Bullock and Cool: A successful failure

© Nick Bullock
A "nasty fluted overhung snowy grave" thwarted British alpinists Nick Bullock and Kenton Cool on their attempt to climb the North Face of Kalanka (6,931 m) in the Garhwal region of India. Bullock said on confronting this feature, "I have no idea how to climb this."

Five times Everest summiteer Kenton Cool writes (21.09.07),

"I'm sitting in Joshimath with Nick thinking over what may have been.

I suppose it is hard to ask for success all the time but its always disappointing when it's not the way you dream. Nick and I spent five days trying the NE ridge line on Kalanka. We started climbing the initial slopes on the 11th and moved up through the first rock band with some steep climbing. Our first bivy was small and the weather snowy with spindrift coming pouring down the face. Still the next day looked good and we pushed on.

The climbing was much the same and the next bivy was tiny, and although the weather was better we still had the spindrift and the night went by very slowly. The third day saw us bail out to the ridge on the left hand side where deep snow made going up very slow BUT at last a good bivy spot. We stopped early and dug a huge ledge, melted snow and generally recovered. It was great and things were looking up.

Day four saw me work up bottomless snow to the shoulder. The view didn't look good but Nick pressed on hoping for a nice surprise. When Nick stopped in front of a huge snow mushroom and said, "I have no idea how to climb this," it sunk in. The ridge ahead was a nasty fluted overhung snowy grave. We looked at each other and said nothing.

The next day and a half saw us escape back to ABC (advance base camp). The last night on the face was a nightmare. Spindrift pummeled us both all night making cooking almost impossible and sleep a joke. Stepping foot back on the glacier was a relief but then it hit. Failure is a nasty word but one that has to be used sometimes and I suppose it fits for this. We had time left to try another route but this was the route we wanted, we dreamed off and now that dream was shattered.

We spent two days at base camp before leaving. The Dutch boys went back up and should be climbing now and we wish them luck, but for us well we're thinking of home and what may have been.

Thanks to all those who have helped out on this trip to make it possible: DMM, Mountain Hardwear, Lyon Equipment, SIS energy products, the British Mountaineering Council and the Mount Everest Foundation."

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