NUN (7135 m.) is the highest mountain in Indian Kashmir.
Like an impressive pyramid it culminates over the whole Nun Kun massif—about thirty miles east of Srinagar. This group consists actually of two peaks over 7000 m (and several other over 6000 m.) of which Nun is the highest. It was first climbed in 1953 by a French-Swiss party led by Bernard Pierre. Among the members was also Claude Kogan and she became one of the summiters—thus at that time being one of the very few women to have scaled a peak over 7000 m.
Owing to the fact that Indian Kashmir for a long time had "been a restricted area for foreigners, very few expeditions have climbed in this region. Contrarily to Bernard Pierre's expedition the Swedes chose to climb along the East ridge. The first Swedish Himalayan expedition was carried out in 1973 when Mulkila (6517 m) in Lahul was successfully climbed. With the experience and enchantment the Himalaya had given the first expedition it was clear that a second one should follow. Nun became an entic¬ing target as very few expeditions had tried to scale it.
Eleven Swedish climbers were chosen to participate in this venture (all members of the recently organized 'Swedish Climb¬ing Union', now also member of the UIAA), and preparations started already during summer 1974. As for all expeditions which have to pass through or stay in India, several problems rose in connection with the Indian authorities. Only a few days before the departure from Sweden all documents were ready and we thought that most problems would be quickly solved. However, on our arrival in Delhi we realized that we had been too opti¬mistic. Our equipment which had been sent ahead, was kept in the customs and our radio-transmitter was not allowed to be imported with the licence we had. Several precious days had to be spent in Delhi for solving all these problems before we could continue Our journey to Srinagar.
Because of a landslide we were kept another week in this town before we could go on by bus and lorry to the eastern part of the Suru valley, where a supply depot was set up—then the ascent of Nun could start.
During our journey we met the Japanese expedition which had left Nun some weeks earlier. It had chosen the western ridge for an attack (the same route which the French-Swiss party had taken in 1953). But owing to bad weather during the final attempt, the Japanese were not successful. The Swedish team advanced very slowly from the supply depot (3200 m.) up to the Base Camp (4200 m.) to achieve a sufficient acclamatization. In spite of this one member was caught by a mild lung-oedema. An Advanced Base Camp was then established some three kilometres nearer the foot of the mountain (4600 m.). From here a time- absorbing transport started on the moraine up to a region always covered by ice (5000 m.). Close to the very edge of snow and ice a transit camp and a supply depot were pitched—first named Camp 1 after the Japanese expedition's first camp.
We had planned a more eastern route from here-however this seemed very dangerous because of frequent avalanches and ice- slides. We therefore tried a route over an ice-fall of 250 metres height—above which there was an ice-plateau. With great difficulty we at last mastered this obstacle, as the bad weather limited our capacity considerably. After several attempts we finally set up the Advanced Camp 1 on the upper ice-plateau (5400 m.). From this camp we had to traverse the whole plateau —three kilometres wide—before the real climb could start.
During the work on the plateau several members were in bad condition. Infections of the upper trachea were common, as bronchitis. Some were also suffering from acute stress. At this time many of us believed that our possibilities to reach the top had vanished. Our climbing power was greatly reduced and time was running out quickly. Anyhow we set up a definite plan for reaching the summit within remaining time. Our three Sherpas should be employed up to Camp 3. Those who were in best condition should first try the summit—then as many as possible should follow without stretching safety or the lines of supply for the highest camp.
The main condition for a success was the weather-especially during the final attack. The wide and wavy ice-plateau was traversed and we then chose to follow the East ridge—of which the first part was the most difficult section. But the real climb had now started.
During several days of bad weather many attempts were made to find a suitable place for Camp 2. Climbing was difficult and the first route had to be changed as a higher section would have meant traversing over an unsafe ice-slope. A passage more to the west was tried, but a 100 m. high ice-tower blocked the way. We climbed this tower, but further climbing on the other side seemed impossible. Thus the tower had to be passed to the west, and the very steep ice terrain which followed had to be secured by fixed ropes. Above that part Camp 2 was established at about 5900 m.—as we had planned,
Time got short and the climbing work continued almost imme¬diately to find a possible way up to Camp 3. The mountain was now less difficult, but the snow was deep and the high altitude made work more strenuous. Camp 3 could however be pitched at about 6300 m. on a border part of the ridge. The climbers who followed realized when reaching this camp, that the tents were not straight there and also badly placed—but during the whole expedition none had the strength to fix them better.
In spite of the fatigue and bad weather with sometimes hardly any visibility, Camp 4—at about 6700 m.—could be put a few days later. Now we really had a chance for the summit—if the weather held out. The highest camp was manned by the team that was to make the first attempt. The two following parties were to stay in Camp 3 and make the second attack for the summit. The remaining members would remain in Camps 1 and 2-ready to assist the teams higher up. The margins were con¬sidered as sufficient if something should happen, but we needed luck too.
All waited for the signal to start the last attack which could only be given when we were favoured by good weather. On 15 September, the whole expedition remained inactive as the weather did not yet allow the final attempt. But next day the sun was brilliant and there was almost no wind. The highest party at once started for the summit. First they had to traverse a snowfield westwards where the risk of avalanches made pro¬gress unsafe—however they were able to follow the ridge directly towards the summit. And on 16 September the summit team reached the top (over 7000 m. for the first time).
Via radio-transmitter the news spread quickly to the whole expedition and joy was great that we had succeeded in our efforts. Next following day two other teams not only succeeded in reach-ing the top, but also to place most of the climbers of the expe¬dition on the summit. Our task was thus fulfilled, however, danger was far from over. Now all camps should be evacuated and the expedition gathered in Base Camp. Many times accidents occur during the later part of an expedition—when everybody is tired and the stress for the summit does not exist any more.
We were however lucky to descend and evacuate all camps within three days with only minor incidents. At Base Camp the traditional celebration took place and the Sherpas entertained us with their beautiful songs and lovely flute music. From the villages in the Suru valley we hired porters to help us with the return transport of our equipment. And so the ascent of Nun belonged to history 'but it remained intensively in our minds. We had succeeded in reaching a target in the Himalaya which according to our experiences had been difficult and risky—but not at a price of victims, which is so common. All were safe and more or less in good condition.
Only when leaving India we realized that we had left a newly gained friend behind us. A friend who had allowed us to stand on its summit for some minutes. Friend Nun had not only given us an unforgettable and memorable event but also had contributed to a new decisive step in the development Of Swedish Alpinism.
60. From summit of Noshaq. East peak 7480 m. on right. Thr ridge behind curves left to unclimbed Shingeik Zom in centre. Note page 161.
61. Saraghrar. SW ridge with route. Note page: 162
62. Lt. Col. Kenneth Mason.
2. Since publication, the author has expressed his second thoughts in a private letter to me. He thinks that perhaps the Shhh (Shut up !) attitude is a bit too severe a reaction and has conceded that mountains should relate their adventures for the benefit of others. God bless him.—Ed.
It should be mentioned that this Swedish expedition had no leader—the success was marked as 'Teamwork', a form of collabration practised not only by climbers but also now freqent in Sweden as a state of 'social welfare'. Thus also the professions of the members are of interest: Electrician, student, engine assistant, carpenter, military officer, engineer, painter, medical doctor and bus ticket-collector. These 12 men cope with each other without a leader—and beyond all social barriers. The following reached the top : Ake Back, Tomy sendberg, Jan Nystrom, Torbjorn Berg, Per-Olof Itnm nnd Lasse Cronluna. Other members were: Frans fischer, Pelle Hagberg, Bengt Rodin, Stellan Ungerholm (expedition doctor), Kenneth Westman and Alve Henricson. Thus the first Swedish seven-thousander was won—Victory by which shared its personal sacrifice and hardship.