jeep, to Kathmandu on May 11. Thomaseth went with him. On May 14, De Marchi, who had suffered frostbite, was taken to Base Camp by Bianchi and me and also sent to Kathmandu. That same day, Bonali and Sulovsky started from Advance Base and got to Camp II. They reached Camps III and IV on the next two days. They climbed to the summit on May 17 at 3:30 P.M. and were back in Advance Base on the 19th. Our route reached the Great Couloir by climbing on the left of the big icefall, entered the couloir and followed it to the rock barrier of about 80 meters at 8400 meters. It took the summiters two hours to climb the barrier and was of Grade V difficulty. The Australians in 1984 avoided the barrier by climbing to the right before it begins. The last part of our route coincided with that of Messner. We used no supplementary oxygen. We had no porters. The only rope we fixed was on 70 meters of the rock barrier.

Oreste Forno, Club Alpino Italiano