After abandoning Talung it |was decided by the leader to attempt Guicha Peak from the South ridge. A party con¬sisting of Rautela, Lopsang, Palat and Sherpa Mingma left for the peak on 28 April. From Jemathang there is a spur on the left of Guicha lake which finally joins a hanging glacier. From B.C. the peak appears on the right as a dome, connected by a saddle, to a peak which is about 300 feet below the Guicha Peak. This smaller peak is connected by a ridge to the South col. Below the peak and also the col, there is a massive hanging glacier which continues down to the Guicha lake. The glacier is full of crevasses.
The party took the left spur which ends in a rock formation about 500 feet long at the end of which starts the glacier. This was our crampon and rope-up point. We reached there at about 8.30 a.m. From here the going was slow, as there were innumerable crevasses which had to be bypassed. By about 2 p.m. we reached a height of about 18,000 feet when the weather deteriorated and snowfall started. At this point we decided to camp for the night. There was a small area, just enough for two tents, surrounded by crevasses. Throughout the evening it snowed but cleared up at night.
Next morning we left at 6.00 a.m. Again, traversing and avoid¬ing crevasses, we reached a point just below the col but still a 70° to 80° climb of 200 feet had to be overcome. This we negotiated by belaying each other and we reached the col (19,300 feet) at 8 a.m. Leading from the col and joining to the left of Guicha Peak is a ridge about 60° to 70° steep. At the col, the wind velocity was 30 to 40 knots and the weather was again deteriorating. As the peak was sacred and no permission had been obtained for climbing it, the party decided to return from there and reached B.C. by the afternoon of 29 April.
Another attempt on the peak was made on 1 May by a party consisting of Bhattacharjee, Rautela, Sidhwani, Sherpa Mingma and Sonam. This time it was decided to try out the route through the rock formation on the northern side of the peak. The party left through Guicha La and followed the rocky portion just above it. We reached the protruding rocks which join the ice slope connecting the hanging glacier below the peak (at approximately 18,500 ft.). From this rock there is a ridge which joins the hanging glacier, both sides of which have steep drops leading to the glacier. In our opinion the peak can be reached from the rocky portion without too much difficulty.
Future Possibility and Summary of Conclusions Talung and Kabru
The South-east face of Kangchenjunga wall is considered impregnable. The approach to the Talung North Saddle (shown on the maps as Talung Saddle) and to the South Saddle (col between Talung and Kabrus) is seriously menaced by frequent avalanches, ice barriers and forbidding rocks. Provided the snow conditions are reasonably settled, it may be possible to get over to the ridge running from Kabru toward Guicha. But even if one does get to this ridge, quite a few icefalls will have to be negotiated to reach the vicinity of Kabru Dome. Thereafter it will be a very long traverse of Kabru-S, Kabru-N and Kabru IV before reaching the Talung South Saddle. Obviously this is not a desir¬able route. Under the circumstances one may as well attempt all the Kabru peaks from the Rathong glacier and then reach the South Saddle. This traverse too does not seem feasible exclu¬sively from the Sikkim side of the great Sangilila ridge.
The only reasonable approach to the ridge between Talung and Kabru IV seems to be from the Yalung glacier in Nepal. One could attempt both the peaks simultaneously.
Two members of the expedition reached within two hundred feet of the Zemu Gap from the most difficult and hitherto un- attempted south face. It is possible to reach the Gap if one goes prepared to bridge two big crevasses with ladders. The party, however, explored Tongshiong glacier below the Zemu Gap. It is thus possible to have a complete track from Guicha La to Zemu Gap, across Zemu glacier and follow the known track upto Lachen.
Guicha and Other Peaks in the Area
Apart from Pandim and Guicha there are a number of 19,000- 20,000 feet peaks or mountain ranges around the Base Camp. There is no record of any attempt being made on them and most of them are unnamed on the maps. Pandim and Guicha in particular are sacred to Sikkimese. Guicha can be reached both from the northern side and the eastern side. Another beautiful nineteen thousander in that area is Tingchen Khang (6,010 m.). It is a conical pyramid south of Pandim and north of Jhopuno and should offer some excellent climbing.
The pre-monsoon season was not favourable to our expedition. The pattern usually was clear and sunny mornings, with cloud and mist build-up before noon and snowfall from midday till evening. This obviously resulted in snow avalanches starting from early morning. This could however be peculiar to the very narrow cwm between Kangchenjunga and Guicha walls. We faced heavy snowfall every day during the three weeks on higher camps and the frequency of avalanches was ten to fifteen daily.
Although we failed in our main objective of reaching the summit of Talung, we were greatly satisfied that all members succeeded in exploring an unknown and untrodden area. We do hope that exploration of these virgin ranges will help future expeditions to the Sikkim Himalaya.