Noshaq
1973

Noshaq 1973

Winter Noshaq summiting is one of the greatest achievements of Polish alpinism in Hindu Kush; it has also opened a new chapter in the international alpinism.

The expedition's aim

The idea to climb Afghan Hindu Kush in winter was born in part from its popularity among Polish mountaineers (Poles climbed it time and again in summer) and in part inspired by adventurous members of Warsaw Mountaineering Club. It was Benon Czechowski who originally came up with the idea, while he was climbing in Tatra. The entire Club was in favour, both members and the board. However, there was one condition - Czechowski had to strengthen the team. This way the expedition was joined by Wojciech Jedliński, Tadeusz Piotrowski and - as a leader - Andrzej Zawada.

Zawada laid down his own condition: the expedition will attack the highest peak of Afghan Hindu Kush - Noshaq (7942 m). From the very beginning, the biggest challenge was that nobody knew what kind of conditions they will face there. Winter brought to mind snow and avalanches - after all, that's how it was in Tatra and Alps. Jerzy Wala, expert on that area, shared this view. When asked by Zawada about winter in Hindu Kush, Wala warned about 12 m snow layer and advised choosing a more realistic aim. Zawada, though, wasn't frightened by that. With Czechowski they decided not to share Wala's opinion with other mountaineers, so that they weren't needlessly stressed. They decided to go and check themselves how it looked like in reality. This way, the expedition turned out to be a classic exploration - they travelled towards the unknown, unaware of the difficulties waiting for them.

Facts

Official name of the expedition:
Winter Noshaq Expedition 7942 m

Expedition's status: central expedition

Route: the first summiters'
(Japanese) route (1960)

Members: 10

Base established: 21 January 1973

Summit reached: 13 February 1973

Members of the expedition

Mountaineers

Andrzej Zawada - leader (45 yrs., KW Warsaw)

Mirosław Budny (KW Warsaw)

Benon Czechowski (31 yrs., KW Warsaw)

Ryszard Dmoch (41 yrs., KW Warsaw)

Marek Fijałkowski (32 yrs., KW Warsaw)

Wojciech Jedliński (27 yrs., KW Łódź)

Jan Koisar - doctor (36 yrs.., KW Gliwice)

Jacek Mierzejewski (32 yrs., KW Warsaw)

Tadeusz Piotrowski (33 yrs., KW Szczecin)

Władysław Leszek Woźniak (KW Warsaw)

The expedition's timeline

Andrzej Zawada (fot. Ryszard Dmoch).

1972

December 26 -
January 17

1973

January 18-21

January 21 - setting up the Base on Put Ghar (3450). After reconnaissance meant to determine weather conditions in the valley and the possibility of travel, the caravan made up of 60 porters reached the Base.

January 22

January 23

January 24-26

January 27

January 28 -
February 3

February 4

February 5-7 - hurricane winds stop T. Piotrowski and A. Zawada for three days in Camp III.

February 10

February 12

February 13 - despite extremely low temperature (-50°C) T. Piotrowski and A. Zawada take the risk, make use of the weather window and successfully attack the summit.

February 13

February 16

March 10

The expedition's result

The winter expedition on seven-thousander Noshaq is seen as the beginning of Polish route to winter eight-thousanders. Sir Edmund Hillary's opinion that during winter people cannot survive above 7000 m was finally disproven by Poles, who have shown that everything is possible. Piotrowski and Zawada became the first to climb 7000 m in winter.

The expedition has been a test of equipment, climbing technique and winter weather conditions in high mountains - it turned out that there's not much snow and low avalanche risk, but instead hurricane winds, short moments of favourable weather and temperatures falling to -50°C.

The expedition was very much a part of exploratory climbing, favoured by Polish mountaineers at that time. The winter summiting of Noshaq added to Polish successes in Hindu Kush (for which Poles were already famous worldwide). It was one of the greatest achievements for Polish mountaineers in the 70s and the beginning of a new era in high altitude climbing.