HIMALAYA - NO AIR FOR BREATHING: PART 3

Klaus Dierks
©  Dr. Klaus Dierks 1982-2004

 

The snow- and weather conditions are miserable in this premonsoon period of 1982. Each day heavy snow is falling and we are only able to climb difficult pitches in the early mornings before the snow is beginning to fall and as long as the deep frost is still stabilising the snow covered steep surfaces and consequently reducing the danger of avalanches. For the pre- monsoon season it is still to cold and the hazard of avalanches is exceeding all fair limits with all the fresh snow masses. Our first two peaks in this year, Gokyo Kang and white Peak, are presenting some mountaineering problems although both are known to be easy to climb. The crossing of the 5690 m high Cho La Col is demanding ultimate effort from us: glaciers, a difficult ice couloir which we are inching up with our heavy homes on our backs, icefalls and a vertical rock wall which we have to descent by the mountaineering technique of abseiling. Because it represents such a effort to climb to these heights the memory with regard to the overwhelming natural beauties remains so strongly in our consciousness: The view of glaciers, several icefalls one upon another, all the ice giants surrounding us: Amai Dablam, the holy peak of the Khumbu, Nuptse with its nearly 8000 m, Cholatse and the "third pole of the earth": Chomo Lungma, the goddess mother of the world.

Khumbu.Eastof AmaiDablam.jpg (48928 bytes)

The Access Route to the Amphu Laptsa with a nameless Peak in the South, east of Amai Dablam
Photo: Copyright: Klaus Dierks

The real problems, however, are beginning at the Amphu Laptsa between Lhotse and the inaccessible Hongu with its forbidding steep rock- and icewall which is towering up to more than 6000 m. Sir Edmund Hillary, whom we meet again in the Sherpa village of Khunde, is warning us not to underrate the hazards of Amphu Laptsa: avalanches and formidable rockfall dangers at the steep wall which builds up thousands metres above the Baruntse glacier.

Khumbu.AmphuGletscher1.jpg (74574 bytes)

Our Camp on the Amphu Laptsa Glacier with Amphu Laptsa in the Background
Photo: Copyright: Klaus Dierks

Khumbu.Amphulaptsa2.jpg (30493 bytes)

The 6 000 m high Amphu Laptsa Range with Baruntse 7 290 m left
Photo: Copyright: Klaus Dierks

In his book "High in the thin cold Air" Sir Edmund calls the route across Amphu Laptsa,. West- and Sherpani Col a frightening access to Makalu. He still regards the Trashi Laptsa between Rolwaling and Khumbu the most treacherous mountain crossing in the world where mountaineers are killed nearly every year.

We are hearing again and again that "nobody will be killed at Amphu Laptsa because nobody is trying it".

After several weeks of staying in high altitudes we have gained the feeling to be acclimatized sufficiently well for that which is coming and which is feared by us. Fear is a frequent accompanion on Himalaya expeditions. Before critical sections like at the Amphu Laptsa this anxiety is concentrated to panicky fear, especially in these pitch-dark, avalanche ravaged, ice cold nights in the Himalaya. Next morning, however, the world is looking different. The fear is replaced by effort and intensive mountaineering activities.

After having crossed the Baruntse glacier which is rich in crevasses the strenuous and difficult entry into the big wall is beginning. Breathing labouriously we are battling our way up metre for metre. The effort is so great that we are not giving attention any more to the continuous state of danger surrounding us. The world consists of thirty distressed gasping steps only. Deeply exhausted, heavily breathing, the bent down upper part of the body lowered on to the ice axe and the approximately 20 kg heavy rucksack tilted on to the neck the mountaineer is taking his rest. For some minutes he consists only of breathing. After this he begins seeing clearly again and to take notice of the enormous world around him. Deep below him several glaciers are joining like roads of a freeway interchange. On the other side Lhotse with its formidable, ragged, avalanche ravaged south wall is towering and behind it the almost snowfree pyramid of Mount Everest. The higher we are pushing ourselves on these steep slopes covered with dangerous fresh snow the more new mountains with fantastic whipped cream compositions are emerging.

These steep ice- and rock ramps will and will not end. For hours we are climbing on fixed ropes which we have attached to rock pitons to make this difficult pitch easier for our porters, the heavy rucksacks threaten to draw us into the abyss. We are balancing on the edges of vertical precipices which are falling off to the glacier a thousand metre below us. Again and again we are threatened by the danger of a slip into eternity, to loose balance when the soft snow is giving way under our feet and we are sinking in it to our knees, sometimes to our waists. Surrounding us we are noticing numerous strange tracks, avalanche tracks - or maybe the tracks of the mysterious abominable snowman? Who knows? Just here in this remote world at the Tibetan border we had a strange contact with the "yetih miteh" as the Sherpas are calling this odd manlike creature.

We are aware of the danger of the whole snow slope slipping downwards on which we are moving. But all this is scarcely touching us, the effort in more than 6000 m altitude is too grave. The ice is repeatedly the last point of fixing ourselves. The crampons don’t help because the wet snow is too soft.

Seldom do I still have the energy to get my camera out of the rucksack. The pictures of the fantastic mountain world around us are imprinting themselves into my mind. In any case the photos do not reproduce the full truth, the horrible deepness, the fear for the abyss. Not only the dimension of space but the further dimension of the effort, of the climbing is lacking in my photos. It is again and again remarkable as to which extend high altitude is reducing energy. Normally I am an enthusiastic photographer and a good photo which I missed out is making me sick and putting me in a bad temper. Here I am neglecting the most beautiful mountain photo subjects on earth. It is this paralysing high altitude laziness which leads W Tilman to say, "the most frequent of all mountain diseases is the inexplicable reluctance of the mountaineer to set one foot before the other." Climbing up one rope length after the other new peaks are making their appearance like Makalu 2 or Kangchungtse, Chomo Loenzo, Chago, Shartse and many huge peaks in Tibet which I am not able to identify.

Khumbu.AmphuLaptsa3.jpg (69469 bytes)

Rest during the Climb to the Top of Amphu Laptsa
Photo: Copyright: Klaus Dierks

Khumbu.AmphuLaptsa4.jpg (66011 bytes)

Our Sherpa-Sirdar DawaThondup during the Climb to Amphu Laptsa with Lhotse/Everest Group in the Background
Photo: Copyright: Klaus Dierks

Khumbu.Amphulaptsa6.jpg (79336 bytes)

Amphu Laptsa with Baruntse in the Background
Photo: Copyright: Klaus Dierks

Some time or other all sweating is coming to an end. After a last difficult rock pitch across a ice covered cliff and a short step-cutting effort into an almost vertical icewall, the last drop in the bucket of exhaustion, we cannot climb higher, we have reached the top.

Our Sherpas are crying their very old mantra: "Cha gyal lho - the gods have overcome" into the piercing high altitude gale force wind and sacrificing some tsampa to them. I erect a small cairn and hide below it my first and last full tin of Windhoek Lagerbier. May this sacrifice be accepted favourably by the Tibetan gods.

From here we have new views into the wild, deserted Hongu which are beggaring description. We see an ocean of unclimbed, unnamed, unsurveyed peaks between 6000 and 7000 m in altitude. We see the 7200 m high Chamlang, the nearly 6500 m high Mera Peak, the West Col with its maliciously looking icewalls and some frozen lakes deep below us.

Hongu.Amphulaptsa1.jpg (46732 bytes)

The Author on Top of Amphu Laptsa with the View into the Hongu
Photo: Copyright: Klaus Dierks

The descent is against our hopes extremely difficult. On the southern side of Amphu Laptsa we have to climb down through some icefalls which are superimposed one upon another. Under a state of total exhaustion we have to abseil for some three hundred metres. Repeatedly we are using our back parts as mode of transport and the ice axe as brakes like our Sherpas are glissading down. Stylish mountaineering exists quite rarely in the Himalayas. In this surrounding the style will be determined by nature. The Tibetan mountain gods Himachal and Tseringma are deciding whether we are allowed to be successful or not.

Hongu.Amphulaptsa2.jpg (37617 bytes)Hongu.Amphulaptsa3.jpg (48540 bytes)Hongu.Amphulaptsa4.jpg (57958 bytes)Hongu.Amphulaptsa5.jpg (37934 bytes)

Descent from the Amphu Laptsa through the Icefall into the Hongu
Photos: Copyright: Klaus Dierks

Hongu.AmphuLaptsa6.jpg (59366 bytes)

View from the Amphu Laptsa Icefall to the Amai Dablam from the East
Photo: Copyright: Klaus Dierks

Hongu.AmphuLaptsa7.jpg (46116 bytes)

Bruce Campbell-Watt in the Amphu Laptsa Icefall
Photo: Copyright: Klaus Dierks

At the edge of the approximately 5400 m high and permanently frozen glacier lake Panch Pokhari we erect our camp. Tents will be set up, sleeping bags will be hung into the sun for drying, a mini - mini - washing celebrated if some water is available, the primus stove put into operation - the typical life in a high altitude camp in the Himalayas. Our existence consists of labourious mountaineering, a sequence of states of exhaustion, the reluctant consumption of often unpalatable stuff which common sense is dictating and which the not very diversified Sherpa cuisine is catering for and the forced drinking of as many fluids as possible which is again necessitated by the acclimatisation to high altitudes. The human body tries to balance the decreasing partial oxygen pressure with the increasing production of red blood corpuscles. This process causes the blood to thicken and consequently the blood circulation of the extremities to be reduced. Because of this the danger of frostbite increases dramatically and frostbite of fingers and feet is possible with quite moderate freezing temperatures. Therefore the body must take in large quantities of fluids, at least five litres per day. Even if one has no thirst in these high altitudes one must force in the Tibetan butter tea as energy- and heat contributor. For these vital reasons the colour and quantity of urine should be controlled continuously.

Hongu.PanchPokhari.jpg (56298 bytes)

Camp at an Altitude of 5 400 m at the Panch Pokhari at the southern Base of Amphu Laptsa in the Hongu
Photo: Copyright: Klaus Dierks

Body care during a Himalaya expedition is rather neglected. Apart from ice covered lakes and ice cold glacier streams there is no washing facilities whatsoever available. The high altitude and the low temperatures are the cause that one does not get out of one’s clothes for several weeks. Basically this lacking hygiene doesn’t represent any problem and due to the non-perspiring temperatures and very dry atmosphere this is not contributing to any limit experiences.

Hongu.BaruntseGletscher3.jpg (78792 bytes)Hongu.BaruntseGletscher2.jpg (61131 bytes)Hongu.BaruntseGletscher4.jpg (68689 bytes)

On the Baruntse Glacier to the West Col with the  Baruntse South Face in the Background
Photos: Copyright: Klaus Dierks

Hongu.Baruntse.jpg (66901 bytes)

Baruntse
Photo: Copyright: Klaus Dierks

The next difficult section is the crossing of the two mountain ranges West- and Sherpani Col. These two glaciated passes are nearly 6500 m high. Between them a glacier basin is located which is in itself more than 6000 m high. With the eventual successful traverse of the Sherpani Col we are carrying the key to the Makalu base camp in our hands. Unfortunately the snow goddess of the Himalayas, Himachal, is thwarting our plans. Due to the grave high altitude disease of my friend Bruce Campbell Watt from Harare in Zimbabwe we have to abandon our original plan to go to Makalu and we have to retreat as quickly as possible into lower altitude regions. This is the one and only rescue attempt for us. Even a diarrhoea or small gastric disorder makes high altitude mountaineering an incalculable risk. The next doctor could be reached after four travelling days. Between us and him the Amphu Laptsa is towering. This possibility must consequently be ruled out. Unfortunately we haven’t got any oxygen which could be of assistance in case of pulmonary edema. We have come to the conclusion, wrongly as has been proved here at the foot of the West Col, that one is at best relying on his own physical strength whereas oxygen is deceiving us with a wrong feeling of safety.

Hongu.Westcol1.jpg (74009 bytes)

Our Camp at the Base of theWest Col
Photo: Copyright: Klaus Dierks

Before we abandon the West Col base camp in an altitude of 5600 m my two Sherpas Dawa Thondup and Ang Tschumbi as well as myself are making an attempt to climb the West Col. The tremendous icy upward swings south of the mighty Baruntse do not look very inviting from base camp. First at all we have to cross the icefall of the Hongu glacier to reach the West Col glacier which is gradually soaring up to a steep ice cliff which is looking like the edge of a soup tureen.

During a pretentious ice tour we reach the highest point of the West Col with its 6350 m during perfect clear weather and a roaring strong high altitude gale. The view to the west to Gaurisankar, Melungtse and Cho Oyu are indescribably beautiful. Before we climb into the approximately 70 degrees sloped ice ramp we have to cross al together four times a bergschrund which is falling into bottomless, blueish-black depths by means of a dubious and fragile looking ice bridge. With normal belay techniques like ropes this traversing would be a routine mountaineering manouevre. For reasons which never have become clear to me we haven’t taken a rope along. In the thin high air one’s intellectual power is apparently considerably reduced. This is the only explainable reason that we are starting to attack the ice walls of the West Col without being roped.

In my case the "Hallelujah stage" has been so far advanced that I am offering to my two Sherpas one hundred Nepalese Rupees each, these are approximately six US Dollars, when we do climb West Col without rope and only equipped with ice axe and crampons.

In this perilous way, fastened with the frontal points of our crampons in the almost vertical ice wall, we are reaching the highest point.

Here, on the top, the ice cold gale is roaring like a hundred simultaneously running and slowing down express trains in a diabolical crescendo. During taking a photograph I am feeling that both my hands are beginning to become numb and frostbitten. Whilst massaging them I am feeling a pain in my fingers. During climbing on the ice ramp my hands come again and again into contact with ice and snow. Some days ago during climbing Amphu Laptsa we negotiated the fixed ropes without jumars which our expedition were unfortunately lacking. Most probably my fingers got initially frostbitten there. Repeatedly I have drawn off my gloves to take photographs. The paralysing cold and the raging gale with more than a hundred kilometres per hour is doing the rest, the more so as the circulation of the blood is not any more warranted due to the increased production of red blood corpuscles. I try to give the numb fingers a massage, to warm them at my body but the pain will not disappear. The Sherpas notice, fortunately, my misery. Dawa Thondup is saving my hands by warming them up at the warmest parts of his body and by urinating upon them. My hands are looking pale, frozen, swollen. I have a premonition in this moment that I will not have the full usage of my hands anymore. I too realize that everything we have experienced is worth the suffering. Pain and desperation cast a shadow over the difficult descent. Cautiously holding me with their hands and supporting with their ice axes the Sherpas are guiding me across the many crevasses. Because hard ice sections are changing with deep soft snow they have to put my crampons on and off which represents a torture for all participants.

The sudden gale which comes roaring from the north-west flattens us against some rock outcrops in the ice wall. The force almost threatens to tore us from the mountain. The ice pins are slamming with express train force into our faces. It is a difficult descent. But I am experiencing too the security and friendship of my Sherpas, the bridge between the European and Asiatic which is all of a sudden forming. It is Dawa Thondup who performs here his great deed. We are reaching the icefall tired an exhausted. During its crossing Ang Tschumbi is belaying with his ice axe.

Hongu.Westcol2.jpg (46758 bytes)

The West Col: View to the East into the Direction of Makalu
Photo: Copyright: Klaus Dierks

Hongu.WestCol3.jpg (47950 bytes)

West Col: View to the South
Photo: Copyright: Klaus Dierks

In the camp we find the seriously ill Bruce Campbell Watt, from whom we have thought in the morning that he would need a rest-day only. The West Col had demanded its price. Has it been worthwhile? This question has never arisen in view of the giant peaks. The answer has not been found neither here nor at home.

The retreat from the West Col into the Hongu is a descent of broken men.

Hongu.WestCol4.jpg (63137 bytes)

View back to the West Col
Photo: Copyright: Klaus Dierks

The Hongu is one of the least accessible and completely deserted wilderness areas in the Himalayas. Due to this seclusion no yak pastures are existing here like they do in all other regions of the high Himalayas below 5000 m. The only possible accesses to this wilderness are four difficult and glaciated mountain ranges which are all above 6000 m in altitude, the Mingbo La in the north-west the Amphu Laptsa in the north, the West Col in the north-east and the Mera La in the south-west. It is not possible to follow the course of the river Hongu Drangka because the Hongu river is losing itself in a chaotic system of vertical, several thousand metres deep gorges, a truly vertical landscape which even scared the Sherpas away from any settlement.

Hongu.HonguTengGletscher.jpg (62970 bytes)

Hongu Teng Glacier: In the Background the Lhotse/Everest Group north of the Amphu Laptsa Range
Photo: Copyright: Klaus Dierks

Hongu.HonguNupGletscher.jpg (63336 bytes)

Camp on the Hongu Nup Glacier
Photo: Copyright: Klaus Dierks

We need five full days for the descent from the 6350 m altitude at West Col to the deepest accessible location in the Hongu at 4700 m altitude, at the foot of the Mera La.

Hongu.Chamlang.jpg (53902 bytes)

Hongu Valley with the 7 200 m high Chamlang in the East
Photo: Copyright: Klaus Dierks

Hongu.HinkuHimal2.jpg (77745 bytes)

Hongu Valley with the Hinku Himal in the West
Photo: Copyright: Klaus Dierks

The ascent with the ill Bruce Campbell Watt to the 5420 m high Mera La during a blizzard, fog and paralysing cold is bringing us to the very verge of our strength. Struggling in soft deep snow we are reaching our stormy cold location of the Mera La base camp. Before this our Sherpa guides have repeatedly lost their direction. By losing the way in the thick fog the danger is imminent that we are slipping down into the abyss of the icefalls and glaciers surrounding our camp from all directions. We find ourselves here in the first Himalaya mountain range which is fully exposed to the tropical monsoon storms and has consequently the most fantastically formed ice- and glacier formations.

Hongu.Mera1.jpg (35574 bytes)

Mera La with Mera Peak in the Background
Photo: Copyright: Klaus Dierks

Hongu.Mera3.jpg (67650 bytes)Hongu.Mera2.jpg (40070 bytes)

Mera La with Hinku Himal and Chamlang in the Background
Photos: Copyright: Klaus Dierks

Bruce Campbell Watt, the porters and the Chief-Sherpa Dawa Thondup are staying for one night only. Next morning they are descending to the west into the Hinku valley. I am staying behind with Ang Tschumbi to climb the Mera Peak with its approximately 6500 m altitude. Ir is said that the Mera is technically not a difficult peak, and a long glacier is leading gradually to the summit ice pyramid. In the Himalayas under high altitude conditions even an easy route is always difficult. Because we haven’t got porters and additional equipment anymore which have been sent down with the main expedition already, we cannot provide one or two intermediate camps and we have to do the ascent and descent in one trip. For 1300 m altitude difference to the peak we have to climb up and down in one day which is not at all an easy task. The bad weather conditions in this year and the daily expected and feared begin of the monsoon make the ascent of the Mera an undertaking which is difficult to judge. In the last couple of days blizzards and dense fog have already started with malicious regularity at 10 o’clock in the morning. In spite of this I am not prepared to let this last possibility pass of an ascent to a high peak during our expedition 1982.

During full moonlight and all paralysing cold at four o’clock in the morning we climb into the icefall. The ghostly blueish moonlight creates a total unreal icy atmosphere. The bizarre ragged ice formations project surrealistic phantoms onto the glittering fresh snow surfaces which have solidified due to deep frost. The silence here is absolute. One is getting the feeling that we are the first human beings here who are breaking this eternal silence with our steps crunching in the snow.

At this early hour the odds are with us because the deep freezing is preserving everything like avalanched and crevasses. The wide and many hundred metres deep bergschrund at the foot of the icefall can be crossed with sufficient safety on snow bridges which now have increased bearing capability. The slight depressions in the soft snow which are indicating underlying unfathomable crevasses are well visible in the clear moonlight. Ang Tschumbi and myself are relieving one another with step cutting in the steep ice slopes which are leading to the great Mera glacier. Later we are relieving one another in making tracks in the deep soft snow which is quite an effort.

As soon as the sun with red-yellow cascades of sparks is beaming its luminous rays into the still blueish-dark space-sky, we have already walked far on the long glacier which is gradually ascending to the steeply rearing summit of the Mera. Surrounding us the innumerable, mostly nameless ice peaks of the eastern Himalayas are rising up in crystal-like beauty. These countless ice giants between more than 600 m and nearly 9000 m are surging like ocean waves in succession against the summit of Mera which we are labouriously approaching. We are moving onwards ropelength for ropelength and are crossing many bottomless crevasses. Later in the morning the icy altitude gale is increasing in strength but the sky which we are approaching more and more and the mountains around us are still clear. Very far in the east near Kangchendzoenga at the boundary between Nepal and Sikkim the first cloud formations are threatening which are quickly soaring through the valleys into our direction. The higher we are climbing into the ice walls of the Mera the more new peaks are making their appearance. It seems that we are moving on the same altitude than Nuptse with its nearly 8000 m. A little bit later we see the summits of five peaks of more than 800 m altitude each surrounding us, from Cho Oyu in the north-west via Mount Everest and Lhotse direct in the north to Makalu in the north-east and to the towering Kangchendzoenga, with its 8598 m altitude the third highest mountain on earth, some distance to the east.

The ascent on the last metres to the summit which we reach at 11 o’clock demands tremendous strength. Although it is still very clear the roaring gale coupled with piercing cold as well as snow which has been softened by the sun is sapping the last bit of energy. I am so exhausted that I can hardly speak. Everything is becoming indifferent. The effort, the heavy breathing is overpowering. But the top, the summit, is causing that all exertion and danger sink into oblivion. The first feeling on the summit is that of a tremendous and total, exhausted nothingness, as if one is not oneself anymore. The second feeling is that of a tremendous relief that we do not have to climb up-hill anymore but only dawn-hill. The ecstatic delight, happiness and even pride comes to the surface many days, even weeks later.

We are only stopping for a short-while on the summit because the snow-carrying monsoon clouds are approaching from the south-east with terrifying speed. For me personally the Mera is the climax of this difficult expedition, the most beautiful view I have ever seen in the Himalayas.

Hongu.Mera4.jpg (42185 bytes)Hongu.ChomoLungma.jpg (55068 bytes)

On Top of Mera Peak 6 461 m with Lhotse/Everest Group in the Background
Photos: Copyright: Klaus Dierks

But heaven and hell are closely together in the Himalayas. The euphoric "Hallelujah stage" can quickly take a unfavourable turn to depressing even to indecisive apathy which can lead to death. On our way back from the Mera, still overpowered with what we have experienced we are descending recklessly that is without being roped together. It is again this not explainable thoughtlessness which misleads us to an action which each serious-minded mountaineer will reject. It is a basic rule of safety to move roped to one another across a not well known and well explored glacier. This is so much more valid for the hazardous fresh snow condition we experience here at the Mera ans which are covering up most of the crevasses of the glacier.

We are of the opinion that the descent is easy and the worst lies already behind us and we are moving down with euphoric carelessness. The situation is pre-programmed and everything happens as it must happen and it arrives quite abruptly and without prior warning.

Ang Tschumbis moving in our own track which we have stepped during our descent and which is still visible approximately one metre in front of me. In the fraction of a second the snow surface is opening and Ang has disappeared into a crevasse.

I am standing paralysed with fright, not able to comprehend what has just happened to us. An instant later I hear out of the depth a suppressed whimper and after this the roaring of the gale only. In the first state of panic the most frightful thoughts are flashing through my mind: "Captured in the crevasse; dead; we haven’t got a chance anymore; Ang Tschumbi has got the rope; if after all he is still alive, I will not be able to rescue him; most probably he is hurt; if Ang Tschumbi is dead then I will die some hours later because in this case I am completely alone here in an altitude of nearly 7000 m; without outside help I cannot rescue myself; if we will be saved than I will give up mountaineering - prayers, undertakings and promises to god."

These flashes of thought have taken only fractions of a second for sure and then I become calm and relaxed.

A spine-chilling, terrible time unit later I am groping my way to the crevasse and I am looking enveloped in icy fear into the frightening, blueish-green bottomless depth of the crevasse. There I see to my boundless relief as if the hugest mountain on earth has been removed from my heart, Ang Tschumbi. He is alive and he cowers in approximately ten metres depth and utters a not defined sound of terror. In spite of our desperate situation, Ang Tschumbi has got the luck of this life. He has fallen onto a fragile looking ice bridge which spans like air regular arch of glass between the slippery ice walls of the crevasse. Because the crevasse is tapering to the top he is in spite of the crampons at his feet not able to climb out on his own and consequently to free himself from his icy prison. Ang Tschumbi has got the rope and I must try to get hold of it. I cannot remember anymore how long we are struggling until we succeed an I have one rope-end in my hands. After securing myself I can rescue poor Ang Tschumbi out of his icy hell.

For the moment we are safe but enough dangers and strenuous efforts are lying ahead of us. In the mean time, however, the weather has worsened and a dense monsoon fog whirling with snow has developed in such a manner that we cannot see further than five metres. The descent across the crevasses-rich glacier is just one gloomy horror trip. The crevasses are there but we cannot see them anymore. The fear of these invisible crevasses does not cease before we are reaching the icefall. Here too we don’t see anything and we are staggering down exhausted to our limits.

The gods of the Himalayas are showing to us that one may not play with these giant mountains. They cannot be overcome and are always stronger than ourselves. Maybe we have overplayed our hand and are now expelled from the sanctuary.

Hongu.Mera5.jpg (16567 bytes)

View from the Mera La to the East with Kangchendzoenga 8 586 m in the Background
Photo: Copyright: Klaus Dierks

We are reaching our tent which we have left behind at the top of the Mera La, and some days later the world of human beings. This environment here on the top of the world is no world for men.

There, at the bottom of the world, many experiences are beginning to fade away in my memory. Again at home, in Africa, these feelings, emotions and limit experiences cannot be easily repeated.

Only the gods and the winds of the Himalayas really know what we have experienced.

Sikkim.Gangtok.1.jpg (62806 bytes)

The Capital of Sikkim Gangtok in the Year 2000: Trek to Kangchendzoenga South Face
Photo: Copyright: Klaus Dierks

Sikkim.Gangtok.Kangchendzönga.jpg (65051 bytes)

View to the 8 586 m high Kangchendzoenga from Gangtok (from the South East), third highest Peak in the World, in the Year 2000
Photo: Copyright: Klaus Dierks

Sikkim.Rangit.Pemayangtse.jpg (122425 bytes)

The Mountain Forests Sikkim's: View from the South into the Rangit Valley with  the Tashiding Gompa in the Background
Photo: Copyright: Klaus Dierks

Sikkim.Pemayangtse-Yuksom.jpg (93780 bytes)

View from Pemayangtse in western Sikkim to the North to Yuksom: Behind the Clouds is the third highest Peak in the World: Kangchendzoenga
Photo: Copyright: Klaus Dierks

Sikkim.Yuksom.Gompa.jpg (125802 bytes)

The old Sikkim Capital Yuksom is the Point of Exit to reach the South Face of the Kangchendzoenga
Photo: Copyright: Klaus Dierks

Sikkim.Yuksom-Bakhim.1.jpg (134554 bytes)Sikkim.Yuksom-Bakhim.2.jpg (117140 bytes)

In the tropical Mountain Forests on the Access Route to Kangchendzoenga from Yuksom via Bakhim to Dzongri in western Sikkim there are not only many Leeches but also the Black Himalaya Bears
Photos: Copyright: Klaus Dierks

Sikkim.Bakhim.South.jpg (74887 bytes)

Bakhim: View to the South into the Singalila Mountain Range in the Year 2000
Photo: Copyright: Klaus Dierks

Sikkim.Bakhim-Pethang.1.jpg (86126 bytes)Sikkim.Bakhim-Pethang.2.jpg (149564 bytes)Sikkim.Bakhim-Pethang.3.jpg (133759 bytes)Sikkim.Pethang-Thansing.jpg (96035 bytes)Sikkim.Lachung-Yumthang.1.jpg (104697 bytes)

The Mountain Rhododendron in the Forests of Sikkim: Between Bakhim, Pethang and Thansing, south of Kangchendzoenga
Photos: Copyright: Klaus Dierks

Sikkim.Thansing.Pandim.jpg (170816 bytes)

Rhododendron: Between Thansing and Pethang, with the 6 701 m high Pandim in the Background
Photo: Copyright: Klaus Dierks

Sikkim.Dzongri.La.South.jpg (74626 bytes)

From the nearly 5 000 m high Dzongri La: View to the South into the Singalila Mountain Range (Border between Sikkim and Nepal)
Photo: Copyright: Klaus Dierks

Sikkim.Dzongri.La.North-East.jpg (34215 bytes)

Sunrise over Kangchendzoenga from the Dzongri La
Photo: Copyright: Klaus Dierks

Sikkim.Dzongri.La.Kangchendzönga.jpg (83742 bytes)

View from the Dzongri La to the North onto Kangchendzoenga
Photo: Copyright: Klaus Dierks

Sikkim.Dzongri.Pandim.jpg (97989 bytes)

Between Dzongri and Thansing (with Mount Pandim in the Background): during the downward Climb to Thansing I had nearly a nasty Accident when an approaching Yak pushed me over the Edge into the Gorge: a Rododendron Tree stopped the Fall
Photo: Copyright: Klaus Dierks

Sikkim.Onglakhing.Glacier.jpg (138096 bytes)

The Onglakhing Glacier with Kangchendzoenga in the North
Photo: Copyright: Klaus Dierks

Sikkim.Samiti.Kangchendzönga.jpg (120471 bytes)

TheYak Pasture of Samiti with Kangchendzoenga in the Background
Photo: Copyright: Klaus Dierks

Sikkim.Pandim.La.North-East.jpg (68589 bytes)

View from the more than 5 000 m high Pandim La in
Direction Kangchendzoenga after Sunrise

Photo: Copyright: Klaus Dierks

Sikkim.Pandim.La.North.jpg (102839 bytes)

View from the Pandim La to the North
Photo: Copyright: Klaus Dierks

Sikkim.Guicha.La.Guicha.Peak.jpg (135728 bytes)

View from the Guicha La 5 088 m to the Guicha Peak 6 127 m
Photo: Copyright: Klaus Dierks

Sikkim.Guicha.La.Kangchendzönga.1.jpg (150747 bytes)Sikkim.Guicha.La.Kangchendzönga.3.jpg (133677 bytes)Sikkim.Guicha.La.Kangchendzönga.4.jpg (132976 bytes)

View from the Guicha La to the North to the Talung Glacier and the Kangchendzoenga South Face (With Namibian Flag in the Middle Photo)
Photos: Copyright: Klaus Dierks

Sikkim.Guicha.La.Kangchendzönga.2.jpg (121939 bytes)

The Kangchendzoenga South Face
Photo: Copyright: Klaus Dierks

horizontal rule

You can find a "Short History of Buddhism" as an annexure

WB00823_.GIF (134 bytes)   PART 2

Short History of Buddhism

Back to Frontpage