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1953 Third American Karakoram Expedition
Transcript of 1953 Third American Karakoram Expedition
wonderful achievements in 1938.
American Members: Bob Bates, George Bell, Art
Gilkey, Dee Mohmar, Bob Craig, and Peter
Other Members: Colonel Ata Ullah was nearly 50,but he still climbed with them to Camp 3. The night when Bates and Streather made it to Camp 8 there was a storm that continued with unrelenting ferocity. It continued through the following days.
The morning of August 4, Streather heard
"Help our tent has gone." It turned out that
one of the tents had been torn during the storm causing 8 people to share 3 small tents.The storm continued until the 7th.
"I would be wrong to say that on that day we awoke to a bright morning, for there had been little sleep during the previous days; but the clouds were clearing and the sun was shining although the wind was still blowing strongly."
- H. R. A. Streather
When the men got out of their tents, Art Gilkey complained of pain in one of his legs. He tried to stand with his full weight on it but collapsed in a faint. He was diagnosed with thrombophlebitis by Dr. Houston. "There was nothing else for it—if Art was to have any chance of recovery we must get him down at once." - H. R. A. Streather H. R. A. Streather was a Captain of the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst. He was invited by Dr. Charles Houston to make an attempt on Karakoram, K2, which is the second highest mountain in the world. His job was to be the Transport Officer of the expedition. Streather was granted permission from the British army in order to go on the expedition. They bundled Art in sleeping-bags, wrapped him in the torn tent, and dragged him through the snow.
"Craig and Schoening set out to find an alternative route and reported a steep rock and ice ridge some hundred yards to the south of the snow slope. By this time the weather had again reverted to storm and further movement became impossible that day." - H. R. A. Streather Rescue Journey Losing Hope Days passed, but the storm did not stop. They were suffering from dehydration since they were not able to melt snow. At this point, both of Art's legs were affected and clots of blood had moved to his lungs.
"We wrapped him again in a sleeping-bag and tent and set out, in the raging storm, to get him down by the new route. This was a desperate attempt, but we had no alternative."- H. R. A. Streather The Problems Continue They had just lowered Art over a steep cliff when one of the climbers slipped. They had been climbing in pairs, and in some way their ropes crossed. Five of them were pulled off the steep ice slope. Pete Schoening, who was at the time holding the rope on which they were lowering Art, somehow held them all. Bell had fallen more than 200 feet and everyone else a little less. None were badly hurt, but Houston was unconscious for a time and Bell had badly frozen hands since he lost his gloves in the fall. A Turn For the Worse The ones who were able to made thier way to Camp 7 and managed to erect a tent on the tiny platform there. They then helped the others to the tent. During this time, Art had been left securely anchored on the snow slope by two ice-axes.
The rescue operation took about half an hour. The, the three of them that could still move went back to try and do something Art because they they knew they could not move him, but wanted to make him more comfortable for the night and be able to feed him. Sources: http://www.himalayanclub.org/journal/third-american-karakoram-expedition-1953/ The Catastrophe " At first we could not believe our eyes, but slowly we realized that a small avalanche had come down and taken him away. The surface of the slope was soft and broken. There was no trace of Art or the axes which had anchored him." - H. R. A. Streather The Aftermath Because of the fall, Charlie was delirious and would not keep still when he collapsed unconscious. He had cracked some ribs and his chest was paining him terribly. George Bell had frozen hands and feet. All of them had some degree of frost-bite, and Pete was exhausted from holding them up.
It took them four days to reach camp 2. The next morning they made it to Base Camp. The morning after that they held a short memorial service for Art before splitting at Askale. "Had we not been such a closely knit team it is doubtful that we would have survived."- H. R. A. Streather