On August 11, 1975 Phil Trimble, Frank Morgan, Dan Emmett, Bruce Carson, Hans Bruyntjes, and I assembled in New Delhi to attempt Trisul (23,400 feet). Early the next morning, Bruce and I headed towards the city's hot, teeming bazaars, where we found everything we still needed for our climb.
We managed to get ourselves and all our gear into three overloaded taxis.
Our bus stopped at a bend in the road below Lata, where we would hire porters and begin our trek. The only place level enough to pitch our tents was on the side of the road.
For two days, we sat in the gutter discussing the details of hiring porters, a face-off between East and West, each with irrefutable logic on its side. Finally we found a compromise.
The first day's trek, directly up 4,500 feet of a sticky mud trail, was exhausting but memorable for the luxuriant, knee-deep wildflowers.
In 1906, Fanny Bullock Workman and her husband, Hunter Workman, climbed in the Indian Himalaya. Fanny set a world altitude record for women on the 22,810-foot summit of Pinnacle Peak.
Fanny recorded her adventures for the benefit of women who had not yet ascended to altitudes above 16,000 feet, but are thinking of attempting to do so.
For two days we traversed slippery grass and rocks...
above the spectacular gorge of the Rishi Khola.
Bruce Carson, nicknamed "Mr. Solo Ecological," pioneered hammerless climbs in Yosemite Valley, such as his solo ascent of the west face of Sentinel Rock.
The venerable Nanda Devi, the highest peak in the Indian Himalaya, dominated our view.
The porters had told us stories of "buried treasure" left here by a previous German party. A morning's digging yielded 87 used butane fuel cartridges and a mountain of trash.
Our days evolved into a predictable routine of carrying loads up the mountain and establishing camps.
The sun reflected off the snow surface and the water droplets in the air, creating an enormous reflecting oven in which we were roasted to perfection.
Bruce, who was taking antibiotics for an ear infection, nonetheless whistled his way up the mountain.
Most afternoons, the mists came in obscuring the majesty of the peaks around us.
Bruce told me it was: "Al-ways saf-er to be rop-ed." As we trudged on, his words became my mantra.
A mantra that if heeded would have changed everything.
I took a photo of Bruce with his bright orange parka glowing in the dawn light.
At 6:30 AM Bruce led off toward the summit with Phil, Frank, and Dan.
Hans and I left later and discovered we'd forgotten our lunch. There seemed no hurry, so Hans went back to get it.
As Hans and I neared the top an hour later, Dan yelled down to us, his words as shocking and unexpected as a gunshot. "Hurry up, we think Bruce is lost!"
I looked at Bruce footsteps leading to the broken edge. It was too horrifying to believe. In the mist, Bruce had stepped on an overhanging cornice, thinking he was walking on solid snow
And then a snowstorm blew in. Hoping that Bruce had miraculously survived, I went out calling his name. When I lost sight of our Camp, I returned, disconsolate.
The south face of Trisul showing the enormous cornices extending out from the summit. According to Tom Longstaff who made the first ascent, "The summit of Trisul is in form like the two humps of a Bactrian camel with an astounding southern precipice."