Himalayan Journal vol.24
The Himalayan Journal
Vol.24

Publication year:
1963

Editor:
Dr K. Biswas
Index
  1. EDITORIAL
  2. THE ASCENT OF JANNU
    (Pierre Leroux)
  3. ASCENT OF NUPCHU
    (SASUKE NAKAO)
  4. EVEREST; 1962
    (SUMA.N DUBEY)
  5. TRANSPORT AND SHERPAS ON MOUNT EVEREST, 1963
    (J. O. M. ROBERTS)
  6. PUMORI -THE DAUGHTER MOUNTAIN (23,442 FEET)
    (GERHARD LENSER)
  7. THE NETHERLANDS HIMALAYAN EXPEDITION TO CENTRAL WEST-NEPAL, 1962
    (P. VAN LOOKEREN CAMPAGNE)
  8. DHAULA HIMAL
    (JAMES ROBERTS)
  9. THE JAGDULA EXPEDITION, 19621
    (DENISE EVANS)
  10. MANA-NILGIRI EXPEDITION, 1962
    (Captain S. N. DUBEY)
  11. A CAMPING TRIP TO THE HIMALAYA, 1960
    (DR. W. HAMBERGER)
  12. ITALIAN EXPEDITION TO THE PUNJAB HIMALAYAS, 1961
    (PAOLO CONSIGLIO)
  13. THE ASCENTS OF INDRASAN AND DEO TIBBA
    (PROF. DR. K. ONODERA)
  14. KHINYANG CHHISH, 1962
    (DR. P. J. HORNIBLOW)
  15. SWAT AND INDUS KOHISTAN
    (TREVOR BRAHAM)
  16. BRITISH-SOVIET PAMIRS EXPEDITION, 1962
    (SIR JOHN HUNT)
  17. EXPEDITIONS AND NOTES
  18. OBITUARY
  19. BOOK REVIEWS
  20. LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
  21. CLUB PROCEEDINGS, 1962-63
  22. THE HIMALAYAN CLUB

ITALIAN EXPEDITION TO THE PUNJAB HIMALAYAS, 1961

PAOLO CONSIGLIO

The expedition, organized by the Rome Section of the C.A.I., returned to Italy on June 16, 1961.

The party comprised Signora Maria Teresa de Riso, Messrs. Franco Alletto, Paolo Consiglio (Leader), Domenico de Riso and Dr. Vincenzo Monti; all participants are members of the Rome Section. Messrs. Alletto and Consiglio, also members of the C.A.A.I., took part in an expedition in 1959 to the Saraghrar Peak (24,170 feet), and reached the summit.

The area selected for the expedition was the Parbati range, in the Himachal Pradesh between Kashmir and Garhwal. This 100- kilometre range contains numerous peaks varying in altitude from 6,000 to 6,600 metres. The peaks are unnamed with the exception of Deo Tibba (19,687 feet) and Indrasan (20,410 feet) which are the two most western summits in the group.

Most of the higher peaks are on the Spartiacque crest at the sources of the four glaciers (the Western, Second, Main and the Rati- runi) which unite into the Dibi Nala ; this is a glacial valley breaking away from the main valley of the River Parbati which borders the complete chain to the south. The Survey of India Map Q inch to the mile) shows that this area contains the peaks 20,830 feet (6,349 metres), 21,760 feet (6,633 metres), 21,350 feet (6,507 metres) and 20,482 feet (6,243 metres). There are also scattered amongst these numerous other peaks averaging about 21,000 feet.

It was the Dibi Nala which interested the expedition, whose intention was exploratory mountaineering and the climbing of one of the peaks mentioned above. These intentions were achieved in that three of the four glaciers were traversed, three of the minor peaks climbed, two at the first attempt, and finally the 20,830 feet (6,349 metres) peak was ascended. K. Snelson visited the area in 1952 with de Graaff (who made the first ascent of Deo Tibba) and described this magnificent summit of rock and ice as follows:

'Revealing the 20,830 feet peak to be a magnificent tower of rock, but with almost vertical walls and without a chance of a way to the top' (H.J., Vol. XVIII, 1954, p. 113).

It was suggested that the peak be called the ‘Lai Gila' (Red Fort) after the great fort in Delhi, because of its bastion-like appearance and the beauty of the red granite. This name was also chosen as a tribute to the Indian people who had so kindly received the expedition.



Four members of the party left Italy by air on April 26, taking with them about six quintals (600 kilos) of luggage. Dr. Monti iol- lowed on April 30. Having bought most of the provisions at Delhi the group flew on May 2 to Kulu, in the upper valley of the Beas. Here two high-altitude Ladakh porters, Nam Gyal and Palgaon, were engaged; both had previous expeditionary experience in the Lahoul region, and also on Deo Tibba.

Kulu was left behind on May 5 ; the 800 kilos of luggage was carried by mule-back until the village of Pulga and, from there, on the shoulders of 36 porters. Base Camp at 13,100 feet was erected in the Dibi Nala whilst it snowed. The weather had been temperamental since our departure from Kulu and it worsened considerably from May 11. The heavy snows of the previous winter, coupled with the delayed season, left the mountains still in their winter clothes. The valley porters were sent back with the exception of one Beli Ram, a hunter from Pulga, whose job was to hunt, guard the Base Camp, and help with the luggage to the first camp. Despite its snowing every day a first camp was set up at 14,750 feet at the entrance of the Second and Main Glaciers on May 14. Following one examination of the Main Glacier, and two of the Second during which the fog and persistent bad weather made it impossible to have a detailed look at the mountain slopes, we decided on the Second Glacier and installed our second camp at 16,500 feet on May 19. A saddle at 18,200 feet towards the Main Glacier was reached from here on May 20 during the first ascent. Another saddle at 19,250 feet on the Spartiacque crest was reached in the first attempt and in the face of a violent storm on May 22. A third camp was erected here on May 23-again in the face of another storm. It was obvious on the 25th, from the base of the mountain, that it would be impossible to continue along the ridge either towards peak 21,760 feet or peak 20,830 feet.

The party regrouped on the 26th and it was decided to try, weather permitting, an assault up the southern face of peak 20,830 feet, which whilst being steep and snow-clad seemed to offer the possibility of an ascent, or at least appeared to do so when observed from the flank at the saddle at 19,250 feet.

Having surmounted an easy col between the Second and Western Glaciers a new third camp was pitched at 17,800 feet on May 27 at the head of the ' Westernand once again in a snow-storm.

Barring two days only, it had snowed for some time each day until the 27th, but the 28th finally proved to be fine and the snowy wall of the peak was reconnoitred for a suitable site for a fourth camp. It was found that a fourth camp would be impossible so we decided to make an attempt on the peak directly from the third camp with all five members of the expedition and the two high- altitude porters taking part. Taking advantage of the full moon the camp was left at 0100 hours: temperature -18°. An altitude of 19,500 feet had been reached by daybreak: temperature - 25°; there were some rocks at this point. It was here that the two porters gave up and returned.

The following 800 feet up to a small saddle on the rocky southwestern ridge at 20,350 feet was a very steep snow slope, fragmented with surface rocks ; this required ten sustained hours of effort without the opportunity of using ice-pitons due to the nature of the snow.

It was only at 1600 hours that the saddle was gained and for the first time we were able to sit down and rest.

Following an attempt at the overhanging rocks, and bearing in mind the lateness of the hour and the considerable difficulty, it was decided to return; the third camp was reached at 2300 hours.

At last, and by good luck, the inclement weather improved, but as the agreed date of return was already overdue and the provisions running low it was decided that only two, Alletto and de Riso, should make the last and final attempt on June 2 whilst Consiglio and Dr. Monti returned first to Camp II, and then to Base Camp to organize the disbanding of the camps and the return journey.

Alletto and de Riso, together with Nyam Gyal, left Camp III at 2200 hours on June 1-the moon was favourable. They left Signora de Riso behind at the camp to maintain radio contact with the camps lower down. Taking advantage of the 80 metres of rope which had been fixed three days earlier they gained the saddle at 20,350 feet at 0600 hours. It was here that the porter was left behind as he did not feel up to the task of tackling the overhanging rocks ahead. The next 500 feet of granite, which contained numerous Grade V cracks, required twenty pitons and a further twelve hours of effort. The peak was gained at last at 1800 hours and thereon were placed the multi-coloured flags of India, Italy and the Club Alpino Italiano.

Camp III was reached at 0600 hours on the morning of the third, exactly thirty-two hours after it had been left for the assault. We were able to cross the Western Glacier and reach Base Camp at 2200 hours on the same day ; this was possible by using skis which proved to be invaluable.

Base Camp was left although a group of porters remained to collect the equipment left on the mountain. By making forced marches we were able to reach Kulu on the evening of June 7. Renewed ill weather prevented flying but by a stroke of good fortune the expedition was able to travel by car and arrive at Chandigarh on the 9ths and from there on the morning of the 11th to Delhi. The time taken by the expedition to and from Delhi was 40 days.

SOUTHERN SIDE OF PEAK 20,830 FEET (6,349 METRES), VIEW  FROM CAMP III, 17,880 FEET (5,450 METRES)

SOUTHERN SIDE OF PEAK 20,830 FEET (6,349 METRES), VIEW FROM CAMP III, 17,880 FEET (5,450 METRES)



The purpose of the expedition, apart from climbing a new Himalayan peak, was to experiment with a lightly-equipped expedition, and the results in general were more than satisfactory; one can confirm that the ideas adopted could be applied with advantage on even higher peaks thus giving ventures of this type fewer problems, greater speed and less expense. It must be mentioned that the climbers were forced to expend much greater effort and energy than might have been necessary if more than two high-altitude porters had been employed ; just two porters are insufficient.

Short skis for crossing glaciers are considered extremely useful for expeditions to the Himalayan ranges which must take place during the spring season before the monsoon.

Consiglio's fluent knowledge of Urdu considerably helped and made easier our relations with villagers, the valley porters, and the high-altitude porters ; misunderstandings were avoided and his ability to resolve any problem directly and without recourse to intermediaries helped everything along without delays, and without the aura of suspicion and mistrust which is too often created by the barrier of language.

The Rome Section of the Club Alpino Italiano would like to thank the Indian Authorities for all their kindness, hospitality, and help which was freely extended to the expedition by the officials and people of the region visited.

Editor's Note : The author has referred to the Dibi' Nala. Its full name is the Dibibokri Nala.