Col D. K KHULLAR
THE INDIAN Mountaineering Foundation Pre-Everest Expedition in Sikkim Himalaya organized by the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, Darjeeling was conducted from 8 September to 8 October, 1982. The IMF had selected the unclimbed1 Kabru Dome (21,650 ft) as its objective.
The mountain lies south of Kabru massif with the twin peaks of Kabru North and South to its NW, some two thousand feet higher, but without the Dome in any way losing any of its own distinctiveness and challenge. As one follows the ridge extending southeast in a gradual diminishing curvature, the summit of Kabru Dome and Forked peak stand out in some prominence with Forked II looking precarious of the three. Thereafter, the ridge stuck out with rock pinnacles and gendarmes gradually falls down to lower heights ending with the sacred Kabur (15,780 ft), overlooking Dzongrila.
A route to Kabru Dome lies along a five km traverse of the Kabru glacier till the ridge joining Kabru North and South with Kabru Dome and thereafter a gradual ascent along the NW shoulder of Kabru Dome to its summit. This route was last tried up to the shoulder by a British team in 1925 successfully, whereas, at least two later attempts2 including one by the Pre-Everest 1959 had had to abandon the attempts owing to bad snow and ice conditions.
A feasible route also exists along the Kabru Dome glacier, traversing the south face along a series of icefalls to reach the Col between Kabru Dome and Forked and thereon taking the SE ridge to the summit. Though an unexplored route, the Pre-Everest expedition decided to take on the latter, as it was considered both challenging and being shorter, more likely to fit into the short duration of the expedition.
The team comprised 24 men and 10 women led by Col D. K. Khullar. One of the male members, Maj. S Sen — Medical Officer, fell sick on the first day's march and had to be returned from Yoksum and he did not subsequently rejoin. Lopsang Bhutia, Instructor HMI, was included on reaching base camp as his services were considered essential.
The expedition itinerary was as follows: —
The expedition established base camp (BC) in area Chaurikiang (14,000 ft) on 16 September, 1982. The monsoon was still active. It was somewhat of a disappointment for some of our members who were climbing in Sikkim for the first time that they could get no view of the mountains around. Some had the added discomfiture of putting up with the terrible itch, the after-effects of leech bites. The team was otherwise fit and in a good state of acclimatization barring two girls.
In spite of the weather, ABC was established on 18 September in area Dudh Pokhri (15,600 ft), the focal point for taking either of the routes. Since we had limited time at our disposal and because of our preference for the southern approach we decided to first take this on. Camp 1 was reconnoitred simultaneously by K. I. Kumar, N. D. Sherpa, Gurung and Chewang Tashi and occupied by them on 18 September With instructions to probe further' towards the col between the Dome and Forked. Camp 1 was ideally located under an overhanging rock at 18,000 ft giving shelter against wind, snow and sleet. When the leader reached Camp 1 on 20 September, Kumar's party had discovered a workable route to the col and the subsequent climb to the summit was considered quite feasible.
Interestingly, this was the first time that any team had probed this far on the upper reaches of the Dome-Forked glacier, save for some surveying done by N. D. Sherpa and Gurung of the Army Traverse team in 1981. Since they were now with us, it certainly helped. The route involved encountering a series of icefalls strewn with crevasses, the gradient ranging between 40° to 70°. Because of the difficulty and the exposure, fixed rope became a necessary expedient, most of the way. There was also the risk of avalanches, as the route passed through two chutes, one of these somewhat hazardous as it took a climber nearly 30 minutes to traverse it. Fortunately, because of the absence of any real snow at this time of the year mi the feasibility of traversing it as low as possible, where it more or less petered out, this hazard never really proved menacing.
Since we had had murky weather so far, it was considered somewhat natural that a break was in the offing. We were pressed for time. We had a strong group in our advance element. So it was decided to take a chance without further loss of time. Accordingly, a plan for the assault on the summit in three groups was formulated and announced.
First group: As it turned out, the first group led by K. I. Kumar made a valiant effort with Chewang Tashi doing very useful work on the summit day (24th) in preparing the route up the steep wall of the bergschrund. Unfortunately for them the weather packed up when they were nearing the summit. It was 10 a.m. and, totally uncertain of their exact location in that white-out, the group beat a retreat. It was later revealed by the second group that they (the first group) had been within 200 ft of the summit and there is little doubt that had the weather held or the group started an hour earlier, their success would have been a certainty. Nevertheless, it was by far the strongest group of the team and uptil now the major work on the mountain had been done by them and it is entirely to their credit that the subsequent success was achieved.
25th was a cloudy day with a fair amount of snow the previous night and. it was still snowing when the group left Camp 1. The leader came along to see them past the avalanche chutes and a little beyond. This group had four ladies with them. This group on reaching Camp 2 came up with a few physiological problems; Ratna De because of her reluctance to wear snow goggles developed snow blindness and needed looking after. Archana - Bhattacharya found herself physically weak to face the extreme cold on this exposed camp.
26th was a clear day. Sanjeev Saith being the group leader stayed back to look after Ratna De for she indeed was in a bad way. Lop- sang took the lead and members began ascending the summit ridge. Half way up, they deviated a little to the east from the route taken by the first group. It was Lopsang chiefly, assisted by Mahavir Thakur, who led. They had a steep gradient on snow and ice all the way and having exhausted the fixed rope; some of them had to unrope short of the summit. The party consisting of six men and one woman succeeded in reaching the summit of Kabru Dome at 11.30 a.m., a fruition of some excellent work done by the team in general and a few strong members in particular.
Third group :
The third group led by R. S'. Sandhu reached Camp 2 on 27th as scheduled. A clear night it was on 27/28th and the wind had picked up, appreciably increasing the chill. The last group had planned to leave at 2 a.m. and when some of the fit members (R. S. Sandhu, B. S. Rai, Manik Banerjee and Sherpa Kami) got ready to leave and did indeed start moving upwards the ridge, the others could not brace up to the cold and failed to turn up outside.
In all 12 members reached the summit and had the first group been lucky, the number could well have been 20.
WITH A view of exploring the unknown and keeping in mind the motto of our institute 'Sky is the Limit'—a joint venture by Sonam Gyasto Mountaineering Institute and Sikkim. Police was organized. This time it was Lama Anden (19,253 ft). It lies 15 km west of Lachen, the region now known as Kangchenjunga National Park. From far distance it looks like a huge cathedral dome. It stands in solitary splendour majestic and serene. The locals call it £Lamgyalpo' meaning the king of village. The climb of Lama Anden was made by Tony Smith of Britain in September 1942,1 We enquired at Lachen village about the details of ascent by Tony Smith. Fortunately, we got some, information from, ex-chowkidar Chhungther. He narrated that in 'May 1936, the famous explorer Marco Pallis along with some Ladakhis came across Lachen on their way to Green Lake.2 During that period, it was very difficult to obtain permission from the Sikkim Darbar. Chhungther served for nearly forty-four years as a chowkidar in Lachen Rest House and retired from service in 1974. At present Chhungther is one of the oldest persons in the village and still maintains good health. Some of the superstitious things narrated by him seemed to be trustworthy. He is well acquainted with the mountaineers, trekkers and explorers who pass through Lachen to North Sikkim Himalaya. Due to his old age he could not remember the names of foreign climbers. After Tony Smith, a mountaineering team from Bombay made an attempt to climb the Lama Anden in 19463 via Kesong La. Many years later in October 1979,4 another party from West Bengal had to turn back after remaining in the area for about a month and gave up the idea of attempting it. All these attempts were foiled. It is surprising that earlier explorers like Hooker, Dr Kelias5 and D, W, Freshfield, though in the vicinity of this area, did not survey it properly.
We selected a team consisting of not more than forty members. The prime objective of this venture was to explore the northeastern part of Lama Anden.
Off to the Mountain
5 May came the day of our departure. We travelled to Chungthang and Lachen by trucks. We stayed at the beautiful Inspection Bungalow at Lachen. Set in exquisite surroundings with a backdrop of dense vegetation and high mountains, overlooking several compact huts with a new monastery building; the Rest House was an ideal resting place. Lachen is indeed a beautiful little village nestling on a shelf of the Teesta valley at an altitude of 8902 ft, set amidst charming woodlands, dells and glades where many varieties of vegetables including the homely apple trees, flourished in abundance. The population of the village is about 1500: In winter, the villagers move further down to low valleys and during summer they go up towards Thangu, where most of the lands axe available for grazing. They are very particular about leaving in a group during harvesting and grazing on a single day.
We had an acute porter problem and the deputy leader decided to hold conference in the evening to determine our course of action. During discussion it was decided to reconnoitre the route from northeast and southeast. If we followed the Zemu Chu route we would have to leave at least two-thirds of our luggage at Lachen due to non-availability of porters, which .might result in failure of the expedition.
On 7 May, two parties were sent in two different directions northeast and southeast of Lama Anden for surveying the approaches to the peak.
At noon we had a contact with the first party. They reported that the route was unnegotiable due to thick forests and many obstacles. This was a setback but we did not allow it to interfere with our plan of ascent in any way. The advantage in trying this route was that once we reached the south col there was no further danger of avalanches and. we would only have to work on the rocks. All the members were called back and we had, to abandon this route. The second team led by Gurmey worked as a path-finder. They did a marvellous job in finding the route from northeast. The reconnaissance party had taken a good look at the mountain. The rest of the members at rear camp repacked the loads. The large number of packages needed readjustment since the porters could carry 30 kg each.
A bright and clear morning greeted us on 8 May. We scouted out the way to base camp. Every member carried essential equipment and ration items to dump at the base camp. It was a steep climb through.' a rhododendron forest, with many of the trees in bloom. We were all tired and exhausted. But the day's work was not over. After a steep climb through wooded country for about four hours, the slope eased, and we reached base camp (1.1,286 ft) at 11.30 a.m. After establishing some of the members were sent further up for reconnaissance of the route and- they reached up to the height of 12,500' ft. All of a sudden, the weather deteriorated and the visibility became very poor. It became sullen and offensive with occasional heavy snowfall and we had to retreat to rear camp at Lachen and reached there at 1600 hrs.
On 9 May the weather showed a slight improvement. We took advantage of the break' and an advance party was sent to base camp to settle the camp properly.
Next day we reached base camp at 11.30 hrs and were received by the advance party. In order to get as close as possible to the foot of the mountain, the place which was selected seemed ideal for base camp. The rhododendron shrubs which were in abundance around the camp area were worth seeing. We constructed a nice helipad on flat maidan, where several helicopters could land. There was a rare amount of bird life at the base camp. We listened frequently to the wild cries of the fast-flying Bamchukors and crimson homed pheasants became very familiar, but not a single wild animal was seen in the area. The next day's plans were discussed and finalized. Unfortunately, in the morning the weather deteriorated and visibility became poor.
On the 12th, the party consisting of 24 members led by the deputy leader left base at 6 a.m. to locate a site for Camp 1. They carried loads to dump at Camp 1. The route went up a steep' snow-gully. From the bottom of the ridge to the col the slope was very steep and the snow was spongy. The weather was so cloudy that it was not possible to see a thing even at a short distance. The last stage of about 500 ft was very steep and the snow conditions were not favourable. After four hours of gruelling march they selected a place for Camp 1 at 13,332 ft. Seven members were to stay at Camp 1 for reconnaissance of higher camp while the rest were to return the same evening to base camp.
On 13 May in spite of bad weather the party selected a suitable site for Camp 2 at the height of 16,500 ft. After a little rest, Gurmey and Nima, unable to restrain themselves, climbed another few hundred feet in the hope of finding a suitable route. Just a few yards ahead there was a precipitous rock and they were confident that it was not impossible to negotiate. Members were happy for the prospect was not as bleak and difficult as we had thought earlier. Dorjee along with four other members was sent to Camp 1 to assist the first party. The weather remained sullen with occasional heavy snowfall and drizzling.
On the 16th, still the weather was quite unfavourable and visibility poor. At 6 a.m. we set off. The route ahead involved a very steep climb and was extremely risky. On the way, we ploughed through fluffy snow which was at places knee-deep. In addition, there were concealed crevasses, all of which we avoided by skirting around them. The route was dangerously exposed to avalanches. In spite of our best efforts, we could not increase our pace as we were already exhausted. We reached the selected camp site at 10.45 a.m. at an altitude of 16,500 ft.
Plans for the final climb of the summit were discussed and finalized. We had reckoned that it would take us about four to five hours to climb the peak and return. It was about five in the morning on the 17th when I roped with Gurmey, Nima and Phu Dorjee. It was snowing lightly. In another group Tsering Dorjee, Thendup Tsewang, Tseten Namgyal, R. K. Rana and Tenzing Mapen roped up. We set off on the last lap of our journey. On the way we encountered sudden gusts of snow-laden winds which hampered our progress. Gurmey who was leading the rope was changed after crossing the rock face.Nima took over from Gurmey. Going up was extremely tough and slow. The weather had offered us a break and I wanted to take the maximum advantage of this. From the place where we were resting we had a good look at the mountain and thought that the best course was to follow the ridge to reach the summit. We decided to avoid climbing the second hump as it was unnecessary to reach that part of the ridge and we had to scale a number of steep inclines and there were concealed crevasses. After a few more painful steps we reached the corniced ridge and had to fix another 500 ft of ropes on the way leading to the summit. We were standing on the top of Lama Anden at 9.15 a.m. The exact height of the peak as indicated by the altimeter was 20,064 ft. We shook hands warmly and congratulated each other. The beautiful peak of Lama Anden looked as sharp as a needle and conical. The panoramic view of Kangchenjunga was worth seeing and all were wonderstruck with its majestic beauty. We had a glimpse of Zemu region and the whole valley of Kisong La down below. We spent about 30 minutes on the top. We started descending, on the same route. After two hours of arduous descending, we reached Camp 2 and decided to go straightway to Camp 1 after taking some rest. The second summit party reached the top on 18 May by the same route.
On 22nd, we were up early in an effort to start by 6 a.m. There was still no light or warmth outside on the mountains. The east col, being on the shady side of the peak in the early part of the morning did not get the sun's rays till much later. At 8 a.m. we reached the top of the rocky pinnacle peak just behind our base camp. The sun had already crossed Lama Anden peak and the weather was very pleasant till the afternoon. We wandered on the top of the rocky peak for some time and after taking some snaps of the surroundings, we started descending towards Camp 1. While descending, the rocky stretch sfeemed quite hazardous and in a rock-fall zone. Suddenly, we noticed some black spots just near the top of the unnamed peak at 8.20 a.m. We observed through binoculars and confirmed that four members of the third summit party had already reached the top of the unnamed peak (16,500 ft). 40 porters reached base camp on 23 May. Before departure, we cleaned up the area so that this suitable camp site could be used for years. A few days back some officials of the Sikkim Forest Department visited to check up the activities of my team and they spent a few days with us and they were very satisfied that we had not disturbed the flora and fauna of the area of the Kangchenjunga National Park and had strictly adhered to the instructions of 'Mountaineering Do's and Dont's'. After raising three cheers for almighty Lama. Anden, we left for Lachen.
THE EXPEDITION started from Kathmandu for Kangchenjunga on 21 August. As the way was long we spent the night in the Terai at Itahari. We arrived the day after at 3 p.m. in Ham where we stayed for two days. This time was necessary to engage the 148 porters who were carrying food and equipment.
The approach lasted exactly 17 days. We arrived at base on 9 September via Ham, Sukhe Pokhari, Phidim, Gopetar, Yamputhin (I mention here only the most important villages), then the narrow valley of Simbua Khola and Yalung glacier. The walking days were rather short, generally 4 or 6 hours. At night the halting place was frequently in schools, it was difficult to find other places to settle our tents. Lakpa Sherpa, our Sirdar, managed the whole approach with the help of Sherpas.
We reached our base camp on 9 September. First day, was settlement of tents, distribution of personal equipment and climbing material. Next day as it was snowing we took a rest. The real ascent of Kangchenjunga began on 11 September, with Gilles Gaby, one of the members accompanied by Daniel Benesse from the lead group. They opened the first part of the route leading towards Camp 1.
On 13 September, while members of sponsor group were leaving base camp to come back to Kathmandu, with Jean Jacques Ricouard, Sherpa Nima and our doctor Brigitte, Lataud, I reached the Japanese Camp 1 of the expedition of spring 81.1 We made camp here. Then, on 16 September with Jean Jacques Ricouard, we have equipped the 200 m gully which is going down to the upper Yalung glacier plateau, exactly situated between the Camp 1 and the Camp 2 of Japanese.
On the plateau at the height of 6100 m route was opened. Next day, Michel Pelle and Michel Berruex brought the first tents of Camp 1 which was settled on 17 September.
The route between base camp and Camp 1 is long and dangerous. Some passages are steep and climbers are exposed to avalanches. For this reason, we have fixed ropes for climbers5 and Sherpas' safety who had to spend plenty of time in this part of the route during the numerous ferries. We can say, that from the beginning to the end, the route between base camp and Camp 1 was equipped with fixed ropes except when it was not useful.
Eight days were necessary to reach Camp 2. This camp was reached on 25 September by Jean Jacques Ricouard, Michel Pelle and me all together. The Camp 2 has been settled at the place where Japanese settled their Camp 3 at the height of 7100 m. The camp was under the shelter of a huge serac which was protecting the tents from the avalanches which could have eventually come from the Great Shelf. Such a long time has been necessary because of the snowfall which constrained all the members to come back to base camp from 21 to 23 September.
Ten days later, I reached Camp 3 with Jean Jacques Ricouard, Michel Pelle" and Nima Sherpa. We settled this camp at the place of Japanese Camp 4 at the height of 7600 m, at the base of the Great Couloir which goes down from the left of the summit. The camp was protected by a rock barrier near the right bank of the couloir. Camp 3 has been reached on 4 October, but only on 9 October, Nima and Ang Dorjee Sherpas have fixed the only tent we put here.
10 October, all members and Sherpas are gathered at the base camp. Mountain was ready, all passages equipped and camps settled. It was possible to attempt the summit. It was decided that the most acclimatized members will try this attempt. Jean Jacques - Ricouard and me. Without oxygen because it was our aim. Why did we think it was better to try without oxygen? A bottle weighs 6 kg. 2 or 3 bottles were necessary to reach the summit. It seemed that the constraint of carrying 12 or 18 kgs. was out of proportion with the profitability.
We started on 12 October, Jean Jacques Ricouard with Gilles Gaby and Ang Dorjee Sherpa and me. This day Michel Pelle, Michel Berruex and Nima Sherpa stayed in base camp. On 13 October, Jean Jacques Ricouard and me accompanied by Gilles Gaby and Ang Dorjee Sherpa, climbed to Camp 2. The same day, Michel Pelle, Michel Berruex and Nima Sherpa climbed to Camp 1.
On 14th, Jean Jacques Ricouard and me with Gilles Gaby, climbed to Camp 3. On the same day Gilles Gaby was going back to Camp 2. The same night Michel Pelle and Michel Berruex were sleeping in Camp 1. In the evening the sky was cloudy but Gilles Gaby said it was good weather clouds.
Jean Jacques Ricouard and me woke up at midnight. One hour later we have quit Camp 3, It was completely dark: that was the reason why in the middle of the couloir we missed the route and we followed a snowy terrace on the right. We thought that the British had followed it on the first ascent and that it was leading to the summit. Quickly, we realized it was a mistake, but climbing was nice, rock was good, solid and the sun was about to come up.
The same day, Gilles Gaby and the two Sherpas climbed to Camp 3 to bring oxygen for our safety in case of a problem of altitude sickness. Gilles Gaby reached Camp 1 the Sherpas Camp 2 only, to help if necessary in case of emergency. Michel Pelle, Michel Berruex climbed from Camp 1 to Camp 2.
We climbed 14 hours, without 'stopping till the summit. The weather was fine, without wind at all, we were in good condition.
We reached the top at 3 p.m. We stayed only for 10 minutes. It was too cold to stay longer. We were feeling moved, we embraced together, took some photographs, not a lot. Then we went down.
While going down, Jean Jacques Ricouard stayed with me during the first half an hour. The last words he pronounced were; Be careful, after what we have done it would be a pity V Then he was going little faster than me and he went out of my view. I have seen him no more. In the couloir, between 4 and 5 p.m. he has fallen down and his body crashed down 1000 m below. I did not see the accident.
When I reached Camp 3, there was nobody. I thought that Jean Jacques Ricouard was going down to Camp 2. It would have been highly possible. My friends on Camp 2 thought that we were staying together in Camp 3. That is the reason why we could not imagine the accident this night.
Ang Dorjee and Nima Sherpa have seen the body of Jean Jacques Ricouard first on next day 16 October. They have seen it on the way to the Camp 3 at some distance. They understood that an accident had happened and that Jean Jacques Ricouard was dead. They told me about the accident when they reached Camp 3. It was nine o'clock in the morning. One hour later we brought the body down and it was stiffened by cold. With the help of the two Sherpas, we dug hole in the snow. We buried here Jean Jacques's body. Two days later, I reached base camp where Sherpas and other members were waiting for me.
Then it was the return. On 18 October, Michel Pelle and Michel Berruex climbed up to Camp 1 to bring back equipment. On 19 October Gilles Gaby did the same thing. During these days the Sherpas have moved back the camp. On 20 October, the porters recruited by our Sirdar arrived at base camp. We began to go down on 21 October in the morning. In the evening the whole expedition reached Ramser, and two days later we were in Taplejung. All the members of the expedition were due to continue to Dharan, except me because the toes of my feet were frozen and medical treatment was necessary. I decided to take the plane to Kathmandu.
OHMI KANGRI is located at the NW border of Nepal with Tibet, the most inner part of Yangma Khola from which the Tamur river takes its source. There are many mountains above 6500 m in Yangma Khola, where one finds only pure virgin soil, and no reports or data of climbing can be found. The only data we could get was a picture of the upper half of Ohmi Kangri taken from the south ridge of Shao Kangri.
On 3 April the base camp was set up at 5000 m, on the right bank of the Pandra glacier, after seventeen days of trekking from Dharan Bazar. It was impossible to climb the glaciers on both sides of south ridge of Ohmi Kangri because of the 300 m icefalls at the lower parts and several large crevasses at the upper parts. We took the route on the south ridge. There are several rock cliffs at its lower half and the snow condition of its upper half was very bad.
We began to open the route on 7 April. Traversing the side of Shao Kangri, we descended to the Pandra glacier around the bottom of the south ridge. From there we climbed the west side moraine about 300 m along the south ridge and traversed the scree band in the lower part of the south ridge to the west side glacier. The condition of the glacier was very bad, with many crevasses and ice-towers which were about to collapse. We were able to reach the ridge after climbing the upper snow fully in the Chabuk side face.
On 9 April, Camp 1 (5750 m) was set up on the south ridge. Above Camp 1, fixing 500 m of ropes on the steep ice-face and narrow snow ridge, we reached the foot of the pillar. The north face of Jannu (7710 m) and Kangchenjunga (8598 m) could be seen from here for the first time. Making a long traverse on the foot of the pillar and climbing a snow-gully, we set up Camp 2 (6100 m) on 18 April on the snow-ridge.
Above Camp 2, many large crevasses were lying on the ridge. Fixing 500 m ropes on the blue ice-faces and snow walls in the crevasse zone, we reached the snow plateau. From here we could see the snow- ridge which continued to the summit. After advancing forty minutes, we set up Camp 3 (6350 m) on the snow-plateau, on 27 April. Above Camp 3, many crevasses reached to the border along the narrow snow-ridge. We finished fixing ropes from Camp 3 to the border while carrying our equipment.
On 29 April, T. Kaneko, K. Nakajima, H. Gomi and H. Chroklang reached the east peak as the first summit party. However, fierce high winds and snow prevented us from going to the central peak. On 1 May, the second bid was made by Y. Suzuki, S, Kohara and Ang Temba. They reached the central peak in four hours from the east peak.
PANORAMA G. VIEW FROM SUMMIT OF EAST PEAK OF OHMI KANGRI. (PHOTO: T. KANEKO)
PANORAMA H. The Northwest face of Nupchu (6690 (?) m) from B.C. (Photo: M. Maki)
PANORAMA I. Sharphu (7070 m(?)
PANORAMA J. The South ridge of Ohmi Kangri Photos: T. Kaneko
PANORAMA K. The route to the east peak of Ohmi Kangri
The route on the south ridge of Ohmi Kangri
The Nepal Ministry of Tourism reports that Ohmi Kangri is 7922 m high on the expedition permit. However, so far as we know by checking other maps and data, it is 7028 m high. To our regret, we had no chance to measure the correct height of Ohmi Kangri, as the altimeter was broken before setting out from Camp 3. The correct height of Camp 3 may be higher than 6350 m.
The route on the south ridge of Ohmi Kangri
We can infer to some extent the height of Ohmi Kangri by observing other famous mountains in the area from the summit of Ohmi Kangri. It is lower than Jannu (7710 m) and is about on the same level It seems to be as high as the Twins (7380 m) or even a little higher. It is much higher than Outlier (7090 m) and is about on the same level with Jongsong Peak (7473 m) or a little lower. Ohmi Kangri is hundreds of meters higher than Chabuk (6960 m). In view of the above mentioned comparisons, it seems Ohmi Kangri is about 7400 m high.
Ohmi Kangri has three peaks around the summit which are about on the same level and line up from east to west. We named them the East peak, the Central peak and the West peak. The Central peak is 30 m higher than the East peak, which is on the same level as the West peak.
Members: Toshizo Kaneko, (leader), Kotaro Nakajima, Yoshinori Suzuki, Shinichi Kohara, Michio Maki, Jun Goto, Michiko Suzuki, Hideichi Gomi, Junichi Shiota, Nawang Chrok- Ang Kalden, P. B. Silester (liaison officer).
Sponsored by: Tokyo Metropolitan Government Alpine Club, Japan.
THE NILGIRI NORTH (7080 m) is known in Nepal as one of the most difficult peaks to climb. This mountain which means 'blue mountain' in Sanskrit is visible from the Kali Gandaki valley. It is the admiration of the tourists who follow the classical trek around the Anna- purna range or the pilgrimage to Muktinath. Between Kagbeni and Tukuche the way goes round the massif from the west permitting a sight of two of the faces and the three ridges of this triangular peak. The east and south ridges come from the nearby peaks and can't be followed as a direct route. The third ridge is coming from the edge of the Kali Gandaki. It is long, of about ten kilometres, with many subsidiary peaks. The faces are very steep and four thousand metres high. We have chosen the north side because the approach is easy from Jomosom and some routes seemed preferable to reach the west ridge, high enough to follow it easily and quickly till the summit.
We left Paris on 25 September. Monsoon rains stopped definitely by the end of September with a little hurricane which was tragic for the population. It rained hard during three days. There were many road blocks from Kathmandu to Pokhara. The road was closed for four days. The snow fell at very low altitude.
We left Pokhara on 4 October with 18 local porters, the liaison officer P. Mishra, the Sirdar Mingma Dorje. We reached Jomosom on 9 October and the base camp was established two days later at about 4000 m at the beginning of a rock buttress which separates the two glaciers of the north face. This buttress ends at about 5600 m. It was the route of the Netherland Himalayan Expedition of 1962 which was organized by Professor Egeler and led by the French guide Lionel Terray (first ascent of the Nilgiri North) .1
In 1962, there wasn't snow lower than 5300 m but, this year, we found it at 4200 m. It was not possible to climb the pillar which leads above the pass between the summit and the most important secondary peak of the west ridge. We decided to follow Terray's route till the top of the buttress. There are not alpine difficulties to climb it but it was tiring because the snow was deep. We established Camp 1 at 5600 m on 16 October. The top of the buttress is a good place for a camp, large enough for five tents.
The direct route to the top of the mountain is very difficult: ice and rock with a slope of 80 degrees. Every day some avalanches fell from a small suspended glacier near the summit. So we chose Terray's route which reaches the west ridge by crossing the north face. It is a steep fluted section first of all horizontally to the right then obliquely up tothe ridge. It seems that the snow conditions were quite different this year than in 1962. Now, there was less of ice and snow in the face and the rock appears in some places.
From 17 to 22 October we prepared a safe track on the face with fixed ropes in the steepest fluted section. Frequently, the angle of the slope reached over 70 degrees whereas the mean dip is estimated at about 60 degrees. The depressions of the flutes were very hard ice while the high points were in powdery snow. The frequency of the flutes were about ten metres. It was hard work because the cold was severe and the crossing long and difficult. There did not exist good places to rest. On 22 October we stopped the expedition because we had not enough time to climb the summit, having reservations to come back to Paris by plane on 1 November from Kathmandu. 80% of the face have been crossed and 300 m of fixed rope have been installed. The highest point reached was about 6000 m.
We have seen many pieces of ropes of hemp belonging to the Nether- land expedition under and over the Camp 1. It was exciting to see the traces of the first ascent.
We left the base camp on 25 October. The weather was very fine all the time we stayed at high altitude. The temperature at night dropped to — 20°C in Camp 1 and less on the north face which did not catch any sunshine.
To conclude, it seems that 6 weeks is too short a time to climb a mountain as high as Nilgiri North. We stayed only 13 days on the mountain and I think that two weeks more are necessary to have a good chance of success.
Members: Bernard Moreau leader, Yves Richard deputy leader, Christian Nuytten, Anne Catherine Pernot, Francoise Moreau, Richard Lassaigne, Yannick Delu.
27 September 1981
ARRIVAL IN Kathmandu. No problems during our 12 hours flight from Paris. We'll wait until Friday for our plane. Lakhpa and Tenzing, managers of Calden are charming.
Take-off from Kathmandu at twelve, after many emotions and $200 to the pilot (perhaps. . . .). Extraordinary flight, usual panorama (well, if that can be said) Ganesh, Manaslu, the centre of the Himalaya (Annapurna, Machapuchare, etc.) the Daulagiris (with the Tukuche peak). Extraordinary landing . . . Arrival in Jumla at 13.30 hrs. We're at 2425 m and the Sirdar and Sherpas are waiting for us. It is our first camp.
The porters should arrive from the neighbouring villages at 13,00 hrs. Dede, Eric and Doudou left to climb a summit of 3800 m with its beautiful view. First training . . . Den, Isa, Val and Rene climbed a nearer summit and returned quicker. Bathe in the Jumla river in the afternoon. Porters have not yet arrived, delaying departure for tomorrow.
The ten porters arrived: all morning went in negotiations and seeking the lost ice-axe sack. (It was there on arrival of the plane. . . ). The Sirdar stayed at Jumla, waiting for the other porters and also our sleeping-bags that Sherpa Trekking Service forgot to bring. We left at 12 noon, walked 1 1/2 hrs, lunched on the river bank. Then continued the northern road onto Lamri in the afternoon and camped on their village roofs. Weather is fine, splendid landscapes with pine-tree forests and abundant native cultures - many horses too - We're at 2800 m.
Dogs barked all night . . . Woke up at 6.30 a.m. had a leisurely breakfast and then departure at 8.15. We decided to go to Talii (2 hours walk) hoping the Sirdar would join us with the rest of the porters. We pitch camp in a very nice area looking over the Chaudhabise and Patalket confluence which we'll follow tomorrow. The river Chaudhabise was followed by the Swiss last year, permitting them to succeed in the first ascent of the northern summit of the Sisne via the west face. We're at 2800 m. Doudou slept alone on a nearby hill while we dined with an Englishman and his wife: an ethnologist who has been living in Talii for one year. The Sirdar stayed below to find out other porters. . . It's the same old story. Climbing the pass is impressive; going through magnificent forests of birch-wood and enormous pine- trees. Beautiful camp site near the forest.
Weather's still fine. The last of the porters arrived in the morning. We went down the Churta Khola valley, visited Churta: a delightful charming Tibetan village with its chorten and its prayer wall. Afterwards we began climbing one of its passes. Should it be the Barbarie Lagna or the More Lagna? Nobody knows at the moment. Five hours of total hiking. Camp in the forest at 3810 m.
Climb to the Kagmara base camp
Departure at 7.45 a.m. An hour of trekking to reach the More Lagna 3980 m. We all climbed 100 m more to get the grand panorama of the Sisne, Kanjiroba, Daulagiri (with the Tukuche Peak) and the western Nepalese' mountains. Eric, soon followed by Dede, then by Denise, started climbing a summit of 4500 m peak which hides the Kagmara mountain range. Lunched around noon. The departure at 12.45 p.m. for a 2 1/2 hrs walk to the village: of Chaurikot where we pitched camp at 3180 m. (We have already reached Dolpo).
Around 7 a.m., arrival of a Sherpa and a porter with the sleeping- bags, but no ice-axes. Around 8 a.m., the zub-yaks (a crossing of yaks- cows) arrived, and their masters prepared their mounts. We started at 9 a.m., lunched at Kaigon and after a 3 hour walk, bathed in the Bheri river. Dede and Eric (with the yaks) took a higher route, joining us in the evening: We started off again after visiting the police station, going through Hurikot; last village before the Kagmara pass. After a 2 hour-- walk, we -pitched camp at 2810 m along the Bheri river with our 17 ZUb-yaks (plus two baby-yaks) which replaced the porters.
47. The east ridge of Swargarohini from route up Kalanag (l955) Note 13
48. The north face of Swargarohini above Jamdar Bamak (1952). Photos: J. T. M. Gibson Note 13
49. West ridge of Swargarohini from the slopes on the right side of Maninda Gad (1958). Photos: J. T. M. Gibson Note 13
50. South face of Swargarohini, looking north from west ridge of Bandarpunch (1950).
Valerie's and Rene's birthday (with Eric's being tomorrow), we decided to celebrate all three together tomorrow. Left camp at 7.30 a.m. and crossed the Jagdula river on a kind of bridge (due to' the river going underground after 30 m). The last two days information is identical. It is impossible to- cross the Jagdula to the Sisne. On the north are very sheer cliffs with no' track which we can use. We had to give up'this reconnaissance trip. Adieu Sisne! After a lunch (too long. . .)' we continued walking again and pitched our camp on the bank of the Garping Khola. We're at 3860 m. Wood becomes rare. We walked almost 7 hours today and experienced more than 1200 m drop of altitude.
Departure with sandwiches in pockets for lunch, conscious of the very long climb that- awaited us at base camp this evening. 'Rene started ahead, taking the .wrong route; foolishly climbing up 400 m crossing dangerous abrupt - slopes then finally joining the rest of the group. We, arrived at base camp around 3.30 p.m. after walking 8 hours., The different views , of the Kagmara are splendid but they don't seem easy. . Champagne in the evening (12 bottles of Bollinger offered, by 'Taillevent') for the 3 birthdays. We're at about 4900 m. Today, Eric visited a salt caravan camping in the valley.
Revision of material Bustle of departure. Departure at 10 a.m. After 3 hour climb in knee-deep- snow, we stopped at 5200 m. The right ridge (SSW) is very far and would need days of walking in knee-deep snow to attain it. As for the left ridge, (northern) which starts from the pass, it seems feasible as high as to the top but dangerous afterwards due to risks of avalanche. We came to an immediate and sad decision to abandon any attempt. It would take too much time and too many risks. We returned to' base camp.
We started at 9.30 a.m. to climb the pass (about 5200 m). Eric and Doudou -climbed :-a summit (Twin Peak 5500 m). The view-was breathtaking. We started our splendid descent with our yak caravan in the snow and after a long day and a 7J hour walk through a wild multicoloured, very beautiful valley of strange forms of birch-trees; we camped at 3850 m on the bank of the Pugmi Khola.
4 hours of marvellous walking through beautiful landscape. We passed a Tibetan village called. Pugmi and saw its chorten of-admirable paintings and received a smiling, reception from the villages. We lunched at the Pugmi and Manduwa Khola confluence, took the left bank of the Suligad river which flows south into the Tuli Bheri river. We stopped in a small village and waited for the yaks (arriving 4 hours later) and continued on the long road. Camped at 3150 m.
The SuligadTuli river, Ruma, Tibrikot, and the return
Very long day of 8½ hours of walking and constant changes of altitude. We got in at night, the yaks came later (The yakmen were furious. . .) The Tuli Bheri river isn't anywhere in view. During the day the villagemen and Sherpas repaired the path which had become unusable. Suligad river is rough but our lunch-bath on its banks was agreeable. Denise, not very well, but starts to feel better. And be well by tomorrow. We camped at 3100'm.
4 hours of walking and especially climbing to attain the Tuli Bheri river in the morning. The landscape became beautiful again and the villages less dirty. (The record being, no doubt on this scale, held by Ringmo, and Rohagaon too which we visited this morning.) We lunched on the Tuli bank at 2250 m (the lowest point of our trip) among the horses. Afterwards, in the afternoon, we made a 3 hour walk to Ruma, at 2650 m, an absolutely lovely Tibetan village with rich terraces — and extraordinary giant, trees. We camped on the school roof just outside the village, enjoying the splendid view of the valley and Juphal (A small village with a runway).
Had a long 5 hr walk, climbing till 3100 m and passing several villages; one called Gompa, dedicated to Ganesh possessing very beautiful statues of Ganesh and of animals (2 very beautiful leopards). It was the first time we found a Hindu 'Gompa'. Afterwards we started the climb of Bolangra pass and pitched camp at 3150 m. A fabulous panorama with views of the Dhaulagiri, Tukuche, Nilgiri and Annapurna. Sixty horses or so are our companions.
Continued the climb of Bolangra pass which lasted 4 hours -finishing at an altitude of 3923 m but largely compensated by the grand view of the previously mentioned mountains. Lunch just afterwards, then 2 hours of walking to arrive at the pass of 3450 m and finally at Kaigon (2700 m). Camped near the school.
During the next two days, we repeated the itinerary of the way up. A long 4J hrs climb to Chaurikot where we had started with yaks. Lunched and. relaxed in the afternoon,
Started off with the most valiant of our yaks and four horses which had replaced the weakest of the yaks. A long 4 hour climb for the More Lagna where we left the Dolpo and we descended down for 3 hrs.
Just after Churta, we took the southern road, direction Jumla and not the northern road, via Leti Lagma and obviously longer. After walking 3 hours, lunched on the bank of the river^ climbed one more pass in the afternoon (that must have been the tenth of our trip, and it should be our last. .). We visited Gothichaur, a kind of model farm house, climbed a pass and pitched camp at 2950 m.
A 4 hour agreeable walk returned us to Jumla passing through rich villages harvesting their crops. The weather spoiled it for us as big clouds hid the sun for the first time. Lakhpa Sherpa was waiting for us at Jumla and we only had now to wait for the plane.
GLACIER DOME (7063 m) forms part of the Annapurna range and is situated between the mountains Gangapurna and Roc Noir. Its south face precipitates into the majestic 'Sanctuary', well-known to all visitors to Nepal, whilst its north face is an enormous ice-wall, the foot of whMi is the start of a secondary chain facing east-north-east. This chain, which ends at the village of Manang, forms the south side of the Khangsar valley.
Our expedition met at Dumre on the evening of 22 September. Besides the six Italian members there were also several Nepalese: a liaison officer, two Sherpas, a cook, two cookboys, mailrunner and one Sirdar, who was in charge of the porters. We had a total of 72 porters and all the material which was to be used above base camp had been sent out from Italy,
For the first 3 days of the approach march we walked under a blazing sun through never-ending rice fields. On the fourth day we began to gain a little height but in rain which became more and more torrential.
We found out later that during these 4 days of rain, besides causing the interruption of all the cart-tracks in Nepal, there had been 6 deaths in the Annapurna massif. From the base camp of the Italian expedition to Annapurna II came the news that 7 tents had been destroyed by avalanches.
Finally, on 30 September, we reached Rraga with 22 porters less: at ' Charne they - had' felt unable to -carry on in the pouring rain. At Pisang another 6 porters gave up.
But these weren't -our only difficulties. We realized that the photographic reconnaissance carried out by a Swiss mountain guide, from Saas Fee and confirmed by photographs published in the official magazine of the Club Alpino Italian did not refer to Glacier Dome but' to Gangapurna.
The problem- of porters was resolved by making new recruits on the spot and Claudio Schranz and Gian Franco Tagliaferri, accompanied by the Sherpas, went out to make a new reconnaissance. This done, on 2 October we decided to establish base camp above Manang at a height of 3830 m.
After having crossed the Marsyangdi river by means of a bridge over the morainic lake near the village, we went through a conifer' forest until we came to some abandoned pasture land. We continued along the lateral moraine of the glacier which swept down from Gangapurna and pitched our tents in a welcoming valley, recognizable by a, characteristic hieratic rock.
Moving by means of more than 160 m of fixed ropes to pick up more equipment and supplies, we set out for Camp 1 on 4 October. We climbed the wall of mountains which dominates the Khangsar valley without difficulty and descended on to the moraine of the glacier formed by the confluence of those coming down from Gangapurna. We had reached an altitude of 4570 m but still couldn't see Glacier Dome!
It was in this area that we came across traces of the camp established by -a Japanese expedition. This had been abandoned- following the death of' two climbers only a few days before, on 29 September. They were attempting a new route on Gangapurna.
On 6 October we continued to climb, up-the mountain wall which dominates the Khangsar valley until we -reached an altitude of 5000 m. We then moved on to the glacier of Glacier Dome where, in a level, spacious spot we established Camp 2.
The following morning we set out and found ourselves once more on the wall. After climbing for four hours we crossed a col 5520 m high. Camp 3 was established, slightly beneath it at the foot of the north face. At this' point the glacier of Glacier Dome divides into two: to the west towards Tilicho lake and to the east towards the glacier of Gangapurna, which it later joins.
There was plenty of snow due to the exceptional snowfalls at the end of September and the going proved slow. The crevasses could be crossed with care, but without excessive - difficulty, as they were covered by a mantle of snow.
On 9 October, having climbed the first part of the face, we succeeded in establishing and equipping Camp 4, inside an -enormous serac at a height of 6100 m. This eagle's nest provided shelter - for five men: Claudio Schranz, Gian, Franco Tagliaferri, Marco Roncaglioni, Riccardo Morandi and Gorohu Sherpa, in the afternoon all the equipment was checked meticulously and the few rations that were left were distributed the final assault would involve overcoming a difference in altitude of more than 1100 m.
The day of 10 October began early for the occupants of Camp 4, a long time before dawn. It was bitterly cold.
Roped together, in pairs, Claudio Schranz and Marco Roncaglioni led the way with Gian Franco Tagliaferri and Gombu Sherpa following behind. They were breathing with a completely different rhythm from that usually used in the Alps, because of the rarefied air, and it was with great will-power that they forced themselves to take first 30, then 20 and finally only 10 steps before stopping to rest.
The ascent was never-ending and the summit seemed to disappear into the distance like a - mirage, but at 11 o'clock they made it! The altimeter read 7200 m — they really were on the summit!
The amazing panorama which revealed itself was unique; hundreds of peaks, many of them over 8000 m, stretched out to the horizon. The colour of the sky was an incredibly intense blue, almost: black. The Italian national flag and the pennant of the Alpinf1 finally fluttered in the wind on the summit of Glacier Dome.
Help in the final stages of the ascent came from Riccardo Morandi at Camp 4 and from two Sherpas, Passang Temba and Pemba Gyalzen at Camp 3, whilst the expedition doctor was further down the mountain but always ready to assist.,
The descent took place rapidly, but the fatigue accumulated1 over the past few weeks had begun to show by now. The following day, unable to reach base camp a final bivouac had to be made in the open air near to the place where Camp 1 had been too hastily dismantled.
On 12 October all the expedition was reunited at base camp amid a festive atmosphere and that evening the porters and the- Sherpas organized an unforgettable party. The dances, the Nepalese songs and the excellent raksi soon, made us forget the fatigue and suffering we had recently encountered.
Members: Gabriele Marzorati (leader)'; Claudio Schranz, Gian'Franco Tagliaferri, Marco Roncaglioni, Riccardo Morandi, Silvano Cairoli (doctor).
AS THE snow came down steadily, our spirits fell too—almost as fast as the temperature. Bad weather with just about five days of climbing left above advance base camp (ABC) could mean the failure of the expedition, — we had climbed just two peaks so far,
Almost a month ago we had set out from Bombay — a team consisting of 10 students of the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, two alumni and a doctor. Vasant limaye (leader), Ajei Gopal (deputy leader), Nitin Anturkar, Mahesh Bapaye, Amit Bhargava, Allwyn Carvalho, Ashish Deshpande, Nitin Dhond, Srikrishna Karkare, Ajit Shelat, Nitin Valame, Rahul Vora and Dr Yinay Kulkarni made up the team which also had two Sherpas and two HAPS—-Kami, Mingma, Premsingh, and Jagvirsingh. The weather had been a problem right from the start—heavy snowing on the approach march itself put us a week behind schedule. Inclement weather after reaching base camp caused further delays. Hence it was understandable that after leaving Munsiari, the last road-head, on 7 May, we could establish BC (4054 m) only on the 19th. Our main camp or our actual base, however, ABC was to be well on the Kalabaland glacier at 15,500 ft.
The route to ABC from BC was such that it incorporated crossing over from one glacier to another—the Sankalpa to the Kalabaland. As we got into the latter the sight that greeted us was unbelievable. The landmarks we had familiarized ourselves with during slide shows of an earlier expedition,1 slowly came into view. The pyramidal Suitilla lay behind us as Burphu Dhura and Suli Top flanking the Kalabaland icefall revealed' themselves for the first time.
From ABC we moved up in pairs. Ajei and Shelat with the two Sherpas went up first to establish Camp 1 just at the start of the icefall and Camp- 2 above it. In. a way the bad weather had been a blessing in disguise—it made tackling the icefall much easier. Very few of the crevasses required-fixing-of rope as most of them were hardly as wide as they were deep.
Allwyn, Ashish, Dr Kulkarni, Bapaye, Dhond and Anturkar moved up next in that order—the last two staying back at Camp 1 to ferry loads to Camp 2. A day after moving into Camp 2 Ajei and Shelat attempted Sankalpa (19,450 ft). They were successful in reaching the summit—a feat they accomplished with relative case.
The second pair now moved to Camp 3 (19,100 ft) whereas the first two, scheduled to move up a day later, got caught at Camp 2 in our second major spell of bad weather.
As the bad weather cut off the newly established and barely equipped Camp 3, supplies began to run low there.
Hence an attempt was made to move up supplies through a blinding blizzard, but had to be given up. Extreme cold, thin air, and above all the biting wind left us no choice. Luckily, the next day, as the Camp 2 team had another go, they met the climbers from Camp 3 halfway and so the supplies went up.
At the same time, just before the bad weather spell, Karkare and Valame pulled off another climb. They set off from ABC and after an intermediate camp climbed a 18,372 ft rock tower on the slopes of Suli Top.2
Simultaneously action was started on Burphu Dhura. To start with, Vora and I did a recce cum ferry to this mountain and selected a site for the first camp on it. A few days later, Li may e, Vora and Karkare set off for an alpine-style attempt. They made good progress on the first day. Then as the bad weather spell started adverse conditions forced them to camp much earlier than expected at a relatively less secure spot. On the third too, heavy snowing had delayed them when their camp was hit by an avalanche.
An ice-block weighing about a ton hit the tent causing minor injury to Limaye and Vora. Deciding that the snow conditions were unsatisfactory they wound up camp and moved down. Just about ten minutes later the camp was hit by a powder-snow avalanche. Since the tent was damaged by the block which had hit it, they moved down taking only bivouac gear.
After three days of incessant snowfall we awoke to find a clear sky. That day we had another summit attempt—Sankalpa was climbed again b y Dr Kulkarni, Bapaye, and Premsingh. They had a slightly tougher time due to the previous days' snowfall.
Our good fortune lasted only for a day—the next day it snowed again. All this time we had been ferrying loads to higher camps from ABC, if we were to move up to relieve the others the weather would have to come to normal very soon.
Which brings us to the night which began with snow as we lay in our tent at ABC with crossed fingers. Our prayers were answered as the next day turned out to be crystal clear.
While ferrying to Camp 2 that day I met Dr Kulkarni and Bapaye descending to ABC. At Camp 2 Premsingh told us that while returning from the ferry he had seen Ajei and Allwyn on the summit ridge of Bamba Dhura—the chances seemed good that they'd make it.
The weather delayed us for another day but finally Limaye, Vora and I started off for Camp 2 from ABC. That night turned out to be breathtakingly beautiful. In the milky light of the moon one could see clearly for miles around. Due to a fall in temperature the snow was hard and firm—an absolute pleasure to walk on. It was a combination of all these factors that prompted us to move to Camp 3.
When we reached it was one o'clock. By now our toes and fingers were totally numb, and we shivered in the cold Wind which cut through us cruelly. It was a relief for those still at Camp 2 when the three of us (Limaye and Vora) clambered into the two-man tent. With this the tally of the number of people in that tent went up to seven—there were four inside already. We were meeting after 1 ½ weeks so the rest of the night was spent exchanging news.
Bamba Dhura had been climbed two days before. In addition, that afternoon Ashish and Shelat had climbed Kalabaland Dhura. A 19,700 ft high unnamed virgin peak OKhadga Dhura' c. 19,600 ft) had been climbed by Ajei and Allwyn also.
The only bad news was that a lot of equipment dumped on Chiring We had been swept off in a massive avalanche. Since this- equipment was irreplaceable the attempt, on Chiring We was abandoned.
In a fairly confident mood Ashish and Dhond started off for another unnamed peak c. 19,800 ft (Uttardhura) that morning while Anturkar, Premsingh and I set out for. 'Khadga Dhura' c 19,600 ft. We had no real problems whereas the other pair had a tougher' time as they encountered some green hard ice which bent their crampons.
At Camp 2 at the same time- Limaye and Vora climbed yet another unnamed peak c. 18,400 ft. We decided to call this 'Tridhar' as it had three distinct ridges. The ascent was through an avalanche gully and- rocky step which was slightly tricky. This was repeated the next, day by Karkare and Jagvirsingh after starting from ABC early in the morning.
A day earlier these two (Karkare and Jagvirsingh) had salvaged almost all the equipment abandoned; on the slopes of Burphu Dhura. The mountain showed its ferocity again when the duo met with two more avalanches in the same gully. Though luckily nothing happened to them, the people watching them from ABC went through hell.
The return was speedy, but the terrain had changed totally such a lot of snow had melted that some of the places were, virtually unrecognizable. Oil 18 June we were back at Munsiari a happy lot but a trifle sad that it was all over.
Note: The expedition named the following three peaks, whose first ascents were made: (a) 'Tridhar’, ('Three Ridges’) c. 18,400 ft, SE of Sankalpa above Camp 2. (b) 'Khadga Dhura’, ('Sword-like mountain’) c. 19,600 ft, between Sankalpa and Kalabaland Dhurja. (c) 'Uttar Dhura’ ('Northernmost- peak') c. 19,800 ft, north of Kalabaland Dhura.
Panorama from the col at head of Kalabaland glacier. Looking towards the peaks of North Nanda Devi Sanctuary.
LOOKING AROUND for lesser known areas of the Himalaya suitable for a small party, I came- across an interesting article, by Peter Mould about the. Bhillangana valley in Tehri Garhwal (AJ 326 168). Dave Broadhead and I decided to go there in April/May 1980. We were rather early in the season, the higher grazing grounds being still deep in snow and a suitable base camp with water being hard to find. But the old snow lying over the moraines made glacier travel more pleasant than it might otherwise have been.
A combination of some, well-timed snowstorms, with consequent avalanche dangers, and a very ill-behaved primus made our climbing less successful than we had hoped. We climbed Ratangrian (c. 5800 m) by the S ridge, approached from the E; and made an unsuccessful attempt on Phating Pithwara (6904 m) from the Ratangrian glacier— which gives a steep but not too difficult approach to the Phating-Jogin watershed ridge. We admired the Trident peaks above the Salling glacier; found the glacier bowl below the Phating-Kirti Stambh ridge to be danger,ously 'active'; and did a long plod up the Khatling glacier, to just below the col over to the Rudugaira glacier—only to be thwarted by a heavy snowfall of attempts on any of the nearby peaks.
51. Pt. 6209 from the ridge directly above Ruinsara Gad, right side (l953). Photos: J. T. M. Gibson Note 13
52. Looking towards peaks of Spiti valley from B.C. on Chango glacier.
53. Panorama from Kalanag (1955) Jooking towards the south face and east ridge of Swargarohini. Photos: J. T. M. Gibson Note 13
54. Ninjeri c. 21,800 ft, Chango glacier. The route of first ascent via the south ridge. Arrow marks site of Camp 1. Note 14
The most memorable part of the trip came when after a pleasant month we packed up to return to civilisation. Peter Mould had mentioned the possibility of walking out W to the Pilang valley which joins the Uttarkashi-Gangotri road at Malla. Despite our 80 lb loads this seemed an intriguing idea, so after retracing our steps for 2 days down• the delightful upper part of the Bhillangana we struck off up the confining hillsides to the W. The Gujars and the local shepherds were just beginning to advance to the higher pastures and we enjoyed a few brews and yoghurts with the first r0ther humans we had seen for a month. When we declared our intention of going to Shaslru Tal—a collection of small lakes on the pass over to the Pilang valley—no-one seemed to take it amiss, though of course they were a little surprised at the things mad westerners do for fun and warned us of the snow higher up. An old man led us through the forest. for ½ mile, then pointed us straight up the hillside where a faint suggestion of a track wound through deep beds of dry leaves and muddy banks.
From 9.30 a.m. till 6.00 p.m. that day we laboured up this 'path' through wonderful forest scenery. The way led us on to a knobbly spur in the forest with frequent little outcrops which the path would sometimes go over and sometimes bypass through thickets and thorn bushes. Apart from the weight it was the bulk of our loads that was most inconvenient because of branches hanging down and across that had to be ducked under or stepped over0 We passed some deserted shepherds' clearings but there was no trace of water anywhere on the hillside. Finally we spent the night in a little cave near the tree line, chewing away on wild rhubarb to get a bit of liquid into our dry mouths (though the thought that it might be a diuretic made us wonder how wise this was !)
It was only after another 3 hours climbing next morning that we came across our first snow patch and were able to rehydrate properly. Here, some 300 m above the tree line, we got a fine juniper fire going and enjoyed tremendous views of the mountains we were leaving behind. There followed an exhilarating walk up open grassy ridges, reminiscent of Scotland but on a Himalayan scale, with lammergeier and griffon wheeling up out of the deep hazy valleys beneath us. That night we camped about 300 m below the pass on the edge of the snow—a little behind schedule but still hopeful of making up some lost time. About 8.30 n.m. next morning, in fine weather, we crossed the pass, dotted with frozen lochans, and plunged down to a flat upper glen which ran N to join the Pilgun gad. Our map was a rather faint xerox of the U.S. l\tmy 1: 250,000 series and showed no path until after the Pilgun gad joined the Pilang gad some 10 km lower down. But with a cheerful lack of forethought we somehow assumed that local tracks would appear and lead us down to shepherds' huts and then to the first villages. There were indeed faint tracks in the open upper part of the Shastru gad and as we entered the forest. with! the hillside falling away more steeply, there were plenty of blazed trees and clearings to encourage us foolishly on. But the forest got thicker and thicker and we found ourselves dropping over small outcrops and crashing through thorns and creepers on ever steeper ground, always hoping that the next patch of light would reveal a neatly concealed path. Eventually we were forced on to the left bank of the Shastru gad and were able to follow the boulders at its edge down to the junction with the Pilgun river. The situation here was awe some-some thousands of feet of thick forest rising above us on all sides and the thunder of two lusty Himalayan torrents reverberating all around. The.detritus of fallen trees and great boulders that had slid down to the waters' edge, and that made following the river bank such a precarious and tiring business, only added to the wild-ness, of the scene. Still we were quite optimistic and slept that night about ½ mile below the junction believing that we must soon find a path and reach civilisation. The enormous quantities of tinder dry wood all along the riverside made the fire-lighting a real pleasure after our toils with damp juniper at the base camp. It was an unforgettable feeling to be sitting under the stars in the heart of this lonely gorge lazily stretching out a hand for twigs to feed the fire and wondering what strange eyes might be watching us from inside the forest.
Our food was now running low as we had planned only 3 days to cross the pass. Breakfast was a cup of tea with the last of the sugar and then we shouldered our monsters and plodded on. Half a mile further on a bridge led us on to the right bank of the Pilgun gad and raised our hopes that a path must be near. But search as we did all we could find were animal tracks sneaking and slithering through places where clumsy humans with unwieldy loads and only too tearable clothes and skin could not hope to follow. All that day saw us toiling on the right bank of the river to make about 2½ miles progress. It felt to me like a long Alpine route laid out horizontally! I was surprised how much arm strength was continually needed to hold branches up out of the way-bamboo was the worst as it would spring back to get. trapped between shoulder and pack frame. Frequently we found ourselves crawling along horizontal 'pitches'. We ate the last of our goodies that lunchtime and the late afternoon found us roiling upwards several hundred feet above the river along a semblance of track towards an apparent thinning of the trees. But fearing another night without water we made a desperate plunge down-wards in ihe failing light and miraculously managed to thread our• way past large cliffs and drop into a tiny bay not more than 10 yards across. Here the river was at its steepest fall, and together with the roar of the Kiarki gad close by it made our previous evening's site seem positively pastoral in comparison.
Retracing our steps next morning we caught a view round a corner of huge crags lining our side .of the gorge and fold upon fold of hill side between us and some distant huts, just hazily visible through our monocular. To continue in the gorge, or to attempt to contour was clearly out of the question; there was no alternative but to toil upwards to get above the tree line then follow the ridge and hope that a descent could be effected further on. For 71 hours we laboured painfully uphill on slippery leaves and earthy banks giving way eventually to open grassy slopes that had obviously been grazed. Finally we gazed from the ridge down the equally forested and precipitous slopes falling into the Kuni gad on the other side. Half a mile along the ridge brought us to a pleasant clearing with the struc ture of a shepherd's shelter but no recent signs of people or animals. This was the end of the ridge, and from here we had to descend into the forest again. /The question was, which way?•we prospected on all sides of the clearing but none seemed particularly promising and no track could be found. We studied the faint cont,ours of the map• for evidence of infinitesimally wider spacings on one side or the other.. We wondered whether the regular geological formations of the area could indicate the best side to take. We oscillated between the devil we knew and hated in the Pilgun and the one we did not know but feared in the Kuni. A brief sortie down the latter side made us suspect the worst and we then committed ourselves to a line more or less be tween the two, aiming for the junction. It was by now 4.30 p.m. and if we were to get anything to drink or eat (to supplement the half-packet of polos that had sustained us so far that day) we had to reach water again; through 1,100 m of unknown forest. We careered down—lowering ourselves down small crag! hand over hand on supple bamboo, leaping into mounds of leaves in gullies, and landj,ng pin ioned by our monstrous rucksacks. Mostly we seemed to be able to avoid the thickest areas of forest while keeping to the general line. Only a few hundred feet from the bottom Dave fell headlong over a 30 ft cliff losing his glasses and landing in a tree, cushioned by his monster. A final tumble in nettles in the dark, and we somehow made i't to the water. It had been one of the hardest days of my life, comparable wiih any on 'real mountains', in terms of both physical effort and mental strain. But the bivouac, 0like those of the previ, ous two nights, was incomparably more pleasant than on a mountain—with plenty of water and wood to hand, and only food being restricted.
We were still ½ mile from the Pilgun-Kuni junction but it took us well over an hour of fighting through forest to reach it next mo ning (having spent the first hour searching for Dave's glasses and, amaz ingly, finding them). Again a bridge in place raised our hopes and this time after an hour's climb we found a good track climbing way up the right bank of the Pilang gad. The track seemed to know where it was going, and t!ie unexpected luxury of a side stream gave a pleasant lunch stop for soup and wild strawberries; but we reached the first clearing and choices arose ! After prospecting in all directions we committed ourselves to a path which soon degenerated into a sheep track wandering undecidedly up and down along the hillside. As afternoon wore on we began to resign ourselves to yet another possibly waterless night, for we were now contouring some 300 m above the Pilang river with steep crags below. Then miraculously the good track reappeared and in the evening sun we glimpsed the first village in the distance with the welcome sound of cowbells and children calling from the fields.
What an immense relief to realise our trials were over after 6 days of exceptionally heavy toil ! Many times I had been tempted to abandon the Loads and only the thought that we would never find them again in that forest had given me pause.
We dumped our loads on the verandah of the first respectable house and were soon surrounded by men io ragged woollen jackets demanding to know our story. Not surprisingly they were incredulous. They confirmed that there was no path in the Pilgun gad (we should have stayed high from the col and crossed further hills to the W before descending below Pilang). If not quite in the same league as Tilmans appearance in Milam after crossing the rim of the Nanda Devi sanctuary, our arrival had something of the same absurd flavour. Though a little more developed than Gangi (the last village in the Bhillangana) Pilang is still a pretty unvisited place as far as foreigners are concerned and we were as curious to stare at the wild Garhwalis and their bejewelled women as they were to stare at us with our muddy torn clothes and huge rucksacks. They must attribute amazing powers to Western maps, for the idea that strangers should navigate alone across their hills (however incompetently) with the aid only of a scruffy square of. paper was clearly hard for them to credit. One of the more suspicious asked us how many tarns there were up on the col, and when we got the answer wrong it was impossible to explain in our limited Hindi that, first, we hadn't been specially on the lookout to count tarns and, secondly, we could easily have missed one in the deep snow cover.
Our host, Deb Ram, was a paragon of good manners, serving us kindly without being too inquisitive. Next morning we left him various useful bits and pieces and set off on the final stretch to the main road at Malla. One last route-finding error had us climbing up the other side of the Pilang valley on the old path to Silla, instead of taking a more direct newly-built path. But we reached the hot Bhagirathi valley early in the afternoon and after a bus ride—whose discomforts, even after 9 months in India, ranked as badly as anything in the previous week—we arrived safely in the fleshpots of Uttarkashi, while thunderstorms broke over the mountains.
MERU GROUP of peaks is situated on the west of Gangotri glacier and at the end of Meru Barnak. Peaks can be approached through Meru Barnak and Kirti Barnak. This Austrian expedition is the second venture to Meru. Earlier Japanese climbed Meru North (6672 m).
The expedition team left Delhi by a chartered bus on 18 August and arrived at Uttarkashi on 19th afternoon.
The same day we have completed official formalities. Altogether 65 porters were recruited from Uttarkashi to carry 1300 kgs load up to base camp. On 21st the team arrived at Gangotri. On the way we made a halt at Dabrani. Next day we trekked up to Bhujbas along with all the porters and camped there. On 23rd we arrived at Tapoban (4250 rn) from Bhujbas and established our base camp. Here all the porters except two. high-altitude porters and one cook were discharged.
Tapoban is a common base camp place for most of the expeditions corning to this area. It provides wide camping ground and offers facilities of plenty of water. Up to Tapoban we followed the conventional route of pilgrims.
On 24th Karl Pfeifer, Reinhard, Albrecht, Rudolf and Dr Peter went for reconnaissance of Camp 1. In the evening they came back and reported that they have selected the camp site at the height of 4950 m. They also dumped a few items there. This morning Karl Reindl fell sick and was sent back to Bhujbas with one HAP. Next day Josef, Ralf Peter, Friedrich, Rudolf and Reinhard went to establish Camp 1 with some equipment. Rudolf and Reinhard stayed at Camp 1 and the rest of the members returned to the base camp. On 26th myself, two HAPs and four other .members went to Camp 1 to ferry. Camp 1 site was at the bottom of Meru and at the end of Meru glacier. The entire glacier was full of crevasses and sharp boulders. Only in a few places patches of snow were seen. It was quite a hard job to-walk on this glacier. Another three members, Karl Pfeifer, Albrecht and Dr Peter stayed at Camp 1 and Rudolf, along with the rest of the members returned to the base camp. Again on next day a few members and two HAPs went to Camp 1 for ferry and in the evening all the members except Reinhard (who stayed alone at Camp 1) returned to the base camp. Three others who stayed at base camp informed us that they had fixed 250 m ropes on the rock wall on the way to Camp 2. Karl Reindl who was sent to Bhujbas came up to base camp in the evening that day. On 28th Karl Ffeifor, Rudolf, Albrecht and Dr Peter went up to Camp 1.•on thefollowing day a few other members and two HAPs went to Camp 1 for ferry and in the afternoon they returned with Reinhard who was staying at Camp 1. Reinhard reported that only 200 m were left to reach the Col of Meru.
On 30th Josef, Konrad and Ralf Peter went up to Camp 1. Two porters who accompanied them came back in the afternoon with the message that members reached the Col of Meru and Camp 2 was established at a height of 5670 m. About 700 m rope were fixed on a rock wall of about 800 m. In the evening all the members except those three who went up foom base returned to base camp. Next day Josef and Ralf Peter moved up and came to Camp 2 at about 2 pm. Konrad came back to base camp from Camp 1 and informed us about their safe journey.
Route from Camp 1 to Camp 2 was to some extent dangerous. Vertical rock wall of about 800 m exposed to the sun in the morning which caused continuous stone falling. Moreover rock condition was too bad and there were some small streams also on the upper part of the wall. While fixing the rope Dr Peter was hit by a stone on his shoulder and Rudolf had a shower-bath of stones. His helmet saved his life. Albrecht who was taking some photographs of their activities restin took off his rucks1ck, a boulder rolled and pushed his rucksack down near to Camp 1.
On 1 September Josef and Ralf Peter set out for summit from Camp 2 while Rudolf, Dr Peter, Reinhard, Albrecht and Karl Pfeifer went up to Camp 1 from base camp. Josef and Ralf Peter reached the North summit (6672 m) of Meru at 5.00 p.m. On their return journey from the summit the weather changed. It was very cloudy followed by heavy snowfall.
They could not find their way to Camp 2 and had to spend the night in the open sitting on their rucksack. It was a sleepless night in all the camps since no message was heard from them. Walkie-talkie operated only between base camp and Camp 1. On the next morning a voice suddenly was heard in the walkie-talkie set. Ti was Josef who returned to Camp 2 in the morning after having climbed the summit. They spent .the night only 300 m away from Camp 2. The route from Camp 2 onwards was not that difficult but quite long and covered with snow. In the morning Josef and Ralf Peter returned to base camp from Camp 2. On 3rd Rudolf, Albrecht, Dr Peter, Karl Pfeifer and Reinhard moved up to Camp 2. It was decided that they would try to climb North peak (6672 m) and also South peak if possible which is still unclimbed. On 4th Rudolf, Albrecht, Dr Peter, Karl Pfeifer and Reinhard set up from Camp 2 early in the morning and reached the North summit of Meru at 1.30 p.m. and in the afternoon all of them sa!ely returned to Camp 2. They also informed us that climbing the South peak was quite difficult since no approachable route was there. Next day Rudolf, Albrecht, Dr Peter and Karl Pfeifer came back to base camp while Reinhard stayed at Camp 2 for the last summit party. The last summit party consisted of Julius, Karl Reindl, Peter Schiml, Friedrich and Konrad who set out from base camp heading towards the West peak (6361 m) of Meru.
The following day all the members came up lo Camp 2. On 7th Peter Schiml, Karl Reindl, Friedrich, Julius, Konrad and Reinhard climbed the West summit (6361 m) of Me\"u and safely returned to Camp Z. Next day all of them came back to base camp.
Finally, the team left base camp on 12th and arrived at Delhi on 16th.
Members: M. J . Friedhuber (leader), Dr Ralf Peter Haslinger (deputy leader), Julius Muller, K. Pfeifer, K. Reindl, Friedrich Roth, Konrad Scharnreiter, P. Schiml, Reinhard Streif, Albrecht Thausing, Rudolf Wurzer, Dr P . Lengauer and Ujiwal Ganguly (liaison officer).
Photos 40 to 44
P. M. DAS
ANOTHER CLIMBING camp in Garhwal. The I.M.F. calls it a 'training-testing camp-cum-expedition', implicitly for Everest 1984. We at first go through the paces of limbering up on boulders and then climbing the longer pitches at Tekhla, near Uttarkashi. For the first few days, the emphasis is on getting climbing fit and in the revision of techniques learnt earlier. At the pilgrim centre of Gangotri where we spend the first three days of Oct.ober '82, we get on to more difficult routes in teams. Angular slabs, a chimney, the odd overhang are free climbed. On the longer pitches we rope up; a few pitons and runners for protection are all the ironmongery allowed.
In the next two days we move up the Rudugaira valley where we are to operate for the rest of the duration of the camp. We arrive at base camp at 4600 m on 6 October, having used one intermediate camp above wooded slopes. Above the tree-line, the late-season Prirnula minutissima is perhaps the only colour to welcomes and I look in vain for bharal where in the summer of 1976 t'hey had run riot.
The base camp on the moraine is a cold and unhappy place this October but the view and the feel of being hemmed in by lofty summits makes up for the absence of grassy slopes and turns. Above us, to the south is GangoLri III (6577 m), the summit ridges of Gangotri 1I (6590 m) and Gangotri I (6672 m); north of us are the rock-walls ot tne Rudugaira massif with a conspicuous yellow band streaked across. Across the valley to the east is the Jogin ridge. Far too many humans—29 urban-based participants of the camp—are parked at this altitude and scare away the wildlife. Even the friendly redstart is absent but I spot a pair of Pied Wagtails and some of us hear calls and conclude that snowcock are roosting on the rock-walls.
We are given an option to do an acclimatization walk one day. It is a four-and-a-half hour ridge walk of 1619 m to the summit of Rudugaira (5819 m) and there are eleven climbers who get to it. Three are women. From Rudugaira's summit I get a view of the final slopes of Gangotri III. Below and across the icefall, the approaches to Gangotri I become clearer. Westward is Srikanta.
The plans for the forthcoming days are announced: all would devote their energies towards the ascent of Gangotri I (6872 m). All are assembled together in the mess tent and the camp-in-charge asks us to choose a leader for the first party of six men and women which will operate on the peak. Boga from Bombay is the leader and he names five others including a woman. They set up two camps and get to the summit. The route is straightforward but for the fixing of 242 m of rope and on an average it involves 8 hours of climbing from the last camp at 5800 m to the summit.
A second party moves up to Camp 2 (5800 m) on 15 October, the day the first party returns from the summit. The following day two men and two women get to the summit. When the third group moves up to Camp 2 on 16 October, it is a large and disorganized crowd of fifteen. It is only the instructor's rope of three which gets to the summit and the others — some of whom are bitter about being detailed to rope up with very weak women climbers — turn back from barely 150 m of the summit because of the lateness in the day. It is an educa¬tive day for the organizers and those outspoken advocates of 'mixed' climbing.
After a day's rest at base camp, it is discovered that the cold is taking its toll. Is it that our gear is sub-standard, or is our resistance low? Three of those returning from the summit of Gangotri I go down with cold injuries and soon two others follow.
Gangotri II (6590 m) is now to be attempted, using the same Camp 1 as for Gangotri I but it would be an ascent by a new route on this mountain. Rajeev Sharma is their leader. Again the group is very large and consists of climbers of very varied degrees of experience. They are back at base within three days, beaten by the weather. Mean¬while, I co-ordinate an alpine move for three days. My group consists of eight, including three women, and despite poor weather conditions and heavy snowfall we explore the valley of the Rudugaira Bamak upto its head, camping on the moraine near a snowfield. While one rope of four gets high up on the slopes of Auden's Clol on the Jogin-Gangotri HI ridge before a heavy snowstorm reducing visibility to a couple of feet sends them down, another rope of three persons succeeds in getting to the crest from a shoulder of the col. Through the cloud and falling snow they manage to get a fleeting glimpse of the Khatling Bamak below. This is an outing when, apart from the pure pleasures of climbing being made available, the bonds of camaraderie and friend¬ship are tried and renewed. When tents are rolled up, rucksacks strapped on and men are smoking a final cigarette before moving down the glacier it is a women's instinct for orderliness which leads her to discover a tent pole has been left behind!
55. Hidden peak from the West. Photos: Bernard Odier Note 16
56. Gasherbrum IV from Concordia.
57. Route from Daulatbeg-Oldi to the Karakoram Pass. Photo : S. P. Chamoli Article 16
58. Coat of Anus of Sir William Birdwood. the first President of The Himalayan Club on a shop window in Connaught Place, New Delhi 1982. Photo: R. Bhattacharji
The return to Gangotri is leisurely and it is only when we get there that the shrine at 3048 m gets its first coating of winter snow and we know that it is time to head for the -warmth of the plains.
THE CLIMBERS' Group, Calcutta, decided to attempt Parbati Parbat (6275 m — 20,587 ft), a virgin peak on the north wall of Panpatia glacier and about 5 km WSW of Nilkantha in the Badrinath region of the Garhwai Himalaya. We had the privilege of being the first expedition team to attempt the peak from, the south as most of the teams before us attempted it from the north and through Satopanth glacier. Our main object was to attempt Parbati Parbat on the north wall of the Panpatia glacier in the Khirganga valley. The second object of the venture was ffco reconnoitre the Panpatia complex along with the Chaukhamba III (6974 m — 22,880 ft) situated in north from where the Panpatia glacier and Khirganga starts towards east.
There had been four earlier attempts on Parbati Parbat. A team from New Zealand led by H. Ricldiford attempted it in 1951 through the west ridge and reached c. 19,800 ft from B.C. (13,500 ft) on Satopanth glacier.1 They returned due to bad snow conditions on the ridge. In 1967 it was attempted by a team from Mayo College led by 9. S. N. Ganju. They returned again in. 1973 with a team from St Stephen's College.2 They reached upto E Col (W Col of Nilkantha) c. 18,000 ft from the NE side. The fourth expedition was organized by the Hima-layan Club and led by S. Kulkarni during 1980 from the south of Satopanth glacier. They have climbed a point 20,100 ft and subsequently called it Ekdant (which literally means one tooth and is another name for Lord Ganesh).3 This high point is situated 3 km WSW of Nil¬kantha. On the west of this point (20,100 ft) and about 2 km away the west ridge leads to Parbati Parbat,
We reached Rishikesh early on 4 September 1981. On 5th we started for Badrinath and reached Joshimath in the evening. On 7th I met S.D.M. and dealt about inner line permit. Finally the formalities were safely avoided mainly because the team was moving to the peak from the south. In the same evening we reached Badrinath where Dipak was waiting for me. On 8th morning myself and Dipak started for Khirao, the last village en route to our base camp from Badrinath. At 2 p.m. we met our advance team a few furlongs above the village. Though it was scheduled to start for base in the early morning, the team could not move till 9th. Only 2 porters turned up instead of 16. With a great persuasion we managed to get 6 more porters from the Khirao village and allow them to dump the loads by ferry system for establishing our base camp on 10th. Still the members had to ferry loads to the base and high camps.
On 10 September base camp was pitched (13,000 ft), a little away from the snout of Panpatie glacier, fetching the loads with the help of porters, mules and goats. In the evening the weather became heavy.
From the B.C. we had a view of Niikantha (21,640 ft) and its W col along with the hanging glacier and rock walls, while Parbati is not even seen. The west ridge of Niikantha dropped to the left from its shoulder and was finished at W col. Due to porter shortage, we planned to move in two groups with interchangeable personnel — a summit team consist¬ing of 4 members and 3 porters (Dipak, Sandip, Ran jit and Rajani) and rest comprised of 4 members (Sanatan, Dilip, Samir and Doctor) and porters.
On 11th morning, after repacking our loads at the B.C. we set out to recce ABC. In the mean time Sandip, Ranjit and Rajani went ahead to recce W col of Niikantha and its southern flank. It was a steep slope and they halted after climbing about 2000 ft. They had a good view of the W col (and perhaps Balakun 21,230 ft beyond the W col), hanging glacier and the portion of the icefall with its intersecting crevasses. So the team returned back to B.C. in the evening with a view that the climbing by this route was not possible.
Parbati Exp. 1981
On 12th we made the first supply ferry to ABC followed by another one the next day. On 13th we established ABC (15,000 ft). During the last few days the weather was fair but became gloomy after noon. From here it was possible to see the whole of Vishnu Garh Dhar group of peaks in south and its northern faces frequently pouring down avalanches. Sandip, Dipak, Eanjit and Eajani along with 3 porters stayed at ABC and rest of the party returned to- B.C. for another ferry.
On 14th the party climbed further north of ABC to establish'Camp 1 for attempting Parbati Parbat from its southern flank. Though the southern route was more direct and shorter, it was very difficult. The portion of the icefall that could be seen appeared possible, but the upper portion was hidden by a buttress. In the meantime the weather became unfavourable and the sky was cloudy.
On 15th the advance party moved a little higher up and shifted Camp 1. The intention was that this party would push through to Camp 2 on the top end of the glacier and take a shot at the summit.
But the progress was greatly hampered because the weather was deteriorating rapidly. In these circumstances Sandip took the decision to climb a rocky peak nearby. So- the party diverted their route and climbed a rocky peak of 5294 m (17,370 ft).
The summit was reached at 1 p.m. by Sandip and Ranjit along with two porters Lakhsman Singh and Dhan Bahadur. Due to bad weather and whiteout the route down required both care and patience. After a very tiring descent they reached ABC just as it got dark, coupled with snowfall.
The objective danger on Parbati Parbat was too great to warrant an attempt. Therefore preparations were made to carry down the base camp. Whilst these preparations were taking place Dilip, Samir and Sanatan explored the Panpatia glacier and Vishnu Garh Dhar. The bad weather continued throughout and it became obvious that, with limited means and time, little further climbing and recce would be possible. By 19th all preparations for departure were made under deteriorating weather which followed us down the mountain to Hanu- man Chatti. All the stores and equipments were moved from the mountain by 23 September.
Panpatia Glacier: The Panpatia glacier starts from the eastern base of Chaukhamba III which finally feeds the Satopanth glacier. Appar¬ently there is no such big snowfield in the source region of the glacier but frequent avalanches from the western wall, Vishnu Garh Dhar group (south of the glacier) and small tributaries supply large amount of snow to the glacier. There are several glaciers hanging on the south wall of the ridge (or north wall of the Panpatia glacier) running right from Niikantha peak to Chaukhamba III except the wide gap where the glacier is on the upland adjacent to the north of Panpatia snowfield which is an important source of Satopapth glacier.
The slope beyond our base camp and of these hanging glaciers is very steep. Because of such steepness of the south facing wall of rock, we observed that any attempt on Nilkantha, Parbati Parbat and other 19 thousanders would be very difficult from the southern flank.
Members : Sanatan Bhattacharya (leader), Sandip Kay-Choudhury and Dipak Basak (deputy leaders), Samir Banerjee, Dilip Bhattacharya, Ranjit Rit, Dr P. D. Mukherjee and Rajani Hakshit.
IT WAS once my ambition to make, possibly, a first ascent of ‘The Path to Heaven’, for that is a translation of Swargarohini, the mountain I wanted to climb.
I say ‘possibly' because, by tradition, it was up this mountain that Draupadi, the Pandayas and their dog left the earth.
Swargarohini is -20,512 ft or 6252 m high. Without a pocket calculator I am too lazy to check whether these heights are the same. The first is taken from a 1925 map in which the mountain is called Surgnalin, and the later from a map published, also by the Survey of India, in 1968.
My first view of the mountain was in 1948, on a descent to- the Harki Dun from the Borasu pass. I had heard of the beauty of the Harki Dun and would have visited it earlier had it not been for the war. I have a painting of Swargarohini made there in 1885 by William Harris and sent to his half-sister, Eily Quarry (nee Hume) who gave it to¬me after my visit to the Harki Dun. The breath-taking view of the mountain from there has altered little in a hundred years except that the blue pine are now higher and you see the mountain through the trees, instead of rising about them as in the painting.
Swargarohini, as far as I can judge, is an extensive, hump with several rock peaks rising from it. The length of the hump, about 7 kilometres, runs roughly WNW to ESE with narrow rock ridges descending from its ends in a series of pinnacles. The breadth is about 2 km and on my 1963 map peaks at 5845, 5984, 6209, and 6252 m are marked rising from it. The ridge leading up to the hump from the west has peaks at 4508, 4755, 5050 and 5120 m, and down from the hump to the east there are more peaks the highest of which is 5966 m. The northern and southern faces of the hump are great walls with ridges separated by gullies running down them, and two glaciers each 2 km long on the southern side. The remains of morainic deposit from one of these holds up a lake above the Ruinsara gad in an abla¬tion valley : a splendid place for a base camp at nearly 3500 m. All the peaks rising from the hump would make good climbs, and when, some years ago, I showed Chris Bonington a photograph of the northern side he said it was a climb he would like to do.
I was so excited by what I saw in 1948 that climbed on to the western ridge at about 15,500 ft before breakfast: some 3000 ft or more by 9 a.m. and from there had my first view from the northwest of the Black Peak as John Martyn and I had called it in 1937 when we had seen its great black rock precipice from the Bandarpunch south ridge. Its official name is now Kalanag. From the northwest it was a different mountain: what modern climbers rudely call a cow — a great snow ridge above glaciers. It is slightly higher than Swargarohini and more of my standard of climbing, so I decided that it must be my next expedition and that, if possible, I would ski down it.
However, in 1958 I took an expedition of seven Mayo College boys; two New Zealanders, Allan Berry and Alby Clough who were teaching at the College; Shiv Ganju and H. L. Dutt; and Dr Moor from England, to see whether we could get up Swargarohini. We camped beside the lake in the Ruinsara valley. We had not been able to afford Sherpas, and the local porters, giving us to understand that they thought the climb was sacrilege, refused to join us on the mountain. We all carried to a camp at. 14,400 ft where we left the New Zealanders, Dr Moor, and D. N. Mathur, one of the boys, to attempt the mountain. The next day, 21 May, skiing the other side of our valley, we watched avalanches pour¬ing off Swargarohini and hoped the climbers were safe. Mahendra, another boy, and I, with two porters whose material interests were stronger than their spiritual doubts, climbed to the 14,400 ft camp the following morning and saw the high party coming down what we called Scimitar Ridge. We wondered if they had been successful, but as they did not turn up that evening, we supposed not.
The next day we set out at 06.30 a.m. carrying loads of about 35 lb each, in time to see the others making their way again up Scimitar Ridge. At about noon we saw them coming down again. We were at 17,000 ft on very steep snow whose condition I did not like, so we turned back too. Without rock pitons, they had been defeated by a rock gendarme at over 19,-000 ft.
As far as I know, the next and, so far the only other attempt on Swargarohini was made in 1974 by a party of Canadians, Dilsher Virk who had climbed in the area while at the Doon School, and Dr Charles Clarke. They made a first ascent of what I think was the 6209 peak, which was the one we had thought to be the highest in 1958. From their account in the Canadian Alpine Journal of 1975 it seems to me that they did not realize, as we had not, that there was a peak only 43 metres higher 1.4 km along the ridge to the east.
So, unless I am wrong, and unless the Pandavas reached it with their dog, the summit of this splendid mountain is still to be climbed.
There axe also other exciting peaks and endless routes to be explored, all at heights where climbing can be enjoyed, and within the inner line in an area noted for its birds, animals and flowers, and admirable for glaciological studies.
CHANGO GLACIER lies at the northeastern end of the Kinnaur district of Himachal Pradesh on the Indo-Tibetan border. The glacier is the source of the Chango river, one of the many tributaries of the Spiti river.
I had my first view of the Chango glacier while climbing Leo Pargial (22,280 ft) in June 1980' on the St Stephens College centenary expedition. The sight of the peak and the glacier was fascinating. It is surprising that apart from Marco Pallis who made the first ascent of Leo Pargial in 1933, no other climber or expedition to the Leo Pargial.1 peak had mentioned or even alluded to the existence of this virgin glacier or its striking unclimbed peaks. It is no wonder that Marco Pallis on his return from, his successful expedition had extolled the climbing potential of this area. The Chango glacier is surrounded by an array of peaks both snowy and of the Chamonix Aiguille type. 1 can imagine nothing better than a season's climbing with a base camp well up on the glacier. There's an abundance of suitable sites and every variety of climb within easy reach. (H.J. Vol VI, p. 106).
An expedition was organized in 1981 with the aim of pioneering a route up the Chango glacier and to climb some of its virgin peaks.2 Whilst the expedition succeeded in charting a route to the glacier unfortunately due to the inexperience of some of the members a suc¬cessful climb was not possible.
Our team which left Delhi for Simla on 27 May consisted of 7 mem¬bers: Sanjiv Seth, Rahul Sharma, Ali Asghar Kazimi, Deepak Chandnani. Chering Namgyal (high-altitude porter), Jagdish Gondal (cook) and myself. The Chango village which is our roadhead is about 320 km due northeast of Simla. The journey by road through the towering granite walls of the Sutlej valley to the dry and desolate Spiti valley is both an exciting and a fascinating one. The Chango village (10,200 ft) is the largest and one of the more prosperous villages of the Spiti valley. Being In the inner line and not exposed to too many outsiders the, people are friendly and honest. Porters were no problem, due to there being so few expeditions in the area.
Our small team with 9 mules and 8 porters left the village on 3 June. The route followed steeply from the village into the narrow Chango gorge. After the steep climb a gradual traverse - along the true left of the river brought us to our first approach march camp at about 13,500 ft about 6 hours away from Chango village. Owing to very heavy snowfall in this area in the preceding months, the snowline was lower by about 2000 ft as compared to June 1981. Our second approach camp was placed near the snout of the glacier at the snowline at 14,500 ft. Over the next three days from this camp the 8 porters and 6 climbing mem¬bers ferried loads and established base camp at 16,500 ft on the medial moraine of the glacier. Ferrying loads over the scree and moraine on snow had its advantages and disadvantages. Whilst it was easy walking on the consolidated snow early in the morning, it became tricky and dangerous when the snow softened later in the day. Luckily we had no twisted or broken ankles. Our base camp which was virtually devoid of snow the previous year was now under about 6 ft of snow.
After establishing base camp on 7 June most of our porters were discharged except for 2' who were to help us ferry loads to advance base camp. After a much-needed rest day at BC where we took stock of our food and gear,- we decided to establish ABC at the foot of the peak 21,800 ft on the true right of the glacier at about 18,000 ft. The trek between base camp and ABC on the firm morning snow was an extremely enjoyable one. The glacier from here is like a smooth white road unmarred by moraine with a very gentle gradient. The peaks of the glacier open up all around us. Though Leo Pargial lying at the southwestern end of the glacier is the highest, it is overshadowed by the massive granite peak 21,600 ft lying at the head of the glacier. All the members except the cook who- was to stay permanently at base camp occupied ABC on June 9. The glacier here is a massive ice-cap, marred, here and there by huge yawning crevasses. One has to be wary mostly of hidden crevasses. By mid-day we were faced with strong winds which not only chilled us to the bone but caused problems by blowing off one of our larger tents which we managed to pitch after a great deal of effort. Early next morning the 6 of us left ABC to reconnoitre a route and ferry loads to Camp 1 on the main south ridge of the peak 21,800 ft. Meanwhile the two porters were to stock ABC from base camp.
The initial climb up from the glacier on to the ridge for about 1000 ft was quite steep. After having climbed this section the angle of the ridge eased up. At this point, unfortunately All Kazimi developed a serious attack of bronchial asthma and had to be brought down immediately. While the others continued with the ferry Ali and myself roped down to ABC. We packed in our sleeping-bags and continued down to base camp. The following day Ali and a porter started on their return to Chango village. He decided to leave as it would have been hazardous for him to stay up at altitude. T rejoined the rest of the team at ABC and learnt that they had made a dump at around 19,500 ft and had not really found a site for our high camp.
59. Peter Boardman and Joe Tasker.
60. Col. E. Goodwin.
Illustrated Note 1
A Nepal-Japan (Osaka) Ichiro Yasuda made the first ascent made the first ascent of Phurbi Chyachu (6658 m) on 1 May 1982 via the southwest ridge. 4000 ft of rope was fixed.
Illustrated Note 2
Two ezpeditions, the Nepalese- German Expedition and the Nepal and Kyushu Dental College Alpine Association, Japan, Himalayan joint Expedition, made the first ascent of Ganesh III (7132 m) on 16 October 1981. The routes met at Camp 3 and from there both expeditions followed the same route via the north face to the sumit.
Morning of 12 June, the 5 of us with our personal equipment and tents moved up from ABC to establish and occupy Camp 1 for a sum¬mit push the following day. Our rucksacks were twice as heavy after re-loading them with food and equipment at the dump site at 19,500 ft. We finally found a good camp site about 500 ft above dump in a rocky niche, protected from the wind. On either side were steep drops down to the glacier. To our right was the northern branch of the Chango glacier and to the left, to a smaller subsidiary glacier near ABC. Ironically, it was only here at 20,000 ft that we found some dry rocky ground on which we pitched our tents.
The morning of 13 June dawned bright and clear but exceedingly cold and breezy. At 5 A. M. Chering, Sanjiv, Deepak, Rahul and myself, divided into two ropes of three and two, set off for the summit. Our route followed the main south ridge for some distance, but soon we had veered off to the left and were climbing on the west face. This turned out to be a problem. While all the other peaks around us were bathed in the warm morning sunshine, we had none until on top of the summit. The wind, extreme cold and altitude took its toll when both Sanjiv and myself suffered from hypothermia, though not too serious. About 500 ft below the summit, Sanjiv climbed back up on to a point on the ridge to warm himself in the sun. I felt if I stopped I would not have been able to carry on. Absolutely numb with cold those last extremely steep 500 ft on poor wind-slab snow was sheer agony. After a great deal of huffing and puffing, belaying and delaying, Chering, Deepak and myself reached the summit (and the sun) at 9.40 a.m. Rahul and Sanjiv reached half an hour later. Our spirits lifted on seeing the world around us. Except for Leo Pargial, due south of our peak, everything else was below us. To the east and north¬east, the rolling lowlands of Tibet. To the south, southwest and west, Kinnaur Kailash (21,240 ft), Manirang (21,700 ft), the mountains of Spiti and the Chandra Bhaga. Due north the mountains of Ladakh. Below our peak on the other side was a glacier like the Chango with a number of 20,000 ft peaks all around. This glacier also is unexplored and its peaks virgin. After taking photographs we began our descent and were back in camp by 12.30 p.m.
On the descent back to ABC, Rahul was in pain as he had contracted first-degree frostbite on his toes. He was in no condition to continue with the expedition. By 15 June we had evacuated ABC and returned to BC. By 17 June, the porters had come up from Chango and by the 18th we were back in Chango village with a first ascent to our credit.
The expedition was successful in climbing the peak 21,800 ft. Whilst this peak is the second highest of the Chango glacier peaks, it is not the most difficult. This area abounds with climbing potential and its easy accessibility renders it ideal for short challenging expeditions. All in all we enjoyed super weather and the unstinting co-operation of all the team members made this expedition thoroughly enjoyable.
Name of the peak
The peak we climbed was unnamed. It was decided among the members that the name ‘Ninjeri' would be most apt. Ninjeri is a Ladakhi word, Ninje meaning 'untouched' and 'innocent' and Hi mean¬ing 'mountain'.
THE IDEA was born while leafing through Trevor Braham's Himalayan Odyssey. Since Braham's expedition to the northern glaciers of Spiti, more than twenty-five years ago, few climbers have been attracted to this fascinating land. Geographically, Spiti falls in the same class as Lahul, Zanskar and Ladakh — a mountain desert in the rain-shadow of the Great Himalayan Divide. At an average height of 11,000 ft, the valley offers a variety of climbing and trekking opportunities. There are many glaciers in Spiti, about which little or nothing is known. This is particularly true for the smaller glaciers south of the Bara Shigri glacier. At a stone's throw from the Tibetan border, the valley is inaccessible to foreign nationals, and the 15,500 ft high Kunzum La makes sure it remains open to the bus traffic from Manali only during the warmer half of the year.
On 7 July, Muslim Contractor and I left Bombay with a plan to climb Guan Nelda (20,680 ft)1 alpine style. This shapely peak lies on the Shilla nullah, a small tributary of the Spiti river. Locally, as we discovered later, the peak is better known as 'Chow Chow Kang Nelda', which in the Bhotia means 'Snow Moon in the Sky' — a bit poetic, we thought.
After a couple of quiet, lazy days at Kulu, waiting for the inner-line permits and eating some delicious food, we boarded the bus to Raza, the capital village of Spiti. Soon, we said good-bye to the pine forests and crossed the Rohtang pass into Lahul. As the bus headed for Kunzum La along the Chandra river, it became increasingly difficult to believe that there was in fact a road. The bus seemed to be threading its way through a sea of giant boulders in a wilderness that was strikingly unearthly, For the next three weeks we would see and live in a mountain desert — a mind-blowing monotony of black, brown and grey, relieved only by the bright blue sky, snowclad peaks and an occasional patch of green around a village.
Late in the evening, after a fourteen-hour journey, we arrived at Rangrik, a collection of strange looking mud-houses at 12,000 ft. Gratefully, we accepted the hospitality — and a little ara (the local wine) — of the caretaker of the village dispensary. It took us another two days to hire a mule. We were happy to take a walk along the Ratang gorge and get used to the stark nakedness of the landscape. On the way back we saw, on the other side of the Spiti, an impressive triangle of snow peeking out of the drifting clouds. 'Hey! here's our Moon' said Muslim, as we looked for the route we planned to take on the SW face, leading to the west ridge.
On the 15th, with a mule carrying 45 kg of our food and equipment, we set off on our short approach march with Dorji, a shy young lama, who was our muleteer. After crossing the Spiti, we climbed over the barren cliffs overlooking the Shilla nullah and finally came up to the barley fields of Langja. At an exceptional height of 13,500 ft for a village, Langja was a quiet, sleepy place. Most of the men of the village stayed indoors, while the women looked after the fields—a typical scene in Spiti. Soon we had settled down with some coffee, which disagreed with our friend Dorji, when the bright blue nylon of our two-man tent aroused some curiosity in the villagers. Soon half the village had assembled near the tent and in no time Muslim was busy dispensing all kinds of medicines. I tried to talk to the local mumbo-jumbo man who knew a few words of Hindi and claimed he had been to Bombay. Unlike in the stories, he had no hang-ups about the advent of allopathy and wasted no time in grabbing a strip of analgesics.
That night, after a meal of noodles and cheese, which again went against our lama's taste, it started raining quite heavily. All our hopes of a sunshine climb disappeared as we woke up in the morning in wet sleeping-bags under the overcast sky. Our muleteer thought he had had enough of adventure and decided to quit. The next day we managed to persuade Angta, the mumbo-jumbo man, to make his mule available for the one more day's march to the base camp,
Finally, on the 17th we were alone at the base camp at 16,500 ft. The snow-line was still another 1500 ft higher. After a scramble up the scree-littered gullies at the base of a smaller peak to the east of Guan Nelda, it was clear that another camp-site before the west ridge would be a difficult proposition, as there was neither water nor snow on the long scree gullies, nor a flat piece of ground for our little tent.
The central scree gully on the west face of Guan Nelda which led to a snow tongue, was still further to the west. We would have to climb over small hillocks littered with scree to reach it. We weighed our chances of making the summit from B.C. itself. It would involve a tiring climb of 4000 ft and the descent back to camp, all in one go. But it looked like a reasonably simple climb. The next day we took some food and equipment to the base of the snow gully at 18,000 ft, and returned to camp by the afternoon. We spent the evening sharpening our crampons and hoping that the weather would continue being kind to us. That night, we slept with high hopes under a cloudless sky.
On the 20th, we started at 6 a.m. and reached the dump point in less than two hours. In a way we were happy to leave behind us the endless scree of the lower slopes and step on to the crisp snow. We decided to take a line along the left of the gully where a few rocks jutted out of the face. There was only a thin layer of snow on the face with the same old scree underneath. But it would do, as long as the snow remained firm. Soon I reached a small rocky ledge half-way up the face and with my ice-axe made myself a place to sit. I asked Muslim to put on his crampons as in places the snow was ice hard. Just as Muslim was about to join me, one of his crampons came loose and went rolling down the gully. Muslim was not feeling too well and had a slight headache. I wondered if we had acclimatized properly for a push like this. It was already 11.30 a.m. and it would take another hour to retrieve the crampon. Muslim needed a rest badly. 'Should we call it a day and try again tomorrow?' I asked Muslim. He thought I should go on as fast as possible and try to reach the summit. I didn't like the idea of going alone without the protection of a rope, though there was no objective danger that I could see on the way.
With some hesitation, I left Muslim and moved up. In another hour I reached the ridge and the view on the other side opened up. I could see the brown, rocky Tibetan plains stretching far away in the distance. After taking a few snaps I plodded on up the ridge, taking care to keep below the cornice. A seemingly endless plod for another hour brought me to the base of the summit cone, just when I was feeling the strain of this unexpected solo attempt. And there was the final test. A narrow crevasse separated me from the base of the summit cone. It was a matter of half an hour once I crossed the crevasse. But should I? I walked up and down the length of the crevasse, gingerly poking my ice-axe to test the firmness of the snow. It looked all right. After a silent prayer, I flung myself as far across the abyss as I could. Landing safely, I just sat there suck¬ing on some snow, in no hurry to go up the last couple of hundred feet to the top. Finally, paranoid about finding another crevasse, I plodded up to the summit and collapsed among a cluster of small rocks, staring at the sky. I tried feeling like Messner after a solo on Nanga Parbat and failed miserably. All I wanted was something to drink and someone to talk to. The time was 2.30 p.m. Shilla, another high peak in the valley, was in the clouds, but it was clear on the Tibetan side. The view was breath-taking. After another ten minutes of staring at the sky, I started down. By the time T had left the ridge it had started snowing. The snow on the face had become butter soft, in the afternoon heat. After a few anxious moments while descending in poor visibility and poorer snow conditions, I rejoined an anxiously waiting Muslim. We continued the descent back to camp as the sky cleared for a while.
We spent the next day eating our surplus food, reading and lying in the sun. The day after, we walked back to Langj a. After spending not at all a small amount of our film on the ever-giggling young women of the fields, some of whom were more than just pretty, we moved down to Rangrik. In a matter of days, it was all memories and nostalgia as we resumed a life of little peace.
MICHAEL CLARKE and HUBERT ODIER
(1) Seattle Karakoram Expedition
HAVING FOUND the missing half of our baggage (apparently lost between Seattle and Rawalpindi) in the cargo building in Rawalpindi airport we were at last able to start for Skardu. The journey was a two-day bus and truck ride up the valley of the Indus on the most impressive mountain road I have yet seen (I did not know until later that the truck driver was smoking hashish most of the time). At Skardu we hired 76 porters with sirdar Ghulam Nebi; we much enjoyed their lively songs and dances. After arriving at Dassu by jeep we started our trek to base camp on 15 May. Even though I have seen many slide shows of the journey up the Baltoro glacier, I was impressed by the spectacular scenery. We reached base camp (16,500 ft) on 27 May having had good weather all the way.
Thanks to the trail-blazing by the Austrian Gasherbrum II expedition we found the fierce looking South Gasherbrum icefall relatively easy. Camp 1 was placed at about 18,000 ft just above the top of this first icefall. It was, however, in some possible danger from ice-avalanches from Gasherbrum I as we discovered one night when we were nearly blown away. From Camp 1 to Camp 2 (19,700 ft) the South Gasherbrum glacier was horribly crevassed and both we and members from other expeditions took falls into hidden crevasses.
Our route (the 1956 Austrian Southwest ridge) was straightforward, but steep, up to Camp 3 (21,500 ft) and Caseboit and Goodman fixed rope most of the way. At this time Maurice and Lilliane Barrard (French) made a lightning ascent of Gasherbrum II to make the first husband and wife ascent of a 8000 m peak.
During the second part of June the weather was often bad and there was a lot of snow; however, Caseboit and Goodman forced the route up to Camp 4 (23,000 ft) through deep snow.
While we saw many minor snow avalanches, we were much impressed by the tremendous ice-avalanches from Gasherbrum V, but these were no threat to our Camp 2 which had been carefully sited.
On 28 June, Brindeiro, Casebolt, Goodman and Hambly moved up to Camp 3 and on the following day they continued to Camp 4. Goodman, not feeling well, returned to Camp 3.
Camp 4 was very exposed and was buffeted by strong winds throughout the night and during the next day and the climbers were confined to their tents on 30 June and 1 July. There was some snow and visibility was poor. 1 July was less windy and the weather improved. In the evening an immense snow avalanche swept the south face of Gasherbrum II. 2 July dawned fine, clear, cold and calm and Brindeiro, Casebolt and Hambly made an effort to establish Camp 5 (24,500 ft). They climbed unroped as had the other expeditions.
On the ridge the snow was sometimes knee deep and the slope had increased to about 45 degrees by the time they had reached the rock section. While they were discussing the route, in view of the snow conditions, the snow slope to their right avalanched. Hambly, the highest, was knocked over, Casebolt some 30 ft below was carried down about 50 ft, but of Brindeiro, who was about 30 ft below Casebolt, there was no sign. The ridge fell off to the right as a 30 degree snow slope for 50 to 100 yards before dropping off steeply in a series of ice-cliffs. An immediate search from the top and side of the cliffs gave no sign of Brindeiro. Because of the avalanche danger, no attempt was made to enter the ice-cliffs for a further search and descent to Camp 3 was made in very poor snow conditions and increasingly bad visibility. The accident had occurred at about 23,500 ft. Further examination of the ice-cliffs during the descent from Camp 3 to Camp 2 was also unsuccessful.
The weather deteriorated further and Clarke, Casebolt, Goodman and Hambly were reunited at base camp on 5 July. The other mem¬bers had returned to Skardu earlier—Hattler having suffered a com¬pound fracture of a finger, which had become infected, while jumping a crevasse.
After a pleasant hike out we returned to Skardu on 15 July. This was followed by the spectacular flight to Rawalpindi a few days later.
Members: Glenn Brindeiro; Steven Casebolt; Donald Goodman; David Hambly; Brack Hattler, MD; David McClung; Thomas Vaughan, MD; Michael Clarke (leader).
(2) French Karakoram Expedition
AS LEADER, I wanted to prepare our packing and to solve some administrative problem in Rawalpindi before the arrival of the mem¬bers. I arrived with Philippe Tixier on 12 July and spent a good week fighting against the Pakistan bureaucracy. Of course, every¬thing was wrong with us, we didn't have the correct papers with the correct stamp, our liaison officer didn't have good equipment and so on. The other members: Bernard Odier, Christine Faury, Etienne and Cecile Frossard, Dr Remi Cadier arrived on 16 July, but we didn't leave for Skardu before the 21st because of more papers and stamps. At last, we started on 23rd from Skardu with 42 porters to one of the most famous and beautiful places in the world: the Baltoro glacier. I saw plenty of photographs in Paris before starting, and I knew quite well every name of every mountain that we saw during the approach march. But I never thought, it could be so impressive, so beautiful, so great. There is no scale, just this huge movement of billions of stones floating on the glacier. We reached BC after 10 days of this fantastic trek. The next day, we were invited to Sylvain Saudau BC, who was returning from his victorious ski descent of Hidden Peak. We ate with ferocious appetite to get force for our next attempt! The glacier above BC was very broken but luckily we found some flags of a previous expedition that helped to find a way when we crossed the icefall for the first time with Bernard and Christine. We settled Camp 1 at 5900 m, just in the middle of this beautiful circle of the Gasherbrum range. We went there 2 times and came back again to BC, for acclimatization and carrying all our equipment, tents, food. In front of our rucksacs weighing some 25 kg each, we some¬times regretted not to have employed any altitude porter ! When we crossed the icefall to Camp 1 for the third time for the assault, the weather began to get bad. We spent one day hesitating at Camp 1 and finally decided to attempt the climb of 'normal route', SW ridge. In one day, we climbed the steep snow spur (45-55°) and pitched the tents at 6500 m. The next morning, the whole mountain dis¬appeared in the clouds and the wind was stronger and stronger. As we didn't have the time to go down again to BC and wait for better weather, we continued to Camp 3, which was situated on a snow shoulder of the ridge, at about 6900 m. The night was terribly cold and windy. The tempest was so hard that we waited one day in the tents; one just could not stand outside because of the force of the wind. The following day seemed to be better, anyway. We climbed in very deep snow, really exhausting work above 7000 m. At Camp 4, around 7500 m, the night was more terrible than the precedent, we were wondering if the tents would resist such a storm. It became evident that we will not reach the summit with these conditions. The summit seemed to be so near! But we were too exhausted to go on with this terrible wind that blows snow on the face, and to make progress on the deep snow. It took 3 days to come down to Camp 1 in the terrible weather and I thought of the terrible 'Escape from Gasherbrum II' by Louis Audoubert, on the same place (H.J. Vol. XXXIV, p. 97). After one day's rest, we crossed down for the last time the icefall and finally reached BC at night. Everybody was exhausted, but not enough to go to bed without having the most famous meal in Himalaya: rice and dal! And of course, French cognac! Life was going on.