7. SAIPAL, 1992
  13. YOGESHWAR, 1992
  22. MATHO KANGRI, 1992




An exploratory visit to Gorichen and Nyegyi Kangsang's Portals


THE PEAK GORICHEN (6488 m)1 is one of the rarely seen peaks in the Panchakshiri range of the eastern Himalayan range in the NE of Tawang district of Arunachal Pradesh. Nyegyi Kangsang (7047 m) is the highest peak of the Panchakshiri range, and Kangto (7090 m), which towers nearby, is the highest peak of the Kangto range. On the 22 October 1992 five members from Assam Mountaineering Association left Guwahati for Tawang to get the inner line permits to go to Gorichen's base camp. The deputy commissioner was very helpful and not only did he give us our permits but sent wireless messages to Assam Rifles posts, gave us a jeep to take us back to Jang, and also sent an assistant to help us get porters, known as LCs (load carriers) here. We reached Jang on the 28th, but inspite of the Gaon Bura (village headman) trying to help us we could not get porters till the 30th. According to local practice LCs can take parties only till the next village, from where another lot of porters have to be hired. Their rates were Rs. 25 per day. The people of Tawang district are Monpas — a tribe of Buddhists, whose dress and life style is very Tibetan. Many of them inhabit the northeastern part of Bhutan contiguous with Arunachal. The airport and rail head closest to Tawang is 460 km away in Tezpur, Assam. The inner line starts from Balukpong about 50 km away. The river Tawang chu which starts from Gorichen and its neighbours enters Bhutan near Zumla, and later enters Assam as the Manas.


  1. See H.J. Vol. 47 p. 156. — Ed.


Four of our LCs were women, and they were tough and fast. We left Jano at 9 a.m. for Rhobasti, a distance of 10 km, and reached it at about 12.30 p.m. after crossing the river Mang chu. There we were welcomed by Mukha (mask) dancers. Dancing and drinking continued for a long time and the Gaon Bura kept assuring us that LCs will be provided for us the next day. The next day he did not even recognise us! On 1 November we got five, 3 men and 2 women. The next day's march is a long and hard slog of about 28 km to Thingbu (3350 m). It is a quaint, attractive and sparsely populated village of just 20 persons. Radishes and cabbages are in abundance here, and we procured some. We could not get any porters from here, but on 3 November we hired two horses, and were accompanied by the Gaon Bura till half the distance to Mago. The route to Mago is risky with steep gorges and diff-hanging narrow tracks. Mago is 18 km away, and is at 3380 m. From Mago a route goes directly north to Lungar near the Indo-Tibet border, which is just a 4-5 hours' march away. That night we stayed at an Assam Rifles camp. The Gaon Bura arranged for two horses and a young LC called Dorji, who had gone upto Cl with the successful Assam Rifles' expedition. (Incidentally, according to him and others only two expeditions to Gorichen have been successful, Assam Rifles and Assam Regiment), We reached our next camp at Jithang 11 km away, and at 4020 m.

Next day we started trekking to Merethang by covering a distance of 11 km to an altitude of 4270 m. It was the first foggy, windswept day of the trek, and so we had to cook in a rock house meant for a yak keeper. Here there are no sheep, only yaks. From here Merethang is a four day difficult trek to Munna near Dirang between Bomdi la and Se la.

Next day was once again spotlessly dear, and we started at crack of dawn to reach the Gorichen base camp at Chekrasom (5030 m). Nearby is the confluence of two rivers. One comes from the northeast from what appears to be the Takpa Shiri peaks picking up water enroute from the Kangto and Nyegyi Kangsang glaciers. The other one comes from the northwest draining the big glacier on the flanks of Gorichen I and II. We could make out a thin track along the true left bank of the river coming from the Takpa Shiri peaks. That track petered out after a while. There are rumours that every three years some Tibetans circuit Nyegyi Kangsang from the north. May be these tracks have something to do with that. We dimbed another 300 m towards the ABC site to get a better look at Gorichen II, which we intend to get up, on%a trip later this year. We spent about two hours there in a sharp freezing wind, and then rushed down to the base camp. By several forced marches we reached Jang on the 10th, and on 12 November 1992 we were back in Guwahati, having at last found out what wa could not learn from any army account of Gorichen; that this is not a difficult dimb, and has a comparatively easy approach.

The best season to attempt these peaks will be from the third week of October. Between ABC and Cl climbers will have to carry water with them, as it is not available at all till beyond Cl.

This trip also helped us realise that in the northeast we have so many fantastic untapped climbing and exploratory opportunities that we can spend our life time here without ever thinking of visiting the crowded mountains of Garhwal, Kumaon and Himachal.

Members : Bimal Chandra Goswami (leader), Kishore Kumar Baruan, Nilu Talukdar, Madhuja Mahanta and Kami Cherin, a Sherpa from Darjeeling.

Summary: An exploratory trek to the base of Gorichen (6488 m) in Arunachal Pradesh, in October-November 1992.



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Haj Gyala Peri Expedition 1986



YARLUNG TSANGPO JIANG (river) takes its source from western Tibet, runs to the east for 1500 km in Tibet plateau. After leaving the plateau it crashes through an immense gorge, beneath the high Himalayan peaks and comes down to the south. Then, this river is called the Brahmaputra in Assam. This was a river in riddle, for this has a very deep gorge which is called 'Great Bend' and nobody could approach it.

Gyala Peri And Namcha Barwa

Gyala Peri And Namcha Barwa

The Great Bend area has two high peaks, Namcha Barwa (7782 m) to the south and Gyala Peri (7151 m) to the north.

We had deep interest in some peaks in eastern Tibet, and we applied for climbing 'permission for the peaks to the Chinese Mountaineering Association (CMA) since 1983. Gyala Peri is also one mountain of great interest to us.

We, at last, got the permission to climb Gyala Peri through the good offices of CMA and Tibet Mountaineering Association (TMA) and we dispatched a reconnaissance party to the Gyala Peri in 1985.

After one year, our 6 members started for an expedition to the secret mountain by the side of the river in riddle.


We left Japan on 1 September 1986 with other three HAJ's Tibet expeditions and arrived at Lhasa on the 4th.

On the 8th we left Lhasa in 2 jeeps with a liaison officer, a translator and an assistant liaison officer. We drove about 400 km to the east and arrived at Bayizhen.

On the 9th, we met Yarlung Tsangpo Jiang and proceeded along the river. We crossed a log bridge and we called on the chief officer of Mainling Xian at his office. The chief officer told us that 100 porters were already arranged and a manager would be joining us.

We left Pe for the base camp at Gyala Peri on the 11th. We crossed the river at Pe. We were now introduced to a weird looking craft call a 'tru' which consisted of two conifer dug-outs, each about 12 m long, lashed together. It was a most unwieldy craft, but carried a big cargo. The first day we crossed the river, after which we went along the Tsangpo and arrived at the Susong. It had rained hard in the night.

On the 12th, we marched in a drizzle and the next day in rain. The second day, we camped at the Chube. Chube is the last Tibetan village on the left bank of the Tsangpo.

On the 13th, we marched for 6 hours and came to the piace which is opposite the Gyala village. This place is called Gyala gompa. It is said that Tibetan people make a pilgrimage once in their lives to this gompa. On the 15th, we traversed along the right bank of Gyala Peri river with porters. The current seemed threatening and we judged it would be impossible to cross the river on foot. So we allowed porters to return home and we camped next to the ford. On the next day, however, some porters came with logs to make a bridge. We tied up with them to set a bridge. This bridge is called 'China-Japan friendship bridge.' And then, the place of base camp was decided.


Staying in base camp for 2 days, we went scouting for advance base camp (ABC). We climbed on a moraine ridge to the end and decided to set up ABC there at 4200 m.

The unloading began from 22 September. Then we began climbing from the 26th.

On the 26th, 2 team members, Ohta and myself left ABC for route making to C2. As we climbed through the complicated glacier a big avalanche swept the west wall of Gyala Peri. We had a narrow escape. Avalanches occurred many times on the west wall afterwards. We changed our climbing route.

We climbed up on a ridge on the right corner of the west wall. And Cl was set up on a thin snow ridge on 3 October.

We had to climb in deep snow, a pinnacle-like gate, and knife edges. Moreover we climbed on a snow wall which we called 'Zebra Rock'. And at last we set up C2 at 5650 m.

We stood,on the south ridge at 5800 m on the 12th. We could see the flow of1 Yarlung Tsangpo river right beneath. On the south ridge, the steep snow wall seemed to be leading up to the summit. But the bad weather continued.

We could see the blue sky at last on the 16th. Our party began route making for the upper part. We had a hard time marching in the deep snow which reached up to our waists. The route-making party set up C3 at 6300 m on the 19th. Ogata, Ohta and Hasimoto stayed in C3.

The next day, we set up 4 fixed ropes in the blizzard and came back to C2. On 21st, Tobita, Imamura and Fujiwara set up C4 at 6700 m and we were ready for the attack.


We took a short rest at 3200 m and we were refreshed. Then we began the attack.

The first party which consisted of Ogata, Hashimoto and Imamura left BC for Cl on the 25th. And reached at C4 on the 28th.

The 3 members left at 4:50 a.m. on the 29th. The snow wall was getting steeper and we had to put some fixed-ropes. Then, we gave up the climbing because of the lack of time and got back to C3.

The second party which consisted of Tobita, Ohta and Fujiwara left C4 at 7.10 a.m. on the 29th. But the weather continued to be bad. They, too, had to give up the climbing.

Hashimoto, Imamura and myself were- charged with the attack again. We left C3 at 6.15 a.m. on the 30th. We had a hard time marching in the deep snow, and arrived at the beginning of the summit wall. It was 3 p.m. But we advanced without any hesitation. It took 3 pitches of climbing. Moreover we climbed into a very steep couloir with very acrobatic movements. In all, it took 11 hours for us to reach the summit since we had left C3. We left the summit in the violent wind at 5.15 p.m. and we descended to C3.

We could set foot on the summit due to the last-minute effort. The long climbing concluded on 1 November.


We left precious footprints on a page of the history of eastern Tibet. The "height of the Gyala Peri officially is announced at 7151 m. But we felt it was higher, for we measured it by our altimeter.

Members: Kazuo Tobita (leader), Yoshio Ogata (climbing leader), Takeshi Ohta, Yasuhiro Hashmoto, Hirotaka Imamura, Takuo Fujiwara.

Summary: The Himalayan Association of Japan (HAJ): Gyala Peri expedition 1986, which made the first ascent of Gyala Peri (7151 m) from September to November 1986.



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THE EXPEDITION WAS composed of twenty-two members. These included: Eric Simonson (leader); George Dunn (assistant leader) and others. Fourteen of the members were mountain guides who had nineteen previous attempts on Everest between them.

Two different groups reached Xegar, Tibet on 10 March. Ten members travelled via Lhasa, Tibet and accompanied 5500 kg of food and equipment that had been shipped to China in November, 1990.

The rest of the team came via Kathmandu, Nepal where they met the 13 Nepalese members (two cooks and 11 Sherpas). Propane fuel, oxygen and additional food were also brought in from Nepal.

Base camp was established 13 March at 5150 m.... the end of the road. It took 50 yak loads to establish C3 (advanced base camp), a week later at 6520 m. Severe weather and heavy snow made it impossible to reach the North Col (C4) at 7000 m until 30 March. The route to the Col was fixed with ropes and eventually 130 yak loads reached ABC.

C4 consisted of eight tents, walled in and held down by nets. Extremely high winds, often exceeding 70 mph for days on end, prevented C5 at 7800 m from being established until 21 April. Without the ropes, which were fixed on this part of the route, there would have been many days where we could not have climbed due to the extreme wind across the North Ridge.

C5 was again an extremely windy site. Only our four China-Everest tents were able to withstand the beating. C6 at 8230 m was established on 7 May after a long hard push that forced Wilson, Whetu, Okita, Edwards and Van Hoy to all spend the night in a. tiny two-person tent.

Every member of the team who was healthy got a summit bid. This was the plan from the beginning. On 15 May the top was reached by «5imonson, Dunn, Polite, Sloezen, Lhakpa Dorge Sherpa and Ang Dawa Sherpa. An attempt the next day by Hahn, Rheinberger, Perry, Huntington, Ang Jangbo Sherpa and Pasang Kami Sherpa was turned back by high winds. Perry stayed at C6 while the rest descended and made the top solo on 7 May. An attempt on 21 May by Wilson, Edwards, Van Hoy, Frantz, Whetu and Okita was also partially stopped by the wind. Only Whetu and Okita were able to push on and reach the summit. Okita was forced to bivouac on the descent at 8530 m when he couldn't find the fixed ropes in the 'Yellow Band' above C6 in the dark. Fortunately, he suffered no ill effect from his adventure. Wilson remained at C6 for three more days and was joined by Mann for another attempt on 24 May. On the previous day, Peck had been stopped below C6. Ultimately, Mann was forced to turn back, but Wilson reached the summit.

All summiters used oxygen, though Wilson and Perry tried initally without. Van Hoy and Hahn also tried without, but were unable to stay warm enough. The team left base camp on 28 May and all members returned home via Kathmandu.

Rongbuk Research

Dr Daniel Mann of Fairbanks, Alaska, joined the expedition to study the extent and age of glacial moraines in the Rongbuk valley at elevations between 4500 m — 6400 m. His work consisted of examining different glacial moraines looking at the condition of weathering pits, the degree of soil development, and the diameters of lichens on surface boulders. The lichens help in estimating the age of the geological formations and as such were absent from the youngest moraine but were up to 30 cm in diameter on the older moraines. Lichens of this size in polar regions are known to be more than 5,000 years old.

Dr Mann's preliminary results show that the Tibetan ice caps assumed by previous geologists to have covered Tibet during the last Ice Age in fact never existed. Instead, the Rongbuk valley has been glaciated intermittently over the last 100,000 years by ice originating locally on the north side of Everest. The field research also showed that moraines of four different ages are preserved in the Rongbuk valley.

One of the difficulties encountered by Dr Mann was locating organic materials suitable for radio carbon dating. Nonetheless, he brought back two peat samples which will be analyzed in the laboratory to determine more precise dates from some of the younger moraines. After this work is complete, Dr Minn's results will be utilized through a process of correlation to provide similar information for some of the better vegetated valleys to the east and south of Everest.

Ohmeda's Results

Oxygen saturation research sponsored by the Ohmeda Corporation was conducted by expedition member Jonas Pologe during the 74 days on Everest. The purpose of this research was to add to our knowledge of how people adjust to and compensate for the effects of high altitude.

The climbers were connected to an Ohmeda 3740 Pulse Oximeter, a device which reads the oxygen saturation of the arterial blood continuously and non-invasively. Arterial oxygen saturation (SaO2) is the percent of hemoglobin that is bound to oxygen divided by the total amount of hemoglobin available. At sea level the normal SaO2 is about 95% whether at rest or during exercise. The resting SaO2 of the climbers, on the first two days of the climb, averaged about 83% while the average SaO2 at the end of exercise was roughly 69%. Over the course of the climb the resting SaO2 levels increased only slightly while the average end of exercise saturations increased significantly to just over 80%.

This rather dramatic improvement in oxygen saturation during exercise in the acclimatised climber had not been noted before and certainly helps to explain the improvement in performance one achieves with a long stay at high altitudes. Further analysis is expected to explain the physiology behind the improved SaO2 readings observed.

The Video

Participating in the expedition was * Markus Hutnak of Pullman, Washington, ¦ who was responsible for the expedition's video work. Markus operated two Ricoh video cameras, one of which went all the way to the summit, courtesy of Brent Okita. Based on this and additional footage from Mark Whetu and Charlie Peck, Markus is currently preparing an in-depth video account of the climb. A CBS affiliate, KIRO-TV in Seattle, Washington, is helping with the project.

Markus' 30 hours of Hi-band 8 mm videotape includes dramatic footage of a climber being blown down the glacier during a windstorm, climbers on the summit, a yak trapped in a crevasse, a tent burning, and an actual recording of the radio broadcast from the highest point on earth.

A Clean Climb

The American North Face Everest Expedition made a commitment from the beginning to minimize its impact on the environment of Mt Everest. At considerable expense we removed dozens of yak loads of trash from Advanced Base Camp at 21,400 feet. This included picking up after previous expeditions. At Base Camp we worked with the Swedish and British groups that were there and collected dose to 8,000 pounds of garbage. This was trucked out to the village of Xegar for proper disposal. We challenge and encourage future expeditions to do the same and preserve Everest's unique and fragile environment.

Summary: The dimb of Everest (8848 m) by the North Face by an American team in summer 1991.



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CLIMBING EVEREST IN the early days was quite different to what it is today. Ours was the 8th expedition reaching the Everest base camp on 29 March, 1992. Thereafter, Dutch, Chilian, Spanish and French expeditions followed taking the tally to a full one dozen plus male and female climbers wanting to make a solo attempt. In fact there was a strong feeling that the base camp may not be able to accommodate so many expeditions. This resulted in some kind of race to reach the base camp but it was not a mad race. With so many expeditions together the base camp had assumed the status of a high international camp, a mini form of earth summit! While we missed the peaceful atmosphere and solitude that our predecessors enjoyed at the base camp it was a new experience and also good fun for so many dimbers to be together. Our initial efforts to generate good-will, healthy understanding and promoting mountaineering fraternity greatly helped us in warding off negative factors and we were able to maintain not only the route through hazardous Khumbu icefall, Western Cwm, Lhotse face and beyond to the summit but were able to create a healthy understanding and friendship. The route through Khumbu icefall, initially opened by the British expedition was subsequently maintained by other expeditions turn by turn. Since ours was one of the well organised teams with adequate means, the leading part played by our team was greatly appredated by others.

On 1st April, when we had just commenced load ferry from BC to Cl at about 8 a.m., one Shefpa of the New Zealand expedition fell into the crevasse sustaining a serious head injury and bleeding profusely. While his Sherpa companions were dazed, hesistant to rescue him, members of our expedition not only rescued him from the deep crevasse but also evacuated him down to the BC safely on an improvised stretcher. The victim was given medical treatment by the doctors available at the BC and the next morning he was evacuated to Kathmandu by helicopter.

The climbing activities beyond the base camp even when so many members and Sherpas were moving up and down always remained a pleasant sight without any evidence of ill-will inspite of some limitations of space for Cl. Our Cl was rather ahead of others The stones and big boulders generally falling at night from the Lho la side, did frighten us, although our tent remained well protected throughout. C2 at the foot of Everest massif on the upper limit of Western Cwm was safe. A huge quantum of garbage and filth are lying near this camp site. Not much effort has been made by any expedition, including ours, to fully clean the litter and garbage. Setting up Cl on 2 April, and C2 on 6 April, we moved to tackle the steep icy Lhotse face. Among the one dozen expeditions there were two commerdal expeditions having members from different countries and they were very conscious about safety and success for obvious reasons. There were also expeditions who were supposed to climb by the Southwest face and South Pillar but ultimately followed the traditional South Col route. This caused some heart burn and animosity. Because of these human factors, we decided to move ahead to attempt the summit, assuming as if we were all by ourselves to do the task. We set up C3 (7400 m) on the terrace of .icy formation of the Lhotse face on 14 April. The weather was so far quite favourable and our efforts continued to open route to South Col. We succeeded to set up C4 at South Col on 21 April and thereafter geared up our efforts to stock C4. At this stage while other team members went down to BC and even down to Lobuche for rest and recuperation, our team continued spearheading the climbing activity. Our effort to make the summit attempt on 30 April was aborted when a 6 member summit party had to return from the South Co! due to hostile weather. Thereafter our subsequent attempt to make the summit bid on 2 May was also foiled, again due to bad weather and our summit party had to return from the South Col. In fact the weather was so dicey that on the night of 1 and 2 May, Dr Kulkarni the leader and Raymond Jacob member of the dvilian Pune expedition breathed their last dose to the South Col. We learnt about their tragic death only on the morning of 2 May when Ms Santosh Yadav spotted them and informed us on walkie-talkie. The rescue efforts made by Ms Santosh and party with oxygen and glucose water were of no avail since they had already frozen to death.

After the death of Dr Kulkarni and Raymond Jacob the weather on 2 May became worse, rendering any effort beyond the South Col suicidal. While climbing a tall mountain like Everest, it is always wise to lie low and preserve one's energy when the weather is hostile. This is exactly what we did after 2 May and resumed further attempts for the summit only after a week when there was slight improvement in the weather. Leaving BC on 7 May the 6 member summit team under S.D. Shrama reached the South Col on 9 May and on 10 May even though the weather was not favourable they set out for the summit leaving C4 at 4 a.m. 3 members, Papta, Sunder and Tajwar returned midway because of one reason or the other, while Sunil, Prem and Kanhaya Lai continued, reaching the South Summit at 11.45 a.m. and made contact on the walkie-talkie. At 2.30 p.m. they came on air again and said that they have just reached the Hillary Step. At this point some other expeditions had also switched on to our frequency and were monitoring our walkie-talkie communication. Normally the climbing to the summit from Hillary Step takes about 40 minutes and we expected the trio to reach the summit latest by 3.30 p.m. but there was no contact, causing us further worry and anxiety. Finally at 4.15 p.m. they came on air giving us the most eagerly awaited news of their success. They had finally made it.

First success on Everest for 1992 on 10 May opened the flood gates and on 12 May a record number of 32 members including 5 members of our team with Ms Santosh Yadav reached the summit, creating history. Other summiters were Mohan, Lopsang, Sange and Wangchuk. Santosh, Sange and Lopsang spent 1½ hrs on the summit waiting for Mohan who had finished his oxygen to join them on the summit. After doing the normal rituals on the summit, four of them started climbing down together, with Santosh giving her oxygen intermittently to Mohan till he could retrieve his cylinder from below the South Summit. Around 6 p.m. all of them returned to the South Col safely. Ms Santosh Yadav became 10th woman to reach the summit and the youngest to do so. Khem Raj had to abandon the summit attempt from the South Summit because of some fault in his oxygen system.

Our final summit attempt in which we had 7 members plus 2 Sherpas spent two nights on the Lhotse face and one night on the South Col. They woke up at midnight for the summit on 20 May but the weather created havoc with gushing wind making life miserable. All the members came down safely from the South Col alongwith tents and oxygen cylinders, but what we could not avoid was frostbite on 3 fingers of Papta. With this we had to finally call off the expedition. Our proposed plan to have the summit meet with the two British climbers climbing along the West Ridge on 20 May was foiled by the hostile weather. When we had thought that everything was over, at the last minute at 4 p.m. on 22 May, when the last load was being brought down to the BC, our popular cook-cum-porter Sher Singh fell into a creavasse very close to the BC and died, making our last experience a bitter one. Our expedition left BC on 24 May with members carrying his dead body. His body was cremated near Lobuche the same day with full honour.

Besides climbing the mountain, we made an effort to also clean the BC and Cl and about 500 kg of garbage and litter were loaded back to Namche Bazar from BC. Some expedition should pay special attention to take care of a number of dead bodies lying at the South Col making it the highest junkyard and also the highest open graveyard on the earth. The dead bodies lying there is a horrifying sight and no religion in the world permits disposal of dead bodies in such a manner. It would be quite desirable to send a special expedition to bring down all the dead bodies from the South Col and give them proper burial or cremation. The base camp of Everest is not so dirty, it is the C2 and the South Co! which needs a special cleaning effort.

Summary: The ascent of Everest (8848 m) by an Indian team in May 1992, 8 members reached the summit with many from other teams.



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IN 1989 The High Mountain Army Group tried to climb Everest by the North ridge. It was impossible to reach the summit due to the weather and snow conditions. To reach 8530 111 wasn't enough for members of our group.

Waiting for another permission for Everest in 1992 our group chose the Shishapangma for 1990 for the following reasons: First, because it is a great mountain, one of the fourteen 8000 ers, second, this mountain hasn't been climbed by any Spaniard and, third, the easy approach rout^ can be made by trucks up to the base camp.

Through our Military Attache in Peking we obtained the permit for this mountain for October. The bureaucracy and the approach to the base camp took eight days. We arrived on 23 September 1990 at the base camp.

Reaching the base camp by vehicles, we had some acclimatisation problems and some members of the group had to descend to Qo-Chiang (3200 m) for better adaptation. On 28 September, nine members of the group were well acclimatised and began setting up advanced base camp (5500 m).

From 1 to 9 October the expedition team was divided in groups which set up Cl (5750 m), C2 (6400 m) and C3 (6900 m) after this work all the groups returned to the advanced base camp to rest and prepare the final plan to reach the summit. It was discussed whether it would be advisable to install another camp near the ridge and all the members agreed that it was possible to reach the summit without this camp, depending on the weather and the physical conditions.

On 11 October with very low temperatures the first group of six people started from the advanced base camp and reached C2 after a long hard day. The following day they climbed till C3 with no problems and had very good acclimatisation. It was decided not to install another camp and to go forward to the summit. Simultaneously another group started from the advanced base camp and reached Cl. in order to make a second attempt or support the first group if need be.

Very early in the morning 13 October the first group started from C3 on way to the summit. At 17.30 all the group: Major Santaeufemia, Captain Gan, Warrant Officer Exposito and Staff Sergeant Arellano and the civilian climbers Martinez Selles and Vidal, reached the main summit. After a short rest they returned to C3 reaching it at 22.30 after a long and hard journey.

The following day, 14 October, the weather turned bad and the first group decided to descend to C2 and divided into two groups. Due to the bad weather conditions and the poor visibility one of the groups couldn't find C2 and decided to make a bivouac in the extreme conditions (-35° C and 100 Km/h wind). At 01.30 Joan Martinez Selles died due to exhaustion and hypothermia. The other two members of the group who had local frost bites attempted to reach C2, reaching there in very bad conditions.

Joan Martinez Selles was born in Barcelona on 9 July 1957. He was married and worked as a medical doctor. He was one of the best Spanish climbers and he had been to many other expeditions, and on many difficult climbs in the Alps and the Spanish Pyrenees.

Today his body lies on the north Shisha Pangma glacier, the place he chose for his last climb.


Satopanth (7075 m) is located in the Garhwal Himalaya and it was the goal of the High Mountain Army Group in the spring of 1991.

The route to the base camp goes along the Ganga river, at the end of the Gangotri glacier, at Gaumukh we continued over the glacier to the base camp which was located at Nandanvan (4400 m). Our base camp was located lower than originally planned due to the great amount of snow which prevented our 70 porters from going any further.

Therefore the 13 members of our expedition had to carry all the equipment by themselves to Cl at Vasukital (4900 m), subsequently we set up C2 (5100 m) and C3 (5950 m), the last one was set up close to the NE ridge which leads to the summit. This ridge is the key to the mountain. It is 800 m long and very steep on both sides.

We needed three days to prepare the ridge with four hundred metres of fixed rope, essential for the security of the climbers on the way to the summit. In addition to the technical difficulties of the ridge (over 65° slope on hard ice), there was a lot of powder snow on top of it making the climbing very dangerous.

On 17 May, four members of the group Major Juez, Warrant Officer Exposito and Staff Sergeant Fernandez and Mora, at dawn, crossed the difficult ridge; it took them two hours. Four hours later they reached the summit at 14.15 hrs. Until then the weather was good but a strong storm caught the successful climbers returning to C2.

The expedition was carried out from 24 April to 30 May 1991 in traditional style, setting up three camps.

Summary: Ascents of Shisha Pangma (8046 m), October 1990 and Satopanth (7075 m), May 1991, by a Spanish army team.



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SINCE SIR EDMUND HILLARY AND TENZING NORGAY first scaled Everest, in 1953, 453 people have climbed its summit till now in about forty years. Many kinds of attempts like variation of climbing routes, traversing, climbing without oxygen, climbing in winter or climbing in record time, have been done on the peak because it is highest in the world.

The Everest Southwest Face, which rises straight from the Western Cwm to the top, has attracted many ambitious climbers for a long time. In the autumn of 1969, the Japan Alpine Club went and observed the face, After that, five expedition teams bravely tried to climb it, but all failed. On the 24 September 1975, the British party led by Chris Bonington at last succeeded in climbing the Southwest face to the top. Since then, the Southwest face has been attacked several times by other teams and two of them also succeeded. One was the Russian team in 1982 and another was Czechoslovakian in 1988. But no climbers had tried it in winter.

Gunma Mountaineering Association planed to climb the Southwest face of Everest in winter from December 1991 to February 1992, as the commemoration event of its fiftieth year. In Japan, there are 47 prefectures and each of them has'a mountaineering association, Gunma Mountaineering Association is also one of them. Since the expedition to Dhaulagiri IV in 1971, Gunma Mountaineering Association has sent seven expeditions to the Himalayan area and made some good climbs. For example, the first ascent of the southeast ridge of Dhaulagiri I in 1978, first winter ascent of the south face of Annapurna I. Noboru Yamada, who was called Japanese Reinhold Messner because of having scaled many 8000 m peaks, was also the member of this association.

In the spring of 1991, we went to Kangchenjunga as the pre-expedition for the Southwest face of Everest in winter. This expedition was supported by the Government of India, and we could get the permission to climb Kangchenjunga from the Sikkim side. In that Kangchenjunga expedition, three Indians and three Japanese scaled the top and most of the members could reach 8000 m. We successfully finished the pre-expedition training. Some other members separately trained on Broad Peak in Pakistan, Nun in Kashmir and Korzhenevskaya, Lenina, Kommunizma in the Pamir in summer.

Our team divided into four parties and landed in Kathmandu from 3 October to 21 October 1991. After that, we trained for acclimatisation on a 5099 m peak behind Pheriche, and on Pokalde peak (5806 m) opposite Lobuche. We established the base camp on the Khurnbu glacier (5350 m) on 11 November. We started route-making through the icefall. together with two Korean expedition teams attempting the South Pillar and the South Col routes. We had finished route making by 16 November. We trained for the acclimatisation for 6000 m and started ferrying loads to the Cl from 20 to 27 November.

After three days rest, we started climbing the Southwest face of Everest in December. We established Cl situated on top of the icefall at 6020 m on the same day.

The next day, we pitched the £2 on the Western Cwm (6500 m). We found a big schrund at the base of the Southwest face at 6700 m which had to be negotiated and one could cross it through a narrow gap. The upper part of the schrund was an easy ice-snow slope, the average gradient of the slope was 35 degrees approximately.

We established the C3 below the big rock (6900 m) on 5 December.

We stretched 23.5 pitches of fixed rope from C3 to C4, the average gradient of the slope was 40 degrees approximately. C4 was pitched on a slope at 7600 m on 11 December.

On 11 December, we started route-making for C5. We extended the route 18 pitches up toward the left couloir cutting into rock band from 11 to 14 December.

On 15 December, we reached the entrance of the couloir. We went up some 1.5 pitches of narrow gully to the amphitheater at the top. The couloir has a width of three or four meters, and is ful! of small chockstone almost covered with snow. The average gradient of the couloir was 50 degrees approximately. We reached just below the ramp at 8300 m. We had found old fixed rope on the very steep rock face presumably belonging to the 1975 British expedition.

On 16 December, we succeeded in overcoming a key point of the rock band. We took over and led up the rock face, turning slightly right onto a ramp. We went up the ramp and took care not to drop stones. The ramp was covered with loose and brittle rock. We extended the route one more pitch up on the ramp.

On 18 December, we stretched for another short pitch, until we were almost sure that the way was clear to reach the site for C5 (8350 m). We had found remains of the British C6 in that place.

On 21 December, we attempted to put up C5 but failed, the tent poles were broken by the cold and strong wind. Then the real winter cold descended on the mountain. On 25 December, we were compelled to evacuate from C2 to the base camp. After five days, we started climbing again, but we were troubled with strong wind almost everyday in January, and we went up to the upper camp and again went down to C2 without result.

On 8 January, we established C5 (8350 m), and two members stayed the first night at C5. Next morning, they went down to C2 due to the severe cold at C5.

We decided to continue the expedition until 15 February, then on the 25 January began to climb up again for the last try. As the expedition extended over a period of two months, we had to remake the route in the icefall area. The crevasses between Cl and C2 became large, and the Southwest face became rocky because the snow on it was blown away day by day.

On the 29th, two members reached C5 again but from the next day a terrible storm began to disturb them so they had to go back to C2.

In February the violent wind still didn't stop roaring on the West Ridge and South Col. We could do nothing but wait for good weather.

The endless strong wind made Sherpas depressed in spirits and they refused to support us to C5. After discussing all the problems on the 9 February we decided to give up.

On the Southwest face in winter season, we climbed 50 pitches on the ice and snow wall from the foot to the rock band which is one of the most difficult points. There is no need to climb the slab as there is in spring or no danger of avalanches like in autumn, so the condition of the face, we think, is best in winter. Due to the good condition of the face, we took only sixteen days from the base camp to the rock band. In spite of that good process, we couldn't scale the summit. There were several causes for the failure but the most serious one was the wind. Whenever the strong wind began to roar we could do nothing.

Of course we were prepared for the cold, the strong wind and the rock-fall before attacking the face, but the power of nature was mightier then we expected. Since we settled at the base camp, 83 days had been spent but on most days we did nothing but wait for the violent wind to stop.

We would like to attempt to climb the Southwest face against next winter season, and we hope to succeed next time.

Summary: A Japanese attempt on the Southwest face of Everest (8848 m) in winter, 1991-92.



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7. SAIPAL, 1992


THE SIX OF us left riotous Kathmandu with two climbing Sherpas, cook, general factotum, liaison officer and 63 porters in two buses on 7 April. 24 weary hours later we arrived in Surkhet — a hot dry town on the edge of the Terai; north of Nepal Ganj in far west Nepal.

Our 18 day journey to base camp commences with a ludicrously hot 1520 m ascent. Pleasant rhododendron forests follow as we walk through the foothills to reach the major jungle-covered range of hills south west of Jumla. The Haudi Lagna at 3050 m affords us our first hazy view of Saipal (7031 m), miles to the north. Having descended to the Sinja Khola (which runs west from Jumla into the Karnali) another hot climb takes us to Manma, the local district capital, at the end of our first week.

From Manma we follow the Karnali river northwards for five days. The gorge is arid cactus country, and whilst of high caste Hindu origin, the people of the very poor villages here adopt Tibetan style flat roofed houses. In this season the river thunders by, a wonderful turquoise colour, and from far above is like a golden ribbon leading us onwards.

Finally we reach the Kuwari Khola, our secret backdoor to Saipal and Humla. We leave behind the Karnali zone and enter fragrant pine forests, and deep in the river valley, a wet and wonderful jungle of walnut and bamboo. This constricts to a narrower gorge before opening out into a parkland of Alpine meadows with one or two small Bhotia settlements. Here the goats which we have previously seen laden with bags of rice, kicking up dust further down trail, are grazing on green grass. Potatoes, chang and curd are available. There is a freshness in the air and for me a sense of home coming.

Base camp is established in front of the east face of Saipal on 26 April at the foot of the terminal morraine of a short flatfish glacier which leads to broad open meadows. Trees cover the hills on either side — it is very low (3650 m) but very beautiful.

The Mountain

We make advance base at 3850 m in the middle of the glacier directly below two large icefalls separated by a rock buttress. A continuous barrage of serac avalanches from both sides and stonefall on the buttress renders any direct assault on the face unadvisable.

We therefore turn our attention to circumventing the right hand icefall to the north, and climb a gully and bowl to reach Cl (4800 m) on a hitherto uncrossed pass into Humla. From here attempts to reach the main north ridge along its northeast spur prove unfruitful, and so we decide to push round on the north side of the mountain.

We descend into Humla, and ciimb avalanche-prone slopes to C2 (5200 m) which is situated on a ridge running north from the northeast spur. Progress from here is blocked by an arete running between the mountain and Kerang Tse (an unattempted 6000 m satellite peak of Saipal). We push towards this, but retreat at the prospect of another descent and re-ascent under an unpleasant icefall. Our final effort is to dimb to a high point of 5700 m on the northeast spur.

We meant to turn our attentions to the approaches to the east ridge, south of base camp, but unfortunately, descending from C2 on 16 May, Nuru Sherpa and I were involved in separate falls, sliding on unstable snow down the same gully. I was relatively unscathed but Nuru broke his ankle and hurt his back. John Holland and Roshan made a marathon journey over the Chote Lagna (4700 m) to Simikot to order a helicopter (possibly the first Westerner to cross this pass also). Nuru was evacuated on 21 May from the north side of the mountain. His ankle was operated on and pinned in Kathmandu, but he now seems to be making a reasonable recovery.


When we left Kuwari Khola base camp on 26 May it was covered in spring flowers. Yaks from the nearby Humla village of Chala were grazing in the summer pastures at Sain. However the north side of the 4560 m Sankha Lagna pass into Humla was still deep in snow. We struggled down through mist into a canyon and next day crossed the Kerang Khola to reach Chala — a primitive collection of flat roofed houses huddled together below a broad ridge separating the Humla Karnali and Kerang Khola rivers.

Next, we travelled north west into Humla, rejoining the Karnali at Muchu on the Tibetan trade route. The region was much more Alpine and less arid than expected. We had panoramic views of several unnamed 6700 m peaks to the north of the Karnali as well as exceptional views back to Saipa! and of the south side of Gurla Mandhata in Tibet.

Humla was also less poor than we had been led to believe. Whilst the people clearly led a subsistence life-style, the Bhotia villages we passed through as we followed the Karnali back east to Simikot, were well ordered and prosperous in comparison to those further down river. The Thakuri villages neared Simikot were dirtier and seemed poorer through a lack of organisation, despite superior natural resources.

Members: Chuck Evans (leader), Frank Evans, Matthew Heffer, John Holland, Caroline Purkhardt and Julia Wood.

Summary: An attempt on Saipal (7031 m) in summer 1992 by a British team.



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A QUICK AND unhindered journey from home to base camp; establishing Cl, and C2 and C3 according to plan; reaching a height of 6700 on the south face; reaching the Tent Peak, 5587 (as a trekking aim); shooting a film in the valley (by Hrovat) and on the south face (by Bozic). However, none of the main aims was reached, nor the summit.

September 1992

19-24th: Departure from Ljubljana to Kathmandu, and covering additional 200 km to Pokhra.

25-29th: March from Dampus Pedhi near Pokhra (1000 m) to base camp, which was put up behind the eastern moraine of the Modi (or Annapurna) glacier at 4050 m.

29th: Establishing base camp (4050 m) on a fine grassy plain.

30th: Establishing Cl (5050 m) on top of a rocky promontory.

2 October 1992: Fixing ropes in a rocky couloir and establishing a relay tent (for deposit or as a temporary camp) at 5600 m.

4th: Establishing C2 (5900 m) on the ridge, which further up develops into a pillar leaning against the* upper sections of the south face 1000 m higher.

6-10th: Gradual advancing towards the ridge and along the ridge. The ascent straight through the gully running parallel to the ridge was not considered prudent on account of the falling ice. It might have been negotiated only in the alpine style of climbing. The only remaining possible route of ascent led via extremely tiresome cauliflower-like formations of ice and snow on the sharp ridge, and via vertical and overhanging mushrooms of rotten ice and snow. The height 6400 m.

11-14th: Heavy snowfall stopped any progress on the mountain. Furlan and Supin were caught at C2 and pinned down by avalanches for four days, but they saved the camp by continually shovelling away the snow. Fresh snow reached 80 cm at 5600 m, and 150 cm at 6000 m. The snow also stopped the alpine style French rope, just below the top of the dierdre which we also had in mind. They were forced to retreat, and on the way down Pierre Beghin was killed. His rope mate Jean Christoph Lafille managed a three-day solo descent, «#nd found refuge in our base camp.

15-17th: Continuing the ascent along the ridge, which, owing to the masses of fresh snow, was hardly suitable for climbing. The height reached by climbers was 6600 m.

18th: Levelling out a platform for deposit, later used for C3, at 6600 m.

19th: Soon above C3 Groselj and Bozic gave up their attempt to advance, and so did Jamnik and Ravnik, finding the ice and snow conditions. unmanageable.

20-21st: After extreme strain Tomazin and Bence reached 6700 m, which was to be the highest point, and decided that at that speed of advancement the summit was out of the question.

21st: At 14 hours the decision was taken that the attempt on the British ¦ route should be given up. Instead, one or two ropes should try climbing via the extreme right wing of the south face and reaching the east ridge, which, though long, is not considered to be technically very demanding. The first to try this second choice were Groselj and Bozic, with the assistance of Sherpas.

23-25th: Groselj and Bozic found the orientation hard, but finally found a passage to the foot of the ice-slope leading up to the ridge. However, they had been delayed so much that they were forced to return. Moreover, a heavy snowfall set in. During the afternoon of the 25th and before the morning of 26 October base camp had 15 — 30 cm of fresh snow; at 5000 m the amount was 60 cm, and at 6000 m more than 100 cm, without, in fact, anyone of us knowing it at that time. Groselj and Tomazin were supposed to undertake another attempt, as Bozic had given priority to official duties.

In the meantime we began to dear up the former route. Bence and Supin had been taken ill and left the expedition on 24 October. On 26 October Kajzelj, Ravnik, Jamnik, Rupar and Bozic decided to leave the expedition, since, as they declared, they found any further attempt futile. Furlan joined them on account of a frostbitten finger. In the morning of 27 October they left base camp.

Only while clearing up C2 in the afternoon of the same day did we notice the enormous amounts of fresh snow which had fallen in higher parts. At least one week of fine weather would have been needed to let the snow on the gently sloped glacier settle and make walking possible. Until then the climbing on the steep slopes leading up towards the ridge was not safe either. Now the last chance of reaching the top was gone, as we had no more time left. So the remaining members left base camp on 28 October. Groselj, however, remained there until 1 November to supervise the transport of the equipment back to the valley.

On Annapurna, less than 30% of the expeditions are successful, and the death toll is one third, which means that out of three successful climbers who reach the top only two survive. Unfortunately, successes stand in no dear relation to fatalities. We did not succeed and we all returned home, but our safe return is nothing but a gilded pill. Our intention was to dimb Annapurna, as well as to return safe and sound. We returned with the necessary experience, which will make it easier for us to accomplish the great adventure after two years when we hope to come again.

Summary: An attempt on the south face of Annapurna I (8091 m) by a team from Slovenia in October 1992.



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KANG GURU (6981 m) lies to the NE of Annapurna Himal, to the west of Pisang peak, near the Tibetan border. It is placed in an area still closed to tourism and virtually unexplored.

That zone is bounded on the west by the river Nar Phu and On the south by the Marsyangdi river. Between the Kang Guru and the Tibetan border there are a lot of unnamed peaks, about 7000 rn high, not easy and still to be dimbed.

The expedition was mounted, equipped and put into execution by five people who had preceding experiences of alpinism in the Himalaya, Karakoram or Andes:

Contalbrigo Giancarlo (leader), Bidese Domenico, Dal Santo Imerio, (ililtti Paolo, Pagiusco Fiorenzo.

24 September: We leave Milano.

27th: From Kathmandu to Dumre, 160 km, by bus in 9 hours. 28th: Arrival at Phalesangu (670 m) by truck in 5 hours. 29th: We begin the trip on foot towards the north along the Marsyangdi valley.

2 October: We reached Kodo (2600 m) a village near Chame, where a police station blocks the entrance into the Nar Phu valley, which goes up straight until Tibet, on the west side of Kang Guru.

Namcha Barwa

39. Namcha Barwa. Note 2

Namcha Barwa

40. Namcha Barwa. Note 2


41. Saipal. Note 7 (Chuck Evans)

4th: We established BC at Mera, (3600 m), a deserted village, left after the invasion of Tibet by China in 1959. Now there are still a lot of terrace cultivations. It is situated at the foot of the mountain, at the point where a great ravine strikes up into its west flanks.

7th: After ascending the ravine, at first going up on steep grassy slopes and then on grave! with danger of injury from stones, we established Cl (4900 m) under the big rock barrier which seals off the upper end of the ravine.

11th: Second ferry from BC to Cl.

12th: From Cl we climbed a steep and frozen canal, about 400 m high, very dangerous because of the stones. After a difficult passage through the rock curtain, where we fixed 50 m of rope, we arrived above the rock wall (5300 m). Then we climbed up on moraine until a prominent rock rib between the hanging glaciers. Under that rib, in a very safe place, we sited C2 (5600 m).

Kang Guru

Kang Guru

13th: Exploration to find the route to C3.

14th/17th: Rest at BC.

(2Oth: Climbing the glacier with small crevasses, we arrived at the upper side of the west face. We established C3 at 6100 m in a spacious and safe plateau under the NW ridge. The west spur which joined the W face to the NW ridge protected the place from the wind. We pitched 3 tents: two for us, one for two Sherpas who accompanied us to the summit.

21st: Departure from C3 at 4 o'clock. We climbed the spur consisting of good ice (gradient 40°—45°) for about 400 m and we arrived at the very long and sharpened NW ridge. It ascended to the top by a lesser gradient but with a lot of big cornices. At 10.15 a.m. the summit was reached by G. Contalbrigo, D. Bidese, P. Ghitti, F. Pagiusco and the two Sherpas. It was windy and very cold (—30°).

At 11 a.m. we began a fast descent to C3. We closed the camp and went to C2 where pitched the tents to sleep.

22nd: Arrival at BC. 24th: Departure from BC. 30th: Arrival at Kathmandu.

This was the first Italian ascent of the peak and the fourth ascent of the peak.

Summary: The Italian ascent of Kang Guru (6981 m) by west face and northwest ridge (German route) on 21 October 1991.



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NILKANTH IS ONE of the most accessible peaks in the Himalaya and it has been claimed, one of the most beautiful. Its summit lies only nine kilometres from the town of Badrinath which is serviced by a tarred road (an important destination for the Hindu pilgrim) yet the height difference between Badrinath and the summit of Nilkanth is 3500 m! Since it was first seriously attempted by Frank Smythe in 1937 it has received around a dozen attempts yet only two claimed ascents; the first of which (1961) is now widely discredited. So what is it about this mountain, named after Shiva the destroyer, that has attracted so much interest yet has proved so difficult a challenge? It is without doubt a striking, relatively isolated peak and one that has 'climb me' written all over it! However, for all its accessibility and relatively modest altitude, Nilkanth is a mountain with formidable defences. Its ridges are Idng, often pinnacled and loose, its faces steep, seracced and avalanche prone and it's isolated position encouraging a localised weather system. In recent years it has been designated a restricted peak, with access by non-Indian expeditions limited to a southerly approach and that only after payment of hefty not to say unreasonable peak fee of 3000 US $!

The one accepted ascent of Nilkanth (although details of this event .ire sparse) was by an Indo-Tibetan Border Police team in 1974. Approaching from the Satopanth Bank, they ascended the north face encountering difficult and dangerous snow conditions en route. Since this expedition, all subsequent attempts on Nilkanth have been from the south.

Nilkanth has four main ridges and four main faces but as my iletailed knowledge is confined to the southerly approach, I will restrict my comments to this, other than to say that from distant inspection the east face looks vast and dangerous (primarily snow and ice with rock bands and serious avalanche potential) and the northeast ridge, running up from the col between Narayan Parbat and Nilkanth, problematic of access from the east, but once gained, an excellent objective. The south side ofcNilkanth consists of two ridge lines enclosing the true south face. The lower part of this face is a complex jumble of rock and ice with major objective dangers from rockfall and calving ice blocks from its hanging glacier. It would neither be an attractive nor sensible approach to the upper reaches of the mountain. The west side of the south face is bounded by a superb rock ridge running almost to the summit of the mountain. Access to the initial, near level section of this ridge, is barred by a massive, rusty wall (loose rock?) but if this could be overcome, the southwest ridge of Nilkanth should give a magnificent, difficult, yet relatively safe 1600 m climb on grey granite, similar in appearance to the rock of the Piz Badile area of the Bregalia Alps.

The southeast ridge, attempted now by over half a dozen expeditions, is not such an attractive objective as the southwest ridge. However, it does perhaps present the mountain's greatest challenge and an exercise in very committing Himalayan Alpinism.

So what of our own performance on the southeast ridge? As a four man team the choice of Nilkanth was made at short notice after permission to climb Panch Chuli II from the east had been refused. We were however armed with a comprehensive knowledge of previous expedition activity on the ridge thanks to the generous help of Roy Lindsey whose team had attempted it in 1990.1


  1. See H.J. Vol. 47, p. 79 — Ed.


Approaching via the Khirao ganga, base camp, sited on a level shelf to the east of an area of huge boulders and pinnacles at 4400 m, was established, on 11 October in a snowstorm. The ascent of steep grass and a boulder field took us to an advanced base camp (on snow) at a height of 5000 m, below the steep rusty wall which flanks the southwest side of the initial section of the southeast ridge. The remains of a small glacier lay west of the camp (presumably the one mentioned by Smythe). Above this mini glacier lies an obvious pointed rock tower (with gullies either side of it). To the northwest of this feature a very shattered rock wall holding much unstable scree gave access to the ridge by following the general line of a pale band of rock until a short snow gully cut up onto the crest. From a large spike of pale rock, where the gully meets the ridge crest, three easy mixed pitches along a classic Alpine ridge led to its abutment with the foot of the 1st Pinnacle. To the east of the abutment lies a monolithic buttress with a steep open gully on its left. We climbed the left side of the open gully via cracks and ledges (50 m IV, old fixed rope) as the right side, although appearing easier, was very loose. A further pitch on mixed ground led to a rightwards traverse along a snow covered shelf. Another one and half pitches of broken snow covered ground led to the base of a steep rock barrier.

This barrier has two lines of weakness, the left, a formidable hanging groove, the right, an easier angled shattered groove. The left hand groove proved to be the safer line and easier than appearances would suggest (40 m IV, old fixed rope). The right hand groove is the outfall of a scree scoop above. 60 m of scrambling over very unstable ground took us to a small col between the rock towers of the 1st Pinnacle on the left and Point Alison on the right. The steep ice gully dropping from the col was abseiled for 40 m (old fixed rope) then a mixed traverse was made to gain a small snow col directly below Point Alison. After some snow levelling this provided a perfect site for one bivi tent.

A short level section of ridge ran up into a wide area of shattered rock which was climbed by a wide scree filled groove on the right to gain a little saddle. From this point a traverse right on steep soft snow linked into another wide, loose groove leading via short rock steps to two in-situ pegs at the top (old fixed rope). Moving out of the groove we gained a small snow basin flanked by a rock edge on the left and a snow arete on the right. The snow in this basin proved desperately unconsolidated and it took over an hour to climb a 60 m section close to the rock edge, swimming up thigh deep snow lying on rock slabs to a 'thank god' belay and ledge. One tent was later pitched at this point. Thankfully firmer snow led up on the right to the steepening of the summit tower of the 2nd Pinnacle. A tricky rightward traverse, (Scottish II/III) allowed an exposed descent down the arete to gain a big tablet of rock at the small col between the 2nd and 3rd Pinnacles.

In search of Smythe's by-pass ledge a line was first attempted on the west flank of the 3rd Pinnacle. This involved a promising start on steep sound rock to gain a descending, narrowing, slab ramp ending in a cul-de-sac of overhanging loose flakes. These were surmounted in a breath holding mode but the ground beyond did not give cause for optimism and a dignified retreat was made. The second foray up a short wide crack left of the arete gave some encouragement, leading to a ledge running out onto the more wintry east flank of the pinnacle. Needless to say this also proved to be bad news but in frustration a route was forced across it by dint of climbing more in keeping with a Scottish grade VI than the Himalaya. The most memorable sequence involved torquing off two axe tips, mantleshelving onto the same and then dynoing for a flat hold! The crest regained, an easy traverse led to a short descent onto the commodious snow col between the 3rd and 4th Pinnacles. The lower flank of the 4th Pinnacle looked slabby but fairly broken and not a major obstacle. However this proved to be our high point (C 5600 m). The following day another line was climbed on 3rd Pinnacle, on the left of the arete, up a wall, a chimney then a suicidal zig-zag traverse under, around and over evil piles of balanced blocks, 65 m V+, following roughly the line of the abseil descent of the previous day.

Whilst sitting, firmly lashed to a big flake on the top of the 3rd Pinnade the early afternoon cloud drew aside like a stage curtain to reveal my first really good view of the summit ice pyramid of Nilkanth, defended by a continuous slabby 300 m high rock barrier with a base at 6000 m. I gazed in awe! It looked massive even at a distance of nearly two kilometres.

I've been mountaineering for over twenty five years and if I've learnt anything during this time it is to listen attentively to my inner voice. On the top of the 3rd Pinnade it spoke to me very clearly. It said 'get down'. I abseiled the pitch and voiced this message to Dave and Matt. They didn't argue. We went down, stripping the mountain the following day in a snowstorm.

No article about Nilkanth would be complete without a reappraisal of the achievement of Frank Smythe and the enigmatic Peter on the southeast ridge in 1937 (see chapter 22 in The Valley of Flowers.) Was it a piece of very bold and futuristic dimbing or, as some subsequent expeditions to the mountain maintain, a flight of fancy? Although Smythes' description of the dimb is, at times, difficult to relate to the topography of the southeast ridge, there are enough identifiable references to confirm that he had a fair knowledge of this complex feature. However, he dismisses the technical difficulty and looseness of much of the ridge, makes no mention of extensive snow covered sections (surely there would have been a lot of snow about high on the ridge in late August) and doesn't mention any abseil descents. On the positive side Smythe's description of 'a thin and elegant pinnade with sheer sides falling into unknown depths....which proved to be more a step on the ridge than an isolated point' perfectly fits the 3rd Pinnade, although if this was his idea of perfect granite ('the best that Chamonix can muster') I wouldn't like to climb on what he would consider to be poor rock!

If Frank and Peter did indeed reach the crest of the 4th Pinnacle as can be inferred from his narrative and his description of their final view towards the great rock barrier and the summit snow and ice slopes of Nilkanth, then one can only marvel at their route finding, the speed of their ascent, their relative indifference to loose rock and their technical proficiency. Truly mountaineers well ahead of their time!

The veracity of Smythe's attempt will probably never be absolutely confirmed and indeed fits in well with the general mountaineering history of Nilkanth, with much doubt being cast on other expedition claims. I prefer to believe that Smythe did indeed reach the 4th Pinnade, further than any other expedition has yet reached and that seismic activity has since altered the character of the ridge (there was a magnitude 7 earthquake in 1991 in this region).

The mysteries surrounding Nilkanth will perhaps never be dispelled but it is certain that the 'Queen of the Garhwal' will continue to attract the admiring gaze of pilgrim and tourist alike, will continue to tempt the mountaineer with its great ridges and faces and will forever be regarded as one of the Himalaya's most beautiful and challenging mountains.

Members: Graham Little (leader), Dave Saddler, Matt and Gareth Yardley.

Summary: An attempt on the southeast ridge of Nilkanth (6596 m), by a team of Scottish mountaineers in October 1992.



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THE MASSIF OF CHAUKHAMBA (4 pillars) lies between the Gangotri glacier in the west, the Bhagirathi glacier in the north and the Satopanth glacier in the east. The four peaks constituting the Chaukhamba massif, situated in the Garhwal Himalaya, are challenging requiring technical skill.

The magnificent, 30 km long ridge has 6 summits Pt. 6763 m, Chaukhamba I, 7318 m, Chaukhamba II 7068 m, Chaukhamba III 6974 m, Chaukhamba IV 6854 m. Pt. 6638 m. The summit of Chaukhamba I was scaled by a French expedition, led by E Frendo in 1952. An Air Force expedition, led by Air Vice Marshal S. N. Goya! put four members on the summit in 1967.1 Our team of the Indian'army Signallers decided to climb from the hazardous northeast approach in May-June 1992. The expedition was flagged off on 11 February from New Delhi to coincide with the 81st anniversary of the Corps of Signals.


  1. See H.J. Vol. XXIII, p. 102. The peak has also been subsequently climbed by Indian expeditions — Ed.


After drawing rations and making miscellaneous purchases the team concentrated at the roadhead at Mana on 20 May. Recce and ferry to the base camp commenced on 23 May. The base camp was occupied by the team on 30 May.

After the base camp was occupied at Bhagirath Kharak (4570 m) the recce, route opening and ferry to the advance base camp commenced. The route to the advance base camp was hazardous due to heavy snowfall, bad weather and huge rockfalls en route. The advance base camp, with total stocking of food, gear and stores was occupied on 5 June at 5150 m.

Simultaneously recce to and the establishment of Cl (5490 m) commenced by selected members and was finally occupied on 8 June.

In spite of extremely foul weather on 9 June, the members of rope 1 and 2 moved up through ice-walls, crevasses and avalanche-prone areas by fixing climbing ropes for more than 360 m to locate a suitable place for atleast two climbing tents to be pitched. On 10 June, good progress was made to recce and dump the gear and food-stuff, but a suitable site for C2 could not be found, therefore, we had to dump the items in one tent on the approach to C2. Although the slope was exceedingly steep and the loose waist-deep snow made the going very tough, the team members remained undeterred. C2 was finally occupied by the members of rope 1 and 2 on 11 June at 6250 m.

Studying the prevailing weather situation, I decided that the summit should be attempted from 14 June onwards, since 14 to 18 June would provide the advantage of full moon nights.

The first summit party consisting of 3 officers and 1 other rank (Capts Sanjeev Singh, Nadeem Arshad, Vipin Verma and L/Nk Mohammad Ayoub Sofi) left C2 at 0400 hours on 14 June for the summit. As anticipated they had to undertake 7 to 8 hours of steep climbing. After a gruelling and exhausting technical climb and by negotiating avalanche-cones and crevasse-prone areas by fixing ropes of more than 300 m, these four members reached the summit at 1520 hrs and spoke to us on a walkie-talkie. The climb was witnessed from Cl and C2 with binoculars and it was a truly thrilling experience.

Kang Guru: Italian route on the peak.

42-43. Kang Guru: Italian route on the peak. Note 9

Kang Guru: Italian route on the peak.
Graham Little on the third pinnacle (5500 m) on the SE ridge of Nilkanth (6596 m).

44. Graham Little on the third pinnacle (5500 m) on the SE ridge of Nilkanth (6596 m). Note 10 (D. Saddler)





The National flag alongwith the Army and Corps flags were hoisted on the top of Chaukhamba I, 7138 m after 11 hours of dogged determination by these Signallers. The team remained on top for about 30 minutes, took photographs including those of all surrounding peaks from the top of Chaukhamba. 14 June was a clear and sunny day and the weather gods were extremely kind to the expedition.

Following the success of the first summit party, another team lead by Maj S. Kanjilal, deputy leader, alongwith Maj A. K. Mehta, the medical officer, consisting of ropes 2 and 3 (9 members) occupied C2 on 15 June despite an early blizzard, white-out and discouraging reports from the previous summitters that the going was extremely treacherous. 16 June was spent in occupation and acclimatisation at C2 by these members. They left C2 at 0025 hrs on 17 June and after a fifteen hour climb, reached the top of Chaukhamba I at 1540 hrs. The team remained on the top for 20 minutes to take photographs and started descending. While returning to C2 at 1600 hrs., the team was engulfed in a complete white-out and it was impossible for them to descend. The conditions further deteriorated and the team lost the route since the fixed ropes could not be traced. All members had to spend the night by digging snow caves at 6860 m. As a result of the benightment, seven members suffered frostbite (first and second degree), acute chilblains, one member had temporary snow-blindness. The next day, the deputy leader and medical officer evacuated the suffering members to C2 with the help of the members of rope 1, who came as the rescue team from Cl. Subsequently, the team descended to the advance base camp with joy. High morale reigned as all members of the team looked forward to returning to civilisation.


The weather remained hostile for two days. The complete team was withdrawn to the advance base camp. Time was running short as the area had to be cleared by 20 June. Not finding any alternative, it was decided that stores should be retrieved at the earliest. The team returned to roadhead Mana on 21 June without any permanent injury to anyone.


On 14 June 1992: Capt. Sanjeev Singh, Capt. Nadeem Arshad, Capt. Vipin Verma, L/Nk. M. Ayoub Sofi, Nima Norbu, Makalu, Bibhujit Mukhoti and Shyamal Sarkar.

On 17 June 1992: Capt. J. K. Jha, Capt. V. Dogra, Capt. S. P. Sira, Hav. Umed Singh, Hav. R. S. Yadav, L/Hav. Jarnail Singh and Sigmn. C. S. Champawat. Expedition led by Col. Amit C. Roy.

Summary: The ascent of Chaukhamba I (7138 m) by the Indian army Corps of Signals team on 14 and 17 June 1992.



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Capt. S. P. MALIK

MANA IS LOCATED 36 km north of the Badrinath shrine, beyond Joshimath in Garhwal Himalaya which is a serene and impressive mountain range. Mana itself marks the eastern extremity of the Zanskar range and lies between the high Niti and Mana passes, two of the best known, most trodden and traditional land routes between India and Tibet. Rising enticingly into the sky to a height of 7274 m, the mountain stands like an eternal sentinel, ever watchful, on the Indo-Tibet border and is a standing challenge to intrepid explorers and climbers.1


  1. See sketch map in Note 11. — Ed.


There are two known approaches to Mana peak; one is the eastern approach through East Kamet glacier and the other is the southern approach through Nagthuni and Banke Kund glacier. The first person to fall under its spell was Frank Smythe in 1937 who was privileged to be the first to stand on the peak of Mana via the southern approach. In 1988 the east face was climbed by the ITBP (Harbhajan Singh) and the south face by a joint Indo-US Army Expedition team (Maj H.S. Chauhan). Again in 1991, an expedition team under Col K Parbhat Singh scaled the peak via the southern approach.

On 15 May 1992, our entire team with complete stores left for roadhead, Mana village, which is 3 km ahead of Badrinath on state highway No 45. The 47 km journey by vehicle took about 3V2 hrs through the mountainous terrain. The site was selected near ITBP location and all rations, stores and equipments were neatly stacked to facilitate their onward despatch manually to Musapani east (Intermediate Base Camp). The height of the road head was 3110 m. On 16 May 92, the team had a hot bath in Tapt Kund and paid a visit to the holy shrine of Badrinath to invoke the blessings of Lord Vishnu and in a brief ceremony prayed for the success of the expedition. Then the team assisted by the porters ferried loads to Intermediate Base Camp (IBC). After establishing IBC and acclimatising properly, the team, moved to occupy IBC on 22 May 92.

Intermediate Base Camp

Intermediate base camp was located at Musapani east and was occupied on 22 May. The camp was located on the eastern bank of the Saraswati river (3780 m). There is a fair weather mule track, during the post monsoon period only when snow melts away, between the roadhead and BC 7.5 km away and it takes 3 hours one way.

The base camp was established at the base of scree of Nagthuni gad. There is a disused track passing over terraced mountainous terrain with big boulders and ice on the way. The total distance is 7 to 8 kms and it takes 4 hours one way. On 28 May a route opening party of three members was sent to open route to a Cl and select campsite.

Cl (5426 m) was occupied on 2 June. This was an icy ledge which formed the base of the three rocky bumps adjoining the large snowfield having innumerable crevasses en route. The route passed over terminal moraine all along Nagthuni gad. The famous Gupt khal (secret pass) was visible from this camp but the pass was hidden till one reached this camp location.

C2 (6035 m) established. It was located on a ledge at the bottom of a rock with steep icefalls on the southern and eastern side. The route passed over a number of open and hidden crevasses. This area is fully glaciated. The team fixed five ropes to negotiate the crevassed patches to reach C2.

C3 (6706 m) was located in the snowfield ahead of a snow clad dome shaped feature which conspicuously stands out in contrast to the razor sharp longitudinal Mana ridge in colour as well as in shape. The route to this camp passed over avalanche-prone, steep, glaciated, slopes which were corniced and crevassed. This involved technical rock climbing in the first phase where six ropes were fixed. The rest of the route is glaciated and covered with lm of fresh snow passing over a ridge line with cornices. The movements on this ridge were undertaken with extreme care due to the blizzards and dangerous crevasses and cornices. Six more ropes were fixed in this region and going was extremely slow and technically difficult. It took 572 hrs to reach C3 covering a distance of approximately 6 km. Three tents were pitched on beaten snow which was powdery fresh and approximately 1 m deep. The mq^t conspicuous characteristic of this camp was the strong easterly blizzard which blew unrelentingly throughout the night. Luckily mornings remained encouragingly bright and clear. But it invariably snowed heavily in the afternoons and continued unabated almost throughout the night.

First Attempt on the Peak

The morning of 11 June was bright and clear. Two ropes left at 0500 hrs. It took six hours to fix five ropes in that chilly morning to cross the base of Mana ridge line where the toughest part of the climb had commenced. It involved traversing through soft knee-deep snow which consumed time as well as energy. When the team was climbing the ridge line of Mana from its base it came under an avalanche at 1430 hrs due to movement of snow. NK Balwant Singh and Ex Hav D Lama who were in the lead were swept down by the avalanche and they were fortunately left suspended on the ropes which were removed by the avalanche. They sustained head, leg and rib injuries due to their being hit against boulders and the hard ice. Some other members also sustained minor injuries and bruises. Most of the much-needed equipment was swept away in the avalanche and some of the items were buried under it. NK Balwant Singh and D Lama were rescued.

Both casualties were evacuated to the base camp on 12 June. The entire team was reorganised on new ropes and two ropes were earmarked for another unnamed peak and one rope for Mana as most of the essential equipment had been lost. Hence, it was found possible to send only one rope to Mana.

On 14 June, two ropes left for Cl of Mana. They were occupied on the same day.

Simultaneously, a route opening party was sent to Cl of an unnamed peak under Capt B. P. Singh. Both the groups i.e. of Mana and of the unnamed virgin peak were in communication with each other. Progress was made on both fronts simultaneously. The weather remained inclement beyond.

Both the ropes occupied C2 on 15 June as route had already been opened and ropes fixed. On 16 June weather, became very bad and movement of the team was restricted. On 17 June, these two ropes occupied C3. On 18 June, it snowed throughout the day and the team could not move ahead. The weather cleared up at 2200 hrs on 18 June. Early in the morning on 19 June, both the ropes left at 0430 hrs leaving Govind Singh (HA Porter) and L/NK D. Limboo behind. The second rope under Capt S.P. Malik, Leader, was positioned ahead of the assault camp near the site of the ice fall where the accident took place on 11 June. It was well prepared and all set to rush for rescue should the occasion arise. The main' roge continued to move ahead.

The last 500 m of the climb along the ridge line to the peak was on hard ice which necessitated expert ice-craft on the sharp edge. Though the move on the slippery hard ice was extremely laborious and slow yet the summiters were encouraged by the tell-tale marks of the previous expeditions which served as the route markers. The summiters traversed the last 50 m which happened to be the top of the long razor sharp Mana ridge rising westwards. First summitter Sep NS Rawal reached the lofty peak at 1130 hrs followed by Sep Surbeer Chand, Capt M. C. Jayakrishnan, L/NK S. K. Rao, Rajinder Singh and Kundan Singh. Ultimately on 19 June at 1130 hrs the main rope successfully scaled peak Mana despite the inclement weather. After staying for 25 minutes on peak, at 1155 hrs the summiters commenced their return journey.

The following members on the main rope were the climbers of Mana peak. Capt M. C. Jayakrishnan, (dy leader), L/Nk S. K. Rao, Sep Surbeer Chand, Sep M. S. Rawal, Rajinder Singh, and Kundan Singh.

Assault on 'Shakti Parbat'

As soon as the main rope crossed the site where the accident took place on 11 June, the second rope was withdrawn and moved towards the unnamed virgin peak at 0800 hrs. This auspicious news inspired the other members of the team to forge ahead towards 'Shakti Parbat'. This second rope also scaled the unnamed virgin peak at 1345 hrs and christened it 'Shakti Parbat'. The weather had already packed up with accumulation of dense fog. After staying at 'Shakti Parbat' for 30 minutes the ropes started their return journey to Cl. Summitters of both ropes joined at Cl and moved onto the BC. The following members who were divided on two ropes scaled 'Shakti Parbat'.

Capt S. P. Malik, (leader), Capt B. P. Singh, N/Sub S. K. Dogra, Hav ACK Singha, Hav D. Deb, Nk N. S. Tamang, L/Nk D. Limboo, and Sep N. S. Negi.

Summary: The ascent of Mana (7272 m) by the Indian army Ordnance Corps, team on 19 June 1992. An unnamed Peak 5730 m east of their BC was also climbed. They named it 'Shakti Parbat'.



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13. YOGESHWAR, 1992


WE CLIMBED IN the Garhwal Himalaya, a four-man British team of Steve Adderley, Malcolm Bass, Julian Clamp and Simon Yearsley.

The latter three made the second ascent of Yogeshwar (6678 m) via a new route on the objectively dangerous south face. The summit was reached on 2 October, 1992. The team thought they were making the first ascent, but were disappointed on their return to the UK where they read that an Indian expedition had made the first ascent via the southeast ridge in the pre-monsoon season of 1991.1


  1. Yogwhwar was named and first attempted by an Indo-French team in 1981 (HJ Vol. 38. p. 91). The first ascent was achieved on 27 June 1991 by an Indian team. See C.H.C. Newsletter 45, p. 16 — Ed


Originally planning to approach the mountain via the Shyamvarn glacier, the team's base camp was pitched 2 km short of this because of despondent porters, and they used the Swetvarn glacier as an fipproach instead. Finding enough good porters in the Gangorri area seems to be becoming more difficult, mainly due to the large number of expeditions operating here.

Base camp was established at 4800 m on 12 September after a three day walk-in from Gangotri.

After acclimatising at BC, loads were carried up the easy but tedious Swetvarn glacier, and advanced base established at 5550 m on 20 September.

Steve Adderley and Julian Clamp made* an attempt on the mountain's west ridge on 24 September. They gained this via the north' col between Yogeshwar and Chaturbhuj (6655 m), but retreated from between a height of 6200 m in the face of extremely unstable snow on the ridge.

Whilst recovering at base camp, all four members of the team helped in the evacuation of an Indian climber from Chavla Jagiridar's Sri Kailas (6932 m) expedition. The evacuation involved a two day stretcher carry of the climbers suffering from exposure and exhaustion down the difficult Raktavarn glacier.

On 28 September Malcolm Bass, Julian Clamp and Simon Yearsley re-occupied ABC. On the 29th they bivouacked below the horribly loose east col which they had hoped to climb that day, but were unable to because of stonefall.

On the 30th the col was reached, and an extremely comfortable bivi ensued at 5950 m. Whilst having a rest day on 1 October, the team were able to pick out lines on the attractive and undimbed peaks on the east side of the Shyamuvan glacier. Leaving the bivi at midnight on 2 October, a series of gully lines were followed (Scottish III) from the col onto the south face. The south face was then crossed with straightforward climbing threatened by large serac and avalanche-runnels. The southeast ridge was gained by 7.30 a.m. at approximately 6400 m. Here sacks were left, and the S.E. ridge followed via the east ridge to the summit. This was reached at 11.30 a.m. By 5.30 p.m. the team descended the S.E. ridge, crossed the Shyamvarn glacier and re-ascended to their bivi on the east col. ABC was reached the following morning and cleared of all rubbish, and the team descended to the base camp the same day.

South face of Kedarnath (6940m), from Kedarnath temple.

45. South face of Kedarnath (6940m), from Kedarnath temple. Note 17 (Harish Kapadia)

Rock Tower (6150m), close up from Kedarnath temple

46. Rock Tower (6150m), close up from Kedarnath temple. Note 17 (Harish Kapadia)

This part of the Garhwal remains relatively unvisited, unlike other areas of the Gangotri glacier. There are still many undimbed and attractive 6000 m peaks especially around the head of the Shyamvarn glacier.

Summary: The second ascent of Yogeshwar (6678 m) on 2 October 1992 by a British team. The peak stands on the Shyamvarna glacier (Gangotri-Garhwal).



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THE NINTH EXPEDITION of the Durgapur Mountaineers' Association was to Matri.

We left Uttarkashi on 11 August by bus and reached Gangotri (3140 m). On the following day our trekking started, following the traditional route by the side of the river Bhagirathi and reached the transit camp (3700 m). The camp was 2 km beyond Chirbas and near the Matri nala, by the side of the track towards Gaumukh.

It was decided to establish the base camp on the following morning, 13 August. Thus the team and the laden porters started for the base camp. The boulder-strewn route was through the gorge and towards NE following the right bank of Matri nala. Our movement was slow. At one place we were forced to leave Matri nala and had to climb the left ridge fixing a 40 m rope. Then again we had to get down to the river bed. From there the route seemed to be dangerous. We were to cross the Matri nala, but our attempt to make a bridge by putting boulders on the nala failed. A rope was then fixed across the Matri nala. After crossing the nala we had to climb the ridge on the left of the Matri nala by fixing a 45 m rope. Then, we were to get down from the ridge and reach a flat area near the nala, where we were to establish our base camp at 4300 m.

On the 14th the BC was occupied. The whole BC area was covered with juniper. To the north of our base camp lay the Chaturbhuj and to the south, Manda. After two days' ferry ABC was occupied on 16th and the remaining members occupied BC. Our ABC was at 4740 m on the Matri glacier. On the 19th, a little below the icefall at 5040 m, Cl was occupied. Above this the route was dangerous due to rock-fall, avalanche and crevasses. So the entire route had to be fixed with rope. After six days' hard work of fixing 14 climbing ropes and ferrying the loads, C2 was occupied on 26 August. Our C2 was on tfee icefield in between two crevasses giving us a place about 7 m broad. It was at 5740 m and below the SW ridge. In between Cl & C2 we made a dumping spot at 5420 m upto which materials .were ferried from Cl and then those were carried to C2 by the members of C2.

The SW ridge of Matri in a half circular form connects the peaks Matri, peak 6565 m, Chaturbhuj, Sudarshan Parbat and Thelu. To climb on to the SW ridge was a tough job as we had to fix ropes. After a three day effort we could occupy C3 on 30 August, which was on the ridge and at 6100 m. It was more than a four hour climb from C3.

On the following day, inspite of snowfall with fierce wind the members of C3 could fix seven climbing ropes which ended just below the third hump.

On 1 September Arvind, Subhasish, Sher, Joy and Sangram left C3 at 4.30 a.m. leaving Tarun at the camp. They were on the top of the first hump by 5.15 a.m. Beyond the hump it seemed to be the end of the route beneath a big boulder. The whole route was over the cornice. The second hump was of a gradient above 70°. After the hump two more tops were climbed and they reached below an ice-wall upto which ropes were fixed on the previous day. They had three more ropes with them excluding those two to which they were roped up. Their climb continued and at 9.30 a.m. they reached the third hump. From here they continued their movement over the cornices and on flat ground. Moving towards the NE and climbing the fourth hump made of rock and ice they appeared before a wall also made of rock and ice. They found no other alternative but to encircle the wall over the dangerous cornice. The route was made safe by fixing a rope and Arvind was saved by this fixed rope as one of his legs got caught in the cornice. They continued their movement towards NE over the cornice and crossed many small humps until they reached a boulder of about 7 m height. One more rope was fixed there and they proceeded further. Then crossing a flat area two big humps were climbed. The route was narrow, about 3 to 4 m broad and in some places it was 2 to 3 in. They moved eastward for some time and again towards NE and at last reached below the summit. There was 15 m more to climb. But a big boulder was obstructing their approach. They first made an attempt from the left by driving a piton on the boulder but failed. Then they started climbing the brittle wall made of rock and ice, on their right and one by one reached the summit of Matri at 2.30 p.m. The national tricolour and the association flag were unfurled. After half an hour they started descending and at 7.30 p.m. they found themselves at C3 leaving behind 3 ropes and the pitons.

Summary: The ascent of Matri (6721 m) by an Indian team in September 1991.



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DHUMDHAR KANDI PASS, is famous for its tricky location, and unstable weather condition. James Baillie Frazer first came to learn about the existence of the pass in the year 1815. He collected information that since ancient times local villagers and traders and even the invaders used this difficult pass as a short cut to cross over Bhagirathi valley to 'Rawaeen' valley (the upper parts of the Tons valley) and vice-versa. From his account we came to know that the river Sian gad, which flows southeast to meet the Bhagirathi ganga below Jhala village, 'rises in Dhumdhar...... a very lofty and wild range to the north of Bandarpunchh and along which there is a very alarming road leading to "the remote parts of Rawaeen'.

A recent attempt to locate' the pass was in 1972 by a team from Calcutta under the leadership of Amulya Sen, followed by another group led by Sudhan Bose in 1973. The first attempt was foiled due to inclement weather but the second claimed success though there were doubts in some quarters. In 1984 S. S. Mukherjee and G. Santra also from West Bengal tried to cross the pass from Sian valley. They crossed over the dividing ridge but not exactly through the pass. While the search for exact location of the pass continued, it was revealed subsequently that the pass was marked erroneously In old survey map sheets. The first successful attempt was recorded by a three member team from Calcutta led by Prabhat K. Ganguli In 1987 who could locate and climb the pass correctly.

Our journey to the Tons valley started on 25 August 1990 from Calcutta and we reached Mori on 28 August.

On 30 August morning, we recruited three porters through the Porters' Association and trekked to Taluka (1981 m), 13 km away. We had to cross Tons a number of times after Taluka, as the track was occasionally blocked by tree trunks uprooted during the recent monsoon. So it took us> 5½ hours to reach the Osla forest rest house at Seema (2560 m).

On 1 September, six of us — Rupayan Chatterjee, Tapas Mukherjee and myself along with three porters from Osla — Nikram Singh, Sundar Singh and Surya started from Seema forest bungalow. Rising steeply along with the left bank of Tons, we reached the wide and picturesque meadow of Debsu after two hours. Then we descended to Ruinsara gad. It comes down from the east and joins with Har-Ki-Doon nala, a short distance away. Thereafter it is known as the Tons river.

We crossed the log bridge over Ruinsara at 10 a.m. and trekked along its right bank, and reached Ruinsara lake (3400 m) at 5 p.m. and pitched our tents from the other bank. We left at 9 a.m. on 2 September, negotiated a steep gulley and traversed through the steep slopes of the south face of Swargarohini to Kiyarkoti (3780 m) at 2 p.m. The next day, an overcast sky delayed our start till 10.15 a.m. Continuing steeply over the southern slopes for an hour, we reached a zone of boulders brought down by landslides. We reached Deobasa camping ground at 11.45 a.m. and rested here for half an hour. We could now see almost the entire sweep of the mountain ranges of this region.

Dhumdhar Kandi pass (5608 m) was some where between Barasukha and Yellow Tooth. The Ruinsara gad, the main source of the Tons river originates from Bandarpunch glacier below this range where the horrifying Kalanag icefall joins it at Dharao Udari (4420 rn). The Bandarpunch glaicer then flows below the conical snow peak of Ruinsara (5487 m). It continues northwest through a narrow valley separating the two principal ranges of Swargarohini on the north and Bandarpunch on the south.

We resumed our march and passed through a gully on the left. Gaining height steadily along the Bandarpunch glacier over landslide zones and boulders, we reached Dharao Udari (4420 m) at 2.10 p.m. It started raining almost immediately. We quickly erected our tents very close to the wall on the high lateral moraine of the Bandarpuch glacier.

On 7 September, we started at 8.15 a.m. We were going up along our left and we could see the massive icefall of Kalanag with open crevasses, on our right. In 1½ hours we reached the top of the slope — a vast, open valley. We decided to avoid Arjun Jhari and go up the ridge on our left directly. Negotiating some buttresses and boulder zones we reached an icefield. This was followed by a number of other icefields and a ridge. Alter crossing a thin stream on our left, the entire Tons-Bhagirathi watershed opened up to view. Kalanag was under the thick monsoon clouds while the Yellow Tooth was peeping through. Dhumdhar Kandi pass was lying hidden between the second rock spire and an umbrella shaped rock to the north of Yellow Tooth. Beyond another icefield, we climbed up the ridge, while snowfall commenced. We went over a slippery zone of loose slates covered by fresh snows.

Now we were on the top of the ridge. We drifted more to our left and climbed over an arc like route. Within a short period we were under the umbrella shaped rock. Between the gate formed by the two rock towers, the concealed Dhumdhar Kandi pass was seen. A long stone pillar marked the spot. We later found out that it is hidden similarly on the other side also. The porters immediately rushed to the pass amidst snowfall though we were moving at our own pace over loose slate stones. After some time we found ourselves atop Dhumdhar Kandi pass. It was then 45 minutes past one.

The concave shaped pass was covered with 6 inches of snow. Snowfall continued and nothing around us was visible. There were few stone pillars planted as cairns. Our porters came here for the first time and we all were very happy to reach our target. We painted 'Rocks & Treks', our club's name, on a small stone and lay it there as evidence.1 We spent 30 memorable minutes on top before beginning to descend from the other side.


  1. Surely, a cairn would be more eco-friendly. Such paintings are an eye-sore. — Ed.


The slope was steep. So we moved to the extreme left of the pass. It was also full of loose slate stones covered by fresh snow. After 45 minutes we were on a small escarpment. There was a massive glacier on our far left. The ridge on the right went down sharply and we continued over the top of the ridge. We descended over the escarpments of several ridges. The valley was closed on all other sides except NNE.

We went over the lateral moraine and crossed a number of dry beds of streams. Since the beginning of our downward trek, it had been raining and when we were fully drenched at 5.30 p.m. we decided to call it a day.

8 September. There was snow everywhere, as far as eyes could see. After drying our tents and clothes and having a heavy breakfast, we resumed our march over the lateral moraine at 9.30 a.m. We moved towards NNE and a number of unknown snow peaks of the Lamkhaga range were in front. At 11.30 a.m. we reached an excellent camping ground — a small grassy land surrounded by stones, — it was the Ranla or Rathia camping ground. The valley gradually widened and Sian gad looked like a bright tape in the distance. At 12.15 p.m'. We reached an overhang, a cave for six. Further ahead, the Dhumdhar nala turned southeast to join with Sian gad, coming from NNE. We reached the banks of Sian gad at 01.15 p.m. As the river was not fordable at that time, we pitched our 5th camp here, after rearranging the boulders, at a place just above the river bed.

We moved out at 7 a.m. on 9 September and crossed the Sian gad a few yards upstream. Here the river flowed in three streams. We waded through and anchored the rope to ferry the loads. The river flowed southeast and we could see the Sian gorge and the tree line far below. We reached Kiarkoti at 11 a.m. A stream flowed from the right to join with Sian gad on the other bank. Descending through the valley, we pitched our 6th and final camp on uneven grounds, beyond another stream, we later found out that the excellent camping grounds of Tangua were only ten minutes away, on higher ground. Next day, we reached Jhala for a bus to Uttarkashi.

Summary: A crossing of the infrequently visited Dhumdhar Kandi pass from the Tons to the Bhagirathi valley by a team from Rocks and Treks, Calcutta, in September, 1990. The team was led by S.K. Mitra.



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Defeat is the touchstone on which the mental make-up of a man is brought out.


VERY OFTEN DEFEAT is a blessing in disguise, the utility of which is not immediately recognised. It is because of defeat, many people have not ruined themselves. Defeat makes us reflective and self analytical and this is exactly what has happened after our recent attempt to Sahastra tal.

The word 'Sahastra' meaning 'a thousand' in Sanskrit, was given to the area by wandering holy men. It is also the modification of the local Garhwali word 'Sahasyu' which means seven. The topmost and the largest lake on the Bhilangana side is referred to as Darshan tal. The other seven being — Pari tal, Arjuna tal, Bhim tal, Draupadi tal, Gaumukhi tal (or Vishnu tal) and Lam tal, all accommodating the worshippers of Shiva as well as Vishnu. There are of course many other tals like Khukala, Dudhi tal etc. But, perched up at 4752 m Sahastra tal which is also the abode of Vishnu is the holiest.

Our group of thirteen girls, set about to attempt the tal at what was said to be the best time — last week of May/early June; along with a good set of porters, guide and instructors, finally ended up learning more at a lesser height. With a maiden unsuccessful attempt at the stiff uphill to Karki, and great amount of rambling on the meadows, it was felt that we have all come back wiser and better prepared for the hills. It is thus pertinent for me to spell out what we really did in the ten days in which we had meticulously planned to achieve our ambition of reaching the highest tal.

Many of us really do underestimate the hills. With experienced hill walkers, this really is the biggest drawback. Sahastra tal, in fact is more of an expedition and not a simple trek. Surely, technical equipment is not required and the high altitude drawbacks are not there, but the stiff climb over the short distance, makes it far beyond a simple trek/walk.

Having started our ascent from Malla we planned to go up the Pilang gad to Johra and then onto Dharamshala. This is really where we erred first, though being short, the forest cover and steep gradient make this a very unsuitable approach march. Instead, to test the ability of our amateurs and further enable the loads to be brought up, we had to take the longer route via Silla, Chamin Chor, Papar and spend an extra night en route Johra.

On 23 May, we left Malla early and took the 4 km long ascent upto Silla. The uphill path wound across the slope through wheat and poppy fields and we took almost three hours. The climb from Silla to Gheru (chauni or shepherd's lodging) was gradual and through a deciduous forest. The slopes abound with walnut trees, Himalayan oak, rhododendrons 'Kanjal' and 'Kharsei' trees. The dense undergrowth of ferns and the thick carpet of dead leaves along the path, do help relieve the aching feet of the trekkers. There were also the great Himalayan Barbit flying over us. It was around 1 p.m. that we were able to reach our camp at Gheru. In order to improve logistic support for the Sahastra tal attempt, our support staff along with the laden mules marched on to Ghutu.

To encourage the concept of new minimum-impact camping and further instill skills and sensitive strategies for sharing we arranged lectures in geography, weather prediction, first aid, survival skills and other useful information at our camps. The cooking lessons, rope craft and all the sessions of rope knot and rock climbing provided the best back drop for pre-expedition training.

Up the Gawar Dhar towards the meadows of Kush Kalyan, was a beautiful walk through coniferous forests. The elegant and strong 'ringal' or bamboo shoot, the sycamore trees, a variety of lichens on the barks of trees and stones, made the approach to the meadows, very enchanting. The tree line gave way to strawberry blossoms, butter cups, primulas and many other flowers, all covering the entire expanse of the endless meadows. The entire walk now was along ridges and saddles. As the temperature and pressure on our barometer fell and the height increased, it was not only the variety of flowers, but also their colours, as in the case of rhododendrons, changed from pastel shades of purple and pink to faded white and different tints on the sunny slopes across. The ridge walk along the meadows made the valley and ridges stand out sharply and the paths were visible for endless distances.

Along the beautiful paths uphill were rows of beautiful lilies and other deep red flowers. At the higher reaches the flowers and bushes were growing below rock shelters and in clusters under the rock ledges. To further enchant us was the spotting of leopard droppings! The breath-taking walk of 12 km finally ended at Ghutu, a small settling of deserted chappads among the endless meadows. With low night temperatures and absence of the evening sun this place at about 3200 m was our first feel of hostile mountain weather. The cold night and useless sleeping bags of some girls made us think of the hard times ahead after base camp.

Moving along the ridge at 3500 m, our problem was of locating water resources. To establish base camp we set off towards the steep wall of Karki top. At Devta, situated on the saddle was a very small temple of simple rock and one flag. This was in fact a pass which is used by the shepherds in the trans-meadow movement from the Pilang valley to the Dharam ganga valley along the parallel low altitude trek towards the Bhilangana watershed. This is the area being promoted for a ski resort along the Bhagirathi watershed. The bad weather of the afternoon and lack of water now dashed our hopes of crossing on to the Andarban Dhar. The trickle of water, before the base of the black rocky steep above Devta was to be the highest camp for us at about 3800 m.

Bharte Khunta (6578 m), SE face from Kedarnath temple.

47. Bharte Khunta (6578 m), SE face from Kedarnath temple. Note 17 (Harish Kapadia)

Kugti pass, right notch, from Alyas camp.

48. Kugti pass, right notch, from Alyas camp. Note 20

The last slopes leading to Kugti pass.

49. The last slopes leading to Kugti pass.

On 26 May, a day behind the scheduled attempt for Sahastra tal, a group of four girls with four support staff set off for the ambitious heights of the Andarban Dhar. It was a rocky uphill path and the group walked on at a slow pace, each giving moral support to the other to carry on. Unfortunately the good weather did not keep with us and we were caught in a bad storm. A small rocky outcrop on the steep slope was our saviour from the onslaught of the snow-storm and rain. The white-out and of course the wet, slippery slopes made movement impossible. At this gloomy hour, when we were dinging with all our might to the steep slope up the ridge, our way of retreat was carved. The brisk walk back to base was welcome as we did have better weather now and the joy and jubiliation of meeting the other team members, made us feel as if the Dhar had been attained!

The base camp proved to be a good area for bouldering and rock climbing looking across the Pilang valley was the imposing massif of Bandarpunch and Kalanag. We now decided to climb Kush Kalyan and start going down the valley along the Pilang gad via Mati and Jaura. On the 27 May the high point of Kush Kalyan at 3868 m was the maximum height attained by most of the team members. The usual afternoon storm and rain did drench many of the girls on the way down to Mati, but a fire at Mati camp and the hot meal helped fight fatigue and raise our spirits. When the storm subsided the jungle camp was discovered as the best area for practising monkey crawling, rope traverse and knots. There was enough time to interact with the 'gujars' who needed a lot of medical help too. These nomads were the first of the groups to reach Mati and had come up from Dhaulkhand in the Shivwaliks.

The trail from Mati to Jaura was through dense forest of sycamore and Himalayan oak. There was undergrowth of ferns, bamboo shoots, etc. and as the slopes were wet and devoid of sun it was infested with leeches. On the steep downhill there were the usual slips and sprains and by lunch hour we were all worn out. Hot soup along one mountain stream and applications of ointment provided the necessary relief. Our last camp was pitched just ahead of Jaura on the fields beside Pilang river.

On 29 May we reached Malla and washed away our layers of dirt in the pure water of the Bhagirathi river. There were the usual long hours of packing and sorting out and of course the school at Malla was the camp for night. Badly damaged by the earth quake, with the roof still in place, it provided the peaceful night halt on our return to Dehra Dun on 30 May 1992.

What was so great about this trip?

The honing of the outdoor living skills that keep people safe, comfortable and happy in an environment that is only temporarily their home. We also learnt minimum-impact camping skills that help people leave the outdoors just the way they find it or even better. It was important to get the message across, that outdoor activities mean recreational activities that depend on natural resources (plants, animals, land or water), and outdoor living skills refer to such activities using, understanding and/or appreciating of natural resources.

Summary: A trek in May 1992, to Sahastra tal near Uttarkashi.



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'DON'T YOU GET tired of fumes and pilgrims?' my friends always asked me, whenever I planned a trip to the pilgrim centres of Garhwal; namely Badrinath, Gangotri, Jamnotri and Kedarnath. I had been to the former three but the last one had not been visited by me. So there we were, on our way jostling with the pilgrims, along the Mandakini towards Kedarnath.

These pilgrim areas have been visited by the faithful for hundreds of years. Much has been written about them, in vernacular literature also. As a young person every Indian aspires to know about it and is attracted towards it. But as a trekker I was always fascinated by the variety of opportunities these valleys offered. These temples are situated high in the different valleys. Using them as a base, a lot can be done in the surrounding ridges, peaks and valleys.

First the 'fumes', there were none. A comfortable taxi ride of 6 hours dropped us at Gupta Kashi, our first destination. From the lovely bungalow, we saw the gathering clouds and enjoyed the fine temple nearby. We were in the Mandakini valley. A little below us, the Madhyamaheshwar ganga joined the Mandakini and all these waters join the Ganges.


Eric Shipton and Bill Tilman will always remain linked with this valley. Though pilgrims visited this temple, NE of Gupta Kashi, it was brought to the notice of the western world by the exploits of these two in 1934.

PANORAMA E: View from Draupadi (5250 m). Above: looking north.

PANORAMA E: View from Draupadi (5250 m). Above: looking north. Below: looking east to Rula and Bainti glaciers. Bainti Col (5100 m) (left) with Panchali Chuli (5220 m) rising above it. (Harish Kapadia) Article 9View from Draupadi (5250 m). Above: looking north.

PANORAMA F: Gangotri glacier wall, rising above Kedarnath temple.

PANORAMA F: Gangotri glacier wall, rising above Kedarnath temple. Left to right: Bharte Khunta (6578 m), Rock Tower (6150 m), Kedarnath (6940 m), Sumeru Parbat (6331 m) and Yeonbuk (5953 m), south ‘aces. (Harish Kapadia) Note 17

Starting from the Satopanth glacier near Badrinath, they planned to descend to this valley in 4-5 days, with their Sherpas. After forcing their way through a sheer ice wall they faced some of the thickest forest. As they hacked their way through and crossed and re-crossed many streams, they ran short of food. They struggled to live on bamboo-shoots, but had to compete with bears, for bears also love the shoots. The situation was near hopeless. Finally, one afternoon they climbed up a ridge to have their first glimpse of a village. The Sherpas were joyous. But Tilman greeted the site with a typical dry comment, for which he was well-known: 'We shall be down in time for tea', to which Shipton merely stuttered "Thank heaven for that!'"

In fact, Shipton and Tilman were trying to explore a legend. It was said that, many hundred year ago, the priest at the Badrinath temple crossed over a pass in one day to the Kedarnath temple to perform puja, serving both the temples on the same day. It was believed that there could be a pass joining the temples, known to the priests. Shipton and Tilman decided to investigate this by crossing from the nearest low point with near disastrous results. Their trip exemplifies the difference between knowledge and legends or facts and fiction.1


  1. See Nanda Devi by Eric Shipton, part 4, 'The Second Crossing of the Watershed (Badrinath-Kedamath).'


But since reading about the trip, my imagination was always excited about visiting this valley. Two trekkers from Bengal were lost here in 1986 trying to reverse the Shipton-Tilman route and were presumed dead. Hence we did not plan any heroics but wanted to simply to investigate the upper reaches. But we were summarily defeated in the purpose by the untimely rain and fog. Not that one minds that, for the temple and its surroundings are beautiful.

As the legend goes, Shiva was chased by Pandavas of the Mahabharata fame. To run away from them, he assumed the form of a bull. When the Pandavas discovered this, they held the bull-by-the-tail. Shiva buried himself at Kedarnath with only his shoulder visible. This 'shoulder' is worshipped today at Kedarnath temple. Other parts of the bull emerged at four other places, including the centre at Madhya (centre) maheshwar (a name of Shiva). But geographically two rivers flow here. From the north Markand ganga, and from the south Madhyamaheshwar ganga, on the two sides of the hill on which the temple stands. Hence the explanation for the name could simply be; 'Shiva temple on the hill in centre of two rivers'. 'What is the significance of Madhyamaheshwar temple?' my companion Jehangir, a Yoga teacher from Bombay, was inquiring with the only priest at the temple. After narrating two different stories, the priest inquired with Jehangir how to reduce his belly! Each to his own profession. Thinking of the route we had come up, it was a wonder that the priest was fat.

Starting from Gupta Kashi (1480 m), we had descended to Kalimath (6 kmL From this ancient temple, dedicated to the goddess Kali, it was up-fiill all the way. We trekked on a broad path to Raonalek (8 km), and stopped at Ransi (1980 m — 6 km) for the night. Next day, through some lovely pine forests, the route descended to Gaundar (1400m — 6 km). Here, to the north, was the nala and the valley through which Shipton's party had descended in 1934. Ahead was the steep climb of 1900 m in one continuous slope. In a 10 km climb, we crossed Khandar (2020m 3 km) and Nanu (2330 m — 2 km) to reach Madhyamaheshwar (3290 m — 5 km). All along the route we could get food, and tea shops were aplenty.

We stayed in comfortable quarters near the temple. But as we climbed up to Budha Madhyamaheshwar (3500 m — 2 km) clouds gathered and we were denied the supposedly dose and excellent view of the Chaukhamba group. From here a gaddi track leads to Kashni tal, a lake at 4730 m. Many other trekking routes are possible from here. A little above the lake some of the various gullies would lead a qualified party across the watershed to the Panpatia Bank and the Badrinath valley. This route was heard of by the locals and, perhaps, Shipton's party was one valley to the north (Satopanth Bank) of a possible crossing.

Towards the east, Maindgalla tal and Pandosera (5120 m) are visited by the shepherds. Crossing a small watershed ridge one can descend to Rudranath which is another temple of Shiva and has an exit to the south.

For two days near the temple we observed the rituals. Two assistants looked after the washings and all the preparations for the simple worship. Our friend the priest then made an appearance for the aarti and did the final perambulations, the activity certainly not enough to keep him physically fit! Jehangir showed him some Yoga asanas. When we left, we were firmly convinced that the priest may rise spiritually but would not reduce an inch at the belly!


Back at Gupta Kashi we travelled by taxi to Gauri Kund, the starting point for the Kedarnath temple. Filth, crowds and noise accompanied us for 14 km upto the temple. With so many dhabas, pilgrims and sadhus on the way, a trekker can be cheesed off. At every 100 m or so a sadhu sat wishing you Jai Kedar (Hail Kedar). But this was the ploy to draw your attention to give alms to him. As the day progressed, the sharpness of tone of the 'Jai Kedar' could clearly tell you how much his earnings had been for the day.

But at Kedarnath (3600 m), if you look away from the temple and the crowds, a majestic range rises within about 4 km, running from east to west. There are great south faces of Bhartekhunta (6578 m), Kedarnath (6940 m), Rock Tower (6150 m), Sumeru Parbat (6350 m), Mandani Parbat (6193 m) ending in the great Chaukhamba massif, (6954 m). These south faces would provide some great climbing to the challengers. The Italians are active here. The only two peaks climbed here are: Kedarnath in 1988 (G. Mandellin, H.J. Vol. 45, p. 45, p. 186) and Rock Tower in 1990 (Stefano Righetti, H.J. Vol. 48, p. 182). Both the climbs were achieved during their second expedition, after their first attempts had failed during the previous years. Within one day of availability of supplies, some serious climbing can be undertaken with Kedarnath temple as a starting point.

On 31 August I climbed up to Vasuki tal (4300 m) on the west. It was a beautiful tarn but its importance to the mountaineers lies in the opportunities it offers nearby. Numerous peaks between 5400 to 6000 m and cross country routes to the Dudhganga and Chorabari glaciers are very tempting. Not much has been done here and, except for army trekking parties, the climbers have not explored it. A lot can be done here in a short time; if you can tolerate the pilgrims, as my learned friend would put it.

Bhilanyna valley

About 10 km before Gauri Kund a route bifurcates from Sonprayag to Triyugi Narayan. A beautiful temple nestles here. A well-trodden trekking route adjoining Bhilangna valley joins here.

Almost a decade ago in October 1982, Geeta and myself had landed here. The Bhilangna valley draining the river of the same name, is ii beautiful and relatively unspoilt valley between the Gangotri and Kedarnath shrines. The entrance to the valley is from Gamsali and (ihuttu, reached by bus, 194 km from Dehra Dun.

In two stages of 10 km each the track reaches Gangi (via Reeh). This friendly village has a spectacular view. But something is strange dbout the people here. Due to the close community and inter-marriages, many seemed queer. Ahead, the track proceeds via Kalyani to Bhelbagi «nd finally to Bhumka, the last camping ground before the Khatling glacier.

One of the early visitors here was Dr. J. B. Auden. During his exploratory visit to the Gangotri area he had finally crossed a pass Kctween Gangotri 111 (6577 m) and Jogin I (6465 m) peaks from Hudugaira Bamak. He descended to the Bhilangna valley. This col Is now called 'Auden's Col' and the route was repeated twice in 1983, from both directions (H.J. Vol. 40, p. 168).

On the NW of the Bhilangna valley lies a group of peaks: Kairi (5435 m), Draupadi-Ka-Danda (5724 m) and even an approach to Jaonli (6632 m) is possible. On the NE, via the Dudhganga Bamak one can join the route at Vasuki tal and descend to Kedarnath.

We retrated to Gangi. The old pilgrim route traversed valleys: from Gangotri to Budha Kedar, descended to Gangi, across Bhilangna valley to climb the eastern ridge, locally called Panwali Kanta. We followed this track. Leaving Gangi early morning, we crossed the river on a pucca bridge. A continuous and steep dimb saw us on the ridge, at Talli, camping without any water-source. We were on the Panwali Kanta. The route proceeds north on this flattish ridge awarding some of the finest views of peaks: Jaonli, Thalay Sagar and others. After a hard day we reached a small depression called Khimkhola khal and turned east to descend to Mugu Chatti and Triyugi Narayan near the Kedarnath route.

This is just a small selection of the variety of opportunities available for trekkers and climbers in the valleys near Kedarnath. With food and shelter available a trekker can enjoy some fine mountain scenery — if you can tolerate 'fumes and pilgrims'. And if you can say 'Jai Kedar'.

Summary: Treks and suggestions for the possibilities of climbs in the Mandakini and Bhilangna valleys in Garhwal. Kedarnath and Madhyamaheshwar valleys, visited in August 1992 (Jehangir Palkhivala and the author): Bhilangna valley visited in October 1982 (Geeta Kapadia and the author).

Photos 45-46-47
Panaroma E



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WITH INNER LINE restrictions on tourists being lifted in 1992 for Kinnaur I jumped at the chance to accompany a group from Delhi's St. Stephen's College hiking club led by Romesh Bhattacharjee.

I was puzzled why Bhattoo should be chosen to lead India's future economists when his role in life*is to come down with a heavy hand on fiscal inventiveness. 'Don't be late' he told me and 1 leapt out of a taxi at 5 in the morning of 4 October 1992 to pick up Bhattoo and Chetan, father and son. They were both tucking Into a breakfast of fried eggs which seemed a bad omen to one who always finishes his trek with ovarious fare. I should have remembered that the lean and hungry look on Bhattoo's face denoted the agony of the only man in the entire length of the Himalaya who does not eat dal-bhat, our staple for the next ten days.

The Himalayan Queen whisked us to Kalka where, on finding the narrow-gauge link train bulging with Dushera passengers, we had to take the bus to Shimla. Our party of a dozen yielded a rare mix of types and regions and some were on their first Himalayan outing. Norden was the strong-man of the group and our public relations spokesman in view of his father's seniority in Shimla's charmed circle of bureaucrats. Shah was equally muscular and stoutly maintained the expedition accounts against daily anarchic suggestions. Next morning there was no bus to Sangla and we had to debate financing a taxi to assure our waiting porters that we were on our way. As the taxi drove up it got a flat. Commending its chagrined driver to St Michelin (the patron saint of the deflated) we unscrupulously piled on to a bus going to Tapri within striking distance of Sangla. Our bad karma caught up with us at Rampur Bushair as the bus swerved wildly on beholding the Satluj. Not one but two punctures stalled our plans and worse was to follow on the third morning out of Delhi when we eventually made it to Sangla but with our porters nowhere to be seen.

We put up in the forest bungalow which overlooked the river, and faced the splendid march of cedar-timbered houses that gave Sangla so much character. Behind, the grey polished pinnacles of the Kinner Kailash clamoured for attention though I noted the younger male trekkers in the group — Mylin, Gaurav and Vivek — preferred the equally daunting challenge of overcoming the indifference of the three ladies in the party Ruchika, Delicia and Diane. We managed, after a lot of haggling (caused by the apple season) to hire two Nepali porters but they were not properly equipped for the Rupin. The temples at Sangla were ablaze with colour at the big annual phuletch fair .ind architecturally the village was a great joy.

Owing to a late start we moved up to spend the night at Kanda Dogri where the villagers tend seasonal plots. The views of the Kinnaur pinnacles grew more spectacular but shepherds we spoke to urged us to get over the Rupin before tbc present dusting of snow turned to winter's snuffing out of the route. Progress to the crest of the range that in theory divides Himachal from Uttar Pradesh — in practice the border lies a long way down the Rupin valley and must reflect the boundary of an earlier hill fiefdom — was slow owing to the newcomers finding their hill legs and the ustads (Ranu and Bill) running everyone else off theirs in false trails. When a porter decided he could go no further, we all said Amen and found a camp site well under the lee of the pass but near enough to hope for a group photograph on top at lunch next day, 9 October.

The camping arrangements among such a mixed group, confounded by the absence of a tried cook, could have led to a lot of friction but not once did anyone blame or blow his top.

Possibly Bhattoo's bold hairstyle had foreclosed that option. Remarkably, in view of the setbacks, slow progress and doomsday predictions about the inadvisability of bringing freshers on demanding trails, the group gelled magnificently. Bhattoo forever brought up the rear and magnanimously shepherded the struggling girls over the pass exactly as scheduled. Ranu had to get back to Chandigarh in two days for an exam and I also planned a brisk return to Mussoorie. The easy sweeping approach to the head of the Rukti gad which we had followed all the way from Sangla steepened for the final pull. The climax yielded a steep drop southwards where the Rupin rose in a dried up lake surrounded by a saucer of tortuous terrain, unappetisingly rugged and snowswept. Eastwards from the cairns on the pass the ridge angled up steeply and settled any doubts that the Nalgan ghati a neighbouring pass lay close at hand. Westwards the ridge did not run so high but seemed just as loathe to allow easy passages. The shepherds warned against straying towards the Buran pass leading to the Pabbar valley since in the tangle of options it was easy to end up back in Sangla.

Nobody seems to agree on the position or height of the Rupin and while our objective bore all the right credentials its height couldn't be much above 4300 m, if that. Confirmation that it probably was the real Rupin pass came from W.E. Buchanan's acount in the second issue of the Himalayan Journal,1 vouched for by H. M. Grover a senior forest officer familiar with the area. Buchanan chose the harder part and crossed from the south in mid-September. It was from the miseries of his party's steep ascent where the porters had to let their hair fall over their eyes to prevent snow-blindness that convinced Ranu and I of the sameness of our route. We left the main party on the pass and it was a truly, testing descent with no question of our hair being in any state to fall over our eyes. Most of the time it was standing on end! From the cairn a sheer chute of splintered rock had to be negotiated that led to the flats where the river Rupin took birth, Ranu and I fairly flogged our way down steep narrow passages bypassing some of the most gorgeous fanned-out waterfalls it has been our privilege to see. Snow-bridges of surprising girth considering the lateness of the season stalled our impatient progress. Neither of us was shod very sensibly for the occasion, having totally underestimated the seriousness of the trek.


  1. H.J., Vol. II, P. 74.


Numbur (6957 m)

Illustrated Note 2
(6957 m)
Two member German team of Helmut Muller and Mathias Rau Climbed the peak via the southwest ridge on 7 November 1991.

Annapurna I (8091 m)

Illustrated Note 3
Annapurna I
(8091 m)
Unsuccesful attempt on the Dutch route on the north by the Austraian team led by Arthur Haid in April 1991.

Ama Dablam (6812 m)

Illustrated Note 1
Ama Dablam
(6812 m)
Many expenditions climb this peak every year. There are various routes, the southwest ridge being the most popular. Here it is the route of the Spanish expedition of Carlos Goni Mendibill in 1991.

We puzzled over how the hell Lady Canning, the vicereine had managed to glissade down these slopes to the astonishment of Queen Victoria who kept her letters — now in Harewood House. Charles Allen's book about Lady Canning's tours fails to convey that she was in fact rather vague about her route. The ladies of our party were convinced she had crossed by an easier pass and they should know because behind us, the main party was forced to camp around the incipient lake, a howlingly bleak choice brought on by nightfall and made more miserable when neither of the expedition stoves worked. Meanwhile down in the spectacular valley which swung drunkenly from the perpendicular to a long run of meadow before plunging us into ri tangle of autumnal forest, Ranu and 1 were still legging it like mad into the gloaming. To avoid further embarrassment on the snow-bridges we skirted them by soul-numbing river crossings, a horrible way to prepare for bed.

Darkness, a disintegrating path and a close pounding river forced us to take one risk too many and quaking with fear at the close shave we bivouacked, optimistically draped around a willowy shrub to prevent us rolling down the sheer conifer hillside. We even managed to sleep though we took turns to wake up to let out maniacal groans <it our immaculate absurdity in lacking a box of matches between us. According to Ranu this therapy would deter bears — as if any wild animal would be so rash as to set foot on our impressive .ingle of incline.

Next morning we zapped down the dessicated river bank to arrive In the first village of Jhaku by 10. Marvellously sited deodar village houses overlooked riotously red hanging valleys of Ramdhana, the ripening cereal crop of these inaccessible villages. Below, the Rupin ft peerless jade, purled with enough benevolence to make us overlook our devastated knees and purple toe-nails. Down and down we jerked until we came to a startlingly expensive temple of opulent cedar logs nt the first village in Uttar Pradesh — Seva Dogri. Civilisation announced itself when we turned a corner and saw the feudal equation updated. The focal bigwig was flaying the bowling of half a dozen tiny-tot minions who were queueing up to send down full tosses so he could score a century in three overs.

Astoundingly we learned at the teashop that the sale of illicit opium had paid for the cost of the temple — and the cricket bat. Amusingly, Bhattoo who is supposed to prevent such things walked through the village two days later (after roping up the party to get them off the dicey passages), unaware the dope scene was so rampant. Ranu was given a few complimentary shavings of raw poppy gum as a conversational gambit for Delhi drawing rooms. Also best-quality charas could be had for a song. The flip side to these junkie encounters was to arrive at the teashop at Peesa for the night and roam around for half an hour (again getting our feet wet) bawling for help. The owner sat watching us from 50 yards away thinking we were a narcotics raiding party.

The final day along this sumptuously endowed river with its appallingly vertical trail was aided by some mules. From Netwar which we hit by midday we caught a bus to Naugaon in the Yamuna valley. The gods smiled and an empty taxi returning to Mussoorie whisked me home by 7 p.m. This enabled Ranu to meet his deadline. The rest of the group also managed to report back at St. Stephens by the due date, with a delightful quotation attributed to Delicia, the most petite of the party. She had shied away at the sight of some white pack horses and Bhattoo had queried her violent reaction. Did she associate them with the classic climbing archetype 'Dream of white horses ?' Disconcertingly her reply referred to a different ball-game. She said they reminded her of Boris Becker!

Summary: A trek across the Rupin ghati pass, in October 1992.



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RUBAL KANG IS SITUATED north of Parbati valley in the Kullu Himalaya. It stands southwest of Kulu-Makalu, on the divide of Kullu and Spiti valleys. Practically Dibibokri west glacier starts from the foot of these two peaks.

We started along the traditional trail on the right bank of the Parbati river. We reached Raskat within an* hour. We passed Ghatighat and Tauk, and reached village Barsheni (2100 m) at 3 p.m. The environment of the village looked unhygienic. Our only shelter was the school building. The view of village Pulgaon on the opposite bank of Parbati was very nice.

On 1 September, we proceeded east along the trail, gradually downward upto the confluence of Tos nala and the Parbati river. Crossing the nala, the trail goes up through the terraced fields. We reached Rudranag at 11 a.m. and had lunch from the langar of the temple of lord Shiva. The view of the roaring Parbati passing through the gorge was enchanting. Crossing the river we faced a steep climb through a forest of typical Himalayan trees, till we reached the grassy fields of Khirganga (2950 m). From here, there are two trails towards Tundabhuj. The lower one is generally used by the cattle owners. The upper one, which we chose, passed over a rock slope to traverse diagonally. We crossed Tundabhuj nala and established our transit camp (3300 m) beside the boulders at west of the grassy field. On 3 September, we started for Thakur Kua. At about 1 p.m. we reached the rope bridge to across Parbati river. The trail towards Mantali and Pin Parbati pass goes along the left bank of Parbati river. We crossed Parbati along the single steel rope bridge with a basket hanging from a rusted pulley and set up a camp on the right bank of Parbati. The confluence of Parbati river and Dibibokri nala was at a distance of about 200 m from our camp. On 4 September, we packed up and started, initially on the trail towards northeast, steep up along the grassy slope and loose boulders. We passed through gradual grassy slope along the right of Dibibokri nala. At about 2 p.m. we all reached the base camp (4060 m) area just before the confluence of Ratiruni nala and Dibibokri nala.

The trail towards Cl was along the boulders up to the confluence of Dibibokri and Ratiruni nalas. Then it turned a little to the left towards the north and over huge boulders. At 4500 m, we found the camping spot and dumped all the loads in a tent.

On 7 September, 5 members and 3 HAPs who had stayed at Cl, moved north along the stream upto the high point of loose rock barrier, on the other side of which the stream, wide enough, from the snout of west glacier, looked like a glacial lake. Little before the west glacier, they crossed another stream coming from the first tributary glacier from peak 'West Horns'. Then they moved over the right lateral moraine of west glacier. Site of C2 (5060 m) was chosen at the foot of third tributary glacier on the right of West glacier. C2 was established on right lateral moraine on West glacier bed. Chaman Singh identified the rock peak to NNE as Rubal Kang. And this peak is being climbed since 1986, Chaman added. Kulu Makalu was out of sight as it was obstructed by the west ridge of the peak. We studied our sketch map carefully and felt doubtful about identification <af the peak 'Rubal Kang'. On 9 September, initially we proceeded along the right lateral moraine and then crossed the West glacier diagonally. After one and half hours of trekking, we saw Kulu Makalu, the chief peak of the basin, as if it dominates the entire area of West glacier. On its SW was a snow peak with a rocky top. The west ridge of the peak ends at a col and again continues to SW, upto the rocky peak. We again discussed the identification but Chaman Singh declared the rocky peak as 'Rubal Kang'.

We proceeded towards the rocky peak. At 2 p.m. we reached C3 (5240 m) at the foot of this rocky peak. After sun-set, monsoon clouds appeared in the gap between Kulu Makalu and its subsidiary peak. We came to a conclusion that this subsidiary peak is the real Ruba! Kang (6115 m).1


  1. See the article 'A Dawdle in the Dlbi' by Aloke Surin in the present issue also. — Ed.


But Chaman kept firm in his opinion. He is a famous guide of this region. We wanted to attempt the real Rubal Kang. But Chaman did not agree to accompany us for want of climbing shoes.

On 10 September, we decided to climb the 'false' Rubal Kang. First five members namely Gautam Baxi, Amitav Ghosh, Pulin Dey, Prasun Pan and Krishnamoy Nayak along with Chaman Singh and three HAPs left C3 at 6.30 a.m. They covered the slope full of boulders. After two hours of climbing they reached the middle of the V-shaped top of the peak. Traversing left they reached the highest point on the rocky top (5700 m). Photographs of the surroundings were taken. The West glacier and Tichu glacier in the west looked beautiful. Photographs of Kulu Makalu and the real Rubal Kang were taken to establish the correct position of the peak 'Rubal Kang', which was visible clearly from here.

In the meantime, on the same day Samar Barua, Gautam Banik and myself packed up and left C3 at 8.30 a.m., and marched towards the real Rubal Kang. We planned to establish a summit camp on the fourth hump of the ice-plateau below the centre of the west ridge of Ruba! Kang. We turned right towards the east, passed over the first two humps. A large number of crevasses were faced beyond the second slope. The only possible route to be followed was to our left, below the hanging ice-wall on the rock band. We had alreadyobserved 4-5 avalanches on this within an hour. We proceeded further upto the end of the rock-wall below the ice-mass. But we could not find any possible way to, proceed further. At about 2 p.m., as we decided to give up our attempt at 5660 m the weather deteriorated rapidly. We returned to C3 at 5.30 p.m.

On 11 September, we three attempted the rocky peak (false 'Rubal Kang') that our members had already climbed. We succeeded and returned on to C3 at 10.30 a.m. On 12 September we all gathered at base camp.

The position of the real Rubal Kang is very close to Kulu Makalu in SW. But at first sight, Kulu Makalu and Rubal Kang seemed to be the same peak. For this reason the rocky peak with twin tops (5700 m) is being climbed as 'Rubal Kang'. Chaman Singh knows this fact, and he has been misguiding teams about Rubal Kang. We tried out best to attempt the real peak (6115 m) but failed.

Summary: A climb of a rocky peak 5700 m and an attempt on Rubal Kang (6115 m) in Kullu area in September 1991 by an Indian team from West Bengal.



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PIR PANJAL RANGE runs on the borders of Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh. The average" height of the range is about 5500 m. We crossed over from Chamba valley to Lahul valley, from basin of Ravi river to Chenab river, via Kugti pass (5120 m).

We followed the following route: Chamba-Bharmaur: (1) Hadsar 2740 m, (2) Kugti 3050 m, (3) Duggi (Rudi) 3660 m, (4) Glacier Camp 4270 m, (5) Kugti Pass 5120 m, (6) Marika Got 3966 m, (7) Rape 3350 m, (8) Keylong Manhhi.

It is also famous for its many ancient temples. These were built in 7th century. We visited the temples of Chamunda, Laxminarayan and Shiva and offered our pooja.

18-19 September 1992

We reached Chamba by bus from Pathankot. We boarded the Chamba-Bharmaur bus. The route was through narrow valley and on the banks of Ravi. We left Ravi at Khadamukh and entered the Budhil nala valley.

Bharmaur is very beautiful village in background of snow-capped peaks. TheYe ^are a few famous ancient temples. We were happy to know that a jeepable road now links Bharmaur to Hadsar. We kept out luggage at Hadsar and started on the famous trek to Mani Mahesh lake (4420 m). The route was very steep, but safe. We reached Dhanchoo camping ground, which is 8 kms. from Hadsar and stayed for the night.

20 September

We left Dhanchoo early for the onward trek. It was cold and windy. The trail was steep and without any trees. We reached Gauri Kund at 10 a.m. and Mani Mahesh lake at 10.30 a.m. A beautiful lake and magnificient view of Kailash peak (5656 m) was breathtaking. We reached Dhanchoo at 1.30 p.m. and Hadsar at 4.00 p.m.

21 September

Today our real trek to Kugti Pass started. We hired 3 porters. We left Mani Mahesh nala and reached very close to Budhil nala. Then we climbed a very steep route. The towering mountain walls and water falls were a frightening sight. We reached Dharoi, about half the distance and had our lunch. Then the strenuous climb continued for next 3 hours. We got a view of gigantic snow covered Pir Panjal range. A view of Bhujala nadi was fascinating, from here one route also goes to Mani Mahesh lake from east of Kailash peak. We stayed at the forest rest house.

22-23 September

Our next camp was at Duggi (3660 m). The route was steep but well marked as many of the villagers trek via this route to Kartikeya temple. This beautiful wooden temple is worshipped by many in this and nearby valleys. A rear view of Mani Mahesh Kailash peak was great. Similarly a grand view of Duggi pass and the snow peaks were visible from the temple. We halted at a natural cave (3660 m).

Next day we reached Duggi Railing and a grand panorama opened in front of us. A grand view of snow peaks on Pir Panjal range and Kugti pass was visible. Porters were complaining about weight (about 15 kg). We tried to convince them but they started blackmailing us and asked for more money. This was the first experience of this kind for us in the last 10 years. After discussion between ourselves, we decided to dismiss them.

Now it was tough trek to carry about 35 kg extra load in addition to the personal one. We decided to make load ferrys. A camp was established at 6 p.m. on the moraine of Kugti pass glacier.

24 September

We reached the base of the glacier at 8.30 a.m. As usual we found that unlike the distant view the actual glacier is quiet, large and steep. It had taken us 5 hours to climb that steep icefall before the vertical gully. We reached the top of the icefall at noon.

The last portion of the climb was through a wide gully. We were making very slow progress, and were struggling to trace the route. It was miserably cold when reached the pass at 4 p.m. As we were standing in the pass a thundering wind was blowing from Lahul valley to Chamba valley. We pitched our tent at the pass itself. The barren Lahul valley was clear. We could see famous peaks such as Gangstang, Phabrang and peaks near Menthosa.

25-26 September

We woke up at 7 a.m. The weather was very dear and we felt as if we were on the top of the world. We were stunned to see the steepness and the glaciers on both the sides.

We descended towards Lahul by traversing the glacier on rocks and icy slopes. It took us 3 hours to traverse, then we reached the icefield. We were very cautious and used snow-bridges to cross t main crevasses. We reached the bas.e of the glacier at 2.00 p.m. and walked on a giant moraine field. It took us 3 hours to cover that moraine and we reached Mrika Got at 5.00 p.m.

The 26th was the last day of the trek. After 3 hours of descent we could see an unmetalled motorable road on the other bank of the Chenab river. After another two hours we reached village Rape. We crossed the Chenab on a suspension bridge and reached the motorable road at 2.30 p.m. We went to Keylong by bus for our tinwrird journey to Manali.

Members: Prashant Tale (leader), Shashikant Aminbhavi, Sanjeev Shukla mid Pravin Tale.

Summary: A trek to Mani Mahesh lake and across Kugti pass 5120 m) in Himachal Pradesh in September 1992.



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THIS YEAR WE dedded to make an attempt to climb Karcha Parbat (6270 m) in Lahul Himalaya. This peak was first scaled by an expedition team from Ireland1 and Diganta, Calcutta2 was the first Indian team to climb the peak in the year 1986.


  1. See H.J. Vol. XXI, p. 97, Vol. XXXV, p. 298
  2. See H.J. Vol. 44, p. 102. — Ed.


Four members of our club, the Calcutta Trekkers Youth, West Bengal, left for Manali as advance party on 21 August. The remaining members of our team left Calcutta on 23 August, and met the advance party at Batal on 27 August. In the meantime, the advance party ferried their loads upto Grelu Thaj (4270 m) which was made a transit camp for the expedition team on 28 August. Grelu Thaj is on the left bank of Karcha nala. First we came to the confluence of Karcha nala and Chandra river after 20 minutes walk from Batal. Then we continued for 3 hours and came down to the riverbed to cross an ice-bridge. The path was steep and on a scree slope on the right bank of the nala. After crossing the ice-bridge we went towards the northeast along the left bank of Karcha nala. After a 2 hour walk we reached Grelu Thaj.

On 30 August, we started for the base camp, early in the morning. Just after an hour's walk from transit camp, crossing a ice-bridge, we came to the right bank of Karcha nala. After another 45 minutes through heaps of moraine and loose boulders, we reached a piece of flat land and established our base camp (4450 m).

We established ABC (4900 m) and Cl (5330 m) by 1 September. On 2 September, we took the route through the southwest ridge of Karcha Parbat. Through boulders we went on. After about 5 hours we found a shelf beside a big rock and established C2 (5730 m). We did not want to waste any time as the weather was favourable and decided to attempt the summit very next day. So we began to prepare ourselves from 2.45 a.m. on 3 September for the journey to the summit. At 4.15 a.m. Ashim, Gopal, Sabbya and Monika alongwith the 3 HAPs left C2 and started for the summit. First they traversed some rock, and made their way through "loose boulders. After overcoming a big rock they came on the top of the main ridge. Later they arrived at two snow-patches and crossed cautiously. Though the route was through loose rocks, the gradient, was moderate, which helped them progress without any disturbance. Crossing the last snow patch they reached a big boulder. This was also negotiated and from there the peak was about 50 m away. They took some rest and reached the top at 7.20 a.m. The summit was about 3 m long and 1 m wide. They stayed on the summit for 70 minutes, then they came down to C2 and after lunch came to ABC.

Manaslu (8163 m)

Illustrated Note 4
(8163 m)
The first Ukranian Himalayan expedition was led by Prof Vladimir Shumichin. They tried a new route, on east face. After three tries they changed to the southern ridge and descended the normal north route. Three climbers reached the summit on 6 May 1991.

Himlung Himal (7126 m)

Illustrated Note 5
Himlung Himal
(7126 m)
Peak climbed by japanese expedition led by Yuko Niwa. They followed the northwest ridge. Two parties reached the summit on 3 and 6 October 1992.

Cheo Himal (6820 m)

Illustrated Note 6
Cheo Himal
(6820 m)
First ascent by a Nepal-Japan team led by Masanobu Okazaki and Gupta Bahadur Rana. Four climbers reached the summit on 13 October 1991. The peak lies to the east of Himlung Himal.

Karcha Parbat

Karcha Parbat

On 4 September all of us met at camp and on 6 September we returned safely to Manali.

Members: Satyajit Kar (Leader), Manjul K De Sarkar, Gopal Roy, Ashim K Ghosh Chowdhury, Pradip K Dey, Ajoy Kumar Singh, Sabya Sachi Bose, Moloy K Ghosal, Bhaskar Das, Ms Monika Kar and Dr Dipankar Majhi.

Summary: The ascent of Karcha Parbat (6270 m) by an Indian team in August-September 1991.



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22. MATHO KANGRI, 1992


MATHO KANGRI I (6230 m) is in the Zanskar range of mountains in Ladakh, some 20 km. from Leh. Seen from Thikse on the other side of the Indus (see diagram and photograph) the icy north face is the most obvious feature between the north and west ridges. The main summit is at the apex of the north face connected to the second summit by the long west ridge. Another long ridge runs eastwards. Maps1-2 show it to be the easternmost peak of the group of mountains separating the Markha valley from the Indus. At the western end is Stok Kangri, a trekking peak of increasing popularity.

The mountain was first climbed in 1985 by the Japanese3 who named it Yan Kangri (Kangri means 'icy peak' in Ladakhi). It was climbed again in 1989 by two Indian parties, using either the north or east ridge, and fixing up to 100 m of rope.4 At this time the peaks were renamed. Yan Kangri became Matho Kangri 1, and the pair of summits on the west ridge, Matho Kangri II. The account also mentions Matho Kangri III and IV, but we were unable to identify these, either on maps or from the summit.

Our expedition had the simple objective of making the first British ascent of the mountain. The team consisted of four British members. M. Ratty (leader), T. Willis, J. Shelley, and A. Rowland. Our other member was Deepak Jhalani, the liaison officer. Although the team was experienced in Alpine climbing, only Michael Ratty and Deepak Jhalani had Himalayan experience. Local knowledge and experience was provided by Phunchok Tangias, a local guide and climber.

The mountain is close to the road, so for acclimatisation we undertook a ten day trek, which effectively circumnavigated the range of mountains of which Matho Kangri is a part. It followed the well trodden route over the Ganda la to Skiu in the Markha valley, and along the valley to Hankar. We climbed to the Nimaling plain, and returned to the Indus valley over the Kongmaru la. Apart from getting everyone used to the altitude, it also provided an opportunity to study the geography of the mountains. For some of the team it was an introduction to a remote and beautiful part of India.

Base camp was established in the Mirutse valley, at 4100 m on 13 August. It is a few hours' easy walk from the roadhead at Matho village, altogether just one day away from the comforts of Leh. The valley has several houses in it, and is used for grazing sheep and goats. The following day, we climbed to a flat area below the north face, and set up advanced base camp (4700 m).

We intended first to climb the mountain via the west ridge, which appeared straightforward, and to follow this with further ascents via the north face or the gullies to either side. That same day, Trevor Willis and Deepak Jhalani continued to the col on the west ridge, where they set up a tent at 5300 m. Cl was intended to provide rest during future descents, and useful acclimatisation. The route to the col follows a gully descending from the lowest point on the ridge. It was icy in parts, but presented no problems.

On 15 August the remaining three members accompanied by Phunchok Tangias, joined the other two on the west ridge, and all continued to the summit. There was little or no snow on the ridge, and the remainder of the ascent was on scree and loose rock. The summit itself was gained by a short scramble up a rock rib. Having decorated the summit cairn with Indian and Union flags we descended without incident.

During the ascent and descent we reconnoitred possible technical routes. The north face is icy, but not excessively steep, and we saw no evidence of recent avalanches. Its upper slopes appeared crevassed with a distinct bergschrund, but all were somewhat obscured by snow. Long gullies holding good ice ran to the summit slope on ejther side of the north face. Unfortunately any attempts on these routes were thwarted by four days and nights of rain, snow and low cloud which kept us off the mountain. On 20 August we recovered Cl in a snow-storm, and began our retreat.

Matho Kangri I from North

Matho Kangri I from North



We noted some inconsistencies in the height and location of Matho Kangri. The height of Matho Kangri I is variously listed as 6230 m5-6 and 6100 m7 According to our altimeters it is less than 600U m Secondly, the maps show Matho Kangri forming the eastern end of' the line of peaks that begins with Stok Kangr8-9 In fact Nimaling (Kangri?), not named on the maps, is the end-most peak, and Matho Kangri I and II are northern outliers, separate from the rest.


1-8U.S. Army Map Service, (1962), series U502, sheet NI43-12.
2-9Chabloz. P., (1989), Carte Artou Ladakh Zanskar Editions Olizane.
3-4-5Bawa; Major H. S., Singh, B. P., 'Matho Kangri' Expeditions 1989', (1989), Himalayan Journal, 1988/89, pp. 192-4.
6Alpine Club (G.B.) Himalayan Index.
7Genoud, C, (Ed.) (1984), Ladakh Zanskar, Editions Olizaine, p. 208.

Summary: The ascent of Matho Kangri I (6230 m) by a British team on 15 August 1992.



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ON 13 JULY WE REACHED BAR, at the end of the dusty road from Chalt in the Hunza valley. Following the course of the Kukuar glacier we walked for 5 days to the base camp at 4200 m (with 27 porters). We found lots of old snow. We intended to make an attempt on the summit, following the route a Japanese expedition had explored in 1988.1 After advancing through the first two ice walls and after spending one night at 5000 m we decided to make an attempt in alpine style.
We left base camp on 25 July in rather poor conditions and in snowfall. Hans Jud could not come with.us since he was suffering from diarrhoea. On the second day we set up our second camp just above the ice wall (at about 5700 m). On the third day Braun and Bleicher climbed the 400 m ice-face (up to 65°) above C2 in very poor conditions (powdery snow). Since we had only light equipment with us we couldn't fix ropes on the ice-face. Therefore, we installed another route across the steep rocks to the left of the ice-face, returning to C2. That day Ketterer and Kiimmer went down to get more equipment (ice-screws and ropes) from Cl. In the evening we had a doudless sky and it looked as if we could expect a spell of excellent weather for some days to come.

On the fourth day, four of us climbed the ice-face and we also managed to fix about 200 m above the very steep ridge which is formed by the western face and the north face (upto 65°). At 6300 m we managed to find some room for both our tents at the edge of a crevasse. We had expected to reach the summit on the fifth day, but the last day had been rather hard and since there was no sign of weather conditions worsening we decided to take a rest in C3. The sixth day was a beauty and we had no difficulty reaching the summit within 5 hours inspite of the deep powdery snow on the steep north face. It was not possible, though, to actually get on top of the highest point due to its steepness and since a huge snow-cornice towered above it. So we had to stay roughly 5 m beneath the actual summit.2 We were able to enjoy the spectacular view in absolutely calm weather for a considerable time before we finally returned to C3. On the seventh day (30 July) we succeeded in reaching base camp in 9 hours in steadily worsening weather conditions. Unfortunately we were forced to leave behind 200 m of ropes including abseil-loops. Jud and myself were still badly suffering from diarrhoea (since reaching C3) and therefore we had to return as fast as possible for medical treatment to Gilgit.


  1. See H.J. Vol. 40, p. 204.
  2. See correspondence on a similar situation on Swargarohini peak and the opinion by U.I.A.A., H.J. Vol. 48, p. 241. — Ed.




Members: Arnfried Braun, Hans Jud, Daniel Ketterer, Leo Klimmer and Hubert Bleicher (leader).

Summary: An ascent of Sani Pakush (6885 m) by a German team on 29 July 1990.



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THE YORKSHIRE SHIMSHAL Malangutti Glacier Expedition set out to provide high-mountain experience for its members and hoped to reach and climb Pyramid peak which lies at the top of the glacier under Disteghil Sar. There were seven members who spent about 6 weeks in Pakistan. (23 July to 31 August 1991.)

The Shimshal valley lies north of Gilgit just above and to the east of Pasu. The Karakoram Highway provides reasonable access to this area. Local buses and minibuses for private hire are available from Gilgit. The Shimshal gorge through which all visitors travel has steep sides with the path being built out from the rock face in certain places; it is generally dusty and has the effect of channelling the winds. Its bridges, which vary in construction are all interesting. We were told that the present inhabitants came to the valley around 400 years ago finding that it had previously been inhabited, then deserted. Trekking groups are now beginning to use this valley on a regular basis but many glaciers and side valleys remain unexplored. Shimshalis are subsistence farmers who grow crops in the summer months by irrigating their fields every two days or so via a series of diverted streams. The crops we saw included peas, potatoes, wheat, barley and apricots. In the winter when the « work in the fields is at a minimum the men weave yak hair rugs and the women knit. We employed a young Shimshali teaching student from Gilgit, Quadrat Ali, as cook/guide.

We chose this area because of its peak possibilites and because it is rarely affected by the annual monsoon, an important factor as some members were available only in August.

As no-one had been on an expedition prior to this one, we all had a lot to learn, and learn we did. Some members are already planning to use this new knowledge in new ventures.

Research had identified a peak lying at the head of the Malangutti qlacier, under Disteghil Sar the 7884 m peak which dominates this area. Pyramid peak had not, as far as we knew, been reached let .ilone climbed and at 5500 m provided us with a realistic aim. As well as this primary aim it was evident that a number of other options would be available and both virgin and previously climbed peaks were noted.

The team visited Shimshal village at the start of the expedition as guests of Quadrat All and then concentrated on the mountain area itself. $ome time was wasted by looking for a non-existent path on the west side of the glacier before using the central moraine as a way of getting to Madhil Sar. From a camp at glacier level (ABC) below Madhil Sar we moved up to a high meadow at the bottom of the Adver Sar circ.

This was Cl and provided us with some acclimatisation peaks. Everyone climbed a 5200 m peak above a valley looking down onto Shimshal village. Three members also examined the lower slopes of Madhil Sar and Shiffkitten Sar but did not make attempts on these peaks. Two members climbed a second rock peak from Cl on loose and overhanging rock.

In preparation for Pyramid peak the glacier was explored a second time and thought to be difficult above the highest point reached. On the day of the attempt to force a way through the icefall to Pyramid peak the team reached an ice meadow and sent two people off to find a route. This proved impossible and after taking two hours to gain around 500 m they returned to the main party.

A route to the west edge of the glacier was then found and the party established C2 on a flowery meadow, below a good looking peak of snow and rock. The following day a bivi was reached on a stone covered glacier. At 3 a.m. on 20 August the whole group set off for the last peak believed to be 5800 m and uriclimbed. Three turned back at a col but three others continued up a steepening snow slope and reached the top. Clouds stole the hoped for views. If unclimbed the peak has been named 'Straker Sar'. The altimeter reading at this peak was 5500 m.

Two members also put up a rock route 120 m above C2, they graded it III and named it 'Special K'. The buttress was named '3K Buttress.'

The weather experienced should encourage others, as we had 18 fine days out of the 23 spent in the mountains.

The area still abounds in interesting challenges at below 6000 m height and a number of smaller unexplored valleys could provide interesting diversions. If our altimeter reading is correct then some peaks in the area could well fall to a sub-6000 m height and be accessible on a trekking permit.

Summary: Climbs on the Malangutti glacier by a British team in July-August 1991.


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