Himalayan Journal vol.44
The Himalayan Journal
Vol.44

Publication year:
1988

Editor:
Soli S. Mehta
Index
  1. EDITORIAL
  2. MOUNTAINS AND RIVERS OF THE HIMALAYA: THEN AND NOW
    (JACK GIBSON)
  3. MEMORIES
    (MAVIS HEATH)
  4. ZHANGZI - AUTUMN, 1987
    (JOSS LYNAM)
  5. BRITISH XIXABANGMA Expedition, 1987
    (LT COL M. W. H. DAY)
  6. MENLUNGTSE, 1987
    (CHRIS BONINGTON)
  7. KINGDOM OF THE THUNDER DRAGON
    (S. K. BERRY)
  8. RATHONG, 1987
    (MAJOR K. V. CHERIAN)
  9. PANDIM - DIARY OF A WAR-TIME ESCAPADE
    (LORD JOHN HUNT)
  10. MAKALU
    (GLENN PORZAK)
  11. CHO OYU, 1987
    (Dr MAURICIO A. PURTO)
  12. KUMAON SECRETS
    (GEOFF HORNBY)
  13. FIRST ASCENT OF CHIRBAS PARBAT, 1986
    (INDRANATH MUKHERJEE)
  14. KALANAG EAST FACE EXPEDITION, 1986
    (W. J. POWELL)
  15. CHURDHAR MORE OF THE LESSER
    (WILLIAM MCKAY AITKEN)
  16. A RETURN TO LINGTI, 1987
    (HARISH KAPADIA)
  17. ASCENT OF KARCHA PARBAT, 1986
    (J. K. PAUL and S. N. DHAR)
  18. A TRYST WITH PHABRANG, 1987
    (ANIL KUMAR)
  19. BRITISH KISHTWAR EXPEDITION, 1986
    (BOB REID and EDWARD FARMER)
  20. CANADIAN KASHMIR HIMALAYAN
    (JOHN A. JACKSON)
  21. UNKNOWN SPITI: THE MIDDLE COUNTRY
    (HARISH KAPADIA)
  22. PICNIC ON A GLACIER -A KARAKORAM JOURNEY
    (STEPHEN VENABLES)
  23. THE GOLDEN PILLAR
    (A. V. SAUNDERS)
  24. PROBLEMS OF ACCURACY IN REPORTING MOUNTAINEERING
    (ELIZABETH HAWLEY)
  25. HIMALAYA-OUR FRAGILE HERITAGE
    (N. D. JAYAL)
  26. THE CONTINUING STORY OF THE HIMALAYAN CLUB
    (M. H. CONTRACTOR)
  27. EXPEDITIONS AND NOTES
  28. IN MEMORIAM
  29. BOOK REVIEWS
  30. CORRESPONDENCE
  31. CLUB PROCEEDINGS, 1987

BRITISH KISHTWAR EXPEDITION, 1986

BOB REID and EDWARD FARMER

Planning a Small Expedition to an Unclimbed Peak
'FIRST FIND A MOUNTAIN'. It's a lot easier said than done. The best procedure is to choose a likely area, find out who has been there, and ask to see their photographs. This is what we did - and our thanks go to Simon Richardson (Agyasol) and to Steve Venables (Kishtwar-Shivling) for lending us their slides.

The booking procedures for India are quite straightforward but apply for visas very early. Ours came through three days before we left and only then after a personal appearance at the Indian Embassy. As far as personnel goes - many will say 'yes' to an invitation, but then eventually pull out of the expedition. We originally planned for four people climbing (we invited six) - but in retrospect are glad that there were only two of us, For a 6000 m peak by a relatively straightforward route it is the perfect size of team.

Travel
We flew to India with Air Thai who were very liberal in their interpretation of the 20 kg baggage allowance. A party of trek-kers travelled out on the same flight as us travelling lightweight - 6 persons with only 10-12 kg each enabled us to add 3 large kit bags of equipment to their baggage. We carried much heavy hardware in our hand luggage (but not ice-screws) and wore our plastic boots on the flight.

We travelled from Delhi to Jammu by tourist coach. Trains through the Punjab require special visas at present which take a long time to acquire - an effective deterrent to Europeans who wish to travel there. The coach journey is harrowing, but at least it is non-stop and the baggage is strapped safely on the roof under tarpaulins and thus need not be constantly watched. Sleeping pills are advised as it is overnight and virtually impossible to sleep despite air conditioning (open windows).

Jammu is a good shopping centre and far less hassle than Delhi. Rather than struggle around Delhi to shop for provisions - all we needed could have been bought in the Jammu bazaar (petrol, tarpaulins, kit bags, food).

We travelled to Kishtwar by tourist coach. The bus station in Jammu at 6 a.m. is reminiscent of a Bruegel depiction of Hell. Tickets are best bought in advance - very cheap - Rs 25. Jammu to Batote is pleasant (the roads are surfaced) with fantastic scenery (4 hrs). Batote to Kishtwar (8 hrs) is hellish - dusty, bumpy, hot, with terrifying drops over the edge of the road. Best to sit on the right of the bus if you haven't a head for heights. The dak bungalow in Kishtwar is a fantastic haven in which to recover from the journey (may need booking in advance - letter from Delhi, or from UK before setting off giving approximate ETA). The chowkidar at the dak bungalow will even do your shopping for you while you relax on the verandah. Just give him a list (potatoes, rice, dal, flour, tsampa) and some cash and he'll have what would take you all day, done in half an hour.

Photo 35
The bus journey 32 km further to Galhar fortunately only takes 2 hours. If you get the front left hand seat (which the driver will invariably offer the tourist as a favour) the ride is quite exciting.

Galhar is a dump. Sharma, who owns the only hotel will press his accommodation upon you. My congratulations and admiration to anyone who avoids accepting. We arrived on the eve of the festival of Id - which meant no mules for two whole days. It was a very depressing wait.

From now on the journey is on foot and fairly arduous. The mules will only travel about 20-25 km a day (village to village) so pace is dictated for you. So we settled back, trusted the mule-man, and really enjoyed the walk in - 1520 m to 3350 m over five or six days is very good acclimatization.

Mulemen, Porters and Cooks
The most demoralising part of the trip was getting to the road-head and finding that mules are hard to come by in the post-monsoon. They're all busy carrying winter supplies of grain to the high villages. The Muslim festival of Id (17 August) exacerbates matters since all the muleteers want to celebrate rather than work. It could have ruined our trip, but for a bit of luck which got us after one and a half days, seven mules at Rs 80 per day each. This is the Government rate at the moment. Hire mules from people who appear well organised. If possible send someone ahead who speaks Hindi to arrange the mules before the expedition arrives at the roadhead. The head muleteer is the best man to talk to.

One muleteer 'Raja' was a good guy and we gave him responsibility for looking after our gear night and day. Nothing was lost. - Beware of letting muleteers or anyone else near the booze however.

Our liaison officer chose a cook, Makhan Lai ('red-butter') who was completely incompetent and whose escapades were continually problematic. In future we'd hire a cook from one of the highest villages where we hired porters. These mountain people were bright, cheerful and absolutely trustworthy. They too found our cook to be an idiot and were soon cooking for us instead. In the evenings they'd sing and dance and although they couldn't credit why we should want to climb a mountain for 'fun', they celebrated our success and shared our happiness. We paid the cook Rs. 20 per day but although he only worked for half the time we were still obliged to pay him.

The Climb
The climb was very enjoyable - probably classic Alpine D, and we would recommend further ascents. We climbed alpine style* reaching the summit at 1330 hrs on 31 August 1986 - three days after leaving base camp. It took a further two days to descend. The weather was excellent throughout the trip. A rough route description and timetable follows (with apologies to all guidebook writers).

'Dandagopurum': SW face direct (6230 m)

(First ascent by E. Farmer and R. Reid, 31 August 1986)

Approach: From Dharlang nala, 15 km past the village of Dangelr strike up diagonally across steep valleyside aiming for pinnacle shaped like climber with rucksac to the NE - 5 hrs; 3350 m - 4250 m. Base camp can be made on the shoulder of moraine below the pinnacled ridge which runs up towards the SW face.

Day 1: Ascend moraine and flattish ground heading north, to the west of the pinnacled ridge (Gargoyle ridge) until a steep stone chute heads up rightwards to a breche below a striking, gargoyle-shaped aiguille - 4 hrs; 4250 m - 4725 m and 2 km horizontally. CI can be made at the side of the glacier that flows from the SW face, adjacent to a large boulder.

Day 2: Cross glacier towards bottom of 3W face and climb steep ice through small seracs and crevasses (4 pitches) to gain a series of ramps and less steep sections up the centre of the face until progress is halted by a 50 m ice-wall. Climb this (steep - 60 degrees) in two pitches, and continue over awkward crevasses past an ice-obelisk in two further pitches to a bivouac site on a terrace below a stable serac - 8 hrs; 4725 m - 5500 m. Day 3: Traverse leftwards for one pitch and follow a leftward leading ramp for 300 m passing below seracs to right (stable) and above seracs to the left (tottering) until the way is blocked by a series of short steep ice-walls. Climb these, and cross the awkward crevasses above, exiting onto the summit icefield. Climb this direct (55 degrees) in 8 pitches to the summit rocks - 7.5 hrs; 5500 m - 6230 m.

Descent can be made by same route in a further two days.

Potential of the Area
The Dharlang nala is a high alpine valley surrounded by many peaks of which only four have so far been climbed - Agyasol and Tuperdo II to the south, Kishtwar-Shivling and Dandagopuram to the north.

The nala is at an altitude of approximately 3300 m and the mountains on either side are all approximately 5800-6400 m high. In some places the rock appears to be sound granite, in others, friable mica schists. One has the impression of being on a grassy version of the Mer de Glace while walking along the nala.

The area is not easy of access. Five to six days walk-in is quite a haul, though the two day bus journey from Delhi to Kishtwar compensates. There is a road being constructed through the Chenab gorge from Galhar to Atholi, though it will be a number of years before this is completed. It will shorten the walk-in by two days.

However, for those willing to make the effort the peaks to the north and south of the Dharlang nala offer considerable and varied potential. In particular, those prepared to consider a lightweight approach will be rewarded.

‘Dandagopurum’ (6230 m). 												(R. Reid)

‘Dandagopurum’ (6230 m). (R. Reid)



Kishtwar Expedition

Kishtwar Expedition