Himalayan Journal vol.58
The Himalayan Journal

Publication year:

Harish Kapadia
    (A. D. MODDIE)
    (Lt. Col. A. ABBEY)



EXPEDITION AROUND TERI KANG Lunana area in the Bhutan Himalaya


SINCE 1985, THE ACADEMIC ALPINE CLUB of Chiba University has dispatched three academic expeditions for ecological surveys and mountaineering, We succeeded with the first ascent of Namshila (6500 m) in 1985, and of Tsenda Kang (7000 m) in 1991.

The third expedition led by H. Yoshinaga was conducted as an high-altitude trek since mountaineering is not yet permitted in Bhutan, around Teri Kang (7000 m) area, Lunana in 2001. Even though the area is a part of a trekking route named 'Snowman Trek' and visited by mainly European trekkers, the area is surrounded by high passes of over 5000 m such as Gofu la, 5300 m, Gonjyu la, 5100 m, Karakachu la, 5050 m. One can hardly can enter the area particularly during snowy period. We started from Tashitang (1750 m. along Mo-Chu which was 23 km above Punakha on 25 September, 2001. After eight days of trekking with horses and yaks, we arrived on 1 October at Tarinaa (4000 m) beyond Karakachu la, and established base camp. In contrast to Nepal, well-trained Sherpas and porters are not available in Bhutan Himalaya, and moreover Yak herders do not want to get into areas where there is no yak trail. We therefore had to carry all equipment and luggage by ourselves above the base camp.

We chose a route along right side of Tarina chu above base camp, and bypassed the side-moraine to climb Tarina glacier. Impassable rhododendron bushes mostly covered the route. We took much time to reach ABC (4600 m). At the end of Terina glacier, there are two big glacial lakes, and a glacial tongue forming 200-300m high cliffs. The lake is drained by a big river, 10 m wide. On 6 October, we established ABC on a side moraine at 4600 m. From the next day onwards, we started to climb to the foot of the southwest ridge of Teri Kang, and established a temporary Camp 1 (5000 m) on the ridge 8 October. The route traced a hanging glacier on the northeast slope of the southwest ridge having a big glacial cirque. On 11 October we established Camp 1 above the big and we traversed it to the upper ridge using fixed rope of 250 m, however we could not reach the upper ridge at 5600 m. We got views of the mountains that form the traditional China border beyond Tarina glacier.

Many unclimbed peak such as Gangkerphunzum are located in the Lunana area, near the Chinese border, although the borderline is not yet demarcated. We wish to visit this area and study the topographical, geographical features in the near future.


24 September : Started from Thimphu, reached Tashitang via Punakha

25 September : Caravan started for Teri Kang

2 October : Established Base Camp (4000 m) in Tarina via Karakachu la

6 October : Established Advance Base Camp (4600 m) on the moraine of Tarina Glacier.

8 October : Established Temporary Camp 1 (5000 m) at the foot of southwest ridge of Teri Kang

11 October : Established Camp 1 (5500 m) on the southwest ridge above big Glacial cirque.

12 October: Reached 5600 m just below southwest ridge. 15 October : Return caravan started from Tarina.

22 October : Arrived at Thimphu. Summary : Expedition to Bhutan, in 2001.

Photo 58



Tokai University and Tibet University Friendship Expedition


IN THE SPRING OF 2001, a team from Tokai University stood atop he unscaled central peak (7418 m) and eastern peak (7381m) of Khula Kangri in Tibet, China. We also made significant progress in scientific research on Lake Puma Yumco, which is located on the

highest plateau in Tibet. The altitude of the lake is 5070 m above sea level (highest among lakes of this size in the world).

The Tibet University of China joined us in this mountaineering expedition and researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) took part in the research. This paper serves to report primarily on the scientific research and on the climbing of Khula Kangri.

Mountaineering Report

The expedition team succeeded in the first ascents of both the central peak (7418 m) and the eastern peak (7381 m) of the Khula Kangri massif. The team consisted of 19 members from Tokai University and Tibet University. The Japanese part consisted of leader Yoshitsugu Deriha and 10 members while the Tibetan part consisted of leader Tseden Jigmy and seven members. There were over 30 members in all, including the supporting team.

April 1: The team set up BC in Monda at the foot of the mountains at 4250 m. Then they climbed in neighbouring areas for acclimatisation and visited nearby villages and an elementary school, to conduct medical checks for children.

April 4: Using 85 pack animals (donkeys and horses), we set up ABC (advance base camp) on the glacier moraine at 5400 m. ABC was best suited for a good view of the north side of the Khula Kangri mountain group.

April 7: We started moving toward C1. Immediately we commenced examining the climbing route and carrying gears and supplies to the upper camp.

April 9: We set up C1 at 5900 m.

April 12: We started substantial climbs. First we paved a route in an icefall area.

We crossed the glacier from C1 and went up the icefall with a 500 m precipitous drop. We followed a route on a gentle slope closer to Karejiang (7221 m) and got through a complicated shellac zone. We installed an aluminum ladder on steep slanting icy rocks en route and climbed up toward the upper area bypassing a large crevasse. It took eight days.

April 19: We set up C2 on a flat ground at 6350 m. We placed 1500 m of fixed ropes to ensure a safe ascent.

April 23: We started climbing up the north side which led downward to the glacier. Panting, we climbed up the steep slanting icy wall. Our movements became extremely slow above 7000 m. This steep slant was much longer than we had foreseen. Even though we started initial route-finding early in the morning, it was not until the evening that we could reach the upper area of this slant. It was really hard climbing.

April 30: We used up the remaining 1500 m fixed ropes. We could not reach the point that was planned for C3. As a result, we went around the steep slant on the east peak side to set up C3.

April 30: A team of six members left C1 to attack the central peak.

May 1: The team gathered in C3.

May 2: Under the clear and sunny sky and no wind, the team departed for the central peak. Two members from Tibet University were first to reach the summit and two from Tokai University followed in succession.

May 3: The east peak summit team of nine members reached C3.

May 4: The team climbed the east peak under a sunny sky but strong wind. Three members from Tibet University reached the peak first and six from Tokai University followed. The weather changed periodically as the monsoon started. On the same day, the main peak party of three, who planned to climb along the ridges, reached C3.

May 5: The team left for the main peak, but gave up and returned to C3 due to bad weather and poor visibility.

May 6: As the weather turned better, the main peak team again got started. They reached the central peak. But the weather turned bad and they had to give up attacking the main peak. Nevertheless, as a result, it was fortunate that 17 members could reach the top. Although two members got frostbitten while climbing, they have been recuperating well.

The Academic Report

Lake Puma Yumco is located in southcentral Tibet. It is an elliptical lake 32 km by 13 km. The following characteristics of this lake have been found through satellite image analysis and a preparatory investigation made in the fall of 2000.

1. It has changed in shape with the passage of time. It keeps getting deeper. Called a tectonic lake, it has a long history of changing features since its birth. 2. It is thought that the ecosystem in the lake is as large and vibrant as that of a lake on sea level.

Since Lake Puma Yumco has these unique features, it was expected to cast light on interesting biological phenomena to be studied for the first time in the world. It was also expected to assist especially in earth-scientific, geo-scientific and biological research. In light of these expectations, the investigation was conducted with the following three points as the primary goal.

1. Elucidation of life activities in the high altitude lake, its native life and their ecological, physiological, morphological and metabolic scale characteristics.

2 Analysis on the change of the climatic environment recorded in the lacustrine sediments, topographic and the geological stratum. Examination of the hypothetical factors dominating the theory of a 100,000-year cycle of glacial and inter-glacial periods.

3. Examination of the plateau's possible role as a natural sensor and monitor for global warming and change in its related climatic environment.

Analysis on the change of the climatic environments recorded in the lacustrine sediments

A lake is a rich source of environmental information as it continuously records changes in the climatic environment. Particularly, investigating its lacustrine sedimentary records indicated the following, changes in the climatic environment: We are in the glacial epoch that has a glacier period, (a cold period) and an inter-glacier period (a warm period) in a 100,000-year cycle for every million years. The cycle of change of climatic environment is caused by the amount of insolation with the change of the 100,000-year cycle. It is a part of the Milankovitch cycle.

The controversial point of this theory is that the change in the amount of insulation as a dominant factor of the climatic environment does not seem to bring sufficient energy to directly determine the cycle of the change between a glacial period and an interglacial period. Therefore, the change in the amount of insulation appears to play a role of a trigger to bring about a change in the climatic environment.

The transition from an interglacial period to a glacial period is explained as follows: as the amount of insulation decreases, the temperature drops locally. The local temperature drop activates a kind of natural device to amplify the temperature drop globally. That natural device is considered to exist somewhere on earth.

The theory of the Tibet Plateau ice sheet suggests that this device exists in Tibet.

According to the theory, the decrease in the amount of insulation causes the Tibet Plateau to be covered with ice, as it is 4000 - 5000 meters above sea level. Then, a global temperature drop is triggered by the significant reduction in insulation due to the reflection on the ice sheet.

The history of the controversy over this theory dates back to the 1930s, but no conclusion has been reached. The primary reason is that the topography and the geological strata of the Tibet Plateau do not appear to have left evidences of the ice sheet.

Kobe University and CAS jointly attempted to find some evidence from lacustrine sediments of a lake in the central part of the Tibet Plateau. However, this attempt did not succeed. This time we have succeeded in obtaining some samples of lacustrine sediments of Lake Puma Yumco, which may help to prove the theory of the Tibet Plateau ice sheet.

3.8-meter-long lacustrine sediments were taken from the bottom of the 46-metre deep lake. The sample was fractionated in 0.5 to 1cm lengths toward the bottom of the lake. The analyses conducted will provide information on at least the past 50,000 years' changes in the climatic environment including the glacial maximum for about 20,000 years.

Examination on the change of the climatic environment related to global warming

Global warming has greatly been affecting each region of the world in temperature, precipitation, and wind. A natural sensor that can accurately gauge changes is needed on a global scale, and lakes are being regarded as such. Lake Puma Yumco is expected to be a good representative.

Lake Puma Yumco is influenced by the climatic system involving among others, southwest monsoons in summer and northwest monsoons in winter. Therefore, it is thought that the various features of Lake Puma Yumco would clearly reflect the change in climatic environment factors such as temperature, precipitation, and wind system.

The water-temperature distribution in the lake and the change in the quantitative and qualitative aspects of the various chemical constituents in the lake water are comprehended through the change of water-flow, water-circulation and stagnancy, and the increase and decrease in biological productivity. Lake Puma Yumco is located in a unique environment at 5000 metres above sea level and at a latitude of 30 degrees north.

The analysis of the old environmental change recorded in the lacustrine sediments will produce important data, but their actual verification will be made through continued observations after determining the current situation of the lake.

Summary of the Investigation for Research

The expedition leader was a professor of Tokai University, Mitsugu Nishimura. Ten members including those from other universities went with him. With the cooperation of CAS and China Mountaineering Association (CMA), the investigation started on 4 April. However, many of the expedition members had previously suffered from serious high-altitude sickness in Lhasa (3700 m) and then at Lake Puma Yumco BC (5000 m). Altitude sickness continued to trouble members until the end of the investigation.

Probably because spring in the Tibet Plateau was yet to come, we were constantly faced with ice covering the whole lake and strong cold wind. All investigative work met with great difficulties under these circumstances.

However, thanks to the members' untiring effort and generous cooperation of the Chinese counterparts, we were able to collect many precious samples and data. Each group is currently conducting analytical work.

The following is a chronological record in summary: April 4: Set up BC at the shore of Lake Puma Yumco.

5: Started assembling the operation base boat; checked and adjusted machinery and equipment.

6: Started collecting plants on the lakefront.

7: Launched the operation base boat; also launched the three inflatable boats; started collecting fish.

8: Adjusted the geophysics exploring equipment; reviewed the lateral line for investigation; started quantitative- measurement of the ultraviolet and visible rays on land. Investigated the river terrace in the east of the lake; started collecting samples for dating.

9: Installed and adjusted the geophysical exploring equipment on the operation base boat; collected algae in the river on the east of the lake; started quantitative- measurement of the cosmic rays.

10: Started collecting benthos and plankton samples; quantitative-measurement of underwater ultraviolet rays; topographical-survey of the area of the excurrent river in the east of the lake; started collecting samples for dating.

11: Collected aquatic purple bacteria and green algae; caught three kinds of fish in the area of the excurrent river in the east of the lake; started checking water by CTD at nine fixed points of the lake.

12: Caught a sort of shrimp on the lake front; collected aqua life such as fish, plankton, benthos; started collecting water samples for investigation; started investigation of the topographical features of the glacier near the excurrent river to the east of the lake.

13: Started geophysics exploration aboard the operation base boat; measured six lateral line.

15: Conducted geophysical exploration, measuring three lateral lines; completed the geophysical exploration.

17: Conducted investigation of the topographical features of the glacier near the excurrent river in the east of the lake; started collecting samples for dating.

18: Conducted water-clarity and hydro-illumination measurements at six fixed points of the lake, CYD observation, exploratory drilling for columnar sediments with a piston corer.

20: Succeeded in a 3.8 metre exploratory drilling and collected samples of columnar sediments from a 46 metre deep spot with the piston corer.

21: Topographical survey of the area near the excurrent river to the east of the lake.

22: Gave up on collecting the samples of the lake-bottom surface sediments by gravity-corer due to wind and ice.

23: Completed the academic investigation; descended to Puma Yumco Lake BC.

Investigation Items, Samples and Data

The following samples and data have been collected -
  1. Main forms of life and their distribution in the surrounding areas and in the lake: fish, plankton, bacteria, living life in the lower lacustrine parts waterweeds.
  2. Sunlight effect on bio-morphological, physiological, ecological activities of plankton, moss/lichen, fish, etc; sunlight spectrum and ultraviolet rays, the physiological and morphological aspects of each form of life.
  3. Study on the bio-scientific circulation concerning the elements such as C, N and P in the lake; water composition (dissolved matter, suspended matter), clarity of water, quantity of photosynthesis, analytical speed, pH, Eh etc.
  4. Investigation of the characteristics of the accumulation of sedimentary layers; Distribution of the lake's water depth and sedimentary layers' thickness.
  5. Collected samples of columnar sediments with 40,000 to 50,000 years' records; analysis of the climate using various kinds of organic molecules and the environmental change; columnar sediments (3-4 m) and their characteristics.
  6. Topographical features of the peripheral area of the lake and the study of the fourth geological era; topography of the surrounding areas, geological strata, rocks and geological chronology.
Summary: Survey and climbs around Khula Kangri area from the north in 2001.

Panorama E, Photos 55 to 60




five weeks (4 October 2001 to 5 November 2001) on an expedition to the 6701 m Ramtang, north of Kangchenjunga. Kangchenjunga 8598 m, is the third highest mountain of the world and is situated in the northeast of Nepal on the border to Sikkim and Tibet. It is part of the Kangchenjunga Conservation Area. The first ascent of the Ramtang via the east ridge had been achieved by the international 'rope- alliance', the Austrian Erwin Schneider and the British Frank Smythe in 1930.

The government of Nepal opened this remote area north of Kangchenjunga to the public in 1998. Since then two British and one American expedition climbed Ramtang. Their aim was the 6600 m 'Gratkopf - so named by the G. O. Dyhrenfurth expedition, 1930 - on the east ridge of Ramtang. The main peak is 100 m higher and far west. The ridge between these peaks is dangerous and very difficult. It was due to the brilliant ice technique of E. Schneider, who was in the lead that they succeeded.

To follow the tracks of E. Schneider was the aim of our expedition. Having landed in Suketar, an airfield at 2500 m, it took us 11 days to reach the base camp in Pangpema 5000 m. Through horrible trials : rain - leeches - wet clothes, in the first days, we thankfully reached the alpine climate zone in Tseram (4000 m). We crossed several 4000 m passes (Mirgin la, Selele la) and arrived in Pangpema in splendid weather. With the help of our high altitude Sherpas, we built up C1 at 5300 m, on the foot of Ramtang rock base. The camp was on the junction where the glacier comes down from the north slopes of Kangbachen and the Ramtang plateau to the Kangchenjunga glacier.

We returned the same day to BC for better acclimatisation.

Next day five members and two Sherpas set out again to stay overnight in CI. They set up C2 the next day and returned to C1. The following day, eight of us including the Sherpas ascended to C2 at 5900 m. Our petrol cooker had a big problem with Nepali petrol and so there was only one gas cooker left to supply eight persons with fluids. Finally, we all had only one chance to reach the summit, because the only functioning cooker had to be brought down with one member, who developed pneumonia and had to be accompanied to C1.

Three members and the two Sherpas climbed to the 6600 m 'Gratkopf. Gerhard Gfreiner and Mario Kostenbaumer climbed three more rope-lengths along the very dangerous ridge with some passages of - waist deep powder snow with no possibilities for belays.

Although one of them is one of Austrias top climber (John Harlin route on the Eiger north face in winter) they had to abandon the climb 70 m below the main summit. While they climbed Ramtang, the other members climbed the 6260 m high 'Mouse', on the ridge between Ramtang and Kambachen.

We all returned on the same day with the loads from C2 to C1. The patient with pneumonia developed high altitude pulmonary oedema. It took us 6 hours to reach the BC. He had hallucinations and severe weakness on the glacier. Nifedipin, Dexamethasone and Oxygen - administered by an open system - helped him reaching BC. Here I installed a recycling breathing system with a CO2 absorber. The two litre oxygen bottle, with a flow of which, lasted upto the next morning. While we headed down to the 1000 m lower Kambachen, the rest of the crew climbed the 6100 m Drohmo South Sporn and the 6250 m East Sporn. Happy, that our patient had recovered so well and full of good impressions we arrived in Suketar after a seven-day walk through rain forests and rice fields and returned healthy to Austria.

Expedition leader: Dr. Karl Pallasmann.

Members: Karl Cernic, Sepp Egarter, Gerhard Gfreiner, Mario Kostenbaumer, Walter Lackner, Peter Perwein.

Summary: Attempt on Ramtang (6701 m), Nepal, Oct-Nov 2001.


Climbing a nameless peak and short surveys around Mustang to the Northwest

TAMOTSU OHNISHI (Osaka Alpine Club)

THE SUMMER 2001 in Mustang was about to end when we placed training camps at a point of 4070 m and 4780 m (both GPS height) en route to Mesokanto Bhanjyang (5121 m) from Jomsom via Thini Khola. We spent a week there for acclimatisation in the first stage. As planned, we got well acclimatised and made short climbs to the pass in the vicinity. On 11 September, we hurried down so as to arrive at Jomsom on the same day. The next day, we heard about the horrible tragedy in New York and the Pentagon. We watched the terrible scenes on BBC news in horror.

The second stage started on 15 September. We moved towards the northern hills over Gnyala Bhanjyang (4077 m), north of Muktinath, which we visited on the way. For about five days, we marched, wandering along the route toward Damodar Kund, which was a sacred place for Hindus. On this caravan route, after two camps towards the northeast, we ascended small rock peaks of 5078 m and 5211 m on the subsidiary ridge of Damodar Himal group to the southeast in order to have the panoramic views. We were now approaching the dry and deserted highlands east of Kali Gandaki river, a grey brown land against a deep blue sky, just after the end of monsoon. All of us were in an ecstatic mood. We enjoyed a grand view of the lofty Dhaulagiri peaks and the Annapurna-Nilgiri massif. To the west was a chain of mountain peaks a little lower than 6000 m that formed the divide between Mustang and Dolpo. The peaks, which were mostly granite, were soaring sharply above the red cliffs of the admirably wind-eroded Thakmar strata. They were also snow-capped on the pointed summits. The scenery to the distant northwest was higher snowy mountains near the Tibetan border which were presumed to be the ranges of Dong Mar or Manshail. The skyline to the far north was the land of high

plateau where the international boundary is drawn and the winding motor road, which has recently been constructed, crossing the border, was dimly in sight. To the east, we observed a chain of white peaks with the height of 6500 m or higher, which presumably were the peaks of Damodar Himal including Bhrikuti Himal. As soon as the second stage was completed, we started descending to Kagbeni via Gnyala Bhanjyang and the northern villages in Muktinath valley.

On 25 September, the main trek for five days to Lo Manthang began at Kagbeni following the ordinary route; Chhele, Shyangmoche, Ghami, Chharang and Lo Manthang. Most villages en route have old ruins of forts and Buddhist temples, all of which brought to mind the glory of the Kingdom of Mustang and the land of feudal lords. Chharang is a snug town with broad terraced fields extending to the northwest and surrounded by arid treeless hills. The name of the town is familiar to us as the place where Ekai Kawaguchi had stayed for ten months before departing to Tibet via Dolpo. There is a detached palace of Mustang Raja, now devastated, and the monastery where the present king's elder brother, late Chharang Lama, resided for more than twenty years as the highest Lama.

In Lo Manthang, we camped in a garden like area just outside the castled town that was surrounded by poplar trees. We had a chance to interview the king, Jigme Palbar Bista at the palace. We occasionally met the friendly Mustang Raja, 68 years old, who was patrolling the town and his farms. Being based at Lo Manthang, we had two short reconnaissance trips to the northwestern mountains. Firstly, we forded Kimarin Khola and proceeded to a hill (4708 m) on the left bank of Nyamdo Khola. From there, we observed minutely the eastern side of Dong Mar (6337 m), which had been climbed by H.Tichy in 1953. Secondly, we traced the route up Dhangna Khola via Thingar village and made the further reconnaissance of the southeastern side of Dong Mar from a point of 5200 m. Tichy's route was presumably the southeastern rock ridge of the peak. Taththa Jyura Khola, a broad valley in below us would lead to the col on the Tibetan border, which was clearly visible under the deep blue sky of Tibet. The valley also would possibly take us to Manshail peak (6235 m) through a glacier, seemingly easy to climb at nearly 6000 m.

At Lo Manthang, we received an unreasonable and even malicious welcome by ACAP (Annapurna Conservation Area Project). They impeded our activities in the mountains by prohibiting the camping outside of the town, not withstanding that we had proper permits from both, the ministries of Tourism and Home which legally entitled us to conduct an investigative project in any place within the district. The staff of the kingdom and local police were cooperative with us.

However, ACAP staff frightened our Sherpas, saying that they would confiscate our equipment if we ignored their order. This incident caused much embarrassment and disappointment. We had no other choice but to unwillingly avoid further trouble, and so we left Lo Manthang for Lo Gekar where we had planned to set up the second base camp for reconnoitering the new areas of upper Chharang Khola. During our stay at Lo Manthang, we fortunately had a rare chance to observe a splendid scene. We saw thousands of Demoiselle Cranes (Anthropoides viago) migrating to the south over the high Himalayan mountains. From 2 to 5 October, we witnessed their flight every morning in the sky high above Lo Manthang and all over the Upper Kali Gandaki.

On 4 October, the base camp was moved near the Ghar Gompa of Lo Gekar, 9 km southwest of Lo Manthang. Our plan in this area was to directly enter the Chharang Chu (Ghyua Khola) through the gorge near our base camp and to ascend Arnikochuli (6034 m) by the right upper fork of the river. It is shown on the map like a snake raising its head, which connects two lakes at the upper end we found that the direct route to Chharang Chu was impassable since the mouth of the gorge near our base camp was not possible to go cross. On 5 October, carrying packs with four days of supplies, we ascended to the upper plain of Ghar Gompa. We traversed a vast grassland for a while and after crossing a small stream coming from the west, placed the camp just south of the peak 4740 m shown on the new map (LOMANTHAN, Sheet 2983-16). At the campsite (2907'263''N 83°51'383"E, 4733m by GPS), we had magnificent scenery to the east. To E113 degree, we had a clear view of the gompa and the ruined fort of Chharang in the far distance.

Next day, we ascended a mountain ridge just behind the camp and climbed to a col (5489 m on the new map, 29007'549''N 83050'044E'', 5504 m by GPS) where there were two stone cairns. On the way, we followed a small tributary of Dhakmar Khola which flowed down to Ghami. All members including the porters arrived there by noon. A gentle peak of 6154 m was seen in the W268 direction, and a pointed top of 6280 m peak was seen to W290 behind the near by southern ridge of 5932 m peak. Then we took the route on to the above mountain ridge to the north, up the broad valley fully covered with shale similar to roofing tiles. We had to walk a long way

to get to the west col of 6010 m peak (29 08 465N 83 48 777E, 5987m by GPS).

From there, I advanced alone down to the northern Ghyun khola side of the ridge, where I looked down at two beautiful small lakes. One was shining in bright turquoise and the other in pure milky white, both in a vivid contrast with the surrounding desert. At first glance I thought of establishing a high camp beside the lakes and to stay for a few days in order to climb a couple of peaks and to carry out the survey around there as the place seemed to ensure comfort. However, my hopes were shattered in a moment. When I looked back, our porters were still walking along Dhakmar khola and I was unable to force them to follow the way in late afternoon. I had to descend from the col and joined the band of porters to place a high camp at a point of 5581 m of Dhakmar khola. I sent back the porters to the lower camp. The next day I decided to climb 6280 m peak that was seen to W290 from the col.

On 7 October, we marched up the stream for a while and reached a small glacier at 5720 m. It came down from the peaks 6081 m and 6154m to the southwest. The snout of the glacier was easily traversed to take a route to Dhau Dhundhun tal, a glacier lake shown on the new map at the height of 5905 m. The lake is not so deep but quite clear, and the surface reflects the deep blue of the Tibetan sky. After lunch, we carefully climbed a crumbling rock ridge to the western side of the lake. The route led us to a point just beneath the south snow face of the peak 6280 m. We climbed 100 m of the snow face in five pitches. We changed our course slightly to the left and two pitches later, we were on the summit ridge with a snow cornice to the north. A few minutes later, all of us stood atop the summit.

The climbing route was moderate and needed no special climbing techniques. The nearest peak 0.5 km distant from there to the north is shown on the new map as peak 6229 m. The height of our peak was not known but we estimate the height as 6280 m, which is endorsed by eye measurement (about 50 m higher than the 6229 m peak), reading of contours on the new map (29008'41''N 83046'56''E, 6280 m) and our GPS measurement (29008'422''N 83046'956''E, 6357 m).

We descended via the eastern ridge to the col, which I had traced on the previous day. On the following day we took a rest at the high camp and returned to the base camp of Lo Gekar on 9 October.

Summary: The first ascent of Nameless Peak (6280 m, 29008'41''N, 83046'56''E) and a short survey around Mustang to the northwest.

Members: Tamotsu Ohnishi (leader), S.Yoshinaga, K. Mizutani, T. Yanagihara, K. Asahi, B. Nishihara, N. Mizutani, T.Inoue, and Ang Purba (Sirdar) with three climbing Sherpas.



OSAMU TANABE Dear Mr. Otsuka

Thanks very, very much for sending me a copy of the first Japanese Alpine News. Its contents are of great interest and the maps and pictures are excellent. Your teams are involved in many exciting ascents. I am particularly interested by the announcement that a Japanese team is planning an attack on the great South Face of Lhotse during the coming winter. Be sure to report to me about the results!!

Very sincerely yours,

October 15, 2001 Bradford Washburn

THIS REPORT IS DIRECTED FIRST to Bradford Washburn, born in Boston in 1910, the most famous and distinguished mountaineer in USA, and then to the many climbers abroad that have been paying the keenest attention to the result of our bold challenge, although it was not successful.

JAC Tokai Section accomplished a remarkable ascent to open a new route from the west ridge to the west face of K2 in 1997. What would be most appropriate for the next target? It didn't take much time for us to come up with an answer. There was no other choice than the first winter ascent of the formidable south face of Lhotse, which remains one of the last problems to be tackled among the Himalayan giants. To take advantage of good and stable weather, the assault needed to be a speedy climb in the shortest possible period. The party was organized with eight members.

In the fall of 2001, we conducted training for acclimatisation to high altitude in the Himalaya. Seven members climbed the normal route of Cho Oyu. Six members stood atop the summit on 9 and 11 October in succession. Hideji Nazuka, the strongest member, climbed Dhaulagiri I on 11 October but suffered from serious frostbite that forced him to abandon his participation in the Lhotse climb. Two other members also got sick. Therefore potential members were reduced to only five climbers.

The expedition party departed from Kathmandu on 9 November and established BC (5200 m) at the foot of the awesome, overwhelming south face of Lhotse on the 14th. The following is an extract from my diary in which I recorded details of the climb up until the time when we were forced to retreat.

On 19 November we commenced to pave the climbing route of the lower part of the wall. On the 23rd we reached a point of 6400 m where CI would have been set up, but as the place was too exposed to the danger of falling rocks and ice, we decided to pitch C1 at 5900 m. We had Sherpas who were engaged to carry gear and supplies to C1 till the 28th.

We expected to push our climbing route to a point of 6400 m, first following a Himalayan fluted steep slope to the left and then climbing up an ice-snow wall to the right. Here too, however, there was a serious danger of falling rocks. We changed the route to that taken by the Yugoslavians in 1981.

Now winter arrived. On 1 December we set up C1. We negotiated a difficult rock band of about 150 m above C1 that led to a snow ridge of distinctive shape. The narrow part between 6400 m and 6600 m was particularly exposed to the danger of falling rocks. During route preparation work three members suffered bruises. To avoid falling rocks, we left C1 at 4:00 a.m. for route paving. Custom-made down jackets protected us well from the cold. Later on Sherpas carried gear and supplies from C1 to C2, starting from C1 at 1:00 a.m.

We followed the Yugoslavian route without deviation and set up C2 at 7100 m on the 6th. The Himalayan fluted slope was cut and leveled for the camp.

On the 8th, the designated 'A' party of Ohtani, Hanatani and two Sherpas extended the route to a point about 30 m above the snow col of 7350 m where the Yugoslavian party positioned their C4. On the 11th, the 'B' party of Tanabe, Miyoshi and two Sherpas overcame the critical part, which is analogous to the 'throat' of the south face, and reached a large snow slope. Three sets of wire-ladders that Yugoslavian party had abandoned still remained on the rock wall en route. The ladders told us how hard they had struggled.

Fine weather had lasted since we had set up BC but on 15 December, snow clouds veiled Lhotse south face for the first time and we had snow fall at BC. Therefore 'A' party was ordered to descend from C2 down to BC.

It was on the 18th that 'B' party resumed the route paving upward. As it was bitterly cold at C2, we had to wait for sunshine before moving out of the tent. Such a situation made progress very slow and we could open the route only up to a point of 7600 m on the 18th. Ultimately, as a result, 7600 m became the highest point we reached; that is just below the Yellow Band crossing the south face. The large slope above the 'throat' was incessantly under attack from falling rocks. Tanabe was bruised while descending.

Ferocious winter winds, which were what we had most feared, started to blow on 19 December. 'B' party set out for route paving against strong winds, but we were unable to proceed. While the winds were getting fiercer on the 20th, we ascended to the 'throat', but a terrific gale wouldn't allow us to progress further. Now our members were so exhausted that we knew we no longer had the strength to attempt a further push for the final assault. Without hesitation we decided to retreat. We returned to BC on the 22nd.

Our attempt was unsuccessful, but we learned many things on the winter climb. I was convinced that winter is not a bad season to climb the south face of Lhotse and that a well-organised team of the strongest climbers would possibly scale it in winter in a swift attack of eighteen days.

We shall return and challenge again in December 2003.

(Editor's note: Osamu Tanabe joined the expeditions of the first winter ascent of Everest Southwest Face in 1991-1993.)

Summary: Winter attempt on south face of Lhotse, October, 2001, by a Japanese team.

Members: leader: Osamu Tanabe, dy. leader, Masamiki Takine, Kazuo Tobita, Manabu Miyoshi, Mikio Suzuki, Hisao Ohtani and Yasyhiro Hanatani.

Brief climbing chronicle of Lhotse south face -

1981 spring - Yugoslavia: reached 8150 m.

1984 spring - Czechoslovakia: the first ascent of South Face of Lhotse Shar (8398 m).

1985 autumn - Poland 1st team: reached 8200 m. 1987 autumn - Poland 2nd team: reached 8300 m.

1989 spring - International party led by R. Messner: reached 7200 m 1989 autumn - Poland 3rd team: reached 8300 m, Kukuczka died.

1989 winter - Christof Profit: reached 7300 m.

1990 spring - Tomo Cesen: the first ascent by solo climb (controversial).

1990 autumn - Soviet Union: the second ascent by a new route. 2001 winter - Japan JAC Tokai: reached 7600 m.



Translated from French by Tasneem Telia


IT COULD HAVE HAPPENED 7 years ago. It should have happened ast year when I made an attempt and reached higher than 6000 m. One can say it waited for the first ski descent of Shivling. At the same time the advantage was that it couldn't have been better. After all it's not everyday that one can ski a god's abode.

This mountain is situated little above the source of the Ganga, which is a sacred place for the Hindus. It is really fascinating because it is a perfect pyramid which has earned it the nickname of 'Matterborn of the Himalaya'. It's a little bit of this as well as its famous base camp which had motivated me at the outset.

And motivation is necessary for dragging on to the top in mixed ground which leads to the summit.

After 3 days of effort, yet if there is tension, then the decent can only be pleasurable!

I skied down by a route close to the west arete. That began by 400 m slopes oscillating between 45 and 50 degrees of hard snow and ice. To clear a slope I had to assure myself at about every 50 m after the first 300 m of the arete. In this part the snow compelled me to flirt my ski tips regularly with the cornices dominating the 1500 m of the east of the mountain. Next a ledge rather welcoming for the legs leads to the grand serac on the west face. After another 80 m of descent I got to a delicate mixed ground at 50 degrees. There were underlying rocks 150 m from Camp 2 at 5950 m. After a nights rest I refound the descent of last year. The first 500 m of large slopes were in tough snow at 50 degrees, then 45 degrees in the line of sight with the incredible east face of Meru. Spectacular atmosphere under the immense serac of Shivling. Then 100 m at 55 degrees in powder snow, in order to arrive at panoramic perch of Camp 1. From here another 400 m of difference in height between 45 and 50 degrees in the exposed couloirs. After an interminable traverse I left the skis after half hour on the easygoing moraine. Then ten-minute walk on the relaxing meadow of Tapovan to base camp.

While laying down my skis in front of my tent in Tapovan, I passed by a silent Baba, who to get closer to the gods vowed not to speak for 7 years. He is the only one to live here year on full these heights. He knows everything about the things we choose to ignore. He gives me a little signal with his hand. I choose to take it as an encouragement and to reply with a smile.

Thank you to Jean-Claude Razel and Severin Marchand for having accepted to share with me these moments of the great blue sky!

Members: Emmanuel Ratouis (leader), Severin Marchand, Jean-Claude Razel, Pedro Wernaeck.

Summary: First ski descent of Shivling in May 2001.

Photos 61-62-63



THE TIRSULI MASSIF IS LOCATED 22 km north of Nanda Devi in the Garhwal Himalaya in India. Together with Dunagiri (7066m) and Hardeol (7151 m), it is one of the highest peaks in the region. Although there have been several attempts, the western summit of Tirsuli, the Tirsuli II or Tirsuli West was unclimbed when we left.

In 1939, an expedition from Poland tried the Tirsuli main peak (7074 m) with no success. Additionally an Indian pre-Everest expedition could not climb Tirsuli.

Roger Payne and Julie Anne tried to ascend Tirsuli West via the west ridge in 1995. In that same year, the Tirsuli West was the focus of a small two-man team from Britain and New Zealand, which tried the direct south wall of Tirsuli West.

The Changabang north face was climbed successfully by a British team, lead by Roger Payne, in 1997. The west ridge of Hardeol (7151 m) was attempted by a British team in 1999. In 2001, two new attempts on Tirsuli West were made, both of which failed: the British north wall expedition by Colin Knowles and the south wall expedition of the German Alpine Club (DAV) by Ralf Messbacher.

The objectives of our nine man team were the documentation and the exploration of the southern approaches to the summit of Tirsuli West and the first ascent of the Tirsuli West peak, 7035 m. The preparation for the trip started in 2000.


(Bernhard Voss)

A long period of bad weather was over. On 26 May, I made my way from BC to C2 which was established on 19 May nearly on the top of Snow Dome, an easily climbed mountain of 5860 m.

From here it is another 1.5 km climb along the ridge to reach C3 (6150 m). The ridge becomes increasingly narrower and steeper towards P 6635 m, which was declared as our first target, when we decided upon the west ridge.

After the first night in C3, I felt a little weak. Daniel and Peter had already set off for the 'Notch' (Roger Payne, 1995) and P 6635 m. I stayed there till long after breakfast, but eventually I got up. I got myself ready to go, but I took some pictures first. Then I followed the other two in their tracks.

First there was a flat and short walk across the wide ridge, then a slope of approx. 45° / 70 m to the top of the 'Serac-Ramp' (Payne, 1995), 6250 m. From there I could see the others, fiddling about the narrow arete that leads to the Notch.

On the one side, where we went, the ridge slopes down 50-60° into the left glacier basin below the south face. On the other side, it is considerably steeper and goes down about 2000 m into 'Silent Valley' (Payne, 1995). Here and there, the surface is pure ice rather than snow, and there are short vertical steps, presumably from former cornices. In the direction of the 'Notch', the snow becomes softer and sticks less reliably to the ground.

Just before the actual Notch, a gendarme rises. There I caught up with Daniel, who was belaying Peter. He was already further to the right on an easy ledge of snow and rock past the gendarme and out of sight. His comments did not sound very enthusiastic: retreat, he gave us a report.

Then Daniel and I examined this spot. First came a traverse past the gendarme, which goes slightly downwards. The gendarme consisted of very, very crumbly limestone. One could crumble it into sand just with one's fingers. Behind the gendarme, the ledge ends, the ridge became extremely exposed, and the rock was incredibly loose. The walls went down vertically into the depths. On the other side of the Notch, a vertical to overhanging rocky step started, that merged after 10 m into very steep mixed terrain. Then there were alternate sections of steep and presumably loose rock with steep snow fields. The 10 to 20 m to the other side of the notch did not look very inviting. To surmount them, we had to take a great risk, because of the terribly loose rock.

Whether we could have placed a protection on the other side remains doubtful. The difficulties with the continuation of the route are probably grade VI (UIAA) in some sections and would have to be done with aid climbing. Despite the immediate availability of equipment, we stopped there. The belay was made of two ice screws in thin and rotten ice, 15 to 20 m away from the Notch. Even bad protection placements are not possible. For this reason, even if we had been able to descend down into the Notch, the way back would have been uncertain.

We had to look at other alternatives to capture the Notch. To abseil down from the gendarme (we were on the right-hand side of it) was ruled out because of the loose rock. To pass it on the left-hand side didn't seem possible either. The snowfields become vertical and there the rock was extremely poor, too. There was no way to fix a reliable piece of protection.

One alternative was to abseil in front of the gendarme about 200 to 300 m into the steep (70 to 80°) snow, and then traverse towards the western ridge of P 6635 m. This option was not enticing either because of the long distance and the question about the way back.

We decided to turn back. The ascent to P 6635 m looked very questionable anyway. It seems to be hard and exposed and if the condition of rock and ice didn't change, it would be impossible to put reliable protection placements. And how could one create a belay there?

On the top of the 'Serac Ramp' we reached Ralf and Amit by radio, who had just arrived in C3 with fresh loads of food. We asked them to wait and meet at C3. After a detailed description of the terrain, we decided to give up the projected ascent via the west-ridge on 29 May.

Towards noon, snowfall started. Ralf and Amit (our LO) descended to C2 in dense snowfall and mist. Snow fell all night long. After getting up, we discovered that during the night more than 40 cm of fresh snow had fallen. That made the way back to C2 difficult. Visibility was absolutely nil. After a substantial breakfast, we packed the two tents, the entire climbing equipment, and the rest of the food. With heavy rucksacks, we set off. Since we were on a razor-sharp ridge, we had to find the correct points where we had to step to the side. The former track was completely snowed in.

At the beginning of the flat section, we had to choose: either down to the right with an avalanche or to the left with a cornice. Fatefully, the cornice changed its orientation right in the middle of the way without any visible clues. Then we came to the steeper sections.

First down a 40°-slope, then about a 10 m high step of loose rock covered with snow. After this, there where further passages of ice, up to 50 to 60° steep. Then, we went along the ridge without loosing altitude. Finally, after two easy passages, and we stepped out of the difficult terrain.

Now it was my turn to make the track to C2. Some easy pitches of only few meters take a lot of energy. Again and again we step next to the hidden track or a step broke off. It stopped snowing and the visibility improved. We arrived at C2 staggering, where Ralf welcomed us with tea. Resting, we ate the rest of the smoked meat.

Eventually, we descended to C1 and ABC, packed with even fuller rucksacks. Every spot of snow was used to slide down on the seat of our trousers.

BC Base Camp, 4560 m

ABC Advanced Base Camp, 4980 m

C1 Camp 1, 5480 m

C2 Camp 2, 5800 m

C3 Camp 3, 6150 m

Results and Recommendations for future expeditions Tirsuli West[1]:

Our route (Notch): no further comment necessary - as described in the report.

Icicle Valley: steep flank with seracs to the col beneath Gorur Forked Peak (6267 m, 2 in panorama), but the ridge looked snowy and seemed to be rather flat from the col up to P 6635. Should I ever return to this mountain, I would try this way first.

South face:

Various routes. A direct route to the Tirsuli Western summit ridge does not seem worth recommending. The thin snow does not look very stable. An approach along the left-hand side basin below this face is not convenient. A classic expedition strategy with a chain of camps is not at all advisable. Only a very fit, and therefore, fast team could succeed. Acquire good acclimatisation somewhere else and then move to the desired route and climb it.

Further to the east, the southwest ridge and the adjoining face rejected an attempt by an expedition in 1999, mainly due to rockfall. Besides avalanches from the threatening serac between Tirsuli West and Hardeol above the basin on the right-hand side could strike a camp. Probably, the route with the best chances to succeed and reach the top of Tirsuli West is via the plateau southeast of it. But who would traverse past the main peak of Tirsuli or - even crazier - climb it and then descend to ascend the minor peak?

South of Bagini Bank, Base Camp region:

The type of rock north of Bagini Bank is totally different from the one south of it. The sediment rock - a variation of slate - changes into granite two third of the way when traversing to the south of Bagini Bank.

The valley below Purvi Dunagiri hasn't been explored so far. North of this valley is a more inviting one. That valley is below the unnamed points P 5666 and P 6068, nearly opposite our BC. From the northern side of Bagani Bank it seems as if there was a fine ramp leading up to P 6068, but it's nothing more than snow sticking loosely to precipitous granite slabs. P 5666 on the northern edge of this valley has two major couloirs leading up to the summit ridge. The first ends at 5300 with a rock wall. It is 10 to 20 m high and not very difficult to climb (3 or 4 UIAA). After this, there's a snow slope with no probable further obstacles. The second is steeper, but it looks as if there are no walls of rock or ice that must be climbed.

A lower peak northwest of P 5666 could offer fine rock climbs on an approx. 300 m cliff rising from Bagini Bank.

Summary: The unclimbed[2] Tirsuli West (7035 m) is located in the Garhwal Himalaya. After a two day journey from Delhi, our nine-man team arrived at Joshimath on 3 May 2001, 50 km from the Indo-Tibet border. From there we went by jeep via rough roads 60 km further to Juma. After a two day approach with 74 porters and two tons of equipment, we reached base camp on 5 May at 4560 m.

We spent the following days with short acclimatisation and exploration trips, high above the rock-covered and wildly torn Bagani glacier which is 15 km long.

The target, Tirsuli West (7035 m), was still 5 pathless kms up the glacier. For logistic support, we set up an advanced base camp (ABC) on 11 May, at 4950 m.

From ABC we could inspect the south wall of Tirsuli West. Continuous avalanches of ice and snow powder that fell from the 1700m walls surrounding base camp indicated that cautious selection of campsites was necessary.

We decided to try the west ridge route since the approach to the south wall was threatened by ice avalanches and blocked by a badly torn glacier.

Continuous snowfall in May increased the risk of avalanches on the steep south-wall. We erected Camp 1 on 13 May at 5480 m, Camp 2 at 5880 m one day later. Proceeding towards the west ridge, we came across a sharp arete of rock and hard snow. Across this we transported all the material for Camp 3 which was established on 26 May at 6150 m after a period of bad weather.

As a result of a further exploration by the three man team (Peter Enz, Daniel Grammel and Bernhard Voss), further advance to P 6635 seemed to be too risky. Technical difficulties, bad rock quality, and the unstable weather situation made us return at 6270 m.

Due to and careful planning and preparation, the expedition members were in good health and spirits throughout. On our way back, we medically treated about 20 inhabitants and several porters in the remote village of Dunagiri.

Fold-out 7, Panorama F, Photos 64 to 71




IT WAS THE THIRD VENTURE of our Parvat Abhiyatri Sangha to Nanda Kot (6861 m) the mighty Himalayan giant. The first venture was in the year 1991 from the Lwan valley to the north using the Gori Ganga valley. The second one in 1999 was to the south side from the Kafni valley. This route was explored by an Indo-British party earlier in 1987 but they could not proceed further as the icefall of the lower

Kafni glacier was impassable. Later, a British team, led by Martin Moran, climbed the peak for the first time from the south. From the north, the peak was scaled earlier both by Indian and foreign teams. The three earlier attempts were successful in scaling the peak by the NE ridge, of which one in 1959 was an Indian venture.

In 1999, we were beaten back from Nanda Kot by bad weather with a consolation prize of climbing Nanda Bhannar (6236 m). As usual this time we established our BC at the 'O' point of Pindari glacier on 18 September, 2001 (3800 m). ABC was pitched on 21 September at 4350 m. With all members except the two remaining in the BC, C1 (was established at 4900 m on 23 September on Chhanguch glacier. From C1 we proceeded first towards south then turned towards east. Crossing a rock zone, we reached to the south slope of Kafni col. The team had to fix seven ropes to reach Kafni col. The west side of Kafni col was snow covered, while the eastern side was rocky. Crossing the col they stepped down to the Kafni glacier and avoiding a good number of wide crevasses moved to the east of the glacier, near to the Danu Dhura col to pitch the C2 at the base of Laspa Dhura (5913 m). Five members came to occupy C1 on 27 September 2001. Three members Kalyan, Tarun, Rajib with three Sherpas Lakpa, Gylzen, Tashi occupied the C2 they had to fix four ropes to reach Danu Dhura col and then traversing the col, they moved further north and reached middle of upper Kafni ice-fall. Thereafter, they had to fix five more ropes for their further movement towards C3, C2 was pitched on 27 September at 5400 m. But they could occupy C3 only on 3 October 2001, because of the difficulty of the route. Two members Prosenjit Samanta and Rupjou Dewan came to occupy C2 on 3 October. They pitched C3 (5900 m) on the east-face of Nanda Bhannar (6236 m) on a saddle like space. The camp was surrounded by huge number of open and hidden crevasses.

On 5 October, the wind velocity diminished but there were huge clouds on the Milam glacier side. The Sherpas went out to fix rope towards our route to C4. From our past experience, we realised that the route from C3 to summit would be too long and it would be extremely difficult too, at the last stage of the face, where the gradient seemed to be at least 60 to 65 degrees.

It became cloudy all around at about 11.30 a.m. and at about 1.00 p.m. it started snowing followed by a blizzard. So the team had to come back to C3. Next day Rajib, Kalyan and Tarun with three Sherpas Lakpa, Tashi and Gyalzen moved towards west and further towards the northern slope of Nanda Bhannar, turning to north to reach near the icefall of the Nanda Kot south face. The place was full of crevasses. Bypassing the crevasses they reached the eastern side of the icefall and then through the west slope of the icefall. They climbed about 80 m to reach the site of C4 (6250 m).

A team of six, three members, Kalyan Deb, Rajib Mondal, Tarun Das and three Sherpas Lakpa, Tashi and Gyalzen stayed at C4 to move further for the summit.

The team left the tents at 3.00 a.m. on 6 October but had to return back to C4 because of fierce wind and low visibility. They started again at 5.00 a.m. There were two wide crevasses on the face immediately after leaving so, we had to fix rope right from the beginning. They chose the right (east) hand side of the face. Because of the wide crevasses straight movement could not be possible. They had to push up only by zig zagging the ice fall and face route.

Rajib Mondal Writes:

Crossing two crevasse lines we reached the middle section of the face. The weather was clear since we started our movement and the speed of the wind was not very much. The gradient of the face route was nearly 60 to 70 degrees mostly of hard ice, occasionally there were small rock patches.

It was nearly 6.00 p.m. and we fixed the 50 m rope. Sun was behind Nanda Khat, Panwali Dwar and it became dark all around. We were in a fix and on a point of no return. Still 150 m up to reach the summit and the thought of going down below does not arise with this darkness through the treacherous route of the face and the icefall. We then started to search out a patch of rock with bulge out projection for our shelter in the night, knowing fully well this would be dangerous proposition in the open sky and at this altitude.

The Sherpas wanted to go down even amidst darkness. They were convinced somehow, explaining the danger of the route in the darkness. From that point the leader was contacted through walkie-talkie at the ABC.

At last, the night was over and the morning sun rays greeted us. But, our bad time were not over as the Sherpas declined to move up towards summit. They were eager to go down. With much persuasion they agreed and at about 7 a.m. we started moving up towards summit. Passing 4 more fixed ropes, we reached summit at 10.50 a.m. There was cloud on the south and on the east but the overall weather was clear. We had excellent views.

That was 8 October and even on that day we could not go down to C4. Another night had to be passed in open. We came down to the end of one fixed rope within darkness and could not find out the other fixed rope. It was almost 6.30 p.m. and we were covered by a dark misty weather. In the meanwhile, Sherpa Tashi, without the help of any fixed rope, started descending and paid no need to our call. One more night was passed sitting on the rucksack and putting an anchor on a climbing rope, embracing each other in the hope of warmth. There was no wind even that night. Our food and drink was only ice. In the morning at about 6.30 a.m. we started going down and after rappelling down two ropes found our fixed ropes on the face. At 9.40 a.m. we reached C4. We were greeted there by Sherpa Tashi., who on the previous night was lucky to find the fixed rope and reached the C4 at 12.30 a.m. He had no match stick with him, for that reason could not prepare any hot drinks.

At C3 we discovered that with continuous walking for two days without removing shoes Kalyan and Tarun complained of pain in the toes with preliminary sign of frost bite. Later, Rajib had frostbite in the fingers. They were taken down to ABC and then via Haldwani to Delhi and later flown to Kolkata, where the two victims Rajib and Kalyan had to have their toes amputated.


Shyamal Sarkar (leader), Kalyan Deb (deputy leader), Tarun Das, Rajib Mondal, Prosenjit Samanta, Ishanjit Dutta, Samitava Karar, Liton Debnath, Debraj Dutta, Rupjoy Dewan, Indranil Chatterjee, Kamal Addya..

Summary: Second ascent of south face of Nanda Kot (6861 m), by team from West Bengal. The summit was reached on 7 October, 2001.

Fold-out 8



THE INDIAN HIMALAYA offers alpinists unique challenges. Some very photogenic summits like Shivling and Thalay Sagar are visited by many expeditions each year, however, there are still plenty goals of interest from the alpinist view in the north of India, which are known to experts only. These mountain peaks are discovered slowly some due to infamous reputation and some due to bureaucratic obstacles. The British, who are most connected with this area through their colonial heritage, have a leading role in this field. Arwa, Changabang, Kishtwar, Rimo and other interesting objectives are the result of systematic discovery and exploration of individual mountain chains.

The 6596 m high Nilkanth had only three successful ascents before we visited it and several unsuccessful attempts from various directions. According to the available information, the south face of the mountain was the most interesting for climbing; from here the third ascent to the top along the west ridge was completed in spring 2000 by Martin Mo ran's guided expedition.

We wanted to climb either the south or southwest face. Judging from the only photo we had, we assumed the climbing would have an interesting mixed character (rock, snow and ice).

After formalities at IMF (as the last expedition of the season) and purchased food, we left Delhi rather quickly. Despite the short time period, unfamiliarity with the area and the first contact with the Indian bureaucracy, we reached BC (4050 m) after only three days of walking. We hired 20 porters (each carrying 20 - 25 kg) to carry food and equipment for a one-month stay at BC.

We put up the base camp and started acclimatising. The conditions were in contrast with our expectations based on the only photo we had from this side; there was very little snow. The weather was unstable most of the time - clear in the morning, cloudy in the afternoon (each time some snow fell on the mountain). We decided to do the second (and last) acclimatisation ascent on the W ridge, which offered an appropriate height and the most probable descent route in case we finally ascended across the SW face.

We pitched ABC (5100 m) below the SW face and began to go up the W ridge from there on 13 October. The climbing conditions were not easy. On the initial slope we encountered many big stones and granite blocks, threatening to move due to lack of snow and ice. Climbing in the lower part of the ridge turned out to be much more demanding than we expected, again due to the lack of ice and a thin layer of fresh snow on the rocks. At the beginning we found some unreliable fixed ropes, which we didn't use. At about 5600 m we arranged an uncomfortable bivouac and continued to climb the next day. Around noon we reached the upper, icy part of the ridge where we climbed to the top in very unstable weather but with a lot of personal motivation (and luck). The ridge was in the highest part burdened with huge ice cornices, sometimes cracked upto 50 m deep into the slope. Shortly before the summit, the ridge was very sharp. From the summit, which we reached at around 2 p.m., we descended to the rocky part of the ridge partly by using the "Abalakov technique", partly by climbing down. Hampered by brittleness, fresh snow on the rocks and darkness, we rappelled over the whole exposed rocky part to the bivouac. After another night in the uncomfortable bivouac, we descended all the way to BC on the same day. During almost thousand metres of abseiling, falling rocks damaged our 70-metre rope so badly that we reached the bottom of the face with only fifty metres of rope left.

On 20 October, after four days of rest, we left for ABC to ascend the SW face - our main goal. Approaching the face, we were exposed to larger quantities of falling ice and rocks because of high temperatures. When we arrived at our small tent under the face we were surprised to see that snow and ice bands connecting the individual parts of the face, had melted. The logical passages were exposed to falling rocks and water. We carefully considered the option of a risky and enforced search for some shelter (across the steep sections less exposed to falling rocks) and decided to descend. The weather confirmed our decision the next day, as the whole face was again covered with the fresh thin snow blanket.

We prepared to climb a different type of terrain, but th