Brendan Murphy was tragically killed in an avalanche while descending Changabang (6,864m) on 3rd June. Two days previously Brendan had reached the summit having just made the first ascent of the steep and difficult North Face. Brendan had attempted the North Face the previous summer and was a member of a team of six, all climbing Alpine style. The expedition had arrived at Base Camp on 10th May and although had fine mornings, experienced unusually low temperatures with snowfall literally every day of the expedition. Brendan was climbing with Andy Cave who suffered frostbite to his right thumb during the descent; the pair commenced their ascent of the 1,600m wall of superb granite and ice on 23rd May. Following on 25th May by the same ascent route, Mick Fowler and Steve Sustad reached the summit ridge on the day Murphy and Cave reached the summit. On reaching the ridge Steve Sustad slipped on badly balled-up crampons and the pair fell 200ft luckily landing on perhaps the only flat spot on the south side of the ridge. Sustad sustained chest injuries and the four climbers teamed up to descend by the Normal Route on the south side of Changabang.
The avalanche occurred at around 6,000m while Brendan was setting up an abseil from a glacial Changabang shelf. An avalanche swept down from the face of Kalanka hitting Murphy and narrowly missing the others. Meanwhile, on the same day as the accident, Julie-Ann Clyma and Roger Payne who had started the North Face by a different line on 26th May were trapped in their bivouac tent on the upper icefield, with avalanches pouring over the top of the tent. They had decided not to start the final groove on the face without some improvement in the weather, and spent five nights on the icefield battling with conditions and a faulty stove before abseiling back down the North Face.
Roger Payne said: "This is a tragic and terrible outcome, and our sympathies go to Brendan's family and other friends who will dearly miss him. Brendan was a great friend and a safe and accomplished climber. After two summers on Changabang and some superb climbing this is the worst possible end to what would have been a great adventure." Mick Fowler said: "This expedition was the hardest work and climbing I have ever undertaken in the Himalaya. It was a brilliant climb but a tragic end to what was otherwise a highly enjoyable trip." The avalanche swept Brendan at least 500m down the couloir to an area of avalanche debris accumulation. It was not possible to either locate or recover his body. The expedition left Base Camp on 8th June.