THE NORTHEAST RIDGE OF MT. EVEREST (Qomolangma)

BY NIHON UNIVERSITY MT. EVEREST EXPEDITION 1995










Summary of Expedition


Party name: Nihon University Mt. Everest (Qomolanma) Expedition, 1995
Area: Mt. Everest (Qomolangma) on the Tibetan side
Attempt Route: Qomolangma via the Northeast Ridge
Period: From March 12th, 1995 to May 23rd, 1995
Result: Success. 2 members reached top on May 10. The first scale of Qomolangma via the Northeast Ridge.
Members: Prof. Zenkichi Hirayama(61), Expedition genaral leader and leader of Scientific research group.
[Climbing party]
Tadao Kanzaki (55), Leader, Kaneshige Ikeda (56), Deputy leader, Kiyoshi Furuno (33), Climbing team leader, Takeshi Oshida (33), Shigeki Imoto (32), Hiroshi Ieguchi (26), Osamu Nomoto (25), Hiroyoshi Tabata (25), Hideyuki Tamura (23), Tomonori Harada (21), Yoshitaka Harada (59), Manager, Takeki Suzuki (39), Medical doctor, Yoshitaka Ohomae (28), Medical doctor.
Scientifis research group
Prof. Sumiaki Nagai(62), Meteologist, Isamu Moriyama(55), Ecologist, Kunikazy Noguchi(42), Specialist of radioisotope, Kiyoshi Tanaka(38), Medical Doctor, Futoshi Shingu(24), atchitect, Tong Yuanxin(22), Peking Univ.
Other members
7 NHK TV crew, 2 Kyodo New Press stahhs, 2 Chinese liaison officer, 1 Chinese interpreter, 31 Sherpas under the sardership of Lhakpa Tenzing(55) and Nawang Yondeng(44)
Published report: 「日本大学エベレスト登山隊1995-北東稜登山報告書」(The Northeast Ridge Expedition reports by Nihon University Mt. Everest Expedition 1995) published by the Nihon University Mt. Everest Expedition Executive, 1996
Corresponding to:
Name: Zenkichi Hirayama, Prof.
address: c/o College of Science and Technology, Nihon University, 1-8-14, Kanda-surugadai, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 101, Japan
tel: +81-3+3259-0703
fax: +81-3-3292-3216
e-mail: kfuruno@t3.rim.or.jp
web site http://www.t3.rim.or.jp/~kfuruno/everest/nu-ev95.html



 







Introduction

 There have been 8 failed attempts on the Northeast Ridge of Mt. Everest, starting with the British expedition led by Chris Bonington in 1982.

 Our Nihon University Mountaineering Club and the club's alumni association determined to mount an all-out effort to climb this long route, the last remaining major unclimbed route on Mt. Everest, in 1995, on the occasion of the 70 th anniversary of the club's founding.

 The plan, including preparatory climbs, was as follows.

 First, in May, 1994, we sent an expedition, to climb Mt. McKinley (6,194 m) in Alaska.

 Second, in the fall of that year, we sent an expedition to Cho Oyu (8,216 m).

 The Northeast Ridge expedition in spring of this year was organized based on the successes of the preparatory expeditions. In addition to the climb of the Northeast Ridge, the expedition planned scientific studies around the north side of Mt. Everest. With these dual objectives in mind architecture Prof. Zenkichi Hirayama was named the expedition's General Leader. The expedition under him included 13 climbers, 6 scientists, 2 Chinese liaison officers, a interpreter and 31 Sherpas.

 

Activity

 February 21, an advance party departed for high altitude training on the south side of Mt. Everest. March 11, the main group departed from Japan. Just before this departure all of Tibet was hit by a heavy snowstorm ; the road between Kodari and Zangmu was blocked by avalanches. Nevertheless, after a delay of one week, the expedition members with 20 tons of supplies were able to travel by way of Xegur, and on March 25 established Base Camp at 5,150 m, on the Rongbuk Glacier. Our yaks had to make 4 round-trips to transport 10 tons of supplies to Advance Base Camp (Camp 3) at 6,352 m. March 28 the first load of supplies was sent up on the yaks, 10 days behind schedule. April 8, in somewhat stabilized weather we carried the second set of loads up to the site of ABC, and established the camp there on the moraine of the East Rongbuk Glacier. The next day a party under Team Leader Kiyoshi Furuno departed from ABC to start establishing the route. They traversed the headwall of the glacier just short of the Raphu La, started up a steep snow slope called Bill's Buttress, and fixed the rope to directly below the planned site of Camp 4 before returning.

 April 14, Furuno, 2 other Japanese climbers and 6 Sherpas established Camp 4 on a rocky ridge at 7,100 m. April 15 Furuno, Shigeki Imoto and 4 Sherpas left Camp 4 to extend the route. That day they fixed the rope to the bottom of the 1 st Buttress at 7,560 m. April 16 they climbed a steep snow-choked gully up the 1 st Buttress and extended the route to 7,620 m. April 17 they climbed a shallow gully up the 2 nd Buttress. Near the top, where the slope became a bit less steep, they contoured around the north side on a talus slope mixed with snow, arriving the site of Camp 5 (7,850 m) at a flat snowy ridge just short of the 1 st Pinnacle.

 April 25, Takeshi Oshida, Yukihide Tamura and 3 Sherpas climbed back up to the snowy ridge and established Camp 5. April 26 this same group extended the route about 1/3 of the way up the 1 st Pinnacle, and descended to Camp 4. The same day Furuno entered Camp 5 with another 3 Sherpas. April 27 the climbers started up at 9 a.m. in severe cold and strong wind, climbed straight up a shallow 60-degree gully on mixed rock and snow up the 1 st Pinnacle, then faithfully followed the crest of a snowy ridge, reaching the summit of the 1 st Pinnacle (8,170 m) at 3 p.m. April 28 they passed the 1 st Pinnacle, followed a route along the boundary between a knife-edged snow ridge and a dangerous rocky slope, and finally climbed an 80 degree hard snow wall to the summit of the 2 nd Pinnacle at 8,250 m.

 April 29 a group under Imoto entered Camp 5 to take over from Furuno's group. Imoto and 3 Sherpas passed the 1 st Pinnacle and the 2 nd Pinnacle, and headed for the 8,400 m high 3 rd Pinnacle. They passed the col between the 2nd and 3rd Pinnacles, rounded the rocky 3 rd Pinnacle on the north side, traversed a band directly below it, entered an inclined gully and climbed straight up it, arriving at a snow peak above the 3 rd Pinnacle. From here the ridge line became somewhat indistinct. The group decided to locate Camp 6 in a col just before Junction Peak, and descended to ABC.

 This completed the extension of the route through the crux section of the Northeast Ridge.

At this point the Japanese expedition members descended to Base Camp, and the Sherpas to ABC, to rest. Supporting climbers and Sherpas then took over the job of stocking the camps with supplies and checking to make sure that they were adequately supplied.

 May 6, after adequate rest Furuno and Imoto entered ABC. The original plan was to have 2 summit parties assault the summit on separate days, but with the weather stabilizing and with the forecast sent to us from Japan calling for continued good weather, we decided to combine the 2 parties into one consisting of Furuno, Imoto, Lhakpa Nuru and Dawa Theri were selected as the summit party. Another 8 Sherpas were sent to establish Camp 6, and the last camp, Camp 7, above 8,500 m.

The Summit Assault

 May 7, the summit party climed up to Camp 4, and May 8 to Camp 5.

 All through April, strong wind had raged around Camp 5, but on May 9 was warm with weak wind. Furuno, Imoto and 10 Sherpas hooked up to oxygen, departed at 8 a.m., advanced up a broad snow ridge, and started up the 1 st Pinnacle. They contoured around a rock face on the ABC side of the 1st Pinacle, entered a snow gully and followed it up the 1 st Pinnacle. They climbed a delicate snow ridge between the 1 st Pinnacle and the 2 nd Pinnacle, then climbed 30 m up the hard 80 degree snow wall of the 2 nd Pinnacle. This was where the 1992 Japan-Kazakhstan Joint Expedition had bivouacked, and only 5 meters from the spot where the corpses from the 1982 British expedition were found buried in snow.

 The route up the 3 rd Pinnacle was complicated, involving a series of ascents and descents. The climbers descended about 50 m, contouring to avoid the col in front of the gigantic 4 th Pinnacle (Junction Peak) which loomed up ahead. At 8,350 m on the upper part of the North Ridge they cut a platform out of the snow surface and established Camp 6. It was decided, with the approval of ABC, to add Nima Dorje and Pasang Kami to the summit party.

 May 10 dawned clear. From Camp 6 to the point of confluence with the North Ridge, the route was unknown territory. The 12 peoples in Camp 6 departed at 8 a.m., and fixed 3 pitches of rope, traversing along the slope, before discovering leftover rope from the North Ridge route. They gained the top of the ridge, then contoured along the northern slope again, and established Camp 7 at 8,560 m, at the base of the 1 st Step. As soon as the tent were pitched, 6 Sherpas descended to ABC. They extended the route to the 2 nd Step (8,650 m), and found that the Chinese ladder that had supposedly disappeared was still there although it was lying on the ground. Instead of using the special aluminum collapsible ladder that they had brought, they reinstalled the Chinese ladder, then extended the route upward. Since there was room for only 4 people in Camp 7, it was decided that 2 Sherpas would have to start their summit assault from Camp 6.

 May 11 again dawned clear and calm but the early clear weather was followed by light snowfall. The climbers got up at 2 a.m., and they started up at 4 a.m. by the light of headlamps. The 2 Sherpas in Camp 6 had started up at 330. They climbed the 1 st Step in the darkness and continued toward the 2nd Step. The step has 2 parts, the lower 10 m and the upper 10 m. Having reinstalled the Chinese ladder up the upper part, they passed the 2nd Step easily.

 Dawn broke just before the triangular snowfield. The snowfield started as a hard snow wall but eventually the climbers had to break trail through softer snow. They rounded some rocks on the North Face side, then, following rope left from the fall 1991 Japanese expedition that looked like it was ready to break, traversed for 2 pitches. Then they climbed 2 pitches up a rock slab gully, and, fixing rope, climbed straight up onto the summit ridge. A 15 minute climb up the snow ridge, less steep than what they had been climbing on, brought them to the summit. The summit was relatively broad, like a cornice; a surveying device with optics, that had been carried up the year before for survey work, was still standing. The time was 7:15 a.m.

 After 1 hour on the summit, the group started down, raced back through the Pinnacles, and descended all the way to ABC that day, arriving at 615 p.m., just before the sun set.

(Translated from Japanese by Harold Solomon) 

 

 [Climbing party]

Tadao Kanzaki (55), Leader, Kaneshige Ikeda (56), Deputy leader, Kiyoshi Furuno (33), Climbing team leader, Takeshi Oshida (33), Shigeki Imoto (32), Hiroshi Ieguchi (26), Osamu Nomoto (25), Hiroyoshi Tabata (25), Hideyuki Tamura (23), Tomonori Harada (21), Yoshitaka Harada (59), Manager, Takeki Suzuki (39), Medical doctor, Yoshitaka Ohomae (28), Medical doctor.

 

 [Editor's note]

Lhakupa Nuru's climb with our expedition was his 6 th ascent of Mt. Everest. In the fall, he jointed a post monsoon attempt on the Northeast ridge with a South Korean expedition. On September 10, he was caught in an avalanche approaching Bill's Buttress and died. We pray for the peace of his soul.

 

Detailed information, please access http://www.t3.rim.or.jp/~kfuruno/everest/nu-ev95.html