The aim of this expedition was to make the first ascent of Brammah (P. 6,416 m.) between the Kibar nala and Nanth nala of the Kishtwar District of Jammu. The trip followed two British expeditions in 1965 and 1969 supported by the Mount Everest Foundation and led by Charles Clarke.
We met in New Delhi late in April to spend a week packing 700 kg. of food and equipment before leaving by bus for Kishtwar on 4 May. From the experience gained on the previous two visits we chose to attempt Brammah by its south-east ridge; this begins from a col in the snow basin above the Kibar icefall. We established a Base Camp at about 3,600 m. on 11 May at the head of the Kibar nala and climbed through the icefall at its northern edge to reach the col. Our progress was hampered greatly by fresh snowfall which we were told was unusual for the time of year.
On 18 May we set up Camp I at 5,300 m. at the base of the south-east ridge and began to reconnoitre the initial snow-covered section which rose in a series of small snow domes, sometimes steep and heavily corniced to the north. Once again poor conditions and fresh snowfall made progress slow but six days later we had Camp II well stocked with food and equipment in preparation for the assault.
A long steep rock ridge runs upwards from Camp II to the summit snow slope and on this section lie the principal difficulties. Furthermore Brammah is a mountain isolated from high peaks in the south—the prevailing wind direction—and is the subject of frequent storms. For four days we prepared the rock, fixing six hundred feet of fixed rope over difficult gendarmes but we were unable to pass the last and highest pinnacle ; more important the ridge was consistently so narrow that only bivouac camps were possible.
On 29 May Edmundson and Gundry left Camp II for the summit attempt and, after one bivouac camp below the final gendarme (at about 6,100 m.), traversed its northern flank to gain the summit snow slope. This final slope presented no great technical difficulty but at the time was in poor condition ; deep loose snow lay on ice and there was obvious danger of large slab avalanches sweeping down the south face of the mountain. The assault party could be seen clearly from Camp II and it turned back at 16.00 hours on 30 May about 100 metres from the summit.
Photo : Charles Clarke, 1971
Southern wall of Kibar nala, Kishtwar Himalaya. Camp above Kabir icefall
Camp II (c. 19,000 ft) on South-east ridge of Brammah (p. 6,416 m.) Kishtwar Himalaya. Photo shows southern wall of Kabir nala. P. 5,861 m. is on the left
Photo : Charles Clarke, 1971
Photo: Charles Clarke. 1971
Telephoto of henry edmunson and David Gundry on the summit slope of Brammah (P. 6,416 m.) Kishtwar Himalaya. The south-east ridge and final gendarme are in the foreground
After a second bivouac they came down to Camp II to rejoin Clarke. Almost immediately a violent thunderstorm broke directly above us. The ridge nearby was struck by lightning and we were lucky to escape with little more than a small but very real electric shock. We descended the following day to Base Camp without further incident and rested in the meadows which were by this time a carpet of flowers.
The problem of a second assault on this difficult peak resolved itself by a change of plan. We felt that instead of gaining the last 100 metres we would prefer to explore the highest peak in th6 area, P. 6,574 m. (' The Sickle Moon'), and having dismantled the high camps on Brammah a small party (Major Chauhan, Edmundson and Gundry) set off for the Kiar nala on 8 June. The rest of us returned to Dacchan with the baggage and during the other party's absence trekked to the meadows of Sattarchin at the head of the Nanth nala.
The expedition reunited in Dacchan on 18 June and the next day set out for Anantnag and the Vale of Kashmir. (Major Chauhan agreed readily to this change of plan but returned direct to Kishtwar.) The British members arrived in Srinagar on 24 June.
We wish to thank the Indian Mountaineering Foundation, New Delhi, for their great help in organizing the visit to the area and for arranging for such an excellent Liaison Officer.
We are very grateful to the Mount Everest Foundation for their generous grant.
Maps and names of peaks
The Government of India were generous enough to lend us (in the charge of the Liaison Officers in 1969 and 1971) the relevant maps of the area. These are the new 1:50000 series (1965) which are excellent.
The peak marked ‘Brammah' P. 6,108 m. in the Kibar nala on Sheet No. 52 C/ 3 does not correspond to the mountain local people have long revered and call Brammah which is P. 6,416 m. and the one we were climbing.
Base Camp on the 1971 expedition lay on the northern side of the Kibar nala just east of the first glacial tributary.
(See also sketch map of area in H.J., Vol. XXX, 1970, p. 238—Ed.]
Delhi to Kishtwar by regular bus (2 days). On the approach march we used 12 mules; for the return, 6 mules.
We paid Rupees 15 per mule per day and Rupees 7 per porter (without food).
Alpine Journal, 71, 137.
Cambridge-Indian Kishtwar Exepdition-Report (1965).
Harriss, J. C.: Alpine Journal, 75, 186.
Clarke, C. R. A.: American Alpine Journal (1971), 448.
A report will be sent to the Alpine Journal (1972).
Himalayan Journal (Vol. XXX, 1970).
Kishtwar Himalaya Expedition, 1971. Members: Dr. C. R. A. Clarke (leader), Mrs. Ruth Clarke, H. N. Edmundson, D. R. T. Gundry, Dr. Sara Endean, Major A. P. S. Chauhan (Liaison Officer). Pre-monsoon visit to Brammah (P. 6,416 m.). Assault abandoned 100 metres from the summit.
Information: Dr. C. R. A. Clarke, High dose, Thorsway, Caldy, Cheshire.