Himalayan Journal vol.59
The Himalayan Journal

Publication year:

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





In the late 1930's my brother Ron bought a motor-bike and side car for £5. It was an old side-valve Ariel which never went very fast but slogged away all day without any trouble. We called it the 'Iron Lung' and indeed it was a lung, a transport to the fresh clean air of the moorlands and the hills. Ron quickly learned to drive and after a few sorties to Ilkley, Almacliffe and the Lake-District we planned to have two weeks in Scotland and the Isle of Skye.

Scotland is a big mountain country, bigger than people realise. It is possible to go through almost the whole gamut of mountaineering progressions and nowhere more so than on the Skye ridge. It was a good day when two of us roped together and practiced moving Alpine- style over Sgurr Alastair, onto the Thearlach Dubh, then traversed Sgurr Mhic Coinnich via Kings Chimneys and onto An Stac. As we ascended the Inaccessible Pinnacle the mist swept about us and sun shone weakly. Wind from the deep depths of Coruisk whipped between the rock teeth, making a sound like that of a swooping falcon, and then when the sunlight strengthened there appeared the 'Spectre of the Brocken'. My own shadow seemed huge within the circular rainbow - the Glory! White light from the sun had been split into the spectrum as it shone through the spherical droplets of mist and then projected onto the 'screen' of the cloud ahead. Such a moment is never to be forgotten and on this occasion reminded me of a day that my brother Ron and I climbed Illiminate B on Dow Crag in Cumberland. Finishing that climb we saw our first ever 'Brocken' and for a moment I knew great fear of my own giant shadow. Nearing the top of the Inaccessible Pinnacle the mist thinned out the sunlight was strong enough to disperse the clouds and when it cleared the next group of peaks was revealed to us. The barren looking ridge, fractured and shattered by fierce freeze-thaw action over a million years or more is surprisingly dry. But it is worth seeking out the hidden springs where there will be another welcome display of colour as some high growing acetic-alpine plant stretches its leaves and petals to capture the life-giving rays of the sun.

The just a position of mountains and the sea is one of the splendorous of the Hebrides and of the Scottish Western seaboard. Once whilst camping with my wife, Eileon, and our two sons at Achiltibui on the shores of Loch Broom, I revisited the mountaineer and explorer Dr. Tom Longstaff. There have been very few people to who led travelled, explored and climbed as such as he did in different parts of the world. Together, with a few dreams of Glenlivet for lubricant, and maps to stimulate the memory we discussed countries and mountains far afield. Before dark I asked, 'Why did you retire to this spot?' He took me to the window. There I looked out across the loch to the Summer Isles, then beyond to the rugged mountainous coastline stretching south and west as far as the serrated peaks of the Cuillins of Skye. An evening sun set the sea on fire and the toothed gabbro ridge showed up clearly against golden clouds. 'I have travelled far and wide', he said, 'Climbed in most mountain areas of the world, but this is the finest panorama of the mountains and the sea I have ever seen. This is where I want to end my days'.

Summary: Recalling events, from rich experiences of the author.

Photo 52, Frontispiece




W'e ran into him on the bank of Satopanth tal - a small triangular shaped glacial lake deep in the Himalaya, an ancient and sacred lake impeccably described in the Skanda Puran as a triangular lake that was said to be guarded by none other than the holy Trinity (Bramha, Vishnu and Mahesh), stands at the foot of Chaukhamba peak. 25 km from Badrinath, Satopanth, literally meaning 'the way to the truth', is difficult to reach. Its inaccessibility protects it from the casual foray of the uninitiated. High ridges and treacherous glaciers surround the lake leaving only one route of access that too over razor-sharp ridges and perilous glaciers. On the way, every time we had a fall or faced a landslide and there is no escape from those; we would want to run back to the safety of the Badrinath valley - amidst familiar sights and sounds. But after traversing some distance, when ultimately we comprehended the danger; there was simply no point in turning back. To do so, we had had to cross that killing field again.

Naturally, at such a godforsaken place, in the middle of nowhere, miles away from the nearest habitation and in the lap of breathtaking beauty, legend and harsh reality, we least expected to meet any soul and definitely not a half-naked ascetic.

We had no plan to trek to Satopanth lake. We came to Badrinath without any plan. But the Himalaya has an uncanny knack of forcing its will on gullibles like us. When we were thinking of taking up the relatively easy and well-known route to the Valley of Flowers and Hemkund, Himalaya silently forced itself on us and we met Darshananandaji. He is the in-charge of the Balananda ashram of Badrinath - a sort of hotel in the guise of a dharamshala where one mellow afternoon, sipping hot tea, we were debating the merits and demerits of the commercialisation of religion and the profusion of Dosa and Chana Batora shops in Badrinath; when Darshananandaji gave us a long searching look and suggested that we visit Satopanth tal.

But where the hell is it, was our first reaction. The name was not totally unknown. I have read a brief description of it in a book of Umaprasad Mukhopadyay - ages ago. But except that we had no other information on the route. We also had no provisions, no tent and no guide to lead us. At least a map, provision and tent are the essentials for such a journey to a little known place. But Darshananandaji encouraged us. He even arranged a guide and he procured provisions- food stuff, kerosene, stoves etc. We needed a tent to spend two nights on the route. But Mohan - our guide - assured us that there were enough caves on the route, which could be our night shelter and we could always share those with the wild animals that roamed the mountains. Who knows, we may even share one with the illusive snow leopard! Thus assured, we were off with butterflies in our stomach.

We were trudging along the right bank of river Alaknanda towards Lakshmiban when we were stopped by the Indo-Tibetan Border Police.

We were firmly told, we need permission to visit Satopanth tal. But sadhus and the locals are allowed to go without permits And Darshananandaji had assured us that we need no permission. But ITBPS would have none of it. Their logic is simple; we are neither sadhu nor locals; so we need permission. Lot of haggling and dropping of names convinced them that we were no spies and not a threat to the security and the sovereignty of the country and they let us pass. But I had to deposit my government identity card as security. Well, low paid certainly, but government jobs sometimes have their own advantage!

But the ITBP had done a great diservice to us. They misled us in believing that the easier route to Satopanth goes through the left bank of Alaknanda not the right bank. Mohan was reluctant to take the unknown left bank route. But how we can ignore the experience of ITBP! Their sage (!) advice prevailed and soon we found ourselves lost amidst an ocean of boulders and fiercely flowing rivulets.

After walking continuously for ten hours on loose moraines and boulders we could not find any night-shelter and evening was fast approaching. Where were those caves that were supposed to litter the route! Bivouacking at such a height in near zero temperature was not my idea of fun. Desperately looking in all directions we could locate an overhang some way up. Erecting loose rock walls and mending the gaping holes with a plastic sheet, we could make a two side open cave with space for two people and we were four. But body warmth keeps one warm - they say! So in we went to spend a very cold night cushioned in our sleeping bags.

It was still dark when I woke up around five next morning. I had slept soundly for nine hours. Even dog-tired souls just cannot sleep more than nine hours. As I looked with some trepidation towards the trail we have to traverse, the first sun ray touched the snow crested peak of Balakun and the peak erupted into a blaze. Stunned, I devoured the sight - a prodigious fire on a snow peak. All of yesterdays' hardship and hassle have turned into a beautiful gift.

Next day we trudged on Bhagirathi kharak. The trek was somewhat boring; clambering up the loose moraine, going two steps forward and sliding one step down, a few water falls and snow peaks giving company-it is labourious and eventless except a few land slides and rock falls that barely missed us. But by that time such happenings were 'all in a days work'!

Trekking for another ten hours at a stretch, taking very short breaks in between; as is was dangerous to stop for long amidst land slides

and rock falls, we reached Chakratirtha - a beautiful saucer shaped green valley and crawled into the only cave of the valley. The cave, bereft of wild animals, was warm as its opening was not in the path of the blowing cold wind. After yesterday's chilling night, it turned out to be a cozy and warm bedroom.

The legend has it that Vishnu while meditating kept his famous Sudarshan Chakra on this valley and the weight of the Chakra gave this valley its saucer shape. Lakshmiban has its own legend. It is said that Lakshmi - the consort of Vishnu and goddess of wealth - meditated in this beautiful valley - so the names.

Sometimes I feel the whole of Himalaya is not made of stone and ice but of legend and hearsay.

Next morning saw us plodding on the Satopanth bamak. We were close to our destination but totally exhausted. Our stove refused to light up and we were surviving only on dry food. We were dreaming of one full meal of dal-rice. The rice and flour we brought from Badrinath could not be cooked. There was no wood as alternative fuel and the shrubs that dot the path simply would not generate enough fire for cooking at such an altitude.

But all distress has a silver lining; it ends. And soon we were at the foot of the last ridge, separating us from the lake. Mohan with a relieved smile informed us, behind that ridge lay our destination - Satopanth tal. As we dragged our half-dead bodies over that last ridge and descended on the bank of the lake, a half-naked ascetic came out of a nearby small concrete hut with a reassuring welcome smile. He was holding two steaming cups (actually two coconut shells) of scented tea. He must have seen us coming down the ridge and rightly guessed, we badly need some hot beverage.

The first thing that struck me about him was his ordinariness. He is of average height; average built - with a very common face and common complexion - a completely common demeanour. Apart from the unkempt long beard and moustache, there is nothing extra-ordinary about him. But instinctively I felt, there was more to that deceptive appearance, as if he is deliberately trying to keep an ordinary profile. Looking closely I realised; I am looking at the most extraordinary pair of eyes that I had ever seen. It is not the eyes itself but the gaze that is coming out of those eyes; full of compassion. It caressed me gently and some thing ruptured inside me; I felt like crying.

Though the temperature is near the freezing point, he is wearing a small dhoti that only fell to his knees. His torso is exposed to the elements and the skin is burnt deep brown. Through his long beard and moustache his white teeth flashes every time he smiles and he smiles a lot. His small and lithe body looks exceptionally fit.

I had so many questions waiting to burst out; I was momentarily lost for words. Seeing my amazement, which must have been dangling like a red flag, he gesticulated to let me know that he would not speak. He has taken a vow of silence. That must be the proverbial last straw on the camel's back. Seeing me crest fallen, he gave me that dazzling smile again and signaled me to rest for a while. Yes, we badly needed some rest.

As we took possession of the two nearby caves - the big one for our guide and porter and the small one as our kitchen - though we have nothing to cook, he went into his small concrete hermitage to cook our lunch. Somehow without uttering a word, he had guessed that we need some solid food. Silently, he had taken the control by accepting us as his guest. He indicated that we could stay in his one roomed ashram.

Soon he served us piping hot dal-rice and that was one of the best meals that I had in a long time. But where from he gets his ration? The question haunted me for the rest of the day. It is so frustrating when one has so many questions and no answers forthcoming.

On reaching the lake, the first thing that hit me squarely was the strange ethereal ambience around the lake. It had such a soothing effect. I do not know why! Probably, because it was an achievement of hard labour. We had to admit; our suicidal effort was amply rewarded. The emerald green triangular lake mirrors the snow crested Chaukhamba peak. The image forms and breaks repeatedly by the cold gentle breeze.

As I feasted on the spellbinding scenery, I became aware, for the first time, of the complete lack of sound around the lake. It's eerie. Excepting the occasional sound of avalanches that were coming down the Chaukhamba peak, the silence was all encompassing. The sound of the occasional avalanches - alike the sound of a thunder, only accentuates this all-embracing silence. As if every living being around here were mortally afraid of sound lest that might disturb the holy Trinity who were said to be in perpetual meditation sitting on the vertices of the triangular lake Our silent ascetic complemented this silence. I could only recall a Tao saying:

Go far into the void and there rest in quietness. All things arise and bloom in their time, Then they return to their roots. Their returning is Peace.

The day passed into starry night and the night into a glorious dawn. It was time to depart from this world of grandeur and legend. As we clambered up the ridge, my silent ascetic stood on the bank of the lake biding us farewell. On reaching the top of the ridge, I turned back to have a last look. I, probably, would not be coming again. Seeing me turn back, he waived. I felt his gaze on me - full of compassion and tolerance, silently caressing me like the soft touch of a mother.

We know nothing about him. Mortals like us are not comfortable with unanswered queries and unexplained phenomena. There are so many unanswered questions- thousands of it that are never going to be answered, smothered by the omnipotent silence. Perhaps he was right to take the vow of silence. That was the right place for taking such a vow.

They say, Brahmma, Vishnu and Maheshwar meditate on the bank of Satopanth lake. We have not seen any. On second thought; perhaps we have seen one.

Summary: A visit to Satopanth tal near Badrinath



A Discovery Report COL AJIT DUTT

I was leading an NIM expedition to the unclimbed Mukut Parvat (East). Our team put 9 summiteers atop this peak on July 1999. We trekked from Badrinath to Mana village and then to Ghastoli, 18 km away from Mana. Ghastoli is the last ITBP outpost before the Chinese border across Mana pass. Our expedition went east of this pass and west of Kamet and Abi Gamin in the Eastern Garhwal Himalaya.

It was another day's trek to BC and after that we pitched four camps to reach the summit. After a successful expedition, I left winding up logistics to the deputy leader and began my other exploration, that of discovering, where the stream descending from close to Mana pass, becomes a river known as the Saraswati.

This river has many references in mythology and is said to exist before the Mahabharata period. For 2000 years, between 6000 and 4000 B.C., Saraswati flowed as a great river. The Rig Veda refers to Saraswati as one of the Sapta Sindhu (seven rivers). This was one of the two rivers that flowed from the mountains to the sea. Climatic changes and geotectonic movements since have led to shifting or disappearing of many rivers.

Mythology suggests that the river beyond Badrinath flowed through Bhavanipur and Balchapur in the Himalayan foothills and turned southwest through the plains of Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Gujarat and met the sea at the Rann of Kutch. In fact, Satluj, Drishadwati and old Yamuna were tributaries to this great river in its long journey. Some historians suggest that the river Ghaggar in Haryana also flowed into the Saraswati. Thus the upper catchment of Saraswati was the Ghaggar and the lower down it became the Hakra (Rajasthan). Due to tectonic movement, the Satluj and Yamuna changed course and started flowing independently in different directions. Waters of these rivers drained from melting glaciers and this in turn was the basic source of water for Saraswati. Their separation from Saraswati and silt deposits in the channel of the river became the cause of the gradual drying up of the river while it flowed through the warm plains. Besides, desertification of Gujarat and Rajasthan had already begun and the limited water left in Saraswati after the separation of Satluj and Yamuna was no match for the heat process that had set in due to desertification. The quantum of water was not enough to carry the channel of this great river from the Himalaya up to the Rann of Kutch. Slowly the river began to disappear in the deserts of Rajasthan and Gujarat and was finally lost in the plains.

Another school of thought proclaims that before Mahabharata, the river originated from the Jaunder (Har ki Doon) glacier in West Garhwal. Yamuna, originating from the Bandarpunch glacier near Yamunotri integrated with Saraswati near Khalsi or Ambadi. During the Mahabharata war, so much blood was shed that the mighty Saraswati turned red. This angered the Goddess Saraswati and she changed the river from

Saraswati (wisdom) to Tamas (anger). The river Saraswati was thus lost and the same river is now the Tons (from Tamas) river.

Yet another myth goes thus. In the Rig Veda, the Saraswati is described as a mighty river. Hymns described the river as Ambitame (best of mothers), Naditame (best of rivers) and Devitame (best of Goddesses). Prayagraj, the confluence of the Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati rivers is the king of all pilgrimages. This confluence is located near the present day Allahabad. It is said that after disappearing or drying up, the river emerged at Prayag in a sacred well. This well is said to release water to meet Ganga and Yamuna at Triveni (confluence of three rivers) of Prayagraj. This is the belief of thousands of pilgrims visiting Prayag every year.

Seeing so many conflicting reports and records made me curious enough to look into these myths and try to find the truth that lay between them.

There is a mountain lake near Mana pass at 4000 m know as Deotal. The present source of the Saraswati is the overflowing water of this lake. There are several small tributaries that emerge from this lake and meet the Saraswati. It becomes a flowing river while passing through Ghastoli. Another nala, Arwa nala, on the Gangotri - Badrinath trekking route, which flows out of Arwa tal, meets the Saraswati at Ghastoli. Beyond Ghastoli the river looks full and mighty, flowing rapidly downward, for 14 km. Beyond Ghastoli, near Mana village, the river descends sharply. It then flows southwards to meet river Alaknanda, between Mana and Badrinath, at 3000 m. Here again myth has an explanation. It is said that when the river falls into the deep gorges, it actually disappears into patal (underground) and appears again at Prayag.

It is curious to find that the present course of the 27 km long Saraswati flowing from Mana pass to Mana village and disappearing into the Alaknanda, was once described as a mighty river that flowed from the Himalaya to the foothills and 1400 km to meet the Arabian Sea. The confluence at Triveni Sangam (meeting of three rivers, Ganga, Yamuna and... ?) has baffled geologists for years as no third river exists! The river Saraswati is both, a myth as well as a reality.

Summary: A study on the course of the Saraswati river of Garhwal.


Travels in the Frontier Districts, Northeast India


T'wo Japanese couples, Masato and Michiko Oki, and Hideho and Toshiko Masuda made an adventurous journey to Dibang valley district of Arunachal Pradesh in the northeast part of India, for 13 days from 23 December 2002 to 4 January 2003. Earlier we had travelled to Kameng district in western part in January, 1998 and to Subansiri and Siang district, the central part in January, 1999,.

We started from Guwahati in Assam in two cars with guides on 23 December and went to Itanagar which is the capital of Arunachal Pradesh. We proceeded north to Pasighat of East Siang district, and Roing of Dibang valley district from there. We travelled 138 km from Roing to Hunli and 90 km from Hunli (1150 m) to Anini (1690 m) crossing the Mayadoya pass (2655 m) by cars. We went down to the Dibang river which is visible far at the bottom and progressed after having crossed a bridge and reaching north along the Dri river which is the upstream of Dibang river and arrived at Anini on the evening of 28 December. This village was 568 km from Itanagar. From Anini, snowy peaks were visible. We stayed here for three days and visited surrounding villages.

We went to a small village of Angu near the Indo-China border from Anini on 29 December, using a road under construction on the right bank of the Dri river. About 5 km ahead we reached the roadhead. We walked along the river for about 3 km from there. The snow-covered mountains were visible on the right. They are the mountains beyond the Indo-China border. When we walked along a large valley for about 40 minutes, we crossed a bamboo suspension bridge. Many villagers had gathered along the footpath approaching a village. It is the small village of Angu in which Mishumis tribe live. Almost all members of the village had helped to construct a new house of bamboo. After inspecting the house and interacting with the villagers, we returned to Anini. Some villagers told us that it would take three days from Anini to a small village of Bruniya and from there we could reach the Jarun pass on the Indo-China border towards the right bank of the upper part of Dori river in further three days.

We went to Mipi or Mipidon village along the upper part of Mathun river upstream on 30 December. When British explorers F. M. Bailey and T. H. Morshead explored the Zangbo (Dibang or Siang) river in 1913, it was the route to Tibet across the border. There is almost no record of foreigners visiting this area after that. We rode in jeeps along the left bank of the Mathun river toward north from Anini. We visited a private house in the village of Malonali and passed through another small village Emuli. The road under construction is extremely bad and therefore progress was slow. The cars were not able to go further on this road so we stopped about 30 km from Anini. It had taken about 6 hours. Although it was also dangerous to walk from there, we walked in sand dust. We walked down steep slopes reaching a valley. On crossing a bamboo suspension bridge in the valley, and crossing back again ahead, we reached a small village of Brango. There is a small village of Mipi in about 3 km from Brango and another small village, Ebali north of Mipi.

Since it was twilight, we returned from this side of the bamboo suspension bridge. It is northeast from Mipi, which is about 50 km from the border. There are two routes in the upper part of Mipi, along one you can reach Andra pass (c. 4000 m) in the south and another, Yonggyap pass (4220 m) in the north. These passes are located on the border.

We returned driving 223 km from Anini to Roing on the New Year's Eve, and from Roing to Sadiya, crossing the Brahmaputra river by a ferry boat and drove back to Guwahati after visiting Shillong.

Summary: A journey to Arunachal Pradesh and northeast India.


Scientific Expedition to the Source of Yalung-Tsangpo River, 2002


Five years after the dispatch of a reconnaissance team in 1997, Doshisha University Alpine Club (DAC) succeeded in making the first ascent of Kaqur Kangri (6859 m), the highest peak of Ronglai Kangri range, located on the border of source area of the Yalung- Tsangpo river, about 330 km from Kathmandu, 800 km from Lhasa, where foreign climbers rarely visit.

So many untrodden peaks of 6000 m rise along the border of the area. The features of the range are that, on Nepal side, mountains rise sharply on the border with deep valleys, steep rock wall, Himalayan creases and short glaciers while on Tibet side, completely different from Nepal side, there spreads out a great wet land of the source of Yalung-Tsangpo river with gentle hills rising beyond it. Behind them, lies Ronglai Kangri range. Glaciers develop very well, forming a long relaxed configuration of ground. The great wet land of the Yalung- Tsangpo river, causes an approach to the range to be quite tough.

Following are the reports on the first ascent after five years of enchantment to this untrodden area and on the challenge to conserve nature while climbing.

Ronglai Kangri Range

A group of mountains with the main peak situated in the center at lat. 29°46" N. and long. 82°45"E., extending about 40 km from east to west is called Ronglai Kangri range. To the east, it is connected to Pakyunghangmu range and is further linked to the northern side of Dhaulagiri range with the altitude being slightly lower. To the west, it is extended to connect with Gorakh Himal and Changla Himal. Names of mountain ranges and mountains are naturally different between

Nepal and Tibet. We confirmed that, for instance, a main peak of Ronglai Kangri range has four different names. The name historically well known is Kanti Himal. This name is used in Nepal.

A formal name in China is Ronglai Kangri meanwhile most popular name among local people in Tibet is Kaqur Kangri but some inhabitants call it Zazi Kangri. A lama explained the name 'Kaqur' originates from the Kaqur school which is one of the four major schools of Tibetan Buddhism and whose founder was Milarepa.

We confirmed the existence of a mountain called Rongla Kangri (6799 m), 12 km north-north-west of Kaqur Kangri, which is different from the main peak. The map on scale of 1 : 200,000, edited by the former USSR shows the summit located in Tibet at a short distance from the border. In Tibetan, 'ron' represents inhabitants living in a low land, and means Nepali while 'la' is a pass and 'kangri' means a snow mountain, thus, 'Rongla Kangri' means a snow mountain on a pass where Nepalese travel up and down.

We decided to call the mountain area as Ronglai Kangri and the main peak as Kaqur Kangri. On the map edited by Geographic Science Research Institute of China National Geographic Bureau and Chinese Mountaineering Association, Ronglai Kangri (6859 m) is shown as the main peak. Almost all of them are virgin peaks and the altitudes indicated are taken from the map of the former USSR except those of Kaqur Kangri and Kubi Dongdong. On this map, the altitudes are, in many cases, shown about 100 m higher than maps edited by Nepal.

Ronglai Kangri might have come from a Chinese character when the word 'Rongla Kangri' was first translated into Chinese language. It is called Kanti Himal in Nepal.

The foreigner who first entered this area was a Japanese named Rev. Ekai Kawaguchi (1866-1945) who passed through the area when he entered Tibet as an aspirant for truth, earnestly seeking for the origin of Buddhism. He left Marpha along the Kali-gandaki river in Nepal in 1900, passed on the northern side of Dhaulagiri and entered into Tsarka, then advanced to north, and wandered around the mountain area until he found a way to the Cang-chu river so as to reach Narue. The next foreigner who came in the area was Sven Hedin, the great Swedish explorer. He was the first person who went up the Cang-chu river in 1907 and sketched Kaqur Kangri. Meanwhile, pursuant to the first ascent of Api in 1960, DAC made the first ascent of Saipal in 1963, they witnessed the range from the summit of Saipal. Then, when Katsuichi Fukuda and Tashiro Matsumura made a survey trip crossing

Nepal from west to east, they went up the Langun river from Mugu village and on the way to Bhijor village, they confirmed for the first time from Nepal side the range running along the border ridge. In 1997, Sadao Yoshinaga and others from Osaka Alpine Club went up Mugu- khora and climbed a vanguard peak of Rongla Kangri and made a reconnaissance of Kaqur Kangri.

Reconnaisance and the first challenge 1997-98

Two members of DAC, namely, Takashi Sano and Katsumi Nishida, who were fascinated by the pictures of the area taken by the China- Japan Joint Friendship Expedition Team to Mt. Naimona'nyi which was organized for the first time by Doushisa University, Kyoto University and Chinese Mountaineering Association in 1985, entered the area in September 1997 to make a reconnaissance. Ninety years had elapsed since Sven Hedin made a survey of the area from a far distance, when he sought for the source of the Yalung Tsangpo river. They started a march from Laru, which is located at the upstream of Paryang and is about three hours distance by car. It is the most upstream of the river called Yalung Tsangpo and down there, rivers are called by names of tributaries such as Cang Chu river (Rongla Tsangpo), Kubi Tsangpo river, Chema Yundung Chu river. If we go up the Cang Chu river, we will reach Namujala pass which leads us to Nepal.

Two members of DAC's reconnaissance team went on horseback from Laru, moving up along the Cang chu river to arrive at Narue where the Rev. Ekai Kawaguchi passed through in 1900. 'Cang-chu' means a river where Cang (wild horses) live. There are many Cang in this area. They left Cang Chu river around here and crossed hills branching off from Ronglai Kangri range toward south. Two days after the start of an approach, they opened a base camp at the tip of glacier tongue of Kaqur glacier and conducted reconnaissance activity. They surveyed up to 5605 m of Kaqur glacier and tried in vain to find a climbing route from western ridge of Kaqur Kangri but, to their regret, were unable to find it either from western or northern face and yet, they retained a chance of finding out a possible climbing route from east face or south-eastern side.

From August to September 1998, five members of DAC, namely Yoshiharu Suita, Team Leader, Junichi Noda, Kouji Tanabe, Ryou Suemori and Katsumi Nishida, took a route on east ridge from the East Kaur glacier and challenged Kaqur Kangri. The team moved by car as far as Nakchu village, east of Ronglai Kangri range from New Zhongba on the Yalung Tsangpo river, crossing a bridge over it. It took ten hours from New Zhongba to Nakchu village by car. From Nakchu village, they started an approach on horse-back. After a journey of two days, they found a base camp on 18 August at a point of 5460 m along the East Kaqur glacier.

They went up on the side moraine on left bank of East Kaqur glacier, passed through serac zone and made an advance base camp at a point below the lowest col of eastern ridge after having traversed the glacier. Then, they further advanced on the snowfield, climbed up the snow wall, reached a point below a col on the ridge of the border and made it camp 1. They further worked on the snow wall of east ridge with a slope angle of about 50 degrees to fix ropes. On 3 September, when they reached an altitude of 6350 m, an avalanche took place and two of them were carried away and fell in a crevasse. Fortunately, some fixed ropes were effective enough to prevent them being carried away any further. If had could moved up another 50 m, they would have reached a would-be camp 2 site, however, since two were badly injured, they had to withdraw.

Approach : 2002

In 2002, five members of DAC, namely Toyoji Wada, Team leader, Katsumi Nishida, Climbing Team Leader, Yusuke Ueda, Atsushi Senda and Hyousuke Tsuboi and three Sherpas with Nga Dorje again challenged Kaqur Kangri. The plan was deferred by about one month to avoid avalanche and enable them to make an ascent of the summit from late September to early October. They arrived at New Zhongba on 31 August to cross the Yalung Tsangpo river but owing to an unusually high rise of a tributary of the Yalung Tsangpo river, it was impossible to traverse it by four-wheel drive vehicle. A ferry service at Saga was also suspended due to a high rise of the river, thus, they were unable to come closer to Ronglai Kangri range. Comparison of water volume of the Yalung Tsangpo river at three post-monsoons, i.e.,the time of a reconnaissance in 1997, in 1998 and this time tells us very well that the water volume is very changeable each year. As there was no other choice at that time, the Team went up to the neighborhood of Kubi Tsangpo river and decided to start an approach from Laru. Loads were carried by yaks while the members and Sherpas used horses.

A march for an approach started on 4 September and reached Kaqur Tsangpo taking the same route as the time of reconnaissance in 1997. They took another day to cross a branch of the ridge of Kaqur Kangri, and established a base camp on 8 September after a journey of five days. The site was on the left bank of a glacier tongue of the South Kaur glacier with an altitude of about 5100 m.

The monsoon did not completely end yet over there. The lowest temperature at a base camp was between - 6°C and + 2°C with little snowfall every day but the snow did not stay at an altitude of less than 5000 m. Mountains on the border ridges were, most of the time, hidden by heavy clouds. When the monsoon season was over beyond 14 September, fine weather continued and the mountains on the border could be seen clearly. On and after 6 October when the climbing was completed, the number of snowy days increased, and it was observed the snow started to lie out melting. By the middle of September, yaks and sheep put out to pasture during summer returned to villages at the foot of mountains and they completely disappeared from the mountains.

The Climb

After making a reconnaissance of the route, an advance base camp was constructed at 5800 m on the lowest col of east ridge from the South Kaqur glacier and moved on the great snowfield of the East Kaqur glacier which has many hidden crevasses so as to tackle again with the wall of east ridge. Since there was a danger of avalanche and a risk of crevasses from there, we had to use fix ropes in succession. Monsoon was over on 14 September and preparation of the route started on a full scale. Members of the team prepared the route from advance base camp to camp 1, then, from camp 1 to upper part of camp 2, Sherpas did. Since wind blew very strong on the col of the border ridge, a tent site of the camp 1 (6100 m) was established on a snow flat created, taking advantage of differences in crevasses, on the leeward and the east side of the border ridge. On 20 September, set up camp 2 (6400 m) on a huge ice-shelf which was almost stripping off the ridge. It was about 50 m above the point where they encountered avalanche in 1998.

Turning on the headlight under a strong wind, the attempt started at 7.40 a.m., Beijing standard time on 24 September. The route was almost along the ridge on the border. A slope with an angle of 45 to 60 degrees, mixed with hard snow surface and crevasses, continued. Crampon pleasantly caught snow very effectively. Fix ropes were extended for 1700 m from lower part of C1 on the previous day, thus, the route to east peak had been secured. From there, climbed over a small cornice and went up on the ridge to the summit where the wind blew much stronger. It was climbing, viewing Kanjiroba-Himal on left side far away in Nepal. Unfortunately, Api and Saipal could not be confirmed due to the sea of cloud. A flat route on the ridge was anticipated but, in actual, it continued as a steep ridge. Fix ropes were further extended another 200 m but could not reach the main peak yet. So, using two main ropes additionally, they could arrive at the snowfield leading to the main peak. The final upward approach to the main peak was on a snowy gentle slope. Paying careful attention to cornice, they proceeded to the highest point, thus, all the five members of the team and 3 Sherpas stood on the summit at 11.40 a.m.

Survey of the mountain area and the source of Yalung Tsangpo river

After the ascent of Kaqur Kangri, the team first made a survey of the circumference of Ronglai Kangri range. The names of mountains surrounding the area are called differently according to the region people live in and it is difficult to denominate them.

In this mountain range, besides such beautiful mountains with typical Himalayan creases as Kaqur Kangri, the main peak in center, Langlung Kangri, Surlung Kangri and Pakyung-Hangmu (according to a local legend, a wife of Kaqur Kangri) on the east side, virgin peaks of 6000 m to about 6500 m, including a rocky peak of Galzon-Gencok which is quite strange and unique among mountains of western Tibet, all are situated on the border ridge leading to Kaqur Kangri. Most of those mountains running in north-west direction are still left untrodden. Since the curve of ridge is so complicated, it is difficult to define the border. Different from Nepal side, glaciers develop comparatively well, and each glacier can be used as a climbing route. If the timing of ascent is appropriately selected, the approach will be comparatively easier.

The team also confirmed names of mountains extending from the deepest source of Yalung Tsangpo river, which is branched off to Kubi- Tsangpo and Chema-Yundung Chu, further west of Ronglai Kangri range. In this work, a detailed sketch by Sven Hedin was very helpful. This range is called Gorakh Himal, Changla Himal in Nepal. Of the information as much as we can grasp, the climbing records in this range were Changla Himal by the Northwest Nepal Women Expedition and climbing team of Japan in 1983 and Changla southwest by Osaka Alpine Club in 1998. Therefore, we wish to explain briefly about each mountain mass.

Gorakh Himal

Among mountains in this mass, Mukchung-Jungu, Absi, Ngomo- Dingding are outstanding. They are all untrodden. 'Ngomo-Dingding' originally came from the name of a pass in the east, which means a flat and blue place, and it is now used as a name of the mountain. In Nepal, this pass is called Kang la. To make an approach to these mountains, you may go up the Kubi Tsangpo river. So far as we understand the main peak on the border is called Absi Gyablung (behind Absi) while the vanguard peak is called Absi, so, it is generally accepted that the mountain on the border is Absi. According to Hedin, the name of main peak of the mass is Mukchung-Jungu which is connected to Mukchung- Tseung in west. Mountains called Asajyatuppa and Gorakh-Himal in Nepal are equivalent to Muchung-Jungu and Mukchung-Tseung respectively.

Changla Himal

The border line from Gorakh Himal sharply bends 90 degrees at Langta Chen and extends to north and south. The mountain mass that extends along the border is Changla Himal. Its main peak of 6721 m and Chema Yundung-Kangri in the east of Changla are showing off their existence. Chema-Yundung Kangri has a set of twin peaks, one is on the border and another is located slightly inside Tibet. In Nepal, the peak on the border is accepted as Changla Himal (6563 m).

The name of the main peak of 6721 m has not been established yet, and according to Mr. Ohnishi's report, it is called Changla highest. The climbing team of 1983 challenged this mountain. The main peak is called Kubi-Dongdong or Dondong in Tibet. As much as we could observe, the summit area was a pinnacle with no snow attached.

Source of the Yalung Tsangpo river

As to a question of the source of a big river, the Yalung Tsangpo, we asked the local inhabitants, then, some said that Kubi Tsangpo could be the source of the river, while other insisted that it should be Chema-Yundung Chu, thus, no definite reply was obtained. We confimed the point where the two rivers actually joined together. Since volume of water and speed of water flow of Kubi Tsangpo looked apparently bigger and faster, it seemed to be the main stream, which was exactly as Sven Hedin had observed. On the other hand, the map indicates that Chema-Yundung Chu river is apparently longer and because of it, it looks to be the main stream. So, we reached a conclusion that both are the source of the river.


As a part of sustainable study and survey of development of mountain areas, our climbing team carried out a study of zero-emission in the development of mountain area throughout the climbing and exploration activities as well as climbing activity. We set it as our goal that we would leave nothing behind us, which may arise from climbing activity, such as climbing gears, rubbish, excrement etc. We made a survey of what are the problems to practice zero-emission activity, taking our own climbing activity as a working model. Consequently, we could descend the mountain without leaving any artificial waste or excrement (except urine) behind us in the area of Kaqur Kangri, except those fix ropes near the summit, recovery of which usually involves great danger. As a matter worthy of special attention, we used portable toilets, 'sanita-clean' during the action and in the summit camp, and excrements were placed into a plastic bag and when descending, it was hung from a rucksack. As a result, the circumference of a tent became clean and enabled us to make water easily even during a snowstorm and to spend a comfortable life in the tent. Waste recollected were 80 kg of excrements, 69 kg of kitchen refuse, 16 kg of papers, 13 kg of plastic waste, 12 kg of glass bottles and metal, 3 kg of ashes and 31 pieces of portable toilets.

Wastes brought down were separated at base camp. Kitchen refuse and excrement were accelerated to compost by fermentation accelerating agent and were buried in the grass field. Combustible stuff and portable toilets were burned down, then, ashes and incombustible were taken back to Lhasa. Sherpas were also very cooperative since they were faced with environmental issues in Nepal.

At Nakchushang where we dropped in on the way back, since rubbish and waste were left alone without being disposed of, we taught the way of disposing rubbish and, together with students and village people, separated rubbish and buried them in the ground and burnt the combustible waste, then, took incombustible back to Lhasa.

Thus, we could prove by ourselves that it is possible to achieve 'clean' climbing without destructing the environment, although some exceptions must be accepted.

Literature cited;
  1. The Rev. Ekai Kawaguchi, Three years in Tibet 1909, Madras
  2. Sven Hedin, Southern Tibet B.R. Publishing Corporation 1991
  3. The journal of the Japanese Alpine Club, Sangaku Vol. Lix, 1964
  4. Naimona'nyi 1985 by China-Japan Joint Friendship Expedition to Mt. Naimona'nyi Published by Mainichi Newspaper
  5. Geographic Science Research Institute of National Geographic Bureau, China, Chinese Mountaineering Association, Mountains Map of Tibet Plateau 1989
  6. Kyoko Endo, Masako Uchida, Report of North-West Nepal Women Expedition and Climbing Team Doujin, Jungfrau 1983
  7. The former USSR, a Map on scale of 1: 200,000
  8. Osaka Alpine Club Homepage - http:/www.showa p.co.jp/oac/
    1. Onishi, 'Ascent of Mt. Narakankharu (6062 m) and Expedition to Extreme North-West Nepal,' Sangaku Vol.96/2001 p.137~147
Summary : A Japanese Scientific expedition to Kanti Himal in 2002.



Visit to Mustang Himal, again in summer 2002


A little more than a hundred years ago, Sharmana Ekai Kawaguchi, the first foreigner who had entered into Tibet through Nepal in 1900, stayed in Mustang to carry out his adventurous journey to Lhasa. He stayed at Chharang for around ten months and eventually decided to take an unusual route to Tibet through Dolpo, crossing over the western mountain ranges of Mustang. In the summer of 2001, I explored the mountain range just west of Lo Manthang and Chharang to begin work on topographical research in this area and stood on the top of an unnamed peak of 6270 m (GPS^FN29 08 41 E83 46 56). From here I expected to easily view Arniko Chuli, 13 km ahead toward the WNW. However, to my regret, it proved fruitless as the peak seemed to be among the complicated border ranges or it was not as visible as I had previously anticipated. Later, I found on the new topographical map of Nepal (1/50000, 2002. No.2983-15, Araniko Chuli), that the height of the peak had been revised to 6034 m.

This mysterious peak is situated at the northernmost point of the range between Lo and Dolpo and on the international border between Nepal and Tibet (China). It had attracted me for a long time not only because of its considerable height, 6599 m (21,650 ft), shown on the Indian 1inch to 1mile map (1963, 62/O/12), but also its strange example of the nomenclature in such an uninhabited highland. My interest was further stimulated by the fact that no foreign travelers had ever seen this peak, nor photographed it, and that the name Arniko Chuli is obviously not a local Tibetan name. I wondered why the Indian surveyors had given the peak such a strange Nepalese name. I knew that Arniko (or Araniko) is the name of a famous artist or architect born in Nepal who lived in later half of the thirteenth century and went to Tibet with other 80 Nepalese artists to design, make statues and to decorate a large number of Buddhist gompas in Tibet and China.

My short research trip of this time planned to approach the peak of Arniko Chuli, from the Dolpo side and find it on the border. Two Nepalese friends, Ang Purba and his wife Pasang Diki (Thame), joined me with their own aspirations. We have been closely linked for the past 20 years with mutual trust developed over many past expeditions. .

In the early afternoon of 3 July our small expedition, consisting of only three members, a kitchen-boy and a donkey driver with 5 animals, left Jomsom at Kali Gandaki. We advanced to Sangda village along the same historical route that Ekai Kawaguchi had taken 102 years ago. After going across Geba la (GPS 4920 m, N28 54 904 E83 36 269), we took an alternate route toward the north along Lhanhimar khola which leads to a northern nameless pass (GPS 5607 m, N28 58 200 E83 25 585). Three years ago, in the same month of July we had a bitter experience suffering greatly from an unusually heavy snowfall at Tuje la on this route.

From this nameless pass, we descended along the northwestern stream (Sano Kiraphuk khola). The main river where we arrived at last is shown as Chharka Tursi khola and the upper stream of this same river is named Nakhkhem khola on the new Nepalese map. We proceeded along the broad river bed in the U-shaped valley and arrived at our BC (GPS 5562 m, N28 08 453 E83 39 526), very near Chanagor Bhanjyang (5665 m) on the northern border. We reached there on 8 July, the 6th day after we had left Jomsom. The next morning, we climbed up the pass on the border, and enjoyed a full view of the Tibetan side toward the north. To the west and northwest, there are four other passes in northeastern Dolpo, namely, from east to west, Daknak Bhanjyang (Sena la 5465 m), Jyanche Bhanjyang (5534 m), Kang Kung Bhanjyang (5564 m), and Pindu Bhanjyang (5600 m). The routes to Tibet from Dolpo through these five passes, all join together at Raka nadi (river). One of the branches of the Tsampo basin now extended northward in front of us, the high land with gentle slopes scarcely undulating.

In at least the eastern two passes, there was no recent trace of local traffic or even cattle grazing. Blue poppies and other alpine plants were amazingly abundant all over the valley. The recent progress of Chinese motor road construction on the south side of the Tsampo river, has speeded the decline of these passes. Old temporary market places in Tibet beyond the Himalaya mountains which connected with these eastern passes of Dolpo, have been expelled and moved to more and more western places along the motor road, which connects with western passes like Marim Bhanjyang, Yanang Bhanjyang, Mengla Bhanjyang, Khum Bhanjyang, etc. The western passes are closer than the eastern ones to the motor road.

On 10 July, we left BC in fine weather. From a small pokari (pond) just below the pass, we walked up to the east and northeast along the border ridge. After only 55 minutes climb on a gentle rock and snow ridge, we arrived at the summit of Arniko Chuli (6034 m, N29 10 35 E83 39 25) at 10.30 a.m. We were among numerous peaks a little over 6000 m. From the highest point of the peak, a vast ice field extended eastward. I stayed there about 3 hours, doing my routine work such as making sketches and taking photographs. As a special project at this time, I confirmed various bearing values and the height of nearby peaks on the Nepalese New Topographical Map (1/50,000) using survey instruments. The peaks of the Man Shail group to the northeast were not visible in the veil of the summer clouds. We returned to BC taking another route, straight down the scree slope of the south face of the peak. Unlike the Tibetan side (north), the south face was completely free from snow.

We finished our research and climbed around Arniko Chuli for 3 days, following the old direct route to Mustang from Chharka, via Ghami Bhanjyang (5740 m) to Ghami. For two days from the highest pass to Ghami, we suffered from heavy showers of hail and rain and had to endure a bitterly cold and miserable night in a wild high place. We were all exhausted when we arrived at the warm and familiar lodge at Ghami.

From Ghami, we started the second stage of activity in Damodar Himal. Our detached party of two was ahead of us, and set up the base camp at the northern foot of Saribung (Selibung or Soribung) (6327 m). We followed the route via Chharang, Dhi, Yara and Nakkali Damodar Kund, a sacred place for Hindus. When we arrived at the BC (N28 56 50 E84 12 22), they had already pitched a high camp at 5720 m (N28 55 05 E84 10 35), on the northwest glacier of Kumlung North Peak (6378 m). In the central part of this vast glacier, there are the two highest peaks of Damodar Himal which dominate the surroundings. They are Khumjungar Himal (6759 m) and Chhiv Himal (6591 m), both of which had been climbed by a HAJ (Himalayan Association of Japan) expedition in the spring of 1983. Saribung is a neat and lovely snow

peak among this group. The advance party had started to the summit of Saribung from the high camp. Shortly after starting, the sky became more and more threatening and when they reached the north col of the peak, they were enveloped by dense fog and soon fell into the whiteout trap. They completely lost visibility and after waiting for several hours decided to retreat.

Meanwhile, we continued the topographical research in this area, the east glaciers of Bhrikuti Sail (6361 m) and north of a nameless eastern high peak (6899 m). After that, we joined the Saribung climbers and started the return journey to Jomsom. Enveloped by the thick monsoon cloud, we hurried down along the Kali Gandaki river and returned to Pokhara.

Reference: The Himalayan Journal, Volume 58, 2002 and Supplementary papers to Japanese Alpine News Vol. 2, 2002.

Summary: An expedition to Arniko Chuli in the Mustang Himal in 2002.




Annapurna 1 was the first ever 8000 m peak to be climbed. Maurice Herzog and Louis Lachenal achieved this feat on 3 June 1950. It is the tenth highest peak in the world, standing at 8091 m or 26,545 ft. It is located in Nepal, on the eastern fringes of the Mristi khola originating from the sickle glacier, which joins Kali Gandaki river. By virtue of its location, high-speed winds lash the north face all the time. The slope of the complete north face of Annapurna I is at a very steep angle so avalanches keep triggering down the slopes at regular intervals.

In the aftermath of the spectacular success of the Indian army Everest expedition in 2001, it was decided to launch another expedition to an 8000er. This mountain was chosen for its virtue of being a technically difficult and challenging mountain. In the last 52 years, about 125 climbers have stood on its summit while Everest has generously hosted over 1200 summiteers.

As soon as the Everest team returned, eight months were spent in preparing for this expedition. Short listing of team members (65 members were chosen out of 180 volunteers), arranging for funds and equipment and a reconnaissance of the mountain took up a large part of these planning months. In fact the recce was of great importance as, with such a huge team, 12,000 kgs of stores would have to be transported to BC. The recce gave a complete picture of the approach march to BC, establishment of intermediate camps fixing ropes, laying log bridges across the Mishti khola and requirement of porters.

The team underwent intensive three week training in Siachen glacier in the intense cold of early January. As part of this effort, a new route between C3 and Forward logistic base (in the Siachen) was also opened.

Finally D- day arrived. The Chief of army Staff, Gen. Padmanabhan flagged of the expedition on 15 March at New Delhi. Reaching Pokhara, Nepal, the advance and main parties took a few days to organize themselves for the 11 day walk to base camp.

Beni to Lete

The first phase of this walk-in involved a five-day walk up the gentle slopes of the Kali Gandaki river up to Lete. They went through Tatopani and Ghasa, staying in trekkers' lodges owned by Thakkalis, known for their hospitality and business acumen.

At Lete the team acclimatised over a two-day halt.

Lete to Base Camp

From here, the team turned north, leaving the Kali Gandaki behind. Beyond Choya Deurali that is the last village en route to Annapurna I, the team followed the route pioneered by Maurice Herzog in 1950. After a three-hour walk, and a descent of about 300 m, the team gained 1200 m through a dense forest along a slippery mud trail to reach the first intermediate camp, christened the jungle camp. This strenuous walk of steep ascents and descents continued over the next three days, ending with the ultimate test of stress on human knees when the team descended 1200 m to Mristi khola. In addition to this, the slopes from jungle camp to Mristi khola were covered with soft snow, making it difficult and dangerous to walk with a full load. After building a log bridge to cross the khola, the team crossed a moraine to reach base camp at 4420 m.

Base camp

Annapurna I north face base camp is a flat expanse of grassy land of the size of three football fields at 4420 m. It is located at the base of the horseshoe shaped ranges of Annapurna and Nilgiri mountains. Narrow funnels and high mountain ranges cause winds of high velocity to lash the camp constantly. Here we performed a puja to appease the Gods before embarking on our climb, as per local traditions and rituals.


After crossing a stream at the northeast end of base camp, there was a climb of about 200 m where there was a tableland that became a vantage point as the route to the top could be observed. From here, moving through a glacier, covered with moraine and crevasses, the team opened a route up a rockface and negotiated a soft snow covered traverse to reach advance base camp at 5300 m. They established this camp on 15 April 2002.

Camp 1

The walk from ABC to C1 took about five hours but as the area was prone to avalanches, this camp would be used only for dumping ration and equipment and for stay in an emergency.

Camp 2

The route to Camp 2 began moderately across a glacial field until the base of the Northern Buttress and Dutch Rib. This area is most avalanche prone and it is here that most climbers have lost their lives while on this mountain. Not surprisingly, the area is known as 'Death Zone'. Some of our stores were dumped here but got buried under a major avalanche on the 19th night. Some members fortunately escaped the disaster by a few hours. Thereafter, the route is very steep with patches of hard ice of about 70 degrees gradient. About 1600 m of rope was used to open this route, which proved to be the most technically difficult stretch of this expedition. It took nine hours of arduous climbing on fixed ropes to reach Camp 2, which was a narrow platform with four small tents.

During our efforts to establish Camp 3, the weather deteriorated and the whole team descended to base camp, losing seven precious days as a result.

Camp 3

Finally, when there was a break in the weather, the team began to open the route to C3, which was also the summit camp. Through overhangs, deep crests and lateral craters, it took about 1300 m of rope to open the route from C2 to C3, which was at 7470 m.

First Summit Attempt

The first summit team consisted of nine members. They established summit camp on 2 May. The second team followed timing themselves with a plan to occupy C3 as the first team descended to C2 after reaching the summit. However, high winds and fixing ropes on exposed slopes considerably reduced the speed of the first summit team. When the second team was just below summit camp, the leader of the first team informed them that the summit was about two hours away. It was noon so when this team descended, they would not be able to reach beyond the summit camp that day. The second team therefore decided to come down to ABC as there was no space for both teams at C3. As it happened, at about 2.30 p.m. the second team leader received a message that the summit team had abandoned the summit attempt due to extremely bad weather. They were just about 100 m below the summit when high-speed winds began to blow, creating a total white out. They had even negotiated the snow gully on the rock face just below the summit but had to turn back. It had been a long day, of 16 hours for team I and of 12 hours for team 2. They reached their respective camps but two Sherpas and one team member suffered frostbite.

Second Attempt

At ABC, the situation was reviewed on 4 May. The weather window would be available only until 6 May according to the forecast. Members were getting increasingly exhausted. Besides, increasing temperatures were opening crevasses and increasing the dangers of avalanches and shooting stones. There was no way that the team could be on this mountain for long. They decided that the second attempt would be made by a smaller team of four members, immediately due to availability of the weather window.

Sub. Lalit Kumar Negi, Hav. C.N. Bodh, Hav. Rajender Singh and Rfn. Jagat Singh reached C3 at 4.00 p.m. on 5 May, climbing for 15 hrs from C1. They started for the summit the same night at 11.00 p.m. as it was a clear and windless night. Members and Sherpas, who were monitoring their progress, saw them moving towards the summit at first light on 6 May. The progress was rapid and smooth thanks to the efforts of team I who had opened the route and fixed ropes almost all the way up. At 7.20 a.m. on 6 May, arrived the moment that the team was waiting for. This team created history, as they became the first Indians to stand on the summit of Annapurna I. Everyone was emotionally overcome at ABC and BC, sharing the joyous and proud moment in history that they had all been part of.

It was a perfect summit day. Spending enough time to take good photographs, the team began their descent at 8.00 a.m. and reached C3 at 2.00 p.m. Completely exhausted, they slept and reached base camp on 7 May.

After packing and closing all camps, the team and stores were transported to Pokhara by helicopter and General Padmanabhan felicitated the triumphant team on 16 May, 2002 in Kathmandu. The team not only reached the summit of this great mountain but also pioneered a route, which will henceforth be known as the Indian Route to the top of Annapurna I.

Summary : The Indian army climbed Annapurna I in Nepal, during March to May 2002. The peak at 8091 m is the tenth highest peak in the world. 65 members of the Indian Army participated and four members reached the summit on 6 May 2002.




T'o climb to the summit of Nemjung had been the ambition of the members of Den Den Kyushu Alpine Club for 40 years.

Den Den Kyushu Alpine Club consists of Nippon Telegraph & Telephone company. They had sent the first expedition to Himlung Himal (7126 m) in pre-monsoon season, 1963. Nemjung was called Himlung himal at that time. This was the 4th time that we were organising an expedition to this mountain.

Himlung Himal had never been climbed by anyone until 1963, therefore the data which we could get were only several photographs from Larkya la and the map by Survey of India. After we set up base camp on the side moraine of the left glacier at 4000 m, we began to climb to the summit of Himlung Himal from, the west side of the central rock ridge (south ridge). We went over the upper snow field, and reached 6800 m via the north face of the main peak. The next year (1964), a Dutch party had to evacuate at 5350 m.

Since then, it had been prohibited to climb this mountain until 1981. As soon as the ban was lifted in 1982, some parties attempted to ascend the Himlung Himal, and Japanese expedition (Hirosaki University Alpine Club and Nepal joint team) was successful in the first ascent in post monsoon in 1983. They climbed the couloir in the central ridge from the right glacier and reached the summit of Himlung Himal via the east ridge.

In 1991, I got the map of Annapurna Conservation Area at a bookstore in Kathmandu. (scale 1/125,000) And I found Nemjung, which I'd never heard of before, on the place where Himlung Himal had been found before. According to the map, Nemjung is 7140 m and Himlung Himal was moved 4 km north.

And this 'Other Himlung Himal (7126 m)' was ascended by Hokkaido University Alpine Club for the first time in 1992.

Since the peak of Nemjung had been climbed, 15 parties attempted to ascend this peak from various routes. But no party had been successful reaching the summit until now.

Our party was composed of 3 members, 4 Sherpas and 4 others. The average age of our party was 63 years old. We chose the same route as the route taken by Hirosaki University party, because we aimed to successfully get to the summit by all means.

Our caravan left in order to set up base camp of Nemjung on 14 November 2001. The caravan went along the Marsyangdi river, and turned to Dudh khola at Thonje via Bimtang and set up base camp at about 4300 m level at the end of the side moraine in the right glacier's left bank on 20 November.

We started making a route on the right glacier on 23 November, for acclimatization and scouting.

BC : C1

This time conditions were more difficult than last time in winter to cross from base camp to the entrance of the lower couloir (4700 m). We had a lot of trouble with many avalanches, crevasses, debris from the big ice fall of the right glacier and the slope of Panbabari Himal, so we had to change our route from day to day.

In spite of no snow in the lower couloir, there were frequently falling rocks from both sides of the cliff which collapsed heavily, so we couldn't go through the bottom of the gorge on the same route as we did last time. Therefore, we continued to climb the left cliff directly. Then we managed to find a narrow rocky terrace with few weeds for a tent site. So we made Camp 1 by piling up some stone (4950 m).

After climbing up the left cliff of the couloir, we went down to the bottom of couloir once. Last time C1 had been set on the terrace 30 m higher than there. But that place was an unsuitable point for a tent site, because there was no defense from falling rocks.

The lower couloir bends to the upper right like a dogleg from this point. When we went up to the Col through scree slope, the next large couloir appeared in front of us. Though there was no snow in the couloir, there was a steep and nasty gorge of mud. Besides, large and small rocks fell frequently there.

We advanced to traverse the cliff on the large couloir, and