THIS was the first visit of myself and Dick Renshaw to the invn We had had extensive experience in the European Alps in climbing snow, ice and iced-up rock and where the problems one faces as regards weather and conditions in general are, similar to the Himalayas, but where one doesn't have the same problems of altitude to contend with.
We chose Dhgunagiri because we wanted to climb in the Garwhal area and our first choice, Changabang was already booked by Ho from Manchester we organized, over several months, our small scale expedition and arrived in Delhi on 21 September were we were given invaluable assistance in clearing up final formalities by friends in the offices of G.K.W.
Many people expressed doubts that the two of us would be able to climb 23,000 foot Dunagiri and we were urged to enlarge the team. But by the time, we reached Base Camp at 15,000 feet there were just the two of us—a friend who had come along for the trek had gone back and the Liaison Officer was obliged to return also. Thus we found ourselves in the idyllic situation of being just two against the mountain. The difficulties of course would be so much greater but as we found out, the satisfaction was so much greater too. We were not using high-altitude porters either.
Dunagiri had been climbed in 1939 by Andre Roche and his team from Switzerland, but we wanted to climb it by a more difficult route using bivouacs rather than fixed camps.
We chose the South Rib which descends directly from the summit and (starting on 3 October) over six days we worked our way up the shattered rock in the lower part, then iced-up ground in the middle and a final steep band of rock several hundred feet high to the summit snow slopes and the summit, at midday on 8 October.
The descent took five long days, the ground being almost as difficult to descend as it had been to ascend. We ran short of food and fuel for our stove and reached Base Camp in a very tired and hungry state.
During the descent the weather was not always good, and whilst having to carry out manoeuvres on some very steep and difficult ice Dick Renshaw got frostbitten fingers through the necessity of taking off his gHoves in the driving wind and snow in order to place and remove ice pitons.
In spite of the difficult and demanding nature of the climb which exhausted us both, we felt a tremendous satisfaction at having climbed Dunagiri by a technically difficult route more similar to the climbs in Europe than in the Himalaya, and having done it as a two-man team, without fixed ropes, fixed camps or any assistance other than ourselves on the mountain.