Everest second step - 1985 summiteer Ang Karma Sherpa: Misunderstanding between Miss Hawley and Shambu

Posted: Jul 09, 2007 03:06 pm EDT

(MountEverest.net) An unexpected witness has popped up in support of Oscar Cadiachs claim on Everests Second Step free-climb.

Liz spoke to Shambu - and so did Ang Karma

"The Chinese ladder (on Everests Second Step) and fixed ropes were certainly used by Cadiach and his teammates in 1985 I've just spoken with one of them, Shambu Tamang, and he confirms this, Elizabeth Hawley told ExWeb in relation to Altitude Everest's world-wide claim to have been the first to free climb the section.

Yet Shambus statements may have been misinterpreted, according to Ang Karma Sherpa, owner of Windhorse Trekking outfitter in Kathmandu. Ang Karma is Shambus personal friend and, moreover, one of the three Nepalese climbers who stood on the top of Everest together with Cadiachs team back on Aug. 28, 1985.

Oscar: "They couldn't see much"

Liz never checked with Oscar who told ExWeb after reading her statements: There is no way Shambu said I used the ladder to ascend, because it would have been absurd that ladder didn't go anywhere! What I did and maybe thats where Shambu's mistake lies was to pass a ribbon and a carabiner on one of the tracks, in order to set a safety point for my rope. "

In addition, as I climbed the Step Shambu was belaying me from the cave right below, and he could not see me well unless he stepped back and peered up, Oscar added. Anyway, we have been in touch since then, and he has never discussed such details with me, and I cant believe he has such short memory.

Ang Karma: "We couldn't see much"

Ang Karma agrees:

Being one of the summiteers on Oscar Cadiachs Everest climb, I read you story Oscar Cadiach's Everest 1985: About true goals, false accusations and short memories with great interest, Ang Karma wrote to ExplorersWeb last week. In this regard, I would like to add the following information, which relates to my own memory from the summit day on Aug. 28, 1985 and recent information obtained in conversation with Shambu Tamang.

On that early morning of Aug. 28, six of us (3 Catalans and 3 of us Nepalese) started from the final camp at 8,450m before dawn for the summit attempt. Shambu and I took turns breaking the trail through knee-deep snow to the foot of Second Step, Ang Karma reports. Arriving near the Second Step, Oscar Cadiach took the lead to check/fix the route on the Second Step. Naraya Shrestha, Shambu and I waited at the foot of the step with Shambu belaying the rope for Oscar.

As Oscar climbed up, he soon disappeared in the gully, and from the spot where we were waiting, we couldn't see much and had no idea what went on. Later when the rope was fixed, Shambu climbed up first and with a few minutes interval Narayan and I followed him. The other two Catalan climbers (Carles Vales and Toni Sors) hadn't yet caught up with us.

Communication error

We climbed up the fixed line for about 30 to 40 meters before arriving at the section where I found the ladder hanging by the fixed line at the very top of the Second Step, Ang Karma said.

Shambu had already climbed up through the Second Step when I arrived at the ladder point. I presumed the ladder had been there all along, and Oscar had only fixed the line that we had clipped for safety. When I took my turn on the ladder, I found it hard to keep my balance and this made me hang tight on the fix line. I felt without the fix line just the ladder wouldnt have offered much help!

Now in regard to Miss Hawley's reporting Shambu Tamang's confirmation of Oscar Cadiach using the Chinese ladder in your story, it seems there may have been some communication error in that telephone conversation between Miss Hawley and Shambu.

Shambu only told Miss Hawley about helping Oscar to set up the ladder for others to use it

After I read your story, I called Shambu Tamang to check if he really had said what was quoted in the story, Ang Karma said. Shambu's version in Nepali (language) is that he told Miss Hawley only about helping Oscar to set up the ladder for others to use it. When Shambu reached the ladder point Oscar was already up above the Second Step. Shambu didn't know how Oscar climbed through that section and he never bothered to ask Oscar about it.

"So when Oscar says "There is no way Shambu said I used the ladder," this seems to be the truth.

Were Conrad Anker and Leo Houlding "the first people to free climb the famous North East Ridge of Everest?" No, according to ExWeb interviews with experts over the last few weeks.

Even before Anker and Co. topped out, a number of reports also pointed toward climbers who had free-climbed Everests Second Step before Oscar Cadiach, in 1985, and Theo Fritsche, in 2001. Recently, Russian Climb reported as well that Nickolay Totmjanin also free-climbed the Second Step in 2003 in order to avoid the crowds waiting at the ropes. Like Theo and Oscar, Nickolay climbed without O2.

Ang Karma Sherpa, 47, studied law at Kathmandu's Tribhuwan University and later journalism at the Stephen Gheorghe Acacemy in Bucharest, Romania. Ang Karma was the first Sherpa to summit Everest from the Tibet side in 1985 and now runs the Kathmandu-based outfitter Windhorse Treks.


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As Oscar climbed up, he soon disappeared in the gully, and from the spot where we were waiting, we couldn't see much and had no idea what went on, Ang Karma said. Images of Ang Karma and Everest's summit ridge courtesy of Windhorse Trek (click to enlarge).

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