This feature of the face, a steep 200 meter ice gully, was located in the first 1000 meters of the wall. The gully gave us rapid but extremely dangerous access to the vertical and overhanging rock wall above. This gully, through which we had to carry on our backs all of the equipment for the upper 2500 meters of the face, became the single most dangerous section of the route. Each of us made numerous, sobering passes, either up or down, through this frightening couloir during our climb in 1983.
Climbing and placing fixed ropes on the 200 meter vertical rock wall was the technical crux of the route. This rock face was climbed by the 1981 expedition and fixed with rope at the time. Our 1983 expedition, consisting of some of the same members, utilized the old fixed lines to facilitate climibing this immensely difficult section very rapidly in 1983. Nevertheless, the exposure, difficulty and steepness was remarkable on such a huge route.
Pinsetter Camp was located at the upper reaches of the Bowling Alley. Using a system of low friction marine pulleys to separate a 400 meter loop of line, we hoisted loads from our tiny Pinsetter Camp to the top of the vertical rock wall by dropping large haul bags of snow from above, connected to one line, while counterbalanced loads of equipement were attached in Pinsetter to the other line moving in the opposite direction up the wall.
Once our loads reached the top of the rock wall, we shouldered them again and brought them up to the relative safety of our Helmet Camp at 6400 meters. This became a staging point from which we could evaluate and initiate climbing the remaining 2000 meters of the East Face.
The slopes above Helmet Camp was the high point of the 1981 attempt. With route finding through initial crevasses and avalanche conditions a constant concern, we felt a race with snow conditions and the weather the moment we arrived there. We didn't lose much time climbing and establishing three more small camps above the Helmet.
Working quickly to find a route through the upper slopes became an obsession. We had good conditions and believed that the next storm might make our progress impossible.
We felt the pressure of completing the face during our ascent to the summit on October 8. Each of us made the individual decision to utilize Oxygen on the final day. So much energy and work had gone into the attempt! Such risk had been endured by the team! When the first summit attempt was quashed with the illness of one member, we three (Lou Reichardt, Kim Momb and myself) felt a sense of incredible responsibility to make no mistakes. I believe this feeling overshadowed any thought of challenging ourselves to make an oxygen free ascent.
I scribbled the names of my University, "Huxley College" and my most endearing mountain club, the "Peña Guara", on a strips of nylon and took them out on the summit. Removing my O2 mask was not a problem as I had limited my intake to 2L/min while breaking trail and 1L/min while following in the footsteps of my parnters. It was a gorgeous October day. Tragedy struck other teams on the mountain that day: three of six climbers from two Japanese Teams perished on October 8. Fortunately, we remained safe.
After the summit and descent, our team's faces communicate the effort we put into the climb. We felt incredibly lucky to have completed the climb and returned safely to the base of the Kangshung Face.
Huge avalanches tore down the Kangshung Face on both sides of the butress that we climbed on.
Lou Reichardt at Pinsetter Camp (6000 meters). Our perch was aptly located at the top of the Bowling Alley, a very dangerous and rock fall threatened ice gully that led up to the base of the 200 meter vertical and overhanging headwall.
I am holding a 48 star American Flag on the summit of Everest, a historic flag that had seen the summits of many American efforts. It was amazingly calm on our summit day; the kind of day one dreams of when topping out on a Himalayan giant.