Exploration of the Koyo Glacier

 

 

 

 

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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!


Bruce’s Personal diary

Friday 19th July

Reconnaissance trip up Koyo Glacier

Set 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.

Saturday 20th July

Continued 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.

Sunday 21st July

Back across the glacier, then along good path easily to base camp.

Tuesday 23rd July

Sitting in base camp. Puked up a cup of water this morning. Not eating. Ickbal, Rob and Bruce [Note: Bruce Littlewood] 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 19000 [5800m] . Pecchus 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 gum [Note: 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.

Thursday 25th July

Set off with H. with more gear and 6 days food. Hoped to climb Point 18100 [5520m] 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.

Friday 26th July

It 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 [Note: 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].

Saturday 27th July

Set 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.

Sunday 28th July

Woke 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 4000 feet [ 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.

Another late night.

Monday 29th July

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!

The others were back except Colin who limped in late with a twisted knee. Nev had been back three days - still with the sh*ts. They hadn’t been able to do much because of the weather. All agreed that now we had to concentrate on Koyo Zom.

 

 

 

 

 

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