MATRU EXPEDITION, 1991
SWAPAN KUMAR GHOSH
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.