1. PAMIR
  5. GANGAPURNA, 1983
  9. SATOPANTH (7075 m)
  12. KOA RONG
  15. KUN SOLO
  17. SANI PAKUSH (6885 m), 1983 (WEST KARAKORAM)





General Notes about the Tadjikistan

THE SOCIALIST Soviet Tadjikistan Republic is the southernmost one in Central Asia, which is formed by four republics. The area is about 1,43,500 km and the extension from east to west is about 600 km and from north to south about 250 km.

On the east the Tadjikistan Republic is bounded by the autonomous Chinese region called Sinkiang-Uighur, while on the south the upper course of the Amu Daria river separates the Tadjikistan Republic from Afghanistan. On the west and north it is bounded by the Socialist Soviet Republics called Uzbekistan and Kirguizistan.

Eastern Tadjikistan

The average height above the sea level of the largest part of the Tadjikistan is about 3000 m.

On the north it is bounded by Alai chain of mountains (in the Kirguizistan) and on the south by the Hindu Kush.

The mountains of this region are commonly known as Pamir. They are constituted by a series of mountain chains placed from east to west. The highest massifs are in the north as a boundary line from Kirguizistan, showing the highest peaks of the USSR: Lenin peak (7134 m) and the Communist peak (7495 m) the topmost point. The average height of this region is about 3000 m above sea level.

The climate is strongly influenced by the heavy precipitation from western depressions. As you go towards the east the annual precipitations become less frequent. That is the reason why the Pamir only receives 100 or 125 mm rain during one year, while the high plateaus receive about 1000 mm.

Winter being the most rainy season, the moisture which becomes snow, melts afterwards in the first days of summer. This natural process provides the lower dry fields with extensive watering. The winters are extremely harsh. This climate favours a vegetation consisting of extended summer meadows.

Most of its population is formed by Kirgiz who live at the Ferghana basin, a very wealthy region with fruit and vegetable crops. In the high plateau men are nomads and shepherds.

The Kirgiz are mongol. They are small and have a white complexion. Their face is round and the eyes are long, the skin colour is dark and the hair is black. They live as nomads in round wool tents, with a wood porch (called 'Yurts'); there they have herds, horses, goats and yaks. They are frank and friendly.

From Barcelona to the Pamir

On 16 July we started off at noon from the airport in Barcelona to the Pamir. We would try to reach the top of Lenin peak (7134 m).

Before leaving Barcelona we contacted the Director of International Mountaineering Camps (the Russian Mountain Federation) so as to get information about the Pamir. This area is at present unknown to the Spanish mountaineers. Nevertheless, we could not get any information. Anyway it made the expedition even more exciting. We went to Moscow in two stages, first to Copenhagen and the following day to Moscow. When we arrived at Moscow, some translators of the Directorate were waiting for us. They led us to the Intourist Hotel, at the centre of the city. In Moscow we remained one day. We made good use of it and visited the most touristic places in the city. At noon we took off from the airport in Moscow to Osh, the most important city near the Pamir, with airport. This city is the Socialist Soviet Kirguizistan Republic in the Central Asia.

We flew again from Osh but in a light aircraft for twenty people this time. Then, for the first time we saw the mountains. They were the tops of the Alai chain of mountains (4000 or 5000 m). These mountains are parallel to the Pamir. We left civilization behind and went into a new world, both strange and fascinating.

By rickety lorries we went to the International Camp through non-existent ways. This Camp is organized in order to make propaganda about the Russian mountains and at the same time to provide accommodation for the mountaineers who come from everywhere. They also provide people with a series of public services, which otherwise would be very difficult to obtain. These public services are medical services, meteorological information, transmissions, food etc. At the same time the Camp co-ordinates all the foreigners' movements.

The Ascent to the Top

We devoted the three days in the Russian Camp to get the equipment ready for transport. On the third day we went straight up towards Camp 1. The way was long and tiring, for we had to transport all the expedition material by ourselves. First we crossed an enormous,grassy plain, reaching a pass (4150 m). Then we had ta descend and climb so as to cross a small river and enter the Lenin peak glacier. This glacier was long and without crevasses and we had to walk many kilometres. Finally we arrived at the Camp 1, placed at the right side of the glacier (4500 m).

Valencia peak route, Lenin peak route

Valencia peak route, Lenin peak route

This camp became the real base camp for the ascent, for it was just at the bottom of the peak. The landscape seen from this camp was only the north side of the Lenin peak.

For three days we were carrying provisions to Camp 1, 15 km far from the Russian Camp. It was hard work, since we could not use beasts of burden, neither porters. The use of them is not allowed in Russia.

Once we were settled at Camp 1, our first goal was to put up Camp 2. We left the camp and went into the Lenin glacier, we crossed it till arriving at the bottom of the Lenin peak. The ascent started when we climbed the first two smooth rocks, always following the vertical direction of the peak. Only a few times we had to pass a bit to the right or to the left so as to avoid some cracks.

The higher we climbed the more was the inclination of the rock, though never over 45°. When we were about 5100 m we had to flank towards the right in order to reach a big plateau (5300 m) on a very cracked glacier. There we set up the Camp 2. The following days we brought up the provisions and we could realize the lack of security of the camp. There were persistent wind gusts carrying the snow-dust accumulated in the last snowfall and placing it unsteadily on the north side of the peak. We tried to go en and put up Camp 3 but we had to resign ourselves to carry only a little material above 5000 m. The reason was the lack of a good acclimatization.

From then on, the bad weather made the expedition more difficult, continuous snowfall, temperature about 20° below zero. Besides the lack of provisions, all these elements forced a return to the starting point (Camp 1).

When the weather seemed to be getting better, we were again at Camp 2 but this time on the other side of the plateau (5400 m) under salient stones which sheltered us from the cold, the wind and the avalanches coming from the north of the peak.

While we were climbing Razdelnaia peak the wind was very violent and it was intensely cold. Then we descended to a mountain pass between these tops and the Lenin peak. On an enormous serac we settled Camp 3 (6000 m). The third camp meant the discovery of a new kind of mountains. They were different from those in the Pyrenees and the Alps.

We were surrounded on the right by hundreds of huge and majestic peaks; Hindu Kush and Central Pamir. We attempted to climb an arete but we had to give it up because of the violent wind and intense cold which we had never felt before.

Anyway we got used to this inhospitable environment and succeeded in climbing the arete, though it was very hard.

Then we sent a roped team over 6400 m. We passed one night in bivouac. The following day we tried to reach the top but it was again really impossible to go on due to the violent wind. The second day we made the last programmed attempt.

After going out of the tent in the morning (it was a great effort, due to the height) we started off the climbing slowly. One of us had to give it up due to an inflammation of the mouth. Nevertheless on 6 August at noon we arrived at the top of the Lenin peak (7134 m).

Two Virgin Tops

Just when we climbed the Lenin peak, other members of the expedition, making good use of the sunny day, climbed two virgin tops. Some mountaineers from Valencia joined them.

We have called these peaks: 'Valencia peak, Cerdanyola arete* climbed on 5 August 1981 (5120 m) and 'Concordia Headland* on 9 August 1981 (5360 m).

Technical Summary

Pamir expedition 1981.


30 days, from 16 July to 15 August 1981.


Josep Magdalena, Joan Cabau, Josep Verdaguer, Antoni Angla-rill, Jaume Abglarill, Lluis Agusti and Nuria Burgada.

(Members of the 3ki Center Cerdanyola Club and Trip Group 'L Orfeo Gracienc').


Lenin peak (7134 m) through Razdelnaia with four camps: Camp .1 (4500 m), Camp 2 (5300 m), Camp 3 (6000 m) and Camp 4 (6400 m). It was climbed on 6 August 1981.

Razdelnaia peak (6148 m) through the normal route.

Petrosky peak: (4800 m) on 11 August.

Two virgin tops: Valencia peak-Cerdanyola arete (5120 m) on 5 August. Concordia Headland-Mediterranean (5360 m) on 9 August.

Photo 29



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Atop the Highest Peak on Sikkim — Tibet Watershed


PAUHUNRI IJS a formidable and challenging peak on the Sikkim — Tibet watershed. It is 23,385 ft in height and is, in fact the highest peak on the watershed. At the base of Pauhunri is Tista Khangse (Tista glacier), the origin of the mighty tumultuous Tista river. On Sikkim side Pauhunri presents a sheer rocky face and has a majestic rise of almost 2000 ft of craggy face above the Tista glacier. The peak presents a more gentle approach from the Tibetan side. In fact, this peak was climbed from the Tibetan side in 191(X and 1945.1

11 September: Base camp is established, telephone line is ready at 1800 hours. All boys have their first look at Pauhunri and Tista Khangse.

12 September: I have reached Giagong with Nima Tashi, instructor from Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, Darjeeling. I have had a restless night. May have to stay a day or two more to recoup.

15 September: I have reached Kerang. Pammi has moved all the boys to base camp. Tashi has left for base camp. Only administrative party with Havildar Sadnanda is at Kerang.

16 September: I have caught up with the base camp at 17,800 ft. No doubt it is a good selection of site. Pammi and four boys have gone on a recce of advance base camp and Camp 1. The weather has packed up and I am not in communication with Pammi's party.

17 September: Waited in to see over some loads for advance. Reached ABC at 1030 hours. I am shocked and delighted. The ABC is too advanced, in fact, it is just 300 yards short of planned Camp 1. Height of ABC 19,800 ft.

My plan is now to establish Camp 1 at a height of 21,500 ft. I plan to send two assault ropes and two support ropes to Camp 1 led by Pammi and Tashi. Starting from ABC at 0630 hours his party should be back by 1230 hours. Camp 1 would be established by 19 September. My plan then is to let an assault party attempt the peak on 20 September and if they don't succeed, recce and establish Camp 2 at 22,300 ft.

19 September: We are all in ABC. There is a bright moon. The air is bitingly freezing and thick frost is forming on the tents. At 0300 hours, the weather has turned worse. It is windy and foggy. At 0500 hours, Pammi is not well and has vomited once. I have sent back Pammi and with Hav Jageshwar and two boys as escort, upto Khachung Cho. Capt Arora is to meet them.

At 0645 hours, I have despatched the ropes. The pennants are being carried by Dandi Sherpa. I am all hopeful and wish them luck. They are off to Camp 1.

Final Ascent

The assault ropes reached Camp 1 at 1500 hours on 19 September. They all slept by 1930 hours to be ready early morning on 20. At 0130 hours the dome tent gave way and they had to set up spare tent. By 0300 hours assault ropes made breakfast and were ready to move out by 0400 hours.

The assault ropes started off from Camp 1 and were near the summit by 0800 hours. But they could not make any further progress as the route had become very slippery. The glacier slab was also posing serious danger. L/Nk Shy am Bahadur took the lead and started cutting steps and fixing rope. In the next two hours, they progressed 300 ft. The peak was now barely 1000 to 1200 m away (horizontally). Both ropes made very steady, but exhaustingly tiring progress for another 500 m.

Capt. K. S. Sadashiva, an experienced mountaineer, was choserr as the expedition leader. Volunteers were asked from all units of the Black Cat Division and the homework on administrative support and logistical planning started in July 1983.

After the initial training in rock climbing, the expedition moved to Lotse Khangse (Yumthang valley) and set up camp at 13,400 ft for glacier training. Of the experts only Nb Sub N. B. Gurung and of course Capt Sadashiva were available for imparting training. On 18 August, the expedition had a very narrow escape. A huge avalanche had swept the area chosen for training; the previous night, as the glacier was crevassed, surviving ropes-and pitons were retrieved and glacier training given up. Out of the? original 36 volunteers at this stage only 4 Officers and 17 jawans were finally selected.

Organisation and transportation of baggage and equipment was an intricacy in itself. All stores were broken in 30 kg loads, packed in tarpaulin bags and wrapped over in polythene. Army mules carried them to the first halt at 13,000 ft up to Thanggu. From there on, it was carried by yaks to Gaigong and Kerang. Porters to base camp and expedition members from Camp 1, 2 and 3. It was estimated that the whole process would take about 30 days and one week was kept as reserve. Thus the final assault was planned in last week of September or first week of October. But with the weather gods being kind and unbounded enthusiasm of expedition* members, this was accomplished much earlier - 20 September, 1230 hours to be exact. Graphic picture of the lightning conduct of the expedition is presented by the diary of the expedition leader Capt Sadashiva. Let the excerpts speak for themselves.


19 September 1983: After briefing the Army Commander on 16 September, I have reached Thanggu on foot. On telephoning Pammi, I find the boys well set and happy. I have asked Pammi to carry out recce of base camp and also lay a telephone line.

10 September: Pammi is not happy with Khangchung area, the base camp location selected off the map. The place is too windy. He has selected another area. Laying of telephone line is in progress. I have read out a list of stores to be stocked at base camp.

Note: (1) Pauhunri has attracted mountaineers for a long time. Dr Kellas recceecl it in 1909 in August and October. Dr Kellas made the First ascent via NE face-on 16 June 1910. A British team of J. B. Auden and G. B. Gourlay attempted the peak in October 1934. (H.J. Vol. VII, p. 139). The second ascent was made by C. W. F. Noyce on 24 September 1945 (H.J. Vol. XIII, p. 70). The third ascent is reported by R. Walter, a French climber, in June 1949 (Berge der Welt, issue 7, p. 159). All the ascents were following the NE face, the route of the first ascent from Chumbi valley, Tibet. This ascent by the Indian Army is via NW face—Ed.

L/Nk Dandi Sherpa and Tashi took the lead during the last 500 m. This rope crept up and at 1245 hours stopped 5 yards short of peak, in deference to the local Sikkimese custom. The pennants were unfurled.

The successful summitters were:

Rfn Bala Ram Gurung, Rfn Shyam Bahadur Thapa, Sep Prem Singh, L/Nk Dandi Sherpa, Nima Tashi.

Photo 30



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The Aichi Nepal Himalayan Expedition, 1982


THIS REPORT deals with how Masami Okabe, a member of our expedition, met with a disaster.

We attempted to climb to the summit by walking along the Marsyandi valley and then taking a turn to the north at the Manang basin. The mishap took place when Masami Okabe, 30 years of age, who had been carrying his baggage up toward Camp 5, was suddenly involved in a surface avalanche caused by the collapse of an ice-tower.

And he was buried in the crevasse belt approximately 100 m down below. We rushed to rescue him at once, but we failed to get on the track and we were obliged to come to the conclusion that he was dead and gave up our climbing activity. This was a very shocking and terrible accident.

On 12 March, 1982, we set out on a caravan with 90 porters from Dumre, and on 23 March, we put together all the caravan load amounting to 2700 kg at Braga village in Manang basin. In order to get used to the altitude, we stayed there for about one week. During this short period of our stay, we climbed up to the 5000 m high ridge at the end of the Chulu East peak, and on 29 March, we set up our base camp at 3800 m from the end of the right-hand wing of east glacier facing north. The snow lay 1.3 m deep in the forest land. From 31 March, we started our climbing activities, and we opened the route to Camp 1 (4700 m) on 2 April; Camp 2, on east glacier (5000 m) on 5 April; Camp 3 (5750 m) at the end of north glacier plateau on 12 April, Camp 4 (6300 m) on the top of the plateau on 19 April, and Camp 5 (6800 m) on 22 April.

The weather had not changed much since we constructed our base camp on 23 March. We had been well prepared for assaulting the summit. Now, Masami Okabe, Ozawa and Lakhpa Dorje left for Camp 5 at 7.45 a.m., and arrived there at 1 p.m. After a short rest, we began to make preparations for the first pitch of the route, but we were affected by the altitude, which obliged us to postpone the attack on the summit which we had mapped out on the following day. As a result, we climbed down to Camp 3 and took a rest there, so that we might complete the arrangements for the summit attack all over again. It was expected to do so on 26 April.

Maeda, who had left Camp 3 on 24 April, joined with Okabe, the leader of Camp 4, and started for Camp 5 as a preparation group. On their way, they walked past Ozawa and Dorje climbing down to Camp 3, and we could confirm that Masami Okabe was there at Camp 5. Reaching Camp 5, the group obtained Masami Okabe's consent that he would help to carry up to the spot where the necessary arrangements had been made for the route. All the climbing equipments and instruments which the ferry party was carrying had been brought up to Camp 5 from Camp 3. A little past noon Masami Okabe walked down from Camp 5 and received the equipments of Iwase, engaged in the work of loading, and then got back to Camp 5, with Sherpa Sirdar Dawa. Right after the group finished fixing the 50 m rope from the 6900 m spot, say, around 1.30 p.m., the ice-tower at 7100 m collapsed. This sudden collapse resulted in a surface avalanche, 140-150 m wide and 600 m long, and the avalanche swallowed the two men of the group; Okabe, (deputy leader) fell 150 m. Maeda fell too, but he managed to escape narrowly from falling down to the crevasse by the rope fixed at the spot, although he tumbled down about 80 m.

The main current of the snow-avalanche dealt a direct blow to the load-lifting party who were just on the point of arriving at Camp 5. Dawa, who was walking ahead of the group, threw himself flat at a 8 m ice-tower behind Camp 5 and was narrowly saved by a piece of good luck; Ang Ringzin was directly hit by the ice-block and was thrown aside but miraculously he stayed on the spot right before the crevasse belt. Masami Okabe, however, had bad luck; he was involved in the main stream of the snow-avalanche and was buried in the crevasse 1.00 m down below, all of a sudden. I witnessed the terrible scene of the accident, we hastened to get on to rescue, but nothing could be done because the ice-snow covered all the crevasse and we found the ice-snow beyond control. At sunset, we were forced to stop rescue work; we picked up the other four men and took them to Camp 4. Okabe (deputy leader) was seriously hurt and had his chest and limbs broken and also had his right leg sprained badly; Maeda had a pressing pain around the kidney and had a heavy hit on his waist. Both of them could manage to climb down with their own will power. Dawa and Ringzin were found safe.

We instituted a three-day-long search, for Masami Okabe, but found no sign of the missing man.

And we were obliged to come to the conclusion that Masami Okabe had died. We gave up the idea of climbing on 27th April, and withdrew the base camp on 28 April.



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FROM THE main summit of Himalchuli (7893 m) to the south a long rib comes off in whose extension Baudha (6672 m) rises. The ridge which joins both summits slopes in the west into the Dordi khola valley by steep ice-walls which are cut by barriers of seracs is the southern ridge of Himalchuli. Its top dome towers by an about 300 m high rocky pyramid which makes a difficult obstacle. This problem, twice attacked in 1981 by the Japanese, was the aim of the expedition of Gdynia to the Himalaya in 1983. The participants were: Andrzej Bielun, Walenty Fiut, Jacek Gronczewski, Czeslaw Jakiel, Czeslaw Jakubczyk, Wojciech Jedlinski, Tadeusz Piotrowski (leader) and Jerzy Tillak.

On 7 April the caravan left Dumre and after a five-days* march it reached the lower border of snow. This year's spring in the Himalaya was extremely cold. Snow covered the southern and western mountain-sides from the level of 3000 m and to make things worse we were faced with new snowfalls every day. In such abnormal conditions the local porters left the loads — only three Tibetans remained with the expedition. And so the whole charge of the further transport fell upon the shoulders of the participants — and it played a prominent part in the further course of the mountain operation. The base (4200 m) has been established not till 31 April, two weeks later than intended.

The weather was still inconvenient, every afternoon from the deep parts of the valleys came layers of clouds and it began to snow. The Camp 1 (5300 m) has been established on 3 May in the west cirque into which a huge, about 2000 m high ice-wall from the ridge sloped. The Japanese went ahead in their attempts upwards along the rib which surmounted the west cirque from the right side. We have decided to get out to the ridge direct by the wall, to the left of their route. The'Camp 2 (6100 m) has been erected on 5 May.

Till this height the route did not present great troubles, the difficult ground began higher up from Camp 2. The wall became steeper and steeper and it had in places an angle of 70 degrees. Therefore one should put fixed ropes and we could not find any place for the next camp. The run of guardrails was longer and longer and the steep icefields made it impossible to pitch the tents. On 17 May the last barrier of seracs has been surmounted and at the height of 7050 m Camp 3 has been established (Bielun, Fiut, Jedlinski and Piotrowski). The ledge of the southern ridge was only 50 m away.

At night from 15 to 16 May — from the southwest wall of Himal-chuli fell a tremendous avalanche of seracs — Camp 1 was hurried under a thick coat of snow. The night before, six people stayed in the camp. . . . As Gronczewski and Tillak did not reach the Camp 3, four people who stayed in it had to go down to take the deposit left down there and only the next day it was possible to begin the summit attack. In front of us was the long snow-ridge and the rocky peak pyramid at the foot of which only Bielun and Piotrowski came on 20 May. The other two people retreated to the base where already the other participants of the expedition stayed. We have smarted from the hardships of mountain-climbing and the rush for the establishment of the base.

Illnesses and indispositions reduced our group to a dyad which had to act in isolation.

In gusts of a stormy wind fluttered the shreds of a Japanese tent set into ice. At the height of 7600 m — on a platform digged out in snow, we have set up a little storm tent. The wind still stormed. In the morning we woke up pressed down by snow. Our sleeping-bags were wet and it still snowed. We have decided to wait one day. By means of an accidentally found saw we have digged out a spacious den in the snow. It gave us a good protection against the wind but the wet sleeping-bags did not protect from the biting cold.

In a drowse interrupted by attacks of feverish shivers, we stayed through the night to start in the morning for the final storm. A strong wind still blew. After an hour's mountain climbing, clouds approached and it began to snow. In a difficult rock climbing, we mounted 50 m over the bivouacking space.

The weather gave us no chance for a success, none the less we spent one night more in the den deluding ourselves that the weather conditions would improve.

Over the summit of Himalchuli streamed a flag of snow. Our food was running out, we could not expect any assistance or help. We had to give in. On 23 May we reached the covered up Camp 3. We were able at last, after a several days' break, to get into touch with the base and to notify our fellows of our return.



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THIS WAS the first ascent from the north of the peak of Ganga-purna, 7454 m (district Manang).

With a special bus we transported material, team, five Nepal attendants and forty-two porters to Dumre, where we have started on 28 September the trek to the foot of the mountain. Till the last settlement we walked nine days and stayed the nights at the following places: Bajsjangle, Udaipur, Lete, Bahundanda, Chamche, Bagarcap, Chame, Pisang, Manang.

All the time we had great problems with porters, who were hard to hire. They shortened the day's stages and blackmailed higher prices for carrying. The difficulties intensified before Manang where we have hired mules because of shortage of porters. On the precipitous footpath to the base camp the animals were scared and eleven loads, mainly food fell 300 m deep down into the bottom of the valley. With the remaining porters we reached the plain after the moraine-crest on 8 October at height of 4850 m, from where badly equipped porters rejected to go further.

Though we had planned the base camp much higher on the glacier we had to get familiar with the fact and set there starting Camp Bl.

With the help of the team and remaining porters we managed to deliver all the material to Camp Bl the following day, on 9 October.

We provided the remaining ten porters with clothes and footwear. On 10 October the twentyone head group has broken through to the glacier 5350 m high. There we set two tents of previous planned base Camp B2 next to the camp of Grenoble Expedition to Glacier Dome.

On the evening of 10th the complete group has had to return to Camp Bl because of more and more beastly weather. The blizzard became wild and in the following days we have been snowed with one metre of new snow. That snow hindered many expeditions. On 13 October all of us twenty that have been available have broken through to Camp B2 and found it completely demolished. Till evening we succeeded with a help of bamboo poles to pitch both tents and settled.

Till the end of the post-monsoon period only eighteen days remained.

After heavy snowing the sky cleared but northwest winds strengthened and thrusted paths with snow. At higher altitudes winds at times got hurricane power.

The atmosphere cooled down. In Camp B2 temperatures during the night and in the morning were from 18 and 20 degree centigrade below zero.

Panorama D. Himalchuli (7893 m).

Panorama D. Himalchuli (7893 m). The route of Polish attempt leading to the south ridge. Note 4 Photos: T. Piotrowski

Panorama E. South ridge of Himalchuli looking at the summit dome.

Panorama E. South ridge of Himalchuli looking at the summit dome.

Panorama F. The 1983 Yugoslav route on Gangapurna (7454 m) north face.

Panorama F. The 1983 Yugoslav route on Gangapurna (7454 m) north face. C1 = 5550 m and C2 = 6100 m. Note 5 Photo: B. Stane

Panorama G. Advance base camp, Deo Tibba in the background.

Panorama G. Advance base camp, Deo Tibba in the background. Note 14 Photos: Fran Morris

Panorama H. View towards Malana glacier from Camp 1 on Deo Tibba.

Panorama H. View towards Malana glacier from Camp 1 on Deo Tibba. Route leaves Duhangan Col near stone towers in right foreground.

The great surprise was also the north mountain ridge of Ganga-purna which swept down to Manang. One part of mountain ridge was turned to west and embraced hidden cwm under the north face. Therefore we have only seen the lower part of the face on 16 October when we had broken*through to the hidden cwm.

The north face of Gangapurna was like alpine face, without seracs and was about 1800 m high. At foot it was icy and at the top rocky.

Being pressed for time and because of strong winds on western side of the face we have made a decision to make the ascent from left (eastern) part, 1300 m high. From there we could have reached north ridge till 7000 m. The upper part of north ridge, more than 400 m, was technically not complicated but exposed to strong winds that might have defeated the ascent. The steepest part of the ascent above T2 to the ridge was an icy slope of 60 — 65° with few rocky shelves.

We succeeded in climbing in 14 days after ascending to B2.

The chronological run of the ascent:

On 14 October Belak and Kregar explored the glacier and thrust the way up to the passage to the cwm below the face.

On 15 October five members of expedition (Kofol, Alic, Tratnik, Beg and Kozjek) brought the loads to depot 5500 m high.

On 16 October Belak, Kozjek and Kregar set up Tl 5550 m under the rocky shelf on north ridge.

On 17 October the same three men discovered usable passage over broken seracs into the hidden cwm under the face, which with its flat bottom without cracks was a pleasant surprise. High snow was the only obstable. At the left part of the face we ascended up to a mighty serac, fastened 200 m fixed ropes and left at 6000 m a depot of equipment for the latter T2.

On 18 October Alic, Kofol and Tratnik with additional equipment mounted to 6100 m and in the crack above the serac set up the tunneled tent T2 and returned to Tl to stay over the night. On 19 October the same three men again reached T2 with new material. During the night T2 was covered with snow, they cleared it and fixed another 100 m of ropes and descended to B2. On 20 October for the first time they stayed over in T2.

On 21 October T3 should have been set according to our plans on the north ridge to serve as final jumping off place for reaching the peak. Till evening Kregar and Kozjek descended to B2 and to T2 ascended the roped party of Belak, Beg and Tratnik. The following day,

22 October, Belak and Beg succeeded to extend the fixed rope up to 6850 m. Tratnik was hit by a stone on his shoulder so he had to descend to B2 for a few days of recovery.

On 23 October Alic and Kofol succeeded to extend the rope for further 50 m, which was enough for their followers Kregar and Kozjek for their attempt to ascend the peak.

On 24 October a hurricane arose on the mountain and buried any hope for ascent. Kregar and Kozjek hardly crawled back to B2, Tl and T2 were swept away by avalanches. With the hurricane we realized that any camp at the top of the north ridge would be of no use, so we decided to ascend the peak at the first suitable moment from T2 though there was 1300 m of slope from T2 to the peak.

On 25 Belak, Kozjek and Kregar left B2, stayed over the night at Tl and the following night at T2.

The weather was fine that was why they started on 27 October to ascend the peak. Tratnik joined them — he had started the evening before from B2.

With the help of fixed ropes and moonlight they reached the ridge in early morning hours. They fixed the last 200 m of rope to ensure their descent. So we fixed into the face of the mountain all together 1200 m of ropes.

At 9 a.m. in the morning we started unroped on technically simple north ridge towards the peak. The wind was stronger and stronger and prevented us from progressing normally so we had to crawl at times. We reached the peak of Gangapurna at 12.40 p.m. (Kozjek, Kregar and Belak). Tratnik reached it a bit later at 1 p.m. In hurricane wind with speed of 150 kmh and cold of 30 degrees C below zero we could not stand upright on the peak so we had to leave it after 15 minutes.

The power of wind diminished at lower altitudes and we descended by fixed ropes and reached T2 at 5 p.m. There we met the support party of Alic and Kofol who had cleared away T2. Belak, Kregar and Kozjek continued with their descent to B2, while Alic, Kofol and Tratnik stayed the night in Tl.

In the afternoon of 28 October we cleared away Tl and descended to B2. The same evening the whole team descended to Bl.

The following day we prepared twenty loads of the remaining equipment and left the mountain on 30 October.



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THE CROSSING of the main range between the pilgrim centres of Gangotri and Kedarnath is still an interesting proposition as it was in 1939 when J. B. Auden ('A Seasons Work in the Central Himalaya', H.J. Vol. XII, 1940, p. 17) crossed from the Rudugaira to the Khatling glacier by a col (c. 18,000 ft) which now bears his name.

The Rudugaira valley is by now a much frequented place with expeditions attempting the Rudugaira and the Gangotri group of peaks. Members of such expeditions have more than once reached the col from the Rudugaira side, the last on record being a few members from the IMF training camp in October 1982 (H.J. Vol. 39, p. 188). On the other hand little authentic information is available on record about the upper reaches of the Khatling glacier. In H.J. Vol. 39, p. 180 Geoff Cohen makes a passing remark that 'we did a long plod up the Khatling glacier to just below the col over to the Rudugaira glacier'. Further correspondence with Geoff Cohen provides me with some very useful information.

With this background Arun Ghosh and myself leave Calcutta on 13 August for the Bhillangana valley in spite of a late monsoon. We leave Tehri for Ghuttu on the 16th morning. What could be a short bus journey turns out to be a tedious affair. To top it all we are dropped 5 km before Ghuttu because of a landslip and reach our destination in failing light. The village is a quiet one and the valley does not seem to receive a big onslaught of pilgrims and tourists which is a blessing. We put up in a house and between glasses of hot tea we enquire about the weather and terrain.

We leave Ghuttu (4000 ft) on the 17th in bright sunshine and high spirits for the next big village of Gangi which is 20 km away. Overriding prudence with valour we deny ourselves a porter. The track unwinds itself along the foaming Bhillangana and after about 10 km we decide to camp in a clearing above which is the settlement of Reeh. The next morning we leave for Gangi and the rather easy walk of yesterday is replaced by a stiff climb. Our shoulders protest and we promise ourselves a porter at Gangi. At an altitude of 8000 ft Gangi is the last big village enroute. We put up at the village school and recruit the services of Umed Singh. Armed with a French-cut beard and a rifle Umed is not very sure of where we are going. We do not elaborate at first but tell him that we might not need him once we are on the glacier itself. The thought of having to return alone through a dense jungle causes him some discomfort.

Beyond Gangi the track at times becomes faint while the vegetation becomes increasingly dense. We pass the last settlement of Deokhari which lies deserted. The small streams which rush down to meet the Bhillangana are raging torrents and we have to take off our boots to ford them carefully. The trek in the lower region is a wet one indeed but we are amply rewarded by the profusion of flowers in an unspoilt valley. With a slight feeling of guilt we have to wade through fields of flowers. We reach Kharsoli, a Gujjar camp, and pitch our tent beside their hut. The old man is accommodating and we warm ourselves besides a fire. The rain invariably comes down with all its fury at night and we wonder whether our tent will put up with such treatment any longer. We leave Kharsoli on the 20th with the clouds continuing to chase us up the valley. We pass a prominent waterfall on our right and as the trees give way to shrubs we reach a rock projection known as-the Khatling Cave (12,000 ft). A steady drizzle has accompanied us for quite some time and we wait in vain for a glimpse of the snows. For once we don't have to bother about tent poles and pegs and get ready for a night's sleep.

East of the cave a stream from the Dudhganga Bamak joins the Bhillangana. Further east lies Masur Tal, and it is possible to cross a few subsidiary ridges and reach Kedarnath via Masur Tal, Puniya Tal and Vasuki Tal. The route though not very popular has been done more than once and the people of Ghuttu and Gangi are aware of this route. Umed has been on this route and was eager to take us where he could show his guiding prowess. However I note that neither the people of Ghuttu or Gangi nor the shepherds who graze their flocks in the upper Bhillangana are aware of the col at the head of the Khatling or what exactly lies beyond the main range. In 1939, Auden notes that * According to the villagers there is a tradition that years ago people used to cross from the Khatling to the Rudugaira on the way to Gangotri,. though they said the route had never been used in their lifetime or in that of their fathers. Nobody on the Harsil side knew of the route although three people at Gangi independently mentioned the Rudugaira as soon as we spoke of the Khatling.'1 It would be interesting to note that Umed also spoke of the Rudugaira but on further questioning we found out that it was not the valley that he spoke of but of a Rudugaira peak (5818 m), a rocky peak on the southern side of the Phating-Jogin ridge.

We leave the cave on a bright morning and reach the snout where Umed and Arun offer some dried fruit that we might have a safe journey. Here we ask Umed whether he is willing to accompany us all the way. When I tell him where we expect to reach he seems sceptical at first but all the same very eager to try out something new. We leave the snout on our right and ascend the left moraine ridge and camp quite high up leaving the glacier far below. At night the weather turns particularly nasty and it rains heavily the next morning. We treat the 22nd as rest day but do however shift our camp further up. On the map the place is marked as Kachotra, a grazing ground. A very prominent cairn marks the place and is probably the last point up to where the Gujjars come. Opposite us we can make out sheep grazing on some grassy slopes on top of a similar moraine ridge. The Jogin Bamak hangs precariously with blocks of ice falling at intervals. Looking back the way we came we can make out the Ratangrian Bamak sweeping away in a curve towards the Phating-Jogin ridge. None of these glaciers meet the Khatling at present and have left signs of receding by their moraine deposits.


  1. H.J. Vol. XII, p. 24—Ed.


On the 23rd we leave Kachotra and all greenery behind. On our right the crevassed glacier is turning into an icefall. We are still able to avoid the glacier by negotiating loose moraine and boulders. We encounter some snow patches till we reach a scarp of rock which blocks the valley. One has to negotiate the icefall on the right or ascend the scarp and descend down the other side. We opt for the latter and camp on top of the scarp about 15,500 ft. The campsite is an excellent viewpoint and the next morning in some very clear weather we are blessed with memorable views of the Gangotri peaks northwards and towards the east that marvel of Phating Pithwara (Thalay Sagar). On our left and westwards the Sangli Bamak joins the Khatling icefall in a gentle sweep. It surprised me then that the Sangli should have no external disfiguration at a place where it meets the Khatling in a jumble of broken ice and gaping crevasses. We descend the scarp of rock and cross the icefall at this place. Arun uses crampons to get onto the icefall and then belays us. We rope up and cross the icefall which proves to be much easier than I thought and we move over to the Jogin side. The icefall is now less severe and all we have to do is to negotiate plenty of open crevasses. We have by now turned the second bend of the glacier and are again moving north. This is why the col is not visible while on the lower half of the Khatling due to the convexity of the topography interrupting the line of sight. In fact even after moving in a northerly direction the col was not visible till we reached a height of about 16,000 ft. It is slightly difficult at first to identify the actual col since more than one depression comes to view on the ridge which joins the Gangotri and Jogin groups. Our estimation proves to be correct and we move towards the col. Westwards there are a number of peaks, the most prominent being Jaonli. We camp on a snowfield and have an unusually heavy shower of rain right here at a height of about 16,500 ft.

The 25th morning is bright and clear and we move confidently towards the col. After passing a glacial pond we encounter a series of undulating snow slopes which leads to a miscalculation of distance. The sun beats down fiercely and the softening snow makes the going considerably worse. The col looms up in front of us and judging by its steepness we decide to keep it for the morrow. Our camp below the col is in quite awe-inspiring surroundings. The massive east wall of Gangotri III is on our left. The ridge contains a number of impressive rocky spires, the col itself being beside two which point upwards like a pair of rabbit's ears. The glacier rolls away and moves out of sight in the south and in the distance a host of smaller peaks are set on an edge like well-arranged snow-cones. Like all other evenings we expect the weather to get bad with bright sunshine again the next morning. But our hopes are belied: the weather closes in and we are confined to our tent for two days and three nights. Heavy snowfall and white-out prevail with an occasional rumble of an avalanche from the eastern face of Gangotri III. Umed had been good company throughout. Lower down the countless crevasses and later the slopes of soft snow had made him slightly nervous. Now with this forced confinement he remains inextricably withdrawn, silent and morose. When finally late in the morning of the 28th the weather clears slightly we decide it is now or never. After the heavy snowfall the snow condition is abominable, and we have to probe carefully for concealed crevasses. The climb up the col is quite steep and is accomplished with countless slips and half-slips. Umed has to be cajoled. The soft snow almost brings progress to a standstill and we use a steep rock gully on our right to gain height. The sky clouds up again and a fierce wind comes up. The cold begins to be numbing. After much self-persuasion and a final snow-traverse we reach the top. It's 2.50 p.m. on 28 August 1983.

Through the clouds we have a fleeting glimpse of the Khatling, familiar and distant. A few pictures and then we start down the col into the Rudugaira valley with a quiet sense of satisfaction. After a slight descent we see in the distance the moraine ridges of the Rudugaira that betoken a lot of boulder-hopping once again, We race down the snow-slopes in an effort to spend the night on the snow-free moraine. The weather is visibly better and we are able to spend the next two nights out under the boulders. Even Umed in his exuberance now tends to our needs assiduously. We reach Gangotri on the 30th morning, thankful that we were able to cross the main range, tracing Auden's pioneering route in reverse.

Footnote: I corresponded with J. JB. Auden intimating him of our crossing. He was very pleased, especially as the news came after a period of 44 years. His reply sounded very nostalgic: 'My memory of the region last visited 44 years ago is somewhat vague. Though I love that part of the Himalaya — Simla to Nainital, Pulamsumda to the Siwaliks — more than any other part of India or of the world there is no chance of visiting it again and a fading memory has to suffice'.

Bidyut Sarkar and Atanu Chatterjee with a porter crossed Auden's Col on 18 September 1983 from the Rudugaira side. They continued via Masur Tal, Puniya Tal, and Vasuki Tal to reach Kedarnath, thus completing a high-altitude route from Gangotri to Kedarnath.



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THE INDIAN MOUNTAINEERING FOUNDATION selected 18 women and 36 men climbers and selected Col Balwant Sandhu to* lead this group for a 'testing-cum-training' expedition to Mana for the Indian attempt on Everest in 1984. Mana, 7272 m, stands five kilometres south of Kamet. It was first climbed by Frank Smythe along the 3 ridge in 1937 and had been twice climbed by Indian parties. Its south face is a 1000 m icefall. Above the icefall the south ridge leaps sharply by about 400 m and goes on to the summit along an easy broken rock ridge. The snowfield above the icefall extends to an easy-angled NW ridge also leading to the summit.

Prem Chand and the climbers went up through Rishikesh, Joshi-math, Badrinath and left the road at village Mana. We walked east of Saraswati and kept south of Nagthuni gad until the Uttar Nagthuni glacier. Across its moraine lay our base camp at 4532 m in a protected open plateau that had once been a tarn. We did not have enough porters and ferried baggage from Mana village to the base camp.

Balwant Sandhu and Rattan Singh with one porter took a more direct way from Uttarkashi to the base camp. They walked from Gangotri to Tapoban, across the Kalindi khal and down the Arwa valley and reached the base camp on the fifth day. The route after Kalindi khal needed a good nose detouring across the confusion of glacial moraines until it reached the Ghastoli pastures. At Ghastoli we crossed the Saraswati and followed a goat track east of Saraswati to its junction with Nagthuni gad. We could now see the last of our group moving up the south of Nagthuni. We found a snowbridge and crossed over to reach the base camp by nightfall.

We explored the south and north Nagthuni glaciers and preferred the south Nagthuni glacier. The route angled along the moraine for about 3 kms and then along the rock ridge between the glacier and its eastern spur. Camp 1 was reached at 5500 m. A snowfield led to Gupta Khal (Zaskar Col). Across, the route dropped about 30 m down to Banke glacier and then weaved north through the icefall to Camp 2 at 6200 m. Camp 3 was at 6700 m above, in the middle of the snowfield. From the camp to the summit ridge was under a kilometre across the bergschrund; we would have to protect the route.

We grouped into three largely self-selected lots. Prem Chand with better acclimatized climbers opened the route to Camp 1 and then fixed the route to Camp 2. The route meant picking a safe line across avalanche debris and seracs. During this time the groups at the base camp stocked camps and free-climbed to Pt 5730 immediately above the camp and to Pt 5941 across the Dakhani Nagthuni glacier.

While Prem Chand worked to establish Camp 2, Lhatoo and 14 of the better acclimatized climbers were in support. Lhatoo took over the lead on 16 September to continue the route opening. Lhatoo recorded 'We had met Prem's party on their way down and they had said that they had left a "good section" of the route for us to open. Sure enough, when we got there, we found an over- hanging ice-wall waiting for us. Instead of trying to drive in pitons up the length of the wall, we skirted around and above it, anchored a rope and threw it down. We then proceeded to jumar up it. By now it was about 1.30 p.m. but we were determined to set up Camp 3 so we carried on.'

Balwant JSandhu and Rattan moved up with the third group. They passed Lhatoo at Camp 1 and occupied Camp 2 the same evening. If one was late starting from Camp 1, one burnt in the sun and found the pull-up to Camp 2 utterly drying. In the evening, the high perch of Camp 2 made it a magnificent high point with eye-filling vistas to Nanda Devi to the south and across to Sato-panth, to the west.

Above Camp 2 was an overhung ice-wall of about 15 m. Fixed ropes in the morning and for many, any time, remained a tough proposition. An hour above the ropes led one to the snow field below the NW summit ridge. During the day the sun mushed the snowfield: Camp 3 was placed here. It took two hours to get to the ridge on frozen snow and many hours if it was not frozen. But the camp was protected from the wind.

First summit party with Prem Chand attempted the summit on 21 September. They were delayed crossing the bergschrund between the snowfield and the NW ridge of Mana. Late in the day they got to the ridge. The wind was now sharp and added considerably to the exposure of the ridge walk. They found it hard going against it. They were beaten back.

Lhatoo's group was in support and now took the lead. Prem Chand stayed back with the third group at Camp 2 to support Lhatoo. 300 m of the ridge was protected in the next two days and all was ready for the following day.

None of our radios worked on the mountain. The group leaders worked off plans hatched at the base camp some days ago: Often with the usual addled results though we did try to offset this by exchanging notes through the ferry parties. These took two days one way and you were lucky to get an answer in three days.

Night of 22 September my Eureka tent collapsed under the weight of snow at the base camp. It snowed throughout the next day and the following night. What on earth was going on up the mountain? Rupender Rai put on his seven-league boots and offered to carry a message to Prem Chand at Camp 2. Prem Chand had waited at Camp 2 for Lhatoo to come down from Camp 3 before getting off the mountain. He found Camp 2 under threat of fresh snow avalanches and at last abandoned the camp at 0900 hours on 24 September. Half an hour later, Lhatoo's group floundered down in the zero visibility and silence of the falling snow. They found Camp 2 partly buried. Lhatoo noted 'Camp 2 was deserted and had been hit by an avalanche. Of the four tents pitched there two were completely buried and were not to be seen. Two others had been partially covered. We spent a couple of hours extricating these. We then descended to Camp 1 where we met Prem Chand and his party; together we returned to the base camp.'

They floundered through the fresh snow and reached base at nightfall. We had been on tenterhooks a whole day and now had to be thawing the women in one tent and men in another, until midnight. Counting their numbers went on the whole night. Did Marshal Ney ever count all his men retreating from Moscow?

We had now time for one last attempt on the mountain. The time for pushing a camp on the NW ridge had been lost. It would have to be one last 'go' on the mountain. Lhatoo, Prem Chand and Rattan Singh now joined forces with about 20 climbers and went back to the mountain, carrying our respective crosses. One or twa pairs of them could still make an alpine-style push to the summit and back: Was that what we had come to the mountain for? The mountain was for the mob not for gladiators.

In two days Camp 3 was occupied. Despite an early start they gained the summit ridge well after sunrise. On the ridge the going was easy and by mid-day they were below the last rock step to the summit; a 30 m steep rock pitch and then an easy-angled slope to the summit.

The snow had not hardened in two days after the storm. It also had not been blown away. It lay precariously on the rock neither fit for anchor nor for free climbing. It wbuld be easy to climb up the ridge; getting down the ridge would be the very devil, if not worse. In a large group, they were 14 attempting the summit, the track could easily get ploughed up to make it dangerous even if the snow were less execrable. They debated the issue for some time. It was desirable to climb Mana; was it worth risking a few of the hopefuls for the Indian Everest Expedition next year? At 1 p.m., under a clear, windless day, they turned back.

The mountain was cleared the next day. Mahavir Thakur had got frostbitten and was sent out in a helicopter. The rest of us ferried loads to a camp above Mana village and then found some ponies to carry the baggage to the road ahead.

56 trainees for the Men and Women's expedition to Everest had been exposed to themselves, a period of pressure climbing and been generally put through their paces. There had been one failure: we had hoped to try out most of the clothing, some climbing gear and trial and high mountain food. These had not arrived.



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'DEM BONES, dem bones, dem dry bones' or in this case refrigerated bones. One of the Himalaya's greatest mysteries is how the bones of some 300 human skeletons came to be preserved at the bottom of a tiny, hidden glacial lake at 16,000 ft, tucked away in the interior of Garhwal at the base of the awesome Trisul massif.1


  1. See H.J. Vol. XX, p. 122—Ed.


The puzzle is not how these people met their death but how they came to be there in the first place, 30 miles away from the nearest habitation and nearly five thousand feet above the timber (and shelter) line. Except in September when most of the snow has melted it's not easy to reach the lake for the terrain is hostile, bleak and windy. Without a guide you would never find the lake for its situation is perhaps unique. A tiny jade oval concealed in a fold almost at the top of a sheer ridge, that drops down on its far side to the glacier whence the river Nandakini issues, which merges with the Ganga at Nanda Prayag. On the map the distances look piddling but the terrain is so forbidding that it takes a hellish week to penetrate the gorge.

The word 'Nanda' is our first clue to solving the mystery. After crossing the ridge above Rupkund and traversing the Silisamuder glacier you pass Ronti {Saddle the lowest point on the entire curtain wall of the mysterious Nanda Devi Sanctuary. The ancient local name is Homkuni or Homkund. But instead of a lake is an unusual crater and in it a Sri Y'antra, the tantric symbol of Devi. It is a replica of a Yantra to be found in the village of Nauti which stands above Kama Prayag, the home of the Nautiyals, priests to the Garhwal rajas.

Though poor, your Garhwali villager is tough and dependable. At Wan the last village on the way to Rupkund from Gwaldam all the men folk still wear the traditional brown blanket tied across their chest and pinned with two iron needles made by the local blacksmith. The sewing machine has yet to reach them. Unknown to them I was carrying ten thousand rupees of another expedition and decided I would leave it with other excess luggage in the village rather than risk ending up in the lake, to no one's advantage. When I returned after a week, naturally a bit apprehensive about the decision, my kit was exactly as I had left it. Nowadays it is rare to find uncurious villagers!

Every year the local villagers climb up from Wan to Bedni Bugial, a delightful Alpine meadow, to worship at the small temples of Nanda Devi and her herald Latu. Thousands of people come from miles around such is the devotion for the Devi. Traditionally every twelfth year saw a much more impressive procession from Nauti to Homkuni, which followed a four-horned ram. At Homkund the ram's saddlebags would be filled with offerings to the goddess and the ram would be released. It would canter off towards Nanda Devi Sanctuary and the villagers would return down the Nandakini gorge tired but happy in the knowledge that the tantric ritual had been completed and their worship accepted. Many times conditions were unfavourable and the sacrifice could not be completed. According to the Nautiyals their pilgrimage — the Bara Nanda Jat --dates back nearly a thousand years.

Saraghrar NW (II) 7200 m.

36. Saraghrar NW (II) 7200 m. The route of 1982 Spanish ascent by SW spur. Note 16 Photo : J Lopez

Sani Pakush, 6885 m (west Karakoram) climbed by Japanese expedition 1983.

37. Sani Pakush, 6885 m (west Karakoram) climbed by Japanese expedition 1983. Note 17

Amazingly the British administration were unaware of its existence. Atkinson's Gazetteer and Longstaffs memoirs both make light of it as Hindu mythology. Whoever heard of natives climbing to 16,300 ft?

The presence of the bones was announced in 1942 when a local forest officer discovered the lake by accident while searching for rare herbs. (Wan is still a collection centre for Himalayan herbs.) The British reaction was typical. Think first of how it would fit into Empire history and then bend the evidence to suit imperial theory. The Commissioner grandly announced that the bodies could only be of an army (though no weapons were found), and casting around for a suitable scenario, fell upon the retreating troops of General Zorawar Singh who had perished while his army escaped from a Tibetan campaign in 1840. While officialdom clung to the military explanation (and still does) local people preferred the Tibetan trader version. This appears to have grown out of the discovery of a large leather woven shoe near the bodies which reminded the finder of a Tibetan trader he thought he remembered as a boy. This theory was elaborated by local brah-manical legends about a lost way to Tibet over the Ronti Saddle, only revealed to those whom the goddess chose.

Fortunately a Sherlock Holmes has emerged to solve the Rup-kund mystery. Shambu Nath Das is a Bengali mountaineer and a member of the Himalayan Club who has made an exhaustive study of the remains found in the lake as well as local folklore. His findings support the enquiry carried out by the government department of Anthropology who carbon-dated the bones as circa-1400 ad and were strongly of the opinion that they belonged to the Nanda Jat pilgrims.

The military theory is absurd not only chronologically but geographically. Rupkund leads to nowhere unless like the grand old Duke of York the troops were being marched all the way to the top of Trisul (over 23,000 ft) and then marched back down again. But General Zorawar Singh by all accounts was a very decisive commander. Between Rupkund and Tibet lie at least three high passes uncrossable except by well-equipped mountaineering parties, and significantly even until today, no one has succeeded in crossing Nanda Devi Sanctuary from south to north let alone face the barrier beyond it.

The trader theory is even more fantastical. To build a theory around one of the most common objects to be found anywhere in the mountains — an old shoe — is unsatisfactory. It could havt been left there much later by shepherds seeking new pastures. To argue that it couldn't be part of the Bara Nanda Jat, since pilgrims are expected to go barefoot, will also not bear scrutiny. Tht modern tradition js remove one's shoes after Bedni Bugial and climb barefoot to Homkund. But all villagers carry their shoes fof', the rest of the journey.

One danger in accepting the modern local version is that it tilty in favour of brahmanical prejudices. Thus the accident was Sfl to be caused by the anger of the goddess at a prince taking wife who polluted the mountain by giving birth to a child, larly in the more recent pilgrimages the harijans have been eluded because the goddess doesn't like their drumming! these slanted versions ignore is the physical evidence that wor (and drummers) did take part in the pilgrimage until the accide~ for not only bangles but female bones have been found.

Ironically under a secular government (which has taken over patron of the pilgrimage from the Garhwal raja) funds for next Bara Nanda Jat scheduled for September 1984, are not lil to be forthcoming if all classes cannot take part.

Shambu Nath Das our Sherlock Holmes has very convincing reconstructed how the 'crime' took place from a study of the ings of a pilgrimage in 1968. Early morning the procession comprising of several hundred men walking barefoot starts climbing slowly from Pattar Nachani. They do not reach the lake until afternoon, tired, cold and dazed by the altitude. After worship at the lakeside they climb the sheer side of the bowl that swe up 300 ft to the ridge. It is nearly dark and they still have to and descend the horrifying 2000 ft steep side to the Silisamud glacier. Their mood is a mixture of elation and concern at tricky route ahead. Probably after the accident this slope has co to be known as Jyuri Gulli which translates literally as ‘Death Alley'. One slip and you are on a crest a run into the lake, party were to slip they would all avalanche into the waiting kund.

The rest of the action I almost experienced myself. In late thanks to my porter Natha Singh I was able to struggle up thro five kilometres of snow slopes to be the first party to view the that year (1983). It was an exquisite sight, a piece of cosmic jewelery set in a natural amphitheatre. The tiny jade lake surround fcy virgin snow slopes sweeping down clean on all sides, and abo the red perpendicular cliffs curving round, an immaculate chastity belt of granite.

A lull in the driving sleet enabled us to scramble up towards the ridge. Nathu, route-finding, floundered up to his waist in snow. As w» panted up to the sharp divide above the immense snow spread uf the glacier, sweeping off Trisul were all the winds in hell. We clutched one another to keep our feet and when I inched towards the jagged edge to photograph the lake straight below Nathu held firmly to my knees in case I was blown over. This was eleven in the morning. By evening it would be ten times worse. As far as I was eoncerned the mystery was solved. Elementary, my dear Watson.

As a footnote to western attitudes to mountaineering by local Villagers, it is revealing to find that in the Himalaya hundreds of ordinary people have been climbing barefoot to a height greater than Mont Blanc (15,782 ft) for getting on to a thousand years. The ftnt ascent of Mont Blanc was in 1786 — nearly 400 years after the Rupkund accident.1


  1. All credit for solving the Rupkund mystery should go to Shambu Nath Das.



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9 SATOPANTH (7075 m)
Sixth ascent on the northeast ridge


PRANZ HUBER (21 years), Thomas Kurschner (18), Bernd Ritachel (19), Armin $iwy (28), Georg Welsch (35) and myself (21), all from Munich, reached Delhi at the end of June 1983. We did all the organisation which is necessary for such a climb without any help from a travel agency. Also did the journey by public bus via Uttar-kashi to Gangotri with our 500 kg luggage and searched for 17 porters. It was quite an experience for us, because most of us are very young and all of us were coming for the first time to the Himalaya, lut we can recommend this way of travel to anyone. The feeling of adventure is much higher, the contact with the local people is much closer and it is cheaper and takes not much longer.

On 3 July we established the base camp at Nandanban (4400 m). The beautiful but sometimes crowded spot was now lonely during monsoon. For the first days we explored the surroundings for orientation and acclimatization. The weather had bad rainy and Inowy periods of three to four days. Usually three better days followed with clear weather during the morning but some snow in the late afternoon. Then came the bad period again. It snowed down to 4000 m.

On 12 July we started with heavy packs to try an alpine ascent Of Satopanth via NE ridge. The first night we slept at 5000 m, the Mcond at 5500 m and the third at 5850 m. The snow on the glacier was very deep and the dangerous crevasses were hidden under the snow. Tracing the route was very exhausting. We disappeared in the deep powder snow up to the hips. From 5850 m, a saddle on the NE ridge, we started at midnight to ascend the summit. A very sharp and long ridge, with hard ice on one side and dangerous powder snow on the other, was the most difficult part of the climb. After the ridge we dug our track through the summit flank (40°). The weather was bad and it snowed. 1200 m of climb on deep snow and thin air demanded all our energy. After 13 hours all six of us reached the summit (15 July). Only the fact that we are in the Himalaya prevented us from thinking about the paradoxical situation, because the view was about 10 m. At home in the alps we could have the same in foggy weather. But the adventure, the contact with another culture, the big dimensions and deeper impressions gave us a lot of new experiences. At darkness we reached the saddle exhausted and needed one and a half day more to descend to the base camp.

This expedition wasn't spectacular, but for us it was a big thing. We are happy, that we managed all the organization alone, that we climbed in alpine style during monsoon, that all of us reached the summit, that the group was harmonized and that we could have a look into the beautiful nature and culture of the Himalaya. Maybe some other expeditions, more performance-oriented, don't have such feelings. And I think the feelings and experiences are most important, not the performance.



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THE PRIMARY objective of trek to Khimloga was to study the zone around Khimloga pass. Time, logistics and weather permit¬ting we also planned to scale two unnamed peaks (5889 m and 5712 m) near the right and left flank of the pass.

There are a number of passes on the range between Kinnaur and Garhwal. Khimloga is one of them situated over the watershed of Baspa (Sutlej) and {Supin (Tons). The two unnamed peaks, 5712 m and 5889 m are situated on either side Khimloga pass. All these passes can be negotiated either from Baspa valley (Simla — Sangla Chitkul route) or through Tons valley. We selected the second one and moved via Dehradun. Our proposed approach route from Dehradun was — Dehradun to Sankri by bus (180 kms). Trek begins at Sankri (1880 m) to Jakhol (2200 b — Jakhol to Lewari (2800 m) — Lewari to Transit Camp (3600 m) base camp (4000 m). After base camp three more camps were proposed to be set up before the summit bid. Due to severe road blocks and land-slides instead of Sankri bus could ply only upto Mori, 25 km before the scheduled bus head Sankri. The total trek to base camp, con¬sequently, augmented to 90 km instead of 65 km.

We reached Sankri on 5 September via Naitwar. Confluence of Rupin and Tons is a lovely sight from Naitwar. After ]0 km from Naitwar motor able road leads to Jakhol and the adjoining area though even after 15 years it is not yet ready to admit public trans¬port. Sankri is a beautiful Himalayan hamlet located in a strategic spot on the top half of the confluence of Supin and Tons, and affords lovely view. We reached Pao village at 10 a.m. and Jakhol at 12.30 p.m. Jakhol is a big village with a population of 3500 m.

On 8th we managed some porters of Pao village who ferried load upto Lewari, 20 km from Jakhol. We left at 9 a.m. to Dhara a small village 3 km away from Jakhol. From Dhara we had to descend to the true left of Supin river. There is a wooden bridge on Supin slightly lower down from the point where Deokir nala merges into Supin just half a km away in the north. From this point path was steep all along to Fithari. After a rest at Fithari we started for Lewari. While moving towards Lewari one can have a lovely view of village Kashla and Rala that hung by the hill slope 5 km away in the northwest. Supin had to be crossed just below Rala village before climbing up to Lewari. With twelve porters and two HAPs, we began our trek on the 10th morning. We crossed Supin after 2 km and moved along the true right of Supin and remained so upto base. The path was along the river bed, landslide zones, pine forests and grassy slopes with plenty of flowers. Leaving Supin in a deep gorge we had to climp up for nearly 3000 ft, first amidst pine forest through a precarious ridge partly damaged due to land¬slides and then across a grassy slopes, to a grass-field and finally descended onto the river bed. It was dark when we reached transit camp by side of Supin. The height of the camp would be around 3600 m. Two hours' rain had made the route doubly difficult. Every¬thing was soaked. So it was 10 a.m. before we could start for base on 11th.

The route to base from this camp is distinctly better except the landslide zones. Moving along the true right of Supin we crossed many a sub-stream and reached Botu-Ki-Bera which means the boot mark of the Chinese King. A few boot marks (undoubtedly wind-swept erosion) on a big boulder were believed to be that of a Chinese King who as a goodwill gesture engraved his foot marks on the boulder. After Lami nala that mingles into Supin from the north we entered an enormous valley and at the end of the valley established our base. From base the view of 5877 m unnamed peak in the east paled every other peak into insignificance.

It was sunny and bright on 12th morning. At 10 a.m. we decided to move up to establish Camp 1. We considered the approach to two unnamed peaks (5889 m and 5712 m) through Khimloga glacier. Instead we decided to move east behind the south western ridge and 5889 m peak that divides Khimloga glacier and the south¬western flank of 5889 m. Our main intention was to gain the southwestern ridge of 5889 m peak, the highest in the region. We can explore the Khimloga pass and the adjoining area from the ridge and if necessary make the descent to Khimloga glacier and trek down to base in one day. Khimloga had to be crossed. It had a strong current and we had to make a detour well upto the snout of Khimloga glacier and moved to a huge ground entirely slushy being a tri-junction of three sub-streams that join with Khimloga nala to produce river Supin. We were late and at about 4 p.m. we decided to pitch our Camp 1 by the side of a high medial moraine ridge. From Camp 1 once again the towering view of 5877 m peak enlivened the entire periphery. However, from now onwards upto our summit bid danger of rock fall was a distinct possibility.

On 13th, three of us, recceed Camp 2. It took more than an hour to reach the end of the moraine ridge, 2 km away in the east. We looked north and surveyed the entire panorama. It pre¬sented a horrible picture. Amidst maze of boulders on the glacier coupled with rock-fall hazards it would be a difficult bargain. We descended to the glacier bed and moved ahead. We selected a spot for Camp 2.

On 14th afternoon we reconnoitred the right flank of the huge glacier in front of Camp 2. It was not feasible; so we had to move along the left flank over boulder slope. We had to negotiate three icefields full of crevasses and selected a spot for Camp 3. Peak 5899 m can perhaps be scaled once the ridge is gained, for the snow-ridge gently leads to the top of the peak. However, it's a wild guess from lower below. Two tiny rocky points along the ridge-400 ft below the summit could pose a problem.

On 16th six members headed for Camp 3. It was a grand place. It took two hours to reach Camp 3. The route to the ridge amidst rock and ice was certainly difficult and risky.

On 17th, we left Camp 3. We moved across the huge snowfield and climbed the eastern slope of the ridge. After one and half hour we gained the rocky buttress. We roped up and climbed up the snow gully quickly. Hardly two rope lengths from the ridge we were confronted with a crevasse zone which had looked very harmless from lower below. Moreover, we had not noticed that the line chosen by us was rock-fall zone. We decided to move across to a ice-slope and negotiate from our right. Within 15 minutes the rock buttress was gained. By making the detour we gained con¬siderable height and it would be hardly 500 ft to gain the upper crust of the ridge. However, the slope steepened. While taking rest weather turned bad and in no time two of us were consumed by an enormous white-out. The summit would be around less than 1000 ft from this point we could not see much except a hazy contour of glacier and slopes. We had the rush down the ridge. White-out persisted followed by snowfall. We had to wait out the inclement weather and make a descent via a new route through a number of rock and snow gullies. We came back to Camp 3 at 10 p.m. in moonlight.

The area offers many opportunities for a small team keen on a trek and climb. Though peaks are smaller it involves considerable amount of technical ability to negotiate the tricky terrain. The area also offers a wonderful prospect for serious trekkers around Khimloga, Lami, Singaghati passes and Varatsar-Kalasar lake re¬gions. The rarest landscape with hundreds of Brahmakamal around is a sight a trekker could hardly miss.

Singhaghati and Lami Pass

We were established at Camp 1 in the Lami basin at the foot of both above passes. On 30th morning shrugging off the initial inertia we moved north on tricky boulder slopes. After 3 km leaving Lami basin on the northeast we moved northwest on a boulder field with soft snow. The ground was tricky. Cold wind was blowing. The pass seemed to be around. Boulder field gave away to snow. We could see the JSingaghati pass as also the peak Patangridhar (5280 m) on its left. We climbed up the snow-hump to reach the pass. Snowfall being less this year a small portion of the ridge in front of the pass could be seen. From a cairn on the top of the ridge it could be deduced that the path might have been used by travellers dur¬ing dry season. We took photographs and hurriedly started the descent for black clouds were curling all around. We reached Camp 1 at 2 p.m.

Heavy snowfall occurred during the night. In the morning of 2 October the entire site had become a vast snowfield covering the boulders completely. The section of the ridge stretching from west to east that was to be reached was situated in north from Camp 1 with a boulder slope at its foot. Nayakda, Pabitra and Kanji reach¬ed there after four hours' gruelling effort. Finally Lami pass (5100 m) too was reached with the backdrop of H.P. open and clear to them. The peculiar aspect of Lami pass was that one cannot descend easily to H.P. through this pass, for a huge chunk of the glacier had gone off from the northern flank. Three of them came back to Camp 1 after taking pictures. The next day they descended to base.

Kalasar Lake

A plateau comprising of Varatsar and Kalasar lakes is a place of pilgrimage for the people of H.P. and also for the people of this part of U.P. The legend is that people who wish to fulfil their desire must put a small coin along with a Brahmakamal on the glacial lake. In most cases the flower goes against the course granting the prayer and vanishes indicating the Will of God. On 4 October we approached via Bhikshupri (twenty small caves) and established a, a Camp on a slope. On 5th we entered H.P. and climbed up not less then three thousand feet to reach Kalasar. Kalasar was on a vast snow slope. Owing to huge snow-deposition, we had to come back without reaching Varatsar. But the experience gained from Kalasar was a reward in itself. We felt happy and reached Lewari on 6 October along with the main team. We reached Mori on 9 October after three days' trek.

Jongsong (7473 m — 24,518 ft) was attempted from Ginsang glacier by a Yogoslav expedition led by Tone Skarja.

Illustrated Note 1
Jongsong (7473 m — 24,518 ft) was attempted from Ginsang glacier by a Yogoslav expedition led by Tone Skarja. BC was at Pangpema and C2 at Jongsong la (5950 m). They found the south face safe for climbing through a 1500 m ice-couloir but their planned descent route by the SE ridge was too dangerous.

The first ascent of Baruntse (NW peak) (7057 m — 23,150 ft) was made by a Dutch expedition led by Joost Ubbinik.

Illustrated Note 2
The first ascent of Baruntse (NW peak) (7057 m — 23,150 ft) was made by a Dutch expedition led by Joost Ubbinik. A four member team without any Sherpa support climbed the north ridge of Baruntse from the west (Chukung face). After a night in an ice cave at 6600 m they reached the NW summit. This route had pre¬viously been attempted by three parties in the last five years without success.



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THE IDEA of this expedition took shape in January. The peak chosen was Phabrang (20,500 ft) because of its easy access and short approach march which made it convenient far employed persons.
The most valuable information about the peak was obtained from a detailed report by the Royal Marine and Royal Navy Mountaineer¬ing Club which made two successful attempts on the peak in Sep¬tember 1980. They attempted Phabrang from three faces — north, northwest and south and were successful on the latter two. On the basis of the report we decided to attempt the south face — it being the simplest of the three and yet offering sufficient challenge by our standards.1


  1. For past history see HJ. Vol. XIX, p. 122, Vol. XXXIII, p. 149, Vol 36, Illustrated Note 8, and Vol. 38, p. 106—Ed.


Phabrang lies in the Miyar Valley, at the heart of the Lahul range. The main effects of the monsoon are barred by Dhaula Dhar range to the south so that vegetation in this region is comparatively sparse. Access to Phabrang can be made via Manali, over the Rohtang pass, and across to Udaipur, the last road head. The normal journey to Udaipur (8000 ft) from Manali takes 12 hours. The route goes along the Chandra-Bhaga river. The base camp (13,500 ft) is a two-day march from Udaipur and is situated towards the NW face of the mountain. The south face can be reached via an icefall to the right of the mountain.

We reached Udaipur on 13 July. Next day getting porters posed a small problem because comparatively few expeditions came to this region, making porterage redundant occupation. However we managed to find three persons who were willing to carry our loads up to base camp. We left immediately and reached Karpat, our scheduled night-halt at 5.00 p.m. Karpat is a small village with a population of about 135 people. It affords a school and a doctor. The residents are friendly and helpful. Many of them had been to the base camp of Phabrang with the Britishers and thus know the region well. We stayed in a gompa from where we could get a direct view of the steep climb ahead of us to the base camp and above that the awe-inspiring view of the NW face of Phabrang.

The next morning (15 July) we left Karpat and after a tiring 7 hour walk reached a grassy slope at 13,500 ft where we decided to locate our base camp. Our porters stayed with us overnight and went back to Udaipur the next morning. We made a small ferry to 14,500 ft where we decided to locate our ABC right at the base of Phabrang. The remaining 6000 ft and the icefall to the right which we had to cross loomed right at our doorstep. On the 17th we made another ferry to ABC and continued climbing further to 15,500 ft near the base of icefall. The third day we took all the remaining articles we would require beyond ABC including our two tents and personal belongings and pitched our campsite at ABC. Shelat and Allwyn walked up to the base of the icefall once again.

The next morning (19th) we climbed about 500 ft of icefall to 16,500 ft and returned to camp early. We decided to push up to Camp .1 (17,800 ft) the next day with sufficient food to last us through 4 days.

The next morning we skirted the mountain in an easterly direc¬tion, climbed up a steep snow-ramp (200 ft) which led to an upper cirque and the south face of Phabrang. We crossed a narrow and fairly safe bergschrund and climbed another 100 ft before returning to camp.

Camp 1 is about 2,700 ft below the summit, and, since none of us had any acclimatization problems we decided to make an attempt on the summit the next day. The Britishers had bivouacked at 19,700 ft (800 ft below the summit) on a col, but we decided against this because it would mean additional load and thus slower progress.

The next day we left at 3.45 a.m. on a cloudless but dark morn¬ing (the moon had set at 3.00 a.m.). Surprisingly, the weather was quite warm, but we soon realized, this would be the reason of our retreat — because, only a thin layer of snow had hardened at night and, with the strong sunlight the next day, there would be a large layer of extremely soft snow on a steep slope (it was between 40° and 50° all the way) — ideal conditions for an avalanche. Thus, at about 10 a.m. after gaining a height of about 18,900 ft we were forced to retrace our steps. The wisdom of our decision was con¬firmed by the large number of avalanches we encountered on our descent — but not dangerously so because of the lesser slope.

The next day was not much better and we knew that it would be pointless to continue with our pursuit of Phabrang for, even climb¬ing up to 19,700 ft to the col might prove a difficult task. Our depleting food stock at Camp 1 would not allow us to postpone the attempt further and we did not have enough time to go down to ABC for more. We therefore decided to climb an 18,500 ft peak near the camp on 23 July. We took 2 hours to reach the top from where we had an excellent view of the south face of Phabrang although the weather was cloudy.

The next morning we packed up and retraced our steps all the way to Karpat. We were in Bombay on the 29th of July barely 3 weeks after leaving on our short expedition.

Members: Ajit Shelat, C. D. Tambat and Allwyn Carvalho



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MY JAPANESE FRIEND, Mineo Ebata, last year sent me a map of Milang and Koa Rong. I had also read before 'Airman in Lahul' by Wing Commander N. M. Ridley in The Himalayan Journal (Vol. 37 p. 96). I resolved to gear up our expedition of 1983 towards Koa Rong.

Two Sherpas had come with us from Darjeeling, Passang Thun-dup and Dawa Sherpa. We had taken with us eight high altitude porters from Manali. We would carry loads on muleback from Darcha to reach base camp. Keylong is 115 km away from Manali. Darcha was at a distance 32 km from Keylong. We came to the other side of the river Bhaga crossing the bridge. There were a few small shops at Darcha 10,840 ft. All rations for expedition could be had there. The water currents of the Bhaga, the Milang and the Tela combined here to advance a resonant sound. There were broad meadows on the two sides of the Bhaga. We would walk along the eastern side. The Milang river would be on our left. There was the splendour of the green all around. The villagers did not allow the mules to come through the fields. They came along the river banks. We came by the way above. It-was almost a level track from Darcha to Yotse. A hanging rope bridge was there for going to Yotse village. Who knows why the people live in Yotse village!

Our first day's camp was set up by the riverside at Yotse 11,300 ft. Mulkila 4 looked like a 'Gold Queen' as it had its face washed in the sunrays of a dying afternoon of 15 July. On the front there were fragments of moraine over the vast field. A little ahead the Koa Rong nala was flowing, the local people called it 'Khoar nala. The turbulent current of the nala would endanger us tomorrow if we did not find any ice-bridge. We would have to move up along the Koa Rong nala.

Next morning, on 16 July, we crossed an ice-bridge on the nala. We began to trek on the bank. It was strenuous. We worried about the mules. The mules stopped near a subsidiary track which could be negotiated by them, it was intentional. The mule-owners showed us a morainic ridge at a distance and said 'The Japanese set up a base camp there'. It meant that the mules could not go further. I found the trace of a camp here in the map which Ebata had sent me. But I was sure of the fact that it was not a base camp. Base camp must be pitched on the Koa Rong glacier. Show¬ing the Tela range on the front the mule owners said. 'That is Koa Rong'. I knew that even the offer of more money would not induce them to advance further, perhaps the road ahead was im¬passable. The height of this place was about 14,000 ft. I had seen on the way that once numerous tributary glaciers had issued out of the Tela range to come down upto Koa Rong nala. They do not have any direct contact with the master glacier at present. Several small cirque glaciers exist on the south-facing slope of the Tela divide which faces Koa Bong glacier. Annual precipitation as well as avalanches from the Tela peaks and the Koa Rong peaks supply snow to this snowfield which, in turn, feeds the Koa Rong glacier. The tributary glaciers of the Tela range are short but have steeper slopes and have tremendous power of eroding the sides of the escarp¬ment slopes. Tela peaks require enough of ropes and seasoned rock climbers. There was garbage of previous expeditions littered around our camp. We would stay here tomorrow; our decision was that Smriti, Passang and Dawa would ferry loads and come down to tell us how the condition of the route was. And we would move forward accordingly. .17 July was spent in ferrying loads. The base camp was 3 km distant from this point and reached next day. After we had proceeded 1 km the Koa Rong range unfolded. They were exquisitely beautiful five peaks.

We had difficulties to reach the base camp. Caution was necessary for descending to Koa Rong glacier along the morainic path. The lowermost part of glacier is completely covered by surface moraine and no trace of medial moraine could be found. The Koa Rong nala flows in a southernly direction through the narrow gorge. Then Koa Rong nala turns left and flows parallel to Milang nala.

A huge quantity of tin plates lay littered around the base camp 15,000 ft. We found a karabiner of the 1939 expedition on which was marked 'HIATIF. A discoloured letter that was found contain¬ed instruction to bring ropes from Darcha. After taking their lunch Passang and Dawa went to find the route near the tributary glacier. It was decided to fix rope half way up to the col. The col would have to be climbed after the setting up a camp midway.

Everybody came down to the base camp on 19 July. The action plan had been drawn up by then. Next day reaching the top of the ropes fixed today which lay just under the col, we would have to set up our Camp 1 at 17,200 ft. Camp 1 was erected at the pre¬viously arranged place on 20 July. Of course Passang had already fixed ropes a little ahead of the camp upto an ice-wall (200 ft) so that they did not feel any difficulty at the outset next morning.

It was about half-past six in the morning when the members started. Ascending along the ice-wall pitched by fixed-rope yester¬day the members came upon the almost flat surface of ice on the top of the col. The snow escarpment slopes of Koa Rong peaks seemed to rest here before going down on the hanging glacier. It appeared best for them to climb quickly along an avalanche point. The summit party continued to climb up along the steep ice-wall of KR 2. It was a rigorous ascent. All the ropes had been fixed. Passang was belaying Dawa by a single yellow rope to open the route. On advancing a distance Dawa stopped near an ice-wall. It was not possible to proceed further without the help of further fixed rope. The hope of climbing KH 2 ended. All again came down upon the base. The approach to KR 3 was along the left side from here. An additional coil of 750 ft rope would be required. Climbing to KR 3 would have to be made along the exposed rock wall.

Koarong Expedition

Koarong Expedition

I was worried about the monsoon. This year the monsoon had not let off even Lahul. Completing our climb as early as possible we would have to return.

We passed the whole night of 25 July gossiping. At about half past four at dawn the moon also seemed to walk along with the members with a curious look. It was 10 a.m. when they reached Camp 1. Everyone had the mental resolution that the summit would have to be reached by any means. The weather started worsening and the snowfall made them gloomy. The peaks of Mulkila were looking like giants. KIl 3 was not very far from the basin. But the members would have to move forward along the knife-edge ridge. Fortune favoured us, the weather seemed to smile sweetly again. Camp 1 was appearing deserted on the west. We had to advance fixing ropes. It was 1.30 p.m. when the members — Passang, Dawa, Bani and Smriti — slowly reached the top of KR 3. It had taken them nine hours and a half.

The women climbed up the ridge of KR 3, along the southwestern ridge as this route was easier to climb within a short period, the east face being unusually steep.

Photo 31



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IN THE HINDU MYTHOLOGY, Kailash is the legendery home of Shiva. And perhaps because of that many ranges have peaks named Kailash. Kailash (20,020 ft) above Manasarovar in Tibet is the holiest, believed to have been climbed by the Chinese. For those who could not make the arduous pilgrimage to Tibet there is 'Baba Kailash (20,740 ft) near the Tibetan border between Darma and Kuthi valleys. In Garhwal (Gangotri) we have Sri Kailash (22,742 ft), the easiest of Shiva's abodes. It was first climbed by the Austrian team in 1938. More to the west is Kinnaur Kailash (21,240 ft) above Kalpa, a fearsomely difficult peak climbed by an Indian Army team in 1974. Last comes Kailash (18,556 ft) in Chamba district of Himachal Pradesh. It is also called Mani Mahesh Kailash after the holy lake to its west. This is perhaps the most difficult of all the abodes. Changing houses must be difficult, even for Shiva!

In the winter of 1983 we decided to invite ourselves to this last home of Shiva. A traditional route circuits the mountain and it is usually only possible to do so during September. It is an 80 km parikrama over a high pass of 16,200 ft. It was also our aim to climb the peak. Kailash was reported climbed by a large Indo-Japanese Ladies Expedition in 1968.1 Upon studying their article and photographs the peak seemed an easy climb, even in winter. However, we were to learn that they were uninvited guests!


  1. See Himalayan Mountaineering Institute (Darjeeling) Journal, 1968, Vol. 4r No. 2, p. 54.


We prepared for the trip in earnest, having not much experience of winter. Ultimately we found that it was best to follow the early travellers. In our outfit we were much more fortunate. We had learnt from experience that the secret of tmie comfort lies in the elimination of the unessential rather than in the collection of masses of material. I hasten to add that our standard of food and! warmth was high!'2

On 3 December 1983 we were at Chamba. It was cold, deserted' and wore an autumn look. A local panwala enlightened us about various legends of Kailash.


  1. 'A Chukkar in Himalaya', by Captain H. L. Wyndham H.J. Vol. VIII, p. 119


'The mountain shakes when someone tries to climb it. The jatra takes place in early September and on the appointed date at 4 a.m. there is a sudden flow of water in the lake and everyone jumps in to take a bath.'

The area abounded with Kailash legends. Everything bore rela¬tion to Shiva — there were pictures, stories and names.

On 4th we left for Brahmour. Bus left us at Khadamukh where a bridge is incomplete for last two decades!

'The local M.P. is always from the opposition, and hence our bridge is not completed.' 'Doesn't Shiva do something about it?'

'He is the God of destruction and not construction! Anyway Shiva had elected a representative of the ruling party this election and the bridge will be hopefully completed in few years.'

At Lahal we had the first and the only view of Kailash (west face). It looked frightening, isolated and massive. Brahmour was cold and the famous Kailash temple complex looked deserted. We made final preparations, loaded our 35 kg rucksacks and started for Hadsar (13 km) on the jeepable track, Autumn was in full glory and reaching Kugti (13 km) on 6th was a pleasure beyond words and pain beyond complaining due to the heavy loads and cold. We turned south here and followed Bhujla nala for two days to estab¬lish ourselves at the junction of Nikora and Kailash nala. On 9th, Muslim and Kartik moved along the valley to recce our route. Dhiren and I climbed up an adjoining mountain ridge to observe Kailash. In the southwest a shapely snow-peak appeared and we recognized it from the pictures from the ladies team which we were carrying. This was the peak between Khidja Galu and Chobu pass, and climbed by the ladies in 1968. To its north (difference of 15° from that snowy peak, to be precise) towered a huge monolith of rock and ice. It had most steep gradient and complicated rock-pinnacles. No route appeared feasible on that. Dhiren lost a com¬pass-bearing-reading bet and we firmly established that the stupen¬dous monolith was the true Kailash peak. It was certain that the ladies could not have climbed this in one day (8 hrs) from the camp at 14,750 ft at its base. The photographs corroborated the identifi¬cation. Panwala was right. He had challenged; 'No one can climb Kailash. If the ladies had climbed it in 1968 we would have rejected Shiva as God! And if you climb it now in the cold I'll treat you to a free paan!'

In the evening Muslim confirmed our observation; 'The true Kailash is so steep from the higher camp that my neck is sprained looking up to it.'

We moved up in two camps to 14,200 ft. The cold increased and the weather deteriorated. We intended to climb the 'Ladies Peak' which is about 17,000 ft and then complete the parikrama. On 13th Dhiren and I opened route till Chobu pass, c. 16,200 ft. It was a steep route over scree and the last traverse under overhanging rocks scaring away all but the staunch devotees. The view to north revealed a number of shapely peaks on Lahul-Chamba divide. There are famous passes. This area can be a trekkers' and climbers' paradise.

We gathered at the upper camp, and from that evening we were tent-bound for the next 3 days. A violent snow-storm engulfed us. Those were miserably cold, long three days. Temperature dropped to — 25°C at times.

At night it was fearfully cold. In spite of wearing an under¬garment, woollen shirt, pullover and being rolled into a sleeping-TDag, we were frozen. We joked with each other to forget the cold.

'I have read somewhere that the more clothes one wears the colder one feels.'

'This is no time to go stripping.'

'How does Shiva stay atop just in a loin-cloth?'

To us, in one of these moments of insane optimism which no amount of cold experience was capable of shattering, it seemed that we might, with a little luck, still complete at least the parikrama.

17th was clear and looking at the thermometer Dhiren shouted to the other tent.

'It is quite warm today. Temperature has risen to —12 °C.'

Muslim's reply was unprintable! We had no time to wait. With hard labour we were at the pass in 7 hours. It was most fatiguing on the soft snow. On the other side a semi-circular basin plastered with fresh snow covered the route down. On the southeast we could see the snowy peak climbed by the ladies. It was 800 ft higher and a kilometer traverse led to it. Half an hour later I led the descent. After a distance of 80 ft a soft but unmistakable noise and the full snow-slope under me in the semi-circular basin had avalanched. I was luckily riding on the top of it. It generated speed, tossed me around and stopped after 600 ft, burying me a little. I scrambled out, unhurt, and looked up the path of the avalanche for signs of my companions. I could see no one and had the scare of my life. Where do I look for them under such vast debris? There was a shout from above — they were above the line that had cracked! They glissaded down the avalanche path and enjoyed the fruits of my involuntary labour. We plodded till late and camped at 15,000 ft thoroughly exhausted.

The 2000 ft ice and snow wall of Mulkila H (M6) (6182 m — 20,283 ft)

Illustrated Note 3
The 2000 ft ice and snow wall of Mulkila H (M6) (6182 m — 20,283 ft) was climbes by a three mem¬ber Franco-Swiss ex¬pedition led by J. J. Asper. This was the lirst ascent cf the north face on 23 June 1983 and this was the third ascent of the peak. Photo : J. J. Asper

Bhagirathi II (6512 m — 21,364 ft)

Illustrated Note 4
Bhagirathi II (6512 m — 21,364 ft) was climbed by the normal east face route by a three member Indian team on 15 June 1983. They made a high bivouac and climbed the major part at night. Photo : H. Mistry

Illustrated Note 5

Illustrated Note 5
(a) A team from Ban¬galore, India led by P. Nagaraj attempted Kirti Stambh (6270 m — 20,570 ft) from ESE in August 1983.
(b) First ascent of t Kirti Stambh was made by a Scot¬tish team led by Roy Lindsay from the NE1 face. (See article in the pre¬sent issue.)

Illustrated Note 6

Illustrated Note 6
(a) An HA J Japa¬nese expedition to Nanda Khat (6611 m — 21,690 ft) in autumn 1981 lost seven members buried in an ava¬lanche at 6000 m. A search party in 1983 also could not locate their bodies.
(b) An Indian expedi¬tion from Diganta, Calcutta led by A. Mazumdar, climb¬ed this peak on 13 June 1982.

WEK 1983

WEK 1983

Snow-plod continued on 18th. In 3 hrs we were at the holy Mani-Mahesh lake at 13,680 ft. Cold biting wind pushed us steeply down. The track was well-made for the pilgrims. But few ice-runnels invaded the track and it was complicated to overcome it on watery-ice. We camped on the track at Dancho. Next morning Dhiren slipped on an ice-runnel and was carried down a hundred feet in a flash. Only the rucksack saved him from serious injuries.

We trekked down steeply and at last on 19th evening we were at Hadsar where a jeep picked us for night at Brahmour.
We were back at Chamba.

"You could not have done the parikrama in this cold/ Panwala did not believe us. Kartik threateningly pointed to his cold tips and toes as proofs.

'All right, even though you could not reach the abode, have a free paan.'

We were happy to be warm and well-fed. Now we ate at Kailash dhaba, travelled by Kailash express, saw a movie at Kailash theatre and Muslim even gave admiring glances to damsel Kailash. We could afford to, after those cold days around the real Kailash!

Team: Harish Kapadia (leader), Muslim Contractor, Dhiren Toolsidas and Kartik Bhagat.

Sponsored by: The Mountaineers, Bombay.

Note: For 15 years it was recorded that Mani Mahesh Kailash was climbed by the Indo-Japanese Ladies Expedition in 1968. The expedition was sponsored by the Indian Mountaineering Foundation, New Delhi and was led by Ms Nandini Patel (now Pandya) and Ms Eiko Miyazaki. In the account in H.M.I. Journal Vol. 4, No. 2, p. 54 an article (without pictures) informed about the 'first-ascent' on 13 May 1968. The team claimed to have climbed the last 3800 ft from a camp at 14,750 ft to the summit in 8 hrs. On that single day all lady members and Sherpas reached the summit. After studying their photos of the summit ridge, timings and having observed the area first-hand we are certain that the above team climbed adjoining peak of c. 17,000 ft only. The peak of Kailash remained unclimbed towering 1500 ft north of Chobu pass. Didn't they see it?

All the persons we met on the trip; porters, villagers, local mountaineering instructors at Brahmour and Dharamsala and tra¬vellers, each of them remembered the expedition and refuted the ladies' climb. They could all recall the expedition, being the only attempt on their holy peak and quoted various sources of references for basing their denial. The inviolate Kailash will yield to a superb rock-climber one day.

Photos 32 to 35



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American Expedition


DEO TIBBA held the key to the experience I was after.

I had come to the Himalaya on high-altitude group treks many times before, but always felt the journeys had somehow been incomplete. I had not really been immersed in them. This time I would be coming to India alone to climb a peak. I would go into the mountains with only the people of those mountains in order to experience them more as they truly are.

I had discovered the year before, on a trek over remote Sara Umga la with only three porters, that I related more to the natural forces without others from my own culture present. Loneliness was never a problem for each day was rich and full of surprises as the rhythms of the mountains were absorbed.

As an artist, I felt I would have the self-discipline and time to paint as we moved up the mountain without the distraction of others.

The expedition began to take form when I read an article from the Himalayan Journal on an expedition to Deo Tibba.1

Upon reaching Manali, Lama Tashi was hired as a guide, and after a few days we were driven 9 km to Jagatsukh where the trail began.

The landscape of rice paddies was left behind, and after a few hours of trekking up an easy path we reached a clearing under an enormous hollow tree. Thousands of delicate cream coloured flowers with coral hearts fluttered to the ground under it where we pitched our tents. The place was called Khanuri. Seven distinct rays of dusty gold from the sun played on the meadow as alpenglow re¬flected from peaks on the other side of the Kulu valley.

The world I left behind with its fast pace and problems of getting from Houston to that place under the hollow tree receded to be replaced by memories of other mountains and the transcendental feeling the solitude of wilderness brings.


  1. H.J. Vol. XXX, p. 206, 'Deo Tibba' 1969 by Ginseppi Tenti


The second day we soon began a climb up boulders of an enormous landslide. When we reached the top we entered a cool, lush, forest of conifer trees. On our right, Jagatsukh nala thundered by in a chasm below leaving behind clouds of rainbows. At times the path clutched ledges supported by logs spanning misty spaces. Splashes of blue iris and yellow strawberry blossoms bloomed where there was sunlight. The temperate forest gave way to an alpine meadow. Tents were pitched below a cave inhabited by shepherds at a place called Chikka.

The third day we moved through low willows and rocky streams, and on into a world of dwarfed junipers, boulders and patches of snow. Finally there was only a patch of meadow, and then we entered a monochromatic world of snow, rock, ice and sky. Tents were placed on a rocky outcrop at a place called Seri. Two water¬falls plunging over the final ridge to base camp were a compelling subject to paint. For three days I had collected visual impressions of patterns, colours, textures and upthrusting masses, and I wanted to do 'something* about it. There are many realities of the moun¬tain and choosing the one to focus on became an important and absorbing part of my expedition. Almost every day, I headed out with my supplies into the snowy landscape to paint until snow falling on the snowfield I was painting or cold fingers and fading light drove me to my tent.

The fourth day we crossed a shallow, frozen lake near the falls and started the climb up the ever-steepening ridge. A porter with a heavy load was using my ice-axe, so I used the point of my umbrella. It became necessary to kick in steps. The distance down to the lake below increased as well as my awareness of a missing plastic handle which broke off so easily the day before. It left me with much less confidence in the stability of the other end of my make shift 'ice-axe'. Ahead, the porters sat on a boulder, resting, watching and perhaps waiting to see how their leader, a woman, stacked up on this first little test of nerves. I joined them on the rock and considered my own good fortune when the individual following me fell. ... He was also lucky, for he carried an ice-axe rather than a plastic and tin umbrella.

We were soon to the top, a place called Taintah. It was a huge boulder splashed like an action painting with lichens of many colours. A small cave under the edge poised on the precipice pro¬vided shelter. Tents were set up in a tiny space where sun reflect¬ing from the boulder had melted the snow. The rest of the cwm was still held in the snowy grasp of an unusually long winter.

The next day we moved up the cwm to ferry a load to advance base camp. We returned to base in time to view the splendid sunset performance of thirteen ibex. A fall cascaded several hundred feet down a cliff of gold and black geological folds. It formed a backdrop befitting such a spectacular performance on narrow ledges in the high cold air.

On day six, Gokal, Lama Tashi, and I moved up to advance base camp as several avalanches thundered down from Deo Tibba in the sun of late morning. It snowed and a cold purple dusk settled over camp. Lama Tashi and Gokal ferried a load up to Camp 1 the next morning while I climbed a ridge across the cwm from Deo Tibba and explored, making photos, and painting. It was neither important to do the most difficult route nor to do it in the shortest possible time.

That night it was impossible to sleep for we were scheduled to began the climb up Duhangan col the next morning. About mid¬night I crawled from the tent into a night filled with stars pulsat¬ing brightly in the high thin atmosphere. Footsteps were extra¬ordinarily loud in the brittle frozen snow as I headed back up the ridge. Feeling free from constraint, I moved upward, pausing occasionally to look back at the tents. They were so insignificant that the scene seemed devoid of the human element. Far down in the most distant valley, a mountain range rose and behind it, lightning flashed one barrage after another. No sound of it could be heard. Opaque masses of fog began to drift up the valley. Cross¬ing the lightning. They began to make flickering patterns of drift¬ing, frosted light. Deo Tibba's most distinguishing feature, a spiralling staircase of ice from the summit to its base, was now silent. Its blue interior illumination seemed to lead right up into the stars. I already felt a special relationship with the mountain and was eager to be on it. Months later, that solitary sojourn is the most clearly fixed memory of my journey.

Lama Tashi decided to go back to base camp the next morning. Gokal and I enjoyed a day of exploration in which we followed the prints of a large cat until his tracks led into an area we could not safely follow without ropes.

Ora mani padme hum — low mumbled prayers that would sound perfect in a monastery accompanied by ringing bells and cymbals ended with 'tea memsab?' Reaching into the early morning dark¬ness, I took the tea and within the hour we were moving up the ridge of Duhangani col. With crampons grinding on the rocks near the top, we made our way over and entered the pristine world of the Malana glacier. Turning left we passed a small pond and moved below the ridge in tedious, soft snow and blinding light from the sun. After an hour we turned left again making our way up steep, deep snow, crossing a very large crevasse on a snow bridge, and setting up Camp 1.

Later in the day we were to view with fascination, the interplay of shadow and sunlight as it streamed through spaces between three towers of precariously balanced stone just across the crevasse. Clouds billowed and floated by steep ice-coated giants along our route of the year before, White Sail, Papsura, Shigri, the region's most impressive peaks.

The deep snow made it necessary to lighten our loads. High-altitude had whittled away at my desire to eat my freeze-dried food, so I left most of it behind.

The next day we struggled for footholds as we crossed the bergschrund, and once above it dropped off more of our load. We continued up a couloir littered with remnants of an avalanche. A glacier above leaned out and seemed to be defying gravity. Snow dribbled down from the left. We moved up to a small promontory along the ridge above and there we rested. We could see, for the first time since crossing over Duhangan col, advance base camp thousands of feet below. To our right, the spiralling glacier tumbl¬ed from the buttress. The rocky spine of Duhangan col was tb cur left. We continued up a very exposed ridge for a short distance and then turned toward a snowy 400 ft ascent into gathering fog. As we reached the plateau, Indrasan rose like a sentinal from the glacier on the opposite side from our route. The icy dome of Deo Tibba was to its left. Camp 2 was set up there.

Deo Tibba

Deo Tibba

On the eleventh day, a shimmering band of tangerine glowed in the eastern sky as I crawled from my tent. Putting on all of my gear had seemed as difficult as tying my shoe when I was four years old. The streak broadened and rose as we made our way past seracs, crossing dark slits of crevasses on what looked most likely to hold.

We made our way up to the final ice-cap in the early morning blue shadows of the dome. As we reached the crest, a dazzling sun met us and ushered us to the summit. It lighted thousands of sum¬mits rising from distant horizons. Like frozen waves crested in white, they sparkled in their icy world in the sky.

Wind horses in many colours raced across the windswept sum¬mit! They were printed on papers along with Buddhist prayers and were released by Lama Tashi to carry the message into the cosmos!

The sky was intensely blue. How lucky we were for it was 29 June and the monsoon was breathing down our back!

Walking to the edge of the summit, I looked toward Manali for any signs of civilization. I could see nothing from 6001 m, but somewhere down there in the haze, I thought, was Manali, where one could buy mutton curry, chicken tanduri and fruit in abun¬dance. It seemed light years away.

We hurried on our way, with eyes squinting from under our hats, making our way to Camp 2.

It was decided that the snow was too dangerous even at this early hour to continue down the most exposed part of the route. The day was spent at Camp 2 with food fantasies occupying my thoughts between mild altitude headaches.

Before dawn, we broke camp and started for base camp, pick¬ing up gear as we went.

The lower part of the route down Duhangan col had become a deep scree shoot. Dislodged stones whirred past and were a gra¬phic reminder of what happened to any falling body as we used no belays.

Our route to base had become an unfamiliar world of boulders and rivalets under slushy ice.

We raced quickly across the last days' remnants of a snow-bridge over the river and made our way to base camp.

Our little patch of tundra had expanded and was laced with yel¬low and purple flowers.

The monsoon settled around us the next day, cloaking the moun¬tains in gray. Snow appeared to be falling on Deo Tibba, erasing all signs of our trespass.

We attempted to do the same at base camp two days later, and with everything feeling wet from the drizzle, we started a long day's journey back to Manali.

Colours of summer were spreading up the mountain. I noticed with satisfaction that gentians now bloomed over a place where we had taken time to bury someone else's trash in a fragile alpine meadow not far from Chikka.

Senses came alive as we entered the pungent forest of conifers and struggled to stay upright on a trail as slick as a long banana peel.

The monsoon-swollen waters of Jagatsukh nala exploded over rocks in the chasm below. Boulders oozed from the cliffs above the landslide causing an adrenaline rush to accompany our quick des¬cent, down that route.

The end of the trail was also the beginning.

As I waited under the stall where we had started, I considered the possibilities for the next summer's expedition to the Garhwal Himalaya.

The mountain always speaks of what is beyond.



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ADMITTEDLY IT wasn't something I had planned to happen that way. I was joining a German team that my company was doing the ground arrangements for and I decided to go along and climb with them. The leader and I had been in correspondence and they had said that they would be quite happy to have me along on their climb to Pinnacle peak. Having also checked verbally with the Indian Mountaineering Foundation (IMF) I moved ahead and left Delhi a few days before the team arrived from Germany.

By the time the Germans were in Delhi and told the IMF that I would be climbing Pinnacle peak with them, the IMF wanted me to have applied for permission to climb with a foreign team. It now had to be passed by the Ministry of Home Affairs as it would be dubbed as 'Indo-German' expedition. However my application was submitted on my behalf but by that time we were already on the mountains and had come back after a ferry to Camp 1. I was not to know that the IMF had denied me permission to climb with the Germans.

Feeling like being pushed to a corner by this verdict I certainly was not going to sit at base camp twiddling my thumbs — the only other alternative, that of doing a peak solo, arose in my mind and it gathered shape. Sitting at the base camp of Shafat glacier I looked around at the possible choices — Nun clearly was out of question, the east ridge was far too difficult for a solo effort and White Needle was too dwarfed and did not interest me. Zl and Independence Peak, I had already climbed in 19801 and was not worth repeating as a solo ascent. Kun was the obvious choice. Ac¬cording to what I heard there was another two-man expedition going to Kun and I did not want to clash with their climbing time. Luckily they were on their descent by the time I got to Camp 2.


  1. See H.J. Vol. 37, p. 200.—Ed


Illustrated Note 7

Illustrated Note 7
(a) An Italian expedition led by Renato Casarotto climbed Broad peak North (7600 m) on 28 june 1983. The 2500 m spur was climbed solo by the leader in seven days.
(b) A german expedition led by Helmut Rudele also attempted the above peak. The leader remained missing after a solo attempt and was presumeddead in an avalanche. The attempt was from the west. The three remaining members reached 7750 m on the main Broad Peak before tyey were forced to retreat.

Illustrated Note 8

Illustrated Note 8
A Frenh team attempted Baintha Brakk (7285 m) in 1983. With 800 m of fixed rope they reached 7100 mon the south face. They were forced to retreat due to storm. Dominique Suchet and Gerard Pailheiret climbed four 6000 m peaks around Uzun Brakk glacier.

An Indian climbing any peak in India does not need to obtain permission from anybody. The IMF generally only gives approval to expeditions it is partly financing. But they should generally be in the know of the expedition plans as if an accident should hap-pen it is easier for them to take proper action. So sitting at the base camp of Nun and Kun at the head of the Shafat glacier I sent a note to the liaison officer of the German Pinnacle peak team and decided to proceed to have a solo bash at Kun.

Some of the problems were eased so there would be no problems in route finding and it was quite straight forward anyway. I had already all my provisions, tent, climbing gear etc. and I moved up, camping near the German team who were going to have the com¬mon route till Camp 3. From base camp that was 3900 m. I ferried twice up to Camp 1 that was just below what has come to be known as the Rabbit rock at 5200 m. This 50 ft high rock shale structure looks like a rabbit sitting and has one rope length of fixed rope attached if the snow is hard or to a section that may have iced up.

From Camp 1 to Camp 2 at 5800 m was another 6-7 hours which had a final 50° slope of about 300 m. Normally a fixed rope would be desirable, but the snow conditions which were bad could be used to advantage to kick bucket steps and move on. Camp 2 was made immediately after this climb and coming down about 50 m to the great big snow-plateau that separated Nun and Kun. White Needle lay temptingly close and then arose the east ridge of Nun. The impressive rocky west face of Kun arose nearby and the 5 km long snow-plateau stretched out.

Climb to Camp 3 at 6000 m was a long flat walk of about 5 hours. The peak and its satellites no longer looked as impressive as they did from last camp. The east ridge was in view and the face had a lot of seracs. Ridge itself would be safe — I started my journey up to the summit on 19 July 1982 and that day I wasn't sure at all of making it to the top. About 4-5 times I seriously considered turning back. Though reasonably acclimatized I didn't eat much that day and in the morning the sun was hard. Forcing down liquid I moved up always counting steps and kicking in as the snow conditions were very poor. The ridge seemed to carry on though climbing on the inner left of the ridge one didn't get that sense of exposure — it was only at about 1000 ft below the sum¬mit when it levels for about 100 m or so that there was a knife ridge situation of about 25 m which was hair-raising. It had a sheer drop of about 1500 m on the other side of the valley.

After a not very long rest at this flat ground which also could have been an excellent place to bivy as it had some rocky outcrops-and a recess, I moved up. It was very tempting to stay and bivy but I knew I hadn't the right equipment and would probably feel more exhausted by the end of it. Even by now exhaustion was tak¬ing over and the summit was more or less attainable. I moved up on the final slope and as always seemed to be the final. This was good in a way as I used to set my target at the one I could see and then again and so on. By now there was a fast wind blowing and it was very chilly. Behind me I got a magnificent view of the Pinnacle peak that now did justice to its name. On my right lay Zl and Independence peak and the Zanskar range spreading out.

With my eyes fixed at my toes I moved up in the blowing wind. The summit was quite a large field and now the sun was shining as it was about to set. It was going to be late by the time I got back. I moved down about 2 m to take shelter from the wind and took the photographs which I knew would be needed to show as proof but somehow at that moment that seemed so insignificant an act. However I took a few frames and started down elated but apprehensive about my descent. Always resisting the urge to throw off my rucksack and go to sleep I made it in a tottering fashion back to Camp 3 by 10 p.m. and 15 hours since morning.

I reached Delhi and my ascent was doubted by the IMF though they just accept word of teams and never ask for proof of their climbs. However, expecting the reaction that there was I put my slides which were subsequently sent to a * judge* who had not actu¬ally climbed Kun but had been in that area. About 8 months later I was informed that the IMF had rejected my ascent as the 'judge* claimed I could have taken the photographs from 21,000 ft or 22,000 ft. Somehow it doesn't matter any more. Admittedly I was chargined when I first heard about it and frustration at desk bound authorities overtook me. It doesn't bother me any more as I am secure in the knowledge that I climbed it.



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A Study in Sketches


OUR EXPEDITION climbed Saraghrar NW (II) (7200 m) on 9 August 1982. We established BC on 13 July at 4300 m on Rosh Gol glacier and a dump at the foot of the SW wall at 4850 m. The route selected was SW spur (we propose the name 'Catalan's Spur).

General area of Saraghrar massif.

General area of Saraghrar massif.

The wall starts at 4910 m and we had our ABC at 5250. Ropes were fixed till 6000 m by 2 August.

Juan Lopez Diaz, Enrique Lucas Llop and Nil Bohigas Martorell started from ABC on 4 August. After 5 bivouacs they reached the summit on 9 August at 10 a.m. The same day they descended till 6000 m.

The climb was carried out in alpine style without oxygen, fixed camps or any porters.

Identification of Saraghrar Peak:
Detail of the Summit Area of Saraghrar NW:

In general, my opinion about the summit area of Saraghrar peak, coincides with that of T. Miyamori (H.J. Vol. XXXI, p. 322). But I want to use my experience on Saraghrar NW to make the identi¬fication of the summit area more clear.

Saraghrar, route of Spanish ascent, 1982.

Saraghrar, route of Spanish ascent, 1982.

The Spanish expedition 'Saraghrar — 82', verifies that Saraghrar NW is formed by two tops perfectly differentiated, and I have called them:

Saraghrar NW (I) ..... 7300 m

Saraghrar NW (II) ..... 7200 m

These summits coincide with those of Dr A. Diemberger namely Saraghrar II and Saraghrar III (H.J. Vol. XXIX, p. 175); and T. Miyamori's peak P4 and the peak marked with arrow on Sketch Plate E in H.J. Vol. XXXI, p. 329.

See the table and figures.

Photo 36



Fig. 1 by J. Lopez, 1982

Peak Fig. 1 Name of Mountains suggested Dr Diemberger Fig. 2 J. Wala Fig. 3 Wala, 1971 D. Slowa Fig. 4 Linsbauer Fig. 5 Gruber Fig. 5 T. Miyamori Fig. 6-7 J. Lopez Fig. 1
1 S. Main (S. I) 7349 (195) 7349 7349 7349 7338 7349 7349
X S. Peak X —— —— —— —— —— 7330 7330
2 S. Central —— —— (S. I)? —— —— 7330 7330
3 S. South (S. S) 7300 (196) 7307 7307 7350 7338 7307 7307
4(I) S. NW(I) (S. II) 7300 —— (S. II)? —— —— (NW) 7300 7300
4(II) S. NW(II) (S. III) 7200 —— (S. III)? —— —— Arrow peak? 7200
5(1) S. SW(I) —— —— —— —— —— (SW) 7250 7250
5(II) S. SW(II) —— —— —— —— —— (SW) 7200 7200
6 S. SE (S. SE) 7200 (197) 7208 7220 —— —— 7208 7208
7 S.W. —— —— —— —— —— 7000 7000
8 S. N. (S. N) 7040 (194) 7040 7040 7040 7040 7040 or 6900 7040
9 Brink, or Niroghi-Zom (S. Brink)? (198)? —— 7220 or 7208 7149 6600 6000?


Table, 1 Height in metres — SARAGHRAR GROUP. For Fig. 1, 3, 4 and 5 see below.

For Fig. 2 see H.J. Vol. XXIX, p. 176.

For Fig. 6-7 see HJ. Vol. XXXI, p. 330 and p. 329 resp.—Ed.

Fig. 3. As identified by J. Wala (1969).

Fig. 3. As identified by J. Wala (1969).

Fig. 4. As identified by J. Wala (1971) in Graficzane 'Dom Slowa Polskiego'.

Fig. 4. As identified by J. Wala (1971) in Graficzane 'Dom Slowa Polskiego'.

Fig. 5. As identified by Linsbauer and Gruber.

Fig. 5. As identified by Linsbauer and Gruber.



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17 SANI PAKUSH (6885 m), 1983 (WEST KARAKORAM)


WE HAVE been preparing for this expedition for the past two years. In June 1981, we had the first meeting to present our plan to the members of Kyoto High School Teachers Climbing Associa¬tion. About ten members who were much interested in climbing in the Karakoram range, began to study what peaks we should climb; what areas would be best for the study of glaciers as well as alpine plants and insects

We had two aims for this expedition. One was to climb untrod¬den peaks. The other was to carry out scientific surveys and research, because we are teachers with various fields of interest. The problem was that the climbing period was limited because of our short 40 day summer vacation. Finally in September 1982, we decided that we should hand in our application to the Pakistan Government to climb the peaks listed below:

Nanga Parbat (8125 m)

Illustrated Note 9
Nanga Parbat (8125 m) was attemped from Rupal wall SW ridge (Kinshofer Route) by a Japanese expedition from Fukuoka led by Y. Oishi. Four members died in avalanches and three porters were seriously injured. The team reached 7500 m before ret retreating in face of very bad weather.

Rakaposhi (7788 m)

Illustrated Note 10
Rakaposhi (7788 m) was climbed by the long and difficult SW arête by a Frehch team led by Jean- Claude Legros. They made C1via a difficult corridor and after five more camps summit was reached on 2 August 1983. They used 2000 m of fixed ropes.During the second attempt a member fell200 m and was rescued by helicopter from 6140 m which is perhaps the heighest altitude-helicopter rescue.


  1. Koz Sar 6677 m Hindu Kush
  2. Batura Muztagh 6872 m Karakoram
  3. Sani Pakush 6885 m Karakoram


In January 1983, two months after having applied, we received unofficial news that we would be permitted to climb Koz Sar. But later on we were informed officially that we were not allotted to scale Koz Sar. So on 1 February, we hurriedly handed in an appli¬cation for our second choice, Batura Mustagh, and our third choice, Sani Pakush. On 24 March we received permission from the Gov¬ernment of Pakistan to scale Sani Pakush. It was dated 19 March in Islamabad.

This peak is located 23 miles south of the border between Pakistan and China in the Western Karakoram range and called Peak 35. It is a pyramid-shaped peak located at the end of the valley where Kukuar glacier originates. The vast Batura glacier is to be found on its steep northern slope. Our expedition is consi¬dered as sports cum scientific. Each member had his studying sub¬ject to look into during his stay in Pakistan.

In Islamabad we met again on 22 July, leaving for Gilgit after the busy four-day stay in the capital. We were very happy to see Captain Tahir, our liaison officer, because he is a man of ability with kind heart. We should thank him for what he did for us dur¬ing our expedition. We had nothing to worry about as long as he was with us.

On 26th we were in Gilgit. We could get everything we wanted including gasoline at the market there. With three jeeps and three tractors, we reached Chalt by way of Karakoram Highway. Only jeeps can reach Bar. We started our caravan at the village of Bar with 80 porters. It is about 10 miles west of Chalt. Six days march¬ing brought us to our base camp, which is 2950 m high. Two 4ays before building up our base camp, something we had least expect¬ed happened. Nishimura was seriously taken ill with his lungs. We were sorry for him, but we had to send him back to Japan. Yamanaka was willing to undertake the troublesome job of taking the sick man back to Japan.

We built our base camp on the right bank of Kukuar glaciers. We had planned to build it at the height of 4500 m, but in vain because there was no site higher up. We set up CI (4350 m) on the first plateau on 6 August, when it began to rain. The glacier was very rough from BC to CI. We selected our route in the middle of the glacier to C2. We had a lot of difficulty to get through the icefall area. On 9th we built up C2 (4700 m) just below the peak 6872 m. It was unusual in this district but it kept on raining until the 12th. That was why it took us 4 days to reach the point of C3 (5350 m). On the third plateau where Kukuar glacier starts, we were able to build our ABC. And from that last camp of ours we could find our way up to Batura Col (5740 m), which we reached on the 15th. Batura Col commanded a fine view of Kampire Dior (7143 m) to the northwest, and across Batura glacier. Just oppo-site of the col we could get a full view of Kuk Sar (6935 m). And we were sure that Tilman's col should be 1 mile northwest of this col.

Rush tactics should be taken to climb the summit. Four members, Hirofuji, Komai, Hanashima, and our doctor Shirokura proceeded along the steep slope of Batura glacier, struggling their way to the summit in the snow about 80 cm deep. On the ridge they had to climb over the 30 m ice-wall. They had to bivouac just below the wall for the first night (6000 m). The next day found them on the southeastern ridge to the summit. Their altimeter read 6250 m. That was the final point we could reach. But we were able to get a clear view of the route hidden until we reached there. We would never have failed to climb the peak if we had sent our second attacking party. I must confess that we should have built C4 on the col, and sent our attacking party to the summit. But we didn't have time, because we had to be back to Japan by the end of this month. We had promised to work at school from the beginning of the second semester.

On the other hand, we can say that we could get good results from our scientific research on alpine plants, butterflies, insects, rocks, water quality, village life, agriculture, and language etc. A lot of the data we have brought back will have to be studied care¬fully before publishing. This will take some time; and consequent¬ly they will be published separately from this report.

Photo 37



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THE SIA-SHISH KARAKORAM expedition 1983 was composed of Enrico De Luca, Giampiero Di Federico, Eugenio Di Marzio, Sandro Pucci, Giuseppe Ricciuti, and Giorgio Mallucci (leader).

The expedition left Rome on 29 June 1983, reached Rawalpindi and fulfilled all necessary formalities. It then travelled along the Karakoram Highway upto Gilgit. From there it arrived to Boladas village by jeep. On 7 July it reached the base camp at 3950 m helped by high altitude porters and donkeys. After having equipped a rocky layer with fixed ropes all the members of the expedition began a difficult and dangerous transport of the loads, becoming acclimatized and accomplishing at the same time a geographical survey. The col at 5550 m was reached on 18 July. It was the decided to climb both the Sia-Shish and the 6000 m peak opposite the col.

On 19 July De Luca, Di Federico and Mallucci left to try the climb of the Sia-Shish in alpine-style. At 6100 m they were obliged to wait until the night so that cold would reduce the danger of avalanches. The roped party went on with the climb during the night overcoming great difficulties both of glacier and rock and slants of 60/70 degrees. After a three hour forced waiting for the dawn, they continued the climb reaching a col at approximately 6950 m and immediately after that central top of the Sia-Shish at about 7040 m at 10 a.m. on 20 July.

On the same day the roped party formed by Di Marzio, Ricciuti and Pucci scaled a virgin and unnamed peak of 6000 m leaving from the col at 5500 m. The peak, that had difficulties both of gla¬cier and rock in its last part, was conquered at 1.30 p.m. Soon afterwards the two different roped parties met again at the camp at the col. In the following days they took the material down to the valley and on 27 July they went back to Italy.

Technical Report

From Boladas village with a two days' march you get by a path to the head of the Shittinbar valley at 3950 m where the base camp was settled. You go from there along the orographic left side of the moraine and through a slope with crevasses, you reach the base of a rocky leap of 80 m altitude. You overcome it in two rope-lengths. Soon afterwards you go horizontally along an easy glacier keeping in the middle in order to reach the orographic right side of the glacier. The seracs group that guards the access to the higher glacier has to be climbed by passing on the right of a dangerous long channel (avalanches) which you must get inside for short parts. Once you get to the higher glacier, go along it towards east until you reach the entrance of the valley (south-north oriented) that leads to the col under the west wall of the Sia-Shish. Reach the col going along the right-hand side of the valley (danger of avalanches, particularly on the slope under the col), getting then to 5550 m. From the col follow the west spur overhanging up to about 6100 m (not very difficult, some danger of snow-slides). Pass the big serac that crosses the west wall, cross to the left until you get under the rocks that delimit the right-hand side from the snowy centre of the west wall. Overcome the slopes (60/70 degrees) for about 400 m getting then to the right and to a col at 6950 m with some lengths of rope both from glacier and rocks (difficult). Go along the north ridge with some initial difficulties but then easier up to the top. The sealed top was the central one which is accord¬ing to us the most complex and the highest. The descent was done in rappel from the col, keeping on the rocks on the orographic left of the upward slope. Due to the enormous danger all the last part — from the big serac upto the two rope length before the col — was done during the night and it offers big difficulties. For, any repetitions it is advisable to follow the descent way which is; mostly on the rock and to carry out the climb during September.

First climbers: Enrico De Luca, Giampiero Di Federico, Giorgio Mallucci.

Report on the virgin and unnamed mountain of 6000 m.

From the col at 5500 m follow the east ridge that faces the Sia-Shish; follow it going up about 200 m until the ridge itself ends on an open wall. Overcome the slope (60/70 degrees) keeping on the left and fixing safety on emerging rocks until you get to the ridge. Follow the ridge that makes a wide detour until you overcome a slight and small ridge (extremely delicate) that acts as a bridge to a rocky gendarme covered by snow (the top). Go around the gendarme and through many difficulties you get to the top.

(All the instructions must be considered as facing the main wall except for those pointed out as orographic.)



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THE EXPEDITION OF NAVARRA K2 1983 consisted of Gregorio Ariz (leader), Mary Abrego, Javier Garayoa (doctor), Jose Manuel Casimiro, Jose Maria Donazar, Juan Maria Eguillor, Jesus Moreno, Javier Muru and Augustin Setuain.

We arrived in Rawalpindi on 1 May 1983. There we met Javier Garayoa, who had left Pamplona a fortnight earlier to collect the loads that had been sent in March by ship from Barcelona to Kara¬chi, and from there to Rawalpindi by road in two lorries.

We had sent 5000 kg and we had to add 2500 kg of food we had bought in Pakistan for the porters for the approach march.

After 8 days of negotiations in the capital of Pakistan, and when we had got definite permits and the insurance for the porters, we left with the liaison officer, Captain Khalid {Siddique Rao, in two lorries and a van by the Karakoram highway till Skardu, the capital of Baltistan.

In Skardu we engaged Sirdar Sher Mohamed and 300 porters. In three jeeps and eleven tractors we carried the loads and the members to Dassu 90 km from Skardu. The march on foot starts here.

On 14 May we began to walk in the Braldo valley. We spend the nights in villages like Schapko, Chongo and Askole. There are no villages higher than these and the points to stop are places with some stone walls and rest houses. The next stop after Askole was Korofon and there we had a nasty surprise because the Sirdar turned the porters against us to get better equipment than the one we had given him. This could have finished very badly for us but for the intervention of the liaison officer.

We also stopped at Bardumal and Payu before entering the Baltoro glacier. Once in Baltoro we spend the nights in Liligo, Urdokas, Gore and Concordia. A short stage and we were in the base camp that we made at the confluence of Savoia and Godwin Austen glaciers at 4950 m on 25 May.

At this point the Sirdar and 208 porters left us (the other por¬ters had left before). We kept three high altitude porters, two mail runners and two cooks. Two days later the liaison officer left too because he couldn't acclimatize to this height. We traversed the Godwin Austen glacier until the Abruzzi Ridge and we set the advanced base camp at 5250 m on 27 April.

Two days later we began to climb the Abruzzi Ridge where we found some old fixed ropes abandoned by other expeditions. The route passes by a place with perpetual snow and a constant slope of 45 degrees and by rock crests where there were some difficult passages. At 6020 m we made Camp 1 on 31 May.

Then we made a lot of ferries to bring up material, ropes, food and fuel. The weather was not very good but we could advance between snow falls. On 7 July we installed Camp 2 at 6660 m after passing the 'chimney house' which we found very well equipped.

Several days of bad weather made us stay in the base camp until the 20th. This day the weather got better. Once more we started climbing, on 27 June after passing some difficulties on the 'Black Pyramid', we arrived at Camp 3 and we installed it. On 1 July the lead group reached a height of 7700 m. But we all had to go back to base camp because of a new spell of bad weather.

For 20 days heavy snow and winds from the west prevented us from climbing higher than we had done until then. Our morale was low. On 21st northerly winds blew and the clouds went away. We repaired the tents destroyed by hard winds and arrived again at Camp 3. The weather got worse once more and on the 25th we decided to withdraw the expedition.

We were ready to return in two stages. At the beginning of August, Mary Abrego who had stayed a few days in the base camp with English climber Roger Baxter Jones, encouraged by the fine weather tried to Climb K2 by Abruzzi Ridge with light loads using the ropes and food that our expedition had left. In two days they arrived at Camp 3 and one day later they planted their tent under the Bottle Neck at 8200 m. The next day they went on climb¬ing passing the Bottle Neck and the Serac Barrier that is over it. They had to descend when they had surpassed 8500 m because of the fog. Only 100 m were left but bad weather made them get down definitely.

In the descent and return journey until Skardu we had no troubles except when crossing the rivers that were flooded by the melting.


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