of the Koyo Glacier
The rest of my account is taken practically word for word from a diary that I started writing at this point. I don't have a copy of the expedition report (Since writing this, Rob Wild contacted me, thanks to internet, and has sent me a scanned copy of the report. Click-here to see it), I lost touch with the most of the others as I remained in Paris after the trip. It looks at the expedition very much from a personal point of view. If any one reading this has a copy of the original expedition report, I would be very interested in seeing it and including a more balanced account. Harry and I climbed together for the whole period and spent little time in base camp for reasons which you will discover. It is sometimes a bit brutal concerning the others, for which I apologise, and also rather crude. I could have "edited" it, but after much thought I decided to leave it alone as it seems to me to show the true preoccupations on such a trip, the internal tensions which play such a part of living in small isolated groups and, above all, the importance of very basic human needs. I have added a some explicative notes in blue text, and a few asterisks to reduce the repetitions of words referring to the most basic of human functions but those that remain show how far the well turned anecdotes in the glossy coffee-table tomes that so often inform the public at large of the stirring adventures of mountaineering heroes are from reality! Napoleon said an army marches on its stomach; I would situate things a little lower down, but that was perhaps what he was trying to say too!
I hope no one is too offended and please bear in mind it was written as a personal diary by a still rather naďve young man. It certainly reflects my true thoughts at the time better than the first part of this account, written from memory 29 years later. The problems described could easily have lead to failure and definitely prevented us from achieving all we could have done if we had been in better health - there are lessons to be learnt. I also found it amusing and revealing to read descriptions of some of the obnoxious sounding meals I happily quaffed, just hours after describing "symptoms" whose cause should have been obvious... Ah! The carefree energy of youth!
trip up Koyo Glacier
off with three days food. Crossed Pecchus glacier near snout instead of
going round path at bottom. Took bad route up to Koyo glacier. Met two
children on Pecchus glacier - they don’t seem at all worried about
glaciers. Then traversed grass till we were met by the really impressive
sight of the North face of Koyo Zom II. At first thought it was Koyo Zom,
but the closer we got the more improbable it seemed; the face would have
had to be 8000 feet [
2 400 m ]
, and it wasn’t. Climbed bad moraine on left bank [Note:
true right bank]
then crossed glacier to good bivi on grass on the other side.
Water 150 feet above. Before we left we cut through snow over a stream
so that water was at hand on the same level. Excellent bivi.
up right bank grass and scree, then on glacier. Got into badly crevassed
region. H & I put feet through several times. Concluded that the
face ahead was of a mountain in front of Koyo Zom. Decided the right
hand ridge looked good - possibly would need etriers - decided to go
back for gear - do a training climb, then the ridge. Set off down. Dumped
gear at end of moraine. Then back to bivi.
across the glacier, then along good path easily to base camp.
in base camp. Puked up a cup of water this morning. Not eating. Ickbal,
Rob and Bruce [Note:
set off up the Chatiboi glacier. Nev and Colin got back.
They’d gone to about 18000 feet [
5 500 m ] and seen a nice peak of
glacier as bad as Koyo. Confirmed our interpretation of ridge system.
Nev is looking really bad. He feels puky like me. I feel a bit better
now after lying down all morning and only eating a bit of rice pudding
(made successfully with Ostermilk) and some soup flavoured by chewing
caused by the gum being stored next to the soup powder during the
journey. Not a deliberate culinary experiment!]. Nev sorted out some new pills. Stopped eating and the new pills
seemed to work.
off with H. with more gear and 6 days food. Hoped to climb Point 18100
and other peaks, and look at ridge on Koyo Zom II (?). Feeling better -
followed good path to glacier, much easier. Dog came out of house and
barked from a distance. Just at beginning of moraine, tragedy, shat
myself, bad start. Debated all day whether to stop at lower bivi -
decided to in the end as too tired.
was as well we stopped because the dump wasn’t at the next cairn but
the one after - two or three hours
hard work as we picked up quite a lot of stuff from the first bivi.
Reached dump for lunch. Stupidly the dump was too high for Pt 18100, the gully we wanted to follow started much lower. Rather than descend we
climbed up behind, hoping to cross the ridge and traverse to the gully
at half height. Climbed a short glacier then bivied on a good platform
just next to the glacier - excellent bivi. Set off green flare - not
seen at base camp
our only means of communication was sending red, green or white
mini-flares at a fixed time, usually in the evening, green for "All
OK", red for "Help!", etc].
off up ridge - didn’t fill water bottles. Followed under ridge for a
few hundred feet, then scrambled up onto it. Had to rope up for a tricky
pitch. Scrambled after. Harry not looking good - altitude. Very thirsty.
Saw water to the right, decided to traverse to couloir. Foolish move,
roped up across several pitches of bad snow, one short pitch to gain
water gully. Dropped one peg, then H. led through. Dropped second peg as
I took it out. Feeling pissed off, unroped and scrambled down to pick
them up. Filled up with water. Still couldn’t get to couloir. Came to
very steep snow. Decided to climb this mountain instead. Got going a bit
better pitch after pitch, getting late. One tricky pitch, then saw poor
platform on left. Water, but exposed to stone fall. Took long time to
prepare platform - even then it ended up on two levels with Harry
6" above me. Set off flare at 8 and saw an answering one from
Pecchus glacier - surprisingly low down. Got to bed about 9 o’clock
another long day.
up to sound of snow. Clag right down. Began to worry about avalanches.
Harry went out and clipped a rope into some pegs which the gear was
attached to. Then we went back to sleep a little worried about the
prospects for retreat. Both cameras were hanging outside covered in snow
and with icicles hanging from them. Then sun came out. We saw things
weren’t as serious as they looked, only a couple of inches of snow and
by the time we were ready this had melted. Continued pitch by pitch. One
very fine pitch - seemed really difficult on fine granite. Finally six
foot cornice involved a lot of laborious cutting then a heave and
flounder on to the summit ridge. Stomped off to belay on some rocks.
Feeling very low, pissed off, anxious for the descent and the weather.
Harry came over the cornice looking very pleased. “What a spot!” he
said - I didn’t agree. He carried on past to the summit - nice rocks -
had lunch and cheered up a bit. The view was incredible. Behind us the
most fantastic mountain I’ve ever seen rose 21000 feet
6 400 m ] straight from
the glacier - a pyramid with an included angle of about 50°. To the
right, granite peaks which put Chamonix to shame. And finally our ridge
on Koyo Zom II showed itself - a vertical wall of smooth granite - about
1 200 m ] high - even more impossible than the N. face - well at least
that was cleared up. Started descent - very bad rock to start. Sometimes
moving roped, sometimes together, sometimes unroped. The lower part all
easy scrambling on good granite. Down to the initial pitch. Abseiled 30
feet, then down to bivi. Very relieved to be there. The cloud was
building up and it had nearly snowed a few times. Couldn’t sleep well
- too nervous. Had beef burghers and spud - revolting.
Woke in morning
by few flurries of snow. Feeling rough. Cleared up a bit. Got down to
the dump with no more mishap than Harry doing a somersault in his
crampons resulting in a grazed arm. Loaded up all extra gear and
staggered off down. Eventually crossed Koyo Glacier and had lunch. Both
very tired. Eyes sore, fingers worn and cut at ends - wore Harry’s
special little white gloves all the way down. We were startled by a
noise like a plane which was in fact a bird swooping down very fast.
Finally staggered into base camp ~5.30, having dropped 5000 feet that
day. H’s sack weighed 58 lbs and mine 61, they felt like it too. Just
to round off the trip I sh*t myself 5 minutes from camp in the village
so I had to ignore it till we got home - ugh!