1 Alpine summits in West Sikkim

Ascents of Tingchen Khang and Lama Lamini North

Roger Payne

In a 20 day round trip from Gangtok between 15 March and 3 April 2005, Kunzang Bhutia, Julie-Ann Clyma, Roger Payne and Sagar Rai made three excursions on peaks in the Thangsing valley of West Sikkim. The trip was an outcome of a trek to Goecha la in the autumn of 2004, when Clyma and Payne met Bhutia of the Sikkim Amateur Mountaineering Association. Bhutia and Rai are experienced mountaineers who are active in providing training for local guides and rock climbing for young people in Sikkim. Clyma (NZ/UK) and Payne (UK) are climbers and mountain guides based in Switzerland.

After the usual walk-in from Yoksum to Thangsing, on 20 March the four climbers started a reconnaissance and acclimatisation trip on Tingchen Khang. The team followed what they believe is the original route of ascent, climbed with fixed ropes and camps by an Indo-British military expedition in 1998. Deep fresh snow made progress on the rocky wall below the northwest ridge very slow and precarious. Having reached around 5100 m on 21 March the four descended and returned to their valley base on the 22nd.

After a rest and delay for bad weather, the team then set off on 25 March to make a reconnaissance of the unclimbed Lama Lamani group of peaks. On the 26th, they traversed from the northwest side of the group to the south ridge to look for a possible line of ascent. There were very strong winds on the ridges and fresh snow underfoot. On the 27th, the team moved up to a position under the northwest flank of the mountain, which seemed to offer the best ascent route. Next day, climbing alpine style, the four climbers made a pre-dawn start and by 10:00 had made the first ascent of the north summit of Lama Lamani (c. 5650 m). The climbing on the northwest flank and west ridge was around UIAA grade III+ (or AD+) and mostly on snow with rock steps and a good icy

ridge. It was very windy and cold on the ridge, but the views were exceptional. Descent was by the same route and involved some abseiling. The valley base was reached the same evening.

After one day's rest, Clyma and Payne then set off on 30 March for an attempt on Tingchen Khang. Because of cloudy conditions, it had not been possible to get a good view of the glacier on the northwest side of Tingchen Khang. Despite previous glimpses of threatening looking serac barriers, the pair decided to try this approach, which they understood had been climbed the previous autumn by a Himalayan Club group[1]. Strong winds limited progress on the first day and the pair stopped to camp at c. 4850 m near the start of the glacier slopes. Next day, in windy conditions and very deep snow, the pair reached the crest of the northwest ridge (junction with the 1998 route) and camped just below it at c. 5400 m. Despite appearances, the glacier route was not threatened by seracs.

Next day, 1 April, a pre-dawn start was made. Once again, there was deep snow and cold conditions, but no wind. Getting onto the bottom of the rock wall was delicate (around UIAA grade IV, but probably easier when clear of snow). The wall had two fixed ropes in place that led towards then through a short chimney (some loose rock), then onto the crest formed by the top of the wall. Above this there is an ice wall and couloir (on a previous attempt this point had been reached by Bhutia and Rai, but they had to turn back because of lack of good ice climbing equipment). Clyma and Payne followed the couloir for about 150 m, which was in good condition, then exited onto the upper snowfields. Straightforward snow slopes led to the final summit pyramid, which was climbed on the west side to avoid a wide bergshrund. The summit was reached just before 14:00. Alas, warm air and clouds blew in from the southwest to obscure the view. On the summit were two snow stakes and the top of a line of rope, which was otherwise buried. The climbers removed one of the snow stakes as a souvenir for their friends back at the valley base.

The weather improved during the descent with excellent views. Some down climbing and three abseils were needed to descend the rock wall. The previous night's camp was reached by 18:00, but the pair continued down to the base at Thangsing because the walkout was due to start the next day. Just before 23:00 on 1 April, Clyma and Payne made it back to Thangsing, where Bhutia and Rai were waiting.

These two climbs, each made in 3-day round trips from a base at Thangsing, demonstrate the potential for alpine style climbs and small expeditions in West Sikkim. Clyma and Payne would like to record their thanks to the Government of Sikkim and the Sikkim Amateur Mountaineering Association for making this trip possible.


Alpine style ascents in West Sikkim. Peaks Lama Lamini North peak (c. 5650 m) and Tingchen Khang (6010 m) were climbed, each in a three day round trip from their base camp.

2 Exploring Kangri Garpo Range, 2004

Identification of Peaks of a Hidden Valley

Yukio Matsumoto

Outline of the Kangri Garpo Range and scope of survey

The Kangri Garpo range stretches roughly northwest to southeast on its crest axis, extending 280 km from the east of Namcha Barwa (7782 m), extreme east of the Great Himalaya range, as far as the eastern border of the Zayu Xian. There are about 30 peaks above 6000 m, accompanied by numerous 5000 m peaks.

Geographically, the Kangri Garpo range is bordered by the confluence of the Parlung Zangpo with the Yigong Zangpo in Bomi Xian to the western edge, where the rivers flow down to the lowest altitude of 2000 m in height in the area, and demarcated by the Sang Qu in Zayu Xian to the eastern end. The monsoon blowing northward from the Bay of Bengal above the Mishmi Hills on the way brings deep snowfall, developing extensive glaciers and precipitous peaks throughout the range, where thick forests spread over the flanks and valleys.

The Fukuoka Section of the Japanese Alpine Club dispatched survey teams for four years consecutively from 2001. In 2004, an integrated scope of work was performed, mainly focused on identification of unknown peaks by locations and local names through the northern faces of the range from the east to west verges. We could not enter, however, the southern side due to its location immediately north of the Tibet-India and Myanmar borders.

The survey to date identified approximately 40 peaks and the teams covered over 10,000 km in the total driving distance.

Outcome of the 2004 survey

Period: 31 October to 15 November 2004.

The former half: Party A for route reconnaissance aiming at an unscaled peak in the Midui valley. Party B for geographical survey in unexplored valleys and high peaks in the extreme eastern massif of the range.

The latter half : Reconnaissance survey of uncharted valleys and peaks found between the middle and the west end of the range.

1) Positioning of a 6327m peak in the extreme eastern massif of the range The peak, which had been unknown before, was confirmed and its

accurate position was determined with GPS. It was revealed that there were three lofty independent snow peaks in the gigantic massif. These were successfully photographed, probably for the first time ever.

2) Midui valley and correction of misunderstanding committed by Mr. Hanbury-Tracy

The team ascended along the valley in 2002, the second ever try since J. Hanbury-Tracy did in 1935. We successfully made reconnaissance of several possible climbing routes to the unscaled jagged spire. The peak of Kangkarhlamo, which had been mentioned in Hanbury-Tracy's book Black River ofTibet (1940), turned out to be Gemsongu, according to local people. Probably he mistook it for Hamo-konga (also called Hamo-kangkarh, meaning 'white snow goddess'), which is located 8 km east of Gemsongu.

3) Investigation of unexplored valleys and routes to the south face of the range

The valleys of Xinguo Longba and Xuru Longba to the immediate west of the Midui valley were traced, probably for the first time ever

by foreigners, and the peaks above the headwaters were physiographically clarified.

The investigations to date have verified that several paths and passes over the crest line of the principal range are still used. They include the Kepa Longba from Yupu village, the Jingru Longba from Daxing village, and the Shuwa Longba and the Sui Longba from Shuwa village. At present they are trodden and crossed only in summer by local people as passages from north to their grazings in the south.

On the way the present state of Daxing and Shuwa villages was studied. Explorers in the first half of the 20th century, including F. M. Bailey, H. T. Morshead, A. David-Neel, R. Kaulback and J. Hanbury- Tracy, mentioned these villages in their books.

4) Three peaks southeast of Bomi town and peaks in the extreme western massif of the range

The high peaks in the western massif of the range lie close to Bomi town, the name of which were confirmed to be Shingikanlha (main peak 5688 m), Dupoalimona and Sejopomopundun in that order; likewise we identified Kangjanaripa (5631 m) in the westernmost area.

5) Vegetation and Alpine plants in the Kangri Garpo range Forests and alpine flora along the trodden valleys were observed.

Besides, H. Watanabe independently carried out fieldwork on alpine flowers in the Gongbo (Kongbo) district in the summer of2004, recording Primroses, genus of Meconopsis (Blue poppy) and species of Rheum nobile.


The Fourth Kangri Garpo Range Survey Team, Fukuoka Section, The Japanese Alpine Club

Members: Team leader, Dr. Yukio Matsumoto; deputy leader, Takeshi Nakayama; Manager, Hideki Watanabe; Members, Koji Sasaki, Kazuki Tsuji, Miyoko Watanabe, Dr. Hiroshi Yamamoto and others. (Total 13).

Reference: J.Hanbury-Tracy (1940) Black River of Tibet, The Travel Club, London.

Note: Zangpo -Tsangpo and Qu - Chu are different spellings of the same words.

3 The Source of the Mekong - Remotest Corner of East Tibet, 2004

The first ascent of Qiajajima

Ryoichi Matsuzaka

Qiajajima massif is the highest mountain in the headwaters of the Mekong river on the Qinghai-Tibet plateau. It is located at about 33°28'N and 95°11'E in the remotest and isolated region of Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Qinghai Province. The massif has two peaks, Qiajajima I (5930 m) and Qiajajima II (5890 m), which are indicated on a 1:100,000 topographical map of the China People's Liberation Army. They remained unexplored as the region had long been closed to foreigners. In 1997, a special permit was first granted to a foreign party, the Niigata Mountaineering Association, to enter the unvisited area and make an attempt on the untrodden peaks. The association sent an expedition and succeeded in climbing Qiajajima II in that year, but the highest peak, Qiajajima I, was not scaled due to unexpected frequent snow storms in the summer season.

Fortunately a chance came again in 2004. I joined an expedition to re-challenge Qiajajima I, as one of the deputy leaders.

Itinerary and Summary of Activities

We departed from Niigata, Japan on 14 July 2004, and arrived at Xining via Xi'an. Preparations including povisions had already been completed by the Qinghai Mountaineering Association. One bus and two jeeps carried all the expedition members from Xining to Hot springs (336 km), Yushu (510 km) along the Qinghai-Sichuan Highway, then Zadoi (231 km), Zaqeg - Zaigela - camp site (76 km) in five days from the 15th to 20th.

July 21: We employed 6 muleteers and pack animals of 18 horses and 8 yaks.

July 22: Caravan started and marched up 10 km along the stream to a camp site at 4444 m.

July 23: Heavy rainfall, strong wind and swelling of river made us stop.

July 24: We covered 10 km along the main stream. The trail had been blocked by a major landslide before entering a gorge. We were forced to set up base camp (BC) there at 4690 m.

July 25: As it was not possible to use yaks and horses from BC, loads were carried by porters. The advance base camp (ABC) was built at

4800 m on the river bank of the upper stream. The Chinese members and muleteers were to wait at the BC until climbing was over.

July 26: Two members went ahead for route paving. ABC-II was placed at 4900 m and C1 was built at 5140 m, as ABC was too far away from the wall to climb. The loads were carried to the higher camp.

July 27: C2 was set up at 5360 m at the foot of the wall.

July 29: An advance party of three members commenced assaulting the summit. As there was no space to pitch a tent, they bivouacked at 5587 m.

July 30: They started climbing in early morning. After ascending a chimney, they reached the main ridge, when it got dark. They made the second bivouac at 5780 m.

July 31: The knife-edged main ridge became steeper. They made a detour around the ridge on the north side and then reached the summit of Qiajajima I, 5930 m, at 15:15. GPS indicated 33°28' 33"N and 95°11' 33"E. The summiteers were Shin-ichi Abe, Katsutoshi Suzuki and Miho Kakinuma. On the way down darkness began to fall. They were again forced to bivouac at about 5600 m on the wall, and connected each other with rope. Fierce snow storm bothered them all night. It snowed 20 cm deep.

August 1: The attack party descended to C2 and a support party of three members descended to ABC II.

August 2: All members gathered at BC.

August 11: They returned to Niigata via Xi'an.

Ascent of the West Face of Qiajajima I (by Kazutoshi Suzuki)

The west face of about 900 m is composed of steep snow walls and rock ridges which appear alternately. Rocks are sharply edged and too dangerous to hold them by bare hands. The ridges have some unstable stones. Temperature goes down to minus 4 - 10 degrees C in the early morning and goes up to 25 - 28 degrees C in the sunlight, but below 10 degrees C in the shade. Almost everyday it snows from midnight to morning. Sun melts snow in the daytime, but it is frozen at night. This cycle makes blue ice beneath snow layer on the wall. Mixed climbing of

rock and ice continues. As we climb higher, the ridge becomes steeper, and good ledges and terraces are difficult to find.

On 29 July, we left C2 to attack the summit and we could gain only a quarter of the west face on the first day. We bivouacked at 5587 m. On the following day we again bivouacked at 5780 m after ascending three-

fifth of the route to the summit. Climbing pace was very slow as the conditions were worse than we had foreseen. Solid ice beneath snow and unconsolidated stones on the ridge required careful attention to negotiate.

On the third day, 31 July, snowfall and strong winds began at dawn. Only one day was left for reaching the summit. We soon resumed climbing with no hesitation. There was very hard blue ice 5 cm beneath fresh snow. We traversed along the foot of a rock wall to the rock ridge and then again we climbed the snow wall. Difficult climbing of a chimney with narrow entrance took us to a steep snow wall, which led straight to the upper part. Making full use of an ice axe and fore teeth of a crampon, careful ice climbing continued. After the snow wall, a snow ridge to the summit appeared. Each side of the snow ridge had a sheer drop, but dense fog interrupted the view.

We followed a knife-edged snow ridge. As the slope gradually became lower, we reached a round top of the ridge. A gentle down slope appeared and the ridge ran ahead of us but it looked lower. Though visibility was too bad to see Qiajajima II to the south, GPS records and the surrounding topography convinced us that the round top where we had stood was undoubtedly the summit of Qiajajima I 5930 m. We achieved the first ascent.

Difficult descent followed. We rappelled in succession, but it was not possible to return to C2. The descent was more difficult and dangerous than the ascent. The third bivouac on the rock wall was extremely uncomfortable. On 1 August we continued descent and were warmly received by the support party.


There are three outstanding mountain massifs in the source of the Mekong river. They form a watershed which feeds the main stream of the Mekong river and a large tributary of the upper Yangtze river (Chinese name: Tongtian He). They lie from east to west:-
  1. Qiajajima and neighbouring peaks.
    1. Sedari 5770 m and 5700 - 5800 m peaks ranging to the west, where glaciers are most developed. This massif remains unvisited. No photographs of the mountains have ever been taken.
C. Massif in the true source of the Mekong river, where some 5500 m peaks were already climbed by a party of Tokyo University of Agriculture, Japan, in 1994.

An exploration of the area B would be interesting and worthy of undertaking. A topographical map is by Tamotsu Nakamura.


Japanese - Niigata Mountaineering Associationn

Shin-ichi Abe (57) (leader), Ryoichi Matsuzaka (70), Katsutoshi Suzuki (60)(both deputy leaders), Norihiro Asano (64), Shizuo Sugai (52), Tatsuko Anno (58), Miho Kakinuma (25) and Yoko Abe (28).


The first ascent of Qiajajima I, 5930 m, by a Japanese team. This is the highest mountain of the range at the headwaters of the Mekong river.

4 Arupa Lake Trek

Dibang Valley, Arunachal Pradesh

Ravindra Apte

In one of my travels in Arunachal Pradesh I met some local youths in Anini, the district headquarter of Upper Dibang valley district. They were good hunters and hence they had a fair knowledge of the surrounding region. They described a lake region near Anini where they go for hunting. From their description of the region it seemed that the lake region would be between 3500 to 3700 m. My new friends were willing to take me to the region in September - October as that is a good season. Very few people choose Arunachal as a travel destination. This is mainly due to the lack of infrastructure and time required to travel to any destination in Arunachal. There is hardly any information available regarding trekking routes.

To reach Anini, one has to travel through the lower and upper Dibang valley districts. The rivers Mathun and Dree meet near Anini, and the Talon river, originating near Keya pass merges with this river near Etalin and the resulting river ahead is called Dibang. The Dibang meets the Brahmaputra in Assam. This region is inhabited by mostly Idu Mishmi tribe.

The 2004 monsoon was very severe and prolonged. Many bridges were washed away and there were many landslides resulting in four - five weeks of isolation of the Dibang valley. Hence in the last week of October a small group of trekkers left Mumbai for Tinsukhia. Two local youth of Roing, Ipra and Drama Mekhola joined us in Roing to complete the team. Ipra Mekhola was trying to develop the Mayodia- Mehao lake trek route near Roing.

We reached Tinsukhia on 26 October. On the 27th we crossed the Brahmaputra near Dhaula and reached Roing via Shantipur. After preparations in Roing we left for Anini on the 29th. The distance of Roing to Anini is about 190 km, but it takes more than ten hours to cover it. The bridge over the Deo Pani river, near Roing, was washed away in the recent floods. The road is bad and is mostly along the banks of the Dibang. The river can be seen deep in the valley. After going through the beautiful jungle one reaches Mayodia (2130 m). There are small hotels and guesthouses here. The area gets fair amount of snowfall and is the closest snow-covered hill station for people in the hot plains of Assam. In winter there are many tourist coming here from Assam. Our friend Ipra runs a hotel here and has a good business. He explained the trek route he wished to develop. It is a two/three days trek from Mayodia along the Surundi ridge to Mehao lake at about 1500 m near Roing.

The road to Anini goes through the Mayodia pass (2525 m) and reaches Anini via Hunly, Tiwari camp, Etalin and Arzoo etc. Anini is situated at 1520 m and is spread over small hills. Around Anini the hills are barren, a result of heavy cutting of forest. Some bamboo plantation is seen; grass and fern cover rest of the area. We came to know a unique feature of the tribal society. Clans own the rights to hunt and exploit the mountains and meadows in their areas. A member of a different clan is not supposed to enter the forest, else one has to pay a heavy fine. Our guide Jongo Tacho formally invited Ipra and Drama to come on a trek leading to Arupa. As non-tribal outsiders we were welcome to enter any area as long as we respected the local traditions. Of course our friend and guide Jongo would not be able to guide us in any other area.

On 31 October we started our trek from Achuli village (1350 m), 16 km from Anini. The trail goes through fields developed under Jhum cultivation. There are no well-marked trails in this region. The trail is used only by hunters and has to be negotiated by cutting shrubs. It is very steep, close to 30 to 35 degrees and is called Eungu in the Idu language which simply means 'a steep trail'. Initially the trail is through ferns and tall grass. There is no water till one reaches a height of about 3300 m. Around 1800 m the steepness relents and forest starts. It is a forest being invaded by bamboo growth. The old forest of large trees is receding and yielding to bamboos. The forest is thick and the bushes and mosses hide the potholes. The visibility is just about 10 m because of the thick forest. We camped at 2375 m and managed with the water carried from the village.

1 November: We climbed up to Eung Uya (2530 m). Uya means 'water hole'. There is a small pond but water had a reddish tint because of the decaying leaves in it, but it was still okay to drink. The nearby forest has the Apona trees having huge leaves. The hill on which we were climbing is separate from the main range and is connected to it by a narrow ridge. From the ridge one gets the view of Chithi peak in the northeast and on west one sees the Akanda range. There is a trail on Akanda range leading to Arupa lake.

Our guides were hunters to the bones. There was the call of the Mishmi Monal, a vary beautiful, colourful, large bird and our guides forgot everything and ran into the thick forest leaving us dumb struck. After an hour or so they returned with beaming faces and with the dead bird. For dinner there was always a fowl or a quail or a Monal. We were sorry for the beautiful birds. In fact the Mishmi Monal is an endangered species list but we were helpless against this local hunting tradition. One way to save the wild life would be to provide alternate means of economic activity for the local population. Adventure tourism may be one of them. We camped at 2880 m in thick forest.

2 November: Near the camp we crossed the Apeya nala. The trail is very steep and it is possible to cross the nala only near a small waterfall. One has to climb out of the nala on steep side at about 60

degrees. After climbing for about 300 m one comes out of the forest and you get a first view of Angrim valley. One can see up to the Acheso village. There is a log cabin at 3340 m. It provides shelter for the hunters escaping the cold weather of upper reaches. Dry wood is always stocked here along with some utensils. There is a water source near by. From here onwards the forest starts thinning and the trail reaches the main range. One gets the first view of the twin peaks of Apuindivu (3960 m). There is a gully between the two peaks, which can be climbed. At about 3790 m there is a plateau with a stream, which is an ideal campsite. One can see the lights of Anini from this camp. On the northeast one can see the highest peak in the Dibang valley, Rupundi or Chipisi called by locals. One can see the ranges extending to Tibet border. There was heavy snowfall in the night. The next day, 3 November, weather was also bad with visibility less that 5 m. The whole day was spent near the camp.

4 November: The weather was sunny and hence we proceeded towards the lake. We climbed though a gully to the saddle between the peaks. The peaks were rounded and grassy. The whole area is covered with fine meadows. We descended on the other side towards east. At about 3840 m one has to negotiate a tricky traverse of about one and half kilometre. The traverse leads to slopes above Arupa lake. The lake itself is at 3780 m and is about 600 to 700 m in length and about 200 to 250 m in width. It has an outlet on the west side. The water is infested with daphnia and so may not be suitable for drinking. The molten snow from the surrounding peaks is collected in the lake. There are number of lakes on the northeast of Arupa and few of them are bigger than Arupa. One has to negotiate a pass to reach the lakes and two more camps would be required. We had limited time and we returned from Arupa to our camp. Our guide informed us that we were the first non-Idu and non- Arunachali people to visit the lake. We were pleased with the new region and having accomplished a totally new trek route, we returned to Anini in two days.

On our return to Roing we decided to trek to Mehao lake. It is an overnight trek but we had a late start, in fact we started in the afternoon. Naturally we had to make a halt in the jungle and could not reach the rest house on the shores of the lake. The forest is almost tropical with hot humid air. Even in November the forest was infested with leeches. The trail is not well maintained and at places it is washed out in recent landslides. The next day as we reached the lake there was downpour for an hour. It is a huge lake with a number of small lakes joined together. It covers about 4/5 square km of surface. On all sides there is a thick forest. The rest house is in a dilapidated state, but still offers a shelter. Our return trek was eventful. Half way down it was night and we had no option other than to descend in darkness, as we had our reservation for return journey the next day at 5 a.m. It was an experience to negotiate the thick forest on a non-existent trail with burning bamboo torches.

The region offers great opportunity to explore the forest and lake regions in one of the less visited part of Arunachal Pradesh. The local youths recognise the importance and potential of adventure tourism and are ready to develop the region as a new destination for trekking in a pristine area.


A trek to Arupa lake in the Dibang valley.

Period : 31 October to 6 November 2004

Region : Upper Dibang valley, Arunachal Pradesh

Members : Ravindra Apte, Subhash Gawarikar, Vilas Raje, Ms Manika Biswas, Ipra Mekhola and Drama Mekhola

Guides : Jongo Tacho and Jyonti Mikho

5 Khangri Shar Expedition, 2004

A Climb in Nepal

Howard Jones

In October 2004 a small British expedition set out to attempt the first ascent of Khangri Shar (6811 m) which lies on the ridge forming the border between Nepal and Tibet, just west of Pumori in the Khumbu region of Nepal. This was a commercial expedition organised by UK- based 'Adventure Peaks'. It comprised the leader Tim Blakemore, John

Waterhouse and myself, with local support from Anil Bhattarai (Sirdar), Nuru Wangchhu Sherpa (climbing Sherpa) and Lhakpa Sherpa (cook).

Tim, a professional outdoor instructor engaged to lead the trip, has climbed extensively and had recently led another expedition to Tien Shan. John and myself, weekend climbers in our fifties, have climbed in the European Alps, and I had previously been trekking in the Annapurna region. For all three of us, this was our first mountaineering trip to the Himalaya.

Khangri Shar is situated some distance up the Khangri Shar glacier. This is covered with loose moraine and is unsuitable for yaks, so the closest we could get our base camp was at about 5400 m beside a small lake on the south flank of Pumori, the usual site for expeditions attempting the Pumori ridge. Although small, this was a pleasant site with fantastic views of Everest and Nuptse. However it had the drawback of requiring a long approach before we could start the climbing proper, and the ridge obscured our view of the proposed route.

We had very little advance information about the mountain. We had a single photograph taken from the south. This showed an obvious route up a hanging glacier to a col at 6479 m which separated our peak from Pumori. We were aware that a Japanese expedition had failed on this route in 2003, apparently turned back by the bergschrund. There is also an obvious and attractive ridge leading direct to the summit, but this looked difficult in the photo. Just before we left Britain, we got hold of another photo taken from the north, which suggested that the long ridge leading from the col to the summit might be heavily corniced. None of this was very encouraging.

When we saw the mountain from close up, it looked even harder than the photos had suggested. The southeast ridge forming the direct route was much steeper than appeared in the photo, and was clearly far too difficult. The hanging glacier turned out to have a major icefall which the picture had not shown, while the bergschrund which had defeated the Japanese seemed huge, and was clearly visible even from a distance while trekking in.

Our first day of exploration took us up the lower part of the Pumori ridge. The idea was to see whether it would be possible to traverse from the ridge into the upper basin, which would avoid the icefall and, we

hoped, the bergschrund. We followed a steep rocky path alongside the glacier which overhung base camp, enjoying good views of Everest, Nuptse and Ama Dablam. However on reaching the ridge it was apparent that the traverse was not a feasible option. We would have to try the original plan via the hanging glacier.

The following day, while John rested at base camp, Wangchhu, Tim and I set off to explore the icefall. From base camp we first had to descend a very loose slope of glacial silt embedded with loose rocks in order to reach the main glacier, which at this point was covered with loose and unstable moraine. We struggled up this until we were below the icefall. Wangchhu had gone ahead and was already up there, prospecting for a route. Tim and I climbed up to join him and we spent some time trying to find a way through the maze of crevasses and seracs. Eventually we gave up and returned to base camp. The descent on the moraine and the final climb back up the loose slope was just as tiring as the initial ascent.

While we rested the following day, the Sherpas carried on exploring and succeeded in establishing Camp 1 above the icefall. We decided to make our summit bid. Our plan was to go to Camp 1, and then the following day we would try to establish Camp 2 as high as possible, returning to Camp 1 to sleep. We would then move up to Camp 2 and from there try for the summit. We spent the rest of the day packing gear and getting ready.

The next day we again made the horrible descent down the loose slope to the glacier, dodging falling stones as we went. Climbing up the loose moraine was even more tiring now that we were carrying loads. After about 1 km we got off the moraine onto bare ice, and easier going. A pleasant walk along the glacier took us past the icefall.

On the way we came across the tattered remains of a sleeping bag and a down jacket. A few other pieces of equipment, including a glove and a boot, lay around. We assumed this was debris from the Japanese expedition. We saw no human remains, so presumably this was the result of a dropped rucksack rather than anything more tragic.

Once past the icefall, we began to ascend a rocky slope. Although this was not too steep, it was very loose underfoot which made for strenuous climbing. There was a short section of easy climbing (II-III), but nothing which necessitated roping up. Eventually we came to a steep snow slope and the bottom of the fixed ropes which our sherpas had set up the previous day. We hauled ourselves up these for a couple of hundred metres until we emerged onto more level snow. Just around the corner, tucked into the shelter of a crevasse, was Camp 1.

Above us reared the steep south face and the southeast ridge. Behind us, more seracs barred the way to the steep ice wall which rose up to the col between Khangri Shar and Pumori, broken only by the massive bergschrund. It looked difficult. In front of us was a magnificent view down to the main glacier and over to Ama Dablam. We tucked ourselves up in our tents and settled down for a long night.

I was exhausted after the steep climb up the fixed ropes and I had not been acclimatising well. The next morning John and I both decided to go back down. Tim and Wangchhu feared that this would be heavily corniced. The direct route up the southeast ridge looks like a stunning line but appears very difficult, and should present a fine challenge to a sufficiently competent party.

In spite our failure to reach our objective, we greatly enjoyed our first foray into Himalayan mountaineering. The mountain is in a great situation and we enjoyed fantastic views. We also benefited from being the only expedition on the mountain and were able to enjoy feeling remote from the rest of the world.


An attempt on Khangri Shar (6811 m) in the Khumbu valley, Nepal.

6 Nangapi Gosum I

Ascent by Slovenian Climbers

Urban Golob

In the middle of October, a Slovenian expedition made the first ascent of Nangapi Gosum I (7351 m ) or Pasang Lhamu peak from SE (Nepal side) and also made the first ascent of Dazampa Tse (6295 m).

The team (Urban Azman, Tadej Golob, Uros Samec, Samo Krmelj, Rok Blagus, Doctor Zare Guzej and me Urban Golob as expedition leader) set up base camp near Sumna glacier, one hour away from the traditional yak caravan route from Tibet over Nangpa la to Namche Bazar. This was the site of base camp of an American team in 2002 when the SE side of the mountain was the objective. However, Americans found themselves in trouble during acclimatisation near Nangpa la and went home without really trying the mountain. On 5 October, two days after reaching base camp, the ABC (5555 m) on the foot of the SE face was built. In the time of unpredictable weather, a party of Uros Samec, Samo Krmelj and Rok Blagus acclimatised by climbing twice on the chosen route on SE face because there are no easier mountains, suitable for acclimatisation in the neighbourhood. During the first acclimatisation, they climbed to 6100 m, slept there and equipped rappels for an easier descent after the summit push. On the 17th, after a period of bad weather (when I had to leave the base camp because of pneumonia and went home) they reached 6400 m and returned to base camp the next day. On the 22nd they went for the summit push from base camp and reached ABC. From here they began at 1 a.m. After a long day they reached S ridge (6650 m) and rested there for a day, looking for the route on the complicated ridge. On 24 October they started from camp at 2 a.m. and reached the summit at 9 a.m. in high winds and very low temperatures. Almost immediately they turned back, descended to tent and continued their way down to ABC. They reached the foot of the SE face at the evening making 19 rappels from the ridge. They named their ascent Slovenian route VI, 5 M, 1550 m.

On 18 October the other party of Tadej Golob and Urban Azman climbed SW face of Dzasampa Tse (6295 m), south of Nangpai Gosum I. They started from south col at 6 a.m. and reached the top after almost 7 hours of mostly unroped climbing on slopes of 55-65 degrees and one mixed pitch of 40 m. They named the first ascent route as Mali prince and rated it at TD+, 5 M, 600 m.

Until our expedition there were just two ascents of this highest peak of the Nangpai Gosum group. First ascent was made by Japanese expedition in 1986 on NW ridge starting from Tibet and in 1996, an international expedition made the integral NW ridge starting the climb on Nangpa la.


An ascent of Nangpai Gosum I (7351 m ) or Pasang Lhamu peak from SE (Nepal side) and the first ascent of Dazampa Tse (6295 m).

7 Himlung, Blowing Wilderness

An Attempt in the Damodar Himal

Alexia Zuberer

Nested between the Annapurnas, the Manaslu and Tibet, the aesthetic shapes of Himlung Himal (7126 m) shine in the valleys of Damodar Himal. This area is wild and isolated, open to people only since 2001. The southeast ridge is a route more enjoyable than serious, not so hard technically but enough of a hint of adventure to make the trip special... a charming face of alpinism.

The Trip

It was, first of all, a human trip; through passes and valleys, from Manang to Naar and Phu, via the Kangla la, meeting people living in these highlands: Gurung and Bhotias. Real mountain dwellers like the Sherpas and as strong as them. They have impregnated the country and the mountains with their own identity. We walk in their paths, in their history. You walk through these valleys and you can imagine Tibetan people coming and living between Tibet and Nepal for business.

How to describe the magic of the Himalaya? The altitude, the light, colours of dawn and twilight. Constantly living with the elements you feel the real depth of nature, its brilliant power and beauty.

The altitude owns a colour: the one which is pure, bare of dust. The Mountain

On Himlung Himal our group grew closer to each other; closer to oneself even. We were all dedicated to try to climb this mountain. We knew that we needed a team spirit which implies respect between all the members of the expedition. We also respected and grew close to the Sherpas and Gurungs. We shared their customs, traditions, strength and kindness. To them with whom we shared the ascent, we say a big thank you to the great work they do, and for the people they are. Without them our venture would have surely been unsuccessful!

To climb Himlung peak, from the base camp (4850 m), we needed three high camps: Camp 1 at 5600 m, Camp 2 at 6200 m and Camp 3 at 6350 m with long distances up and down, slopes and ridges.

The Elements

This year the monsoon had been longer than usual. Almost without transition, the wind turned into north. A very strong wind, a jet-stream announcing winter time. During our climb to the summit, a strong wind was blowing even below 6000 m. Now we were sure to enjoy great sun but also bitter cold. The recent snowfalls did not leave much choice but to put the tents up for Camp 3 at 6000 m instead of the usual place which is 200 m higher. We were actually just under a big serac. Not much of a choice between dangers of avalanche or another dangers! This year the features of the glacier changed between Camp 1 and Camp 2. Ropes had been fixed because of the steepness of some seracs to climb. A consequence of climatic change? Some Sherpas told us that some easy trekking snow peaks now need technical rock climbing ability.

It's very early morning of 20 October in Camp 3. Our tent is being shaken by a furious wind. As the first day opens up like a flower, we can see a magnificent scarf of snow blown from the top ridges of Himlung.

We are climbing up in a freezing shade. The rays of the sun, like petals dash into the sky. But they don't touch us. Our feet wearing simple winter boots for the Alps (we did not think that altitude boots would be useful here; what a mistake! But this season was particularly cold anyway), are just freezing. Even those of Pasang and Ang Pasang, our Sherpas are freezing. At 6800 m we decide to leave Himlung peak to its loneliness. Soon, at the end of the day two Austrian guys and a Tamang Nepali man will reach the top, dressed like for an 8000 m peak.

On the way down, Pasang, Ang Pasang and me look at each other: We touched Everest summit but not Himlung! This is no easy mountain. And we laughed, happy to come back to more human conditions, and happy to have lived through a nice but hard expedition, all together.

No doubt, many alpinists, appreciating wilderness, loneliness and inexpensive trips at altitude, will visit this valley. Damodar Himal is almost unknown because it's in the shadow of famous mountains like Manaslu, Dhaulagiri and Annapurna. It's possible to find any kind of alpinism here: difficult or reasonable.

Swimming in loneliness is like walking in beauty. Summary

An attempt on Himlung Himal (7126 m) in autumn of 2004.

8 Two First Ascents In Damodar Himal

Koichi Kato

I got a permit to climb Gajiang (6111 m) as it was the first object for my expedition. Gajiang has attracted me strongly. It soars like Machhapuchare in a less frequented area of Damodar Himal. However, this peak had very steep slopes. In spite of a 4-day recce, I could not find any viable climbing route, so I gave up the plan. Instead, I was able to climb two unnamed peaks, 6084 m and 6130 m respectively.

(1) Gajiang (6111 m) 20 to 23 October
■■ ■ -
61. The east face of Gajiang 6111 m seen from BC, Damodar Himal. (Koichi Kato)
I was impressed by Gajiang because of its fascinating profile towering to the sky. I feared that it would be hardly possible to climb that mountain with my technique and climbing gear. But I decided to give it a try as I had already paid a climbing fee 1000 US dollars. We set up BC at 4550 m (keeping other mountains in mind), set up ABC at 5000 m and started to reconnoiter. We first left for the north ridge from the 5200 m glacier for investigation. But we gave up climbing via the north ridge, since it was hard to climb ice, and the lower part was very precipitous. Then we investigated another route via an adjacent lower
peak and climbed up to 5608 m but there was no going further on. As a result, I gave up climbing Gajiang from the north face.

(2) Unnamed peak (6084 m) (I called it Namy peak) 24 - 26 October

The snow-covered Namy peak is located to the south of Jomsong Himal and the highest in this area.

We went from BC to Labse khola to the north and set up ABC (5000 m) at the end of a glacier. Then we set up C1 at 5200 m on the right of the moraine. There we could see the mountain ridges extending to the top. On the way, we stopped using the climbing rope under a cornice, and plodded in the knee-deep snow.

On the summit, I had my pictures taken, with Gajiang in the background. I measured the location of this mountain using GPS. I saw Pokarkan to the east, which had I first ascended two year ago.

The date of arrival at the summit: 26 October, Left C1 at 5:40 hrs.; On the summit 12:00 - 12:45 hrs.; Back to C1 14:45 hrs; GPS data: 28°49'18.8"N, 84°08'14.1"E; Height 6094 m.

(3) Unnamed peak (6130 m) (I called it Yury peak) 29 - 30 October

This peak, snow-capped on the southern side, is at the dividing point of the Labse khola massif. From ABC (5000 m) we followed the moraine

on the left and reached the foot of Yury peak. We climbed the rock ridge between a waterfall and a valley, then followed the valley, and went up 100 m to a gully on the left side. Then we set up C1 (5480 m) on a flat ridge at the top of the gully.

Looking up from C1, we caught a glimpse of the white snow on the summit beyond on a rock ridge. Above C1 there was a steep slope of 25 - 30 degrees, with small rocks and little snow. My feet slipped many times on the rocks and I began to pant. But I carefully climbed, minding the falling rocks. 200 m below the summit there was much snow, but I managed to reach the top. There was space enough for only one person to stand.

From the top, I was able to see Jomsong Himal in the south and, in the north, Khumjungar Himal which is the highest mountain in the Damodar Himal area.

We took pictures and measured the location of this mountain using GPS, then returned to C1.

The date of arrival at the summit: 30 October, Left C1 06:05 hrs; On the top 10:35 - 10:45 hrs; Return to C1 12:30 hrs; Arrived at ABC-14:40 hrs; GPS data: 28°51'12.2"N, 84°07'23.1"E; Height 6143 m.


First ascents in Damodar Himal, 2004. Period: 6 October to 21 November 2004.

Member: Koichi Kato (63, leader, Japanese) with Pasang Tamang (36, Sherpa).

9 Mustang Expedition, 2004

First Ascent of Chhiv Himal (6650 m)

Takeshi Wada

Four members of the Japanese Alpine Club Student Section, made the first ascent of Chhiv Himal (6650 m) on 18 September 2004. On the following day, all five members of the expedition reached the summit of Saribung (6328 m); it was the second ascent of the peak, but via a new route.

The passage to a new area

Located in the northern-most part of central Nepal, the kingdom of Mustang is a frontier region that well preserves an old form of Tibetan Buddhist culture. The Damodar Himal mountain group is located in the eastern part of Mustang. To reach it we followed the main trading route to Lo Manthang, the capital of Mustang, as far as Ghami. The old trading route first follows the broad riverbed of the Kali Gandaki, then at a point near Kagbeni it goes into a gorge to enter the territory of the kingdom of Mustang. At Ghami, our caravan bifurcated from the main route and headed toward the east, following a tributary of the Kali Gandaki. After crossing three passes all exceeding 5000 m, we suddenly saw the magnificent group of mountains of the Damodar Himal. It was a nine- day trek from Jomsom (including one rest day).

With Khumjungar Himal (6759 m) as the main peak, the group of mountains encircles the Namta khola glacier in a horseshoe form. One wing of the mountains extends northeast towards the border with Tibet. Chhiv Himal (6650 m) is an independent (and previously unclimbed) peak located to the southeast of Khumjungar Himal.

Climbing and Exploration

On 8 September we set up the base camp (5250 m) at the end of the glacier which flows north-eastward from the foot of Chhiv Himal. From BC we went up along the moraine on the left side of the glacier and made Camp 1 at 5650 m on 11 September.

To reach C2 it was necessary to cross the glacier, about a kilometre wide at the crossing point. The left bank of the glacier was deeper than the rest. The whole glacier field was filled with seracs (ice blocks or towers), some of which were 20 m tall. The glacier was followed by a moraine band flowing down from a 6225 m peak in a northeast to southwest direction. We took a route along this moraine band (10 m in width) toward the upper field. As the sun rose, the bottom part of the 6225 m peak became dangerous due to frequently falling rocks from the ridge. In addition, the snow plateau that leads to the west face of Saribung was fraught with hidden crevasses. Therefore, we set up Camp 2 on the col (6170 m) between Chhiv Himal and Saribung, on 15 September.

Chhiv Himal

The northwest face of Chhiv Himal is shrouded in snow due to the strong wind, while its eastward side is a rocky. Further away a cornice develops towards the northwest. On 16 September we worked in two groups: one advanced group to open the route to the summit of Chhiv Himal and the other carried up the equipment and provisions to C2. The

route to be taken was on the ridge that came down northeast-ward from the peak. To reach the ridge we first descended from the col about 10 m, then climbed a 15 m steep mixed wall. On the ridge we followed a snowy razor-sharp narrow snow ridge that had rocky features on its east side. It continued for the length of three rope pitches until we were faced by the massive base of a snow wall that had a rather steep face of about 60 degrees. It took four pitches to climb that wall. Fortunately the snow condition was sound. On top of the wall the ridge became flat and led to the summit. At this point (6450 m), we stopped the advance for the day and returned to C2.

To Summit

On 17 September all five team members started from C2 to climb Chhiv Himal. It only took three hours to reach the top of the snow wall as against nine hours on the day before. From there we continued along the gentle ridge and fixed some ropes. The sharp ridge with a cornice leading to the 6610 m peak turned out to be the critical point. When we reached the 6610 m peak, almost all our snow pitons and fixed ropes had been used. The weather becoming worse, we decided to return to C2.

On 18 September four team members started from C2 to the peak. On the way we retrieved some of the fixed ropes for use on the final

ridge to the summit. Unfortunately the visibility was poor because of fog. From 6610 m the party carefully followed the knife-edged ridge of snow which was often indistinguishable in a white-out. Finally at 13:15, after following the snow ridge for two more pitches, the four man team reached the broad snow stance of the summit, (the first ascent of Chhiv Himal). The total length of the ropes we fixed was approximately 850 m.


All five team members started from C2 to the summit of this peak on 19 September. The route selected was the south ridge. As the south face of Saribung is fortified by rock walls and several crevasses, we proceeded carefully; fixing seven pitches of rope before we reached the summit. By 12:30 all five team members had made the second ascent of the peak, via a new route. As the base snow layer was icy, we used a lot of ice screws to make anchors. As we approached the summit, the inclination became milder to a point where a gentle snow slope appeared.

The first ascent of Saribung was made by an American party in 2003. The members were Jim Frush, past president of the American Alpine Club (AAC), Steven Furman, AAC Board director and Peter Ackroyd, AAC International Conservation Committee. This is their report

First Ascent of Saribung, 2003 (a report from American Alpine Club members)

American Alpine Club Cascade Section Chair Peter Ackroyd, Board of Director Member Steve Furman, and Past President Jim Frush, made the first ascent of 6328 m (20,760 ft) Saribung (Selibun) in the Damodar Himal north of the Annapurnas in October.

Last year, while making the first ascent of 6110 m Gaugiri further north in the range, Peter and Jim gazed to the south and viewed a handsome range of mountains that, to our knowledge, had been little explored much less climbed. Saribung is located much more in the centre of the range and was therefore more inaccessible.

We flew from Kathmandu to Honge, in the Manang valley on 2 October 2003. From there we dropped down the valley to the village of Chame, then north on our journey up the Phu khola. Steve and Jim had explored the Phu khola in 2000 and had made the first ascent of an unnamed 6152 m peak a couple of days northeast of the last village,

Phu. We had no idea of what the upper valley might present. The map indicated a trail that ran up to the border, but the maps are notoriously unreliable.

A guide with horses was hired in the village of Phu to lead us to the upper part of the valley and he showed us a high route that was not on the map. We reached the Khamjungar khola and the edge of the Bhatchauk glacier in a couple of days. As far as what might lie up the Bhatchauk glacier, our 'guide' had no information. There was absolutely no reason to go up there as there was no grazing. A few peaks above this valley have been climbed from the north and the west, never from this side, and we were without question the first foreign group to traverse the glacier's eight-mile length and perhaps the first humans to set foot there.

After several days of exploration of the glacier and its nasty moraine, we finally sighted our objective - Saribung - only visible above base camp. Base camp was a very cold, flat spot on the glacier at 5360 m and received no more than six hours of sunlight a day.

A few days later, we established and occupied a high camp on the edge of the moraine below Saribung at approximately 5700 m. Our day moving up to stay at the high camp was punctuated with an early morning evacuation of a porter with pulmonary oedema. He was evacuated from Phu by helicopter a couple of days later and recovered completely.

On 15 October we negotiated the lower icefall and began encountering difficult snow conditions. We reached the north col and could see into the heart of the Damodar range. Steep unconsolidated snow, interrupted with crevasses and breakable crust, caused us to take some eight hours to gain the last 600 vertical meters. When the peak steepened to 70-80 degrees near its summit it became difficult to gain elevation. We attempted the last few pitches to the top by the northeast ridge but could not make progress and were required to finish up on the steep headwall at the top of the north ridge. The view from the top was incredible with monstrously twisted summits and glaciers all about us, the Annapurnas and Dhauligiri to the south. To the north we could make out last year's peak, Gaugiri.

The descent was largely unremarkable and we were soon headed out to Kathmandu down the Annapurna circuit trail to Besi Sahar. The only incident was a close encounter with Maoists who entered one of the villages we stayed in. To avoid conflict we were awakened in the middle

of the night and took flight out of the village, avoiding all conflict with the Maoists.

This was our fourth trip to the range in four years, and each one has produced at least one first ascent of a 6000 m peak. (Jim Frush, Peter Ackroyd and Steve Furman)


The first ascent of Chhiv Himal (6650 m) on 18 September 2004. On the 19 all five members of the expedition reached the summit of Saribung (6328 m); it was the second ascent of the peak, but via a new route. (With report of the first ascent of Saribung by the American group on 15 October 2003.)

Members: Takeshi Wada (leader), Chiba University Alpine Club, Takeo Yoshinaga (deputy leader) Waseda University Alpine Club, Kenichiro Kato, Rikkyo University Alpine Club, Yuko Shibata, Gakushuin University Alpine Club and Mitsuhiro Kosei, Waseda University Alpine Club

The ascent was planned and done with no assistance from climbing Sherpas.

10 Gaugiri - The Dream of Emptiness

Edmund Wirbel

Monsoon in Pokhara (17 August 2004) - would the flight to Jomsom take off or not? After three hours of waiting at Pokhara airport, we knew it would. This was the last European-like question for our team. We were a small team going to Mustang: My wife Annemarie, my daughter Anna (age 16) a good friend, Hannes, the Nepali group led by Guna Tamang and myself.

Three years ago, during another trip we had looked from Kagbeni into upper Mustang. The dream was born and with time, it grew in our hearts.

First we went to Muktinath for acclimatisation, and as all pilgrims do, to pray for a good and safe expedition. The route in upper Mustang passes villages Tanghe, Chuksang, Chele, Syangmochen, Geling, Ghami, Tsarang to Lo Mathang. Going up and down, crossing several passes, our mind became more and more empty in the great high- desert landscape. We developed a great respect for the hard lives of the local people in these secluded villages.

During the whole trip of 18 days that we spent in upper Mustang- we met only four foreign tourists and a few Nepali or Indian Hindu pilgrims. After the visit to Lo Mathang, the residence of the 'king of Mustang', we passed the Kali Gandaki river, went to Dhi and then to Yara, the last village before the way to Damodar Kund. We were very impressed with Lo Mathang, the streets and people in their cultural dresses, the holy Buddhist gompas with old and wonderful paintings. The view of the yellow wilderness in the direction of the Tibetan border from the roof of the gompa is so fantastic that for this alone the trip to Lo Mathang is worth everything.

We came to Yara feeling like in an ancient century in this small and plain village, with some dusty, wondering and laughing children. Nearly all people were threshing corn and singing the same refrain all the time.

In Yara we started the long secluded journey to Damodar Kund. Two days and three passes (from 5000 to 5500 m) later we reached the base camp at Damodar Kund. This was at 5300 m, above the ancient holy shrine. The first pass was much more green than the desert like Mustang valley, and beyond this pass we could see only stones and more stones. The distances from one camp to the next in this region are very long (around 8 to 11 hours) because there is no water in between. So we were all really tired in the evening and slept very well.

In the base camp we spent a very cold bivouac- night, because the porter had a problem with donkeys, who arrived with the camp equipment and warm clothing one day later. After a rest (and warming) day we started early morning on 27 August towards the Gaugiri peak (6110 m). It took us about four and half hours to the top. We were surprised that there was very little snow on the southwest ridge. Corresponding to report by Peter Ackroyd and Jim Frush, who had made the first ascent in 2001, we expected deep snow and ice, but we found steep stones (two steps up and one down). View from the peak is vast. You see Dhaulagiri, the whole Annapurna range, a lot of other peaks and the desert-like wilderness

of the Tibetan country. We spent about two hours on the top and then went down with deep contentment in our hearts.

The way back, over Yara, Tange to Chuksang and Kagbeni was long over some new passes and through rivers in an empty land, and there too we had to cover very long distances for the next water point. Back in Jomsom we had no flight because of a strike and so we had to walk to Beni and then to Pokhara from where we took a bus.

In Nepal there are a lot of higher, more famous, more difficult and dangerous mountains where you can climb, but it is not guaranteed that this means more experience and beauty. For all of us it was a long long way, each day in a great, empty and quiet land. It was really more a piligrimage, than a mountaineering expedition. More a trip inside the heart. I am sure we took with us a part of the soul of this land, and left behind a part of our hearts.


First Austrian expedition to Gaugiri (6110 m).

Gaugiri has been opened since 2001 and the first ascent was made in 2001 by two Americans Peter Ackroyd and Jim Frush. This was the fifth expedition to Gaugiri and the fourth that was successful. Five climbers from this team reached the top : Anna Wirbel (female, age 16) Hannes Mihatsch (male, age 55), Edmund Wirbel (male, age 54,leader), Guna Tamang (male, Sirdar), Oisal Tamang (male, mountaineering Sherpa).

Anna was possibly the first woman to scale the peak.

11 Little Kailash Diary

Andy Perkins

London to base camp : 19 September to 25 September 2004

Left London and travelled via Delhi to Kathgodam. We drove to Chaukori and Dharchula by the 20th. From Dharchula on jeeps we arrive

Mangti nala, start walking at approx 2 km up the road from Mangti Nala. Arrive at Malpa for lunch. Overcast and drizzle. Past Lamari arrived at Budhi (2740 m) by evening.

After a day of rain we walked to Chhiyalekh (3350 m), Garbyang for lunch, and arrive Gunji (3300 m). Bridge across to Nepal below Garbyang blown up by Maoist rebels and a rumour (later denied by ITBP) that 3 Nepali policemen had been shot. Stay in village meeting house. We left early arriving Nampa (3540 m) for lunch, 11 km from Gunji and 7 km from Kuthi. Arrived Kuthi (3850 m) at 1500. Weather clouding over slowly which may have been due to team taking a rest in a holy spot in the shade of the Panch Pandav Qilla just below Kuthi village.

Two members leave Kuthi to recce for BC site. Decide to put BC at Nikarchu nala (4250 m) which is the major stream bed from where you see Nikurch Rama. This site is flat and easily accessible, with good exposure to sun during the day. The only downside is a 50 m descent to get water, so we kept on a cook boy.

ABC and first summit: 26 September - 29 September

Sun hits BC at 0630. We made a quick trip to the valley beyond Jolingkong (Parvati) lake to recce an ABC for Jolingkong acclimatisation trip. Few went up the glacier towards Nikurch Rama to recce. We also recce for Shin la approach.

All team go for a recce/acclimatisation up. C. S.Pandey, our agent, crosses Shin la, leaving Jolingkong at 0330 with no technical gear except for one ice axe. Reaches Shin la at 0800, offers prayers and descends to Bedang, reaching there at 1345. Conditions on descent were difficult with deep snow over rocks.

Leave BC 0900 in increasing cloud. Arrive Jolingkong temple and arrive 1215 at Jolingkong ABC (4650 m) which is 5.5 miles NW of the BC site in valley to the N of Parvati lake. Camp on nice flat spot right next to a stream.

Drizzle all night. Cloud slowly lifting at 0600 but still misty. 0820 depart for Jolingkong III, summit (5350 m) at 1120. Scree run down, followed by session on glacier roping up. Back at camp 1330, finding edelweiss in the meadow on the way.

On to summits :30 September to 8 October.

Up at 0300 away 0410. summit of Jolingkong I (JK) at 5460 m by 0900. This is the highest point on the ridge visible from Parvati lake with prominent twin pinnacles. Gaining it involves climbing loose scree and snow for approx 300 m, then a tottering rock pinnacle with a move of IV to the summit. From here, the ridge turns NW and rises about another 200 m over 1 km to what we will call Jolingkong I ! Some reached a point at 5640 approx halfway between JK 1 and JK III.

1-2 October

Rest day. Kumaon Scouts (Indian army) officer, Lt. Amit Viyas, arrives at BC with 2 soldiers, announcing intention to hunt ibex with a light machine gun, knowing them to be an endangered species in this valley. Session on jumar and abseil procedure. Heavy cloud to S by 1600, followed by rain for 2 hours.

3 October

Up at 0300, visibility 50 to 100 m at ABC. Light snow all day. Leave 0430, Andy led trail breaking mid calf to hip snow for 1 hour to ridge above ABC. 80 m drop-off down 40 degree slope on far side, leaving fixed rope. Up left into bowl seeing various possibilities to col between this and Pt. 6321 m. Camp site next to large boulder at 5400 m. Summit Raider pitched here and cache of kit left. 5 minutes to base of wall. 10 m of Scottish IV on muddy shale and 50 m to a good belay on Friend 1.5 and Rock 1. Another 60 m to excellent belay on Friend 2 and hex. Angle easing at 5600 m. Col looks achievable. Return to BC via easy route around rather than over ridge. Windy at 1430, with patches of blue. Pressure steady.

4 October

Up 0200, usual poor visibility. Away 0330, C1 at 0430. Up fixed rope then short roping up diagonally to col on 35 to 40 degree snow with a final steep pitch to the col to a bucket seat and screw and picket belay. Col is knife-edge rather than flat with no possibility of a camp anywhere. Lake to 6321 m involves 100 m of very steep snow/ice. Decision to go down rather than trying to push for summit due to bad weather. 120 m lower for the team, Andy abseils off Abalakov and then down climbs. Andy then lowers team to head of fixed rope at 5600 m then climbs up to refix rope with idea of going right of gendarme. Back to C1 for 1200, then ABC for 1300 and BC.

5 October

Two members arrive fresh from summit of what is eventually called Nikarchu Qilla (5705 m) to the NE of Nikurch Rama.

8 October

Up at 2300, cloud & light snow, thick mist at C1. Away 1240, up fixed rope, finds base of fixed rope above gully. Up to base of gendarme, round shale rock, finding good belays every 30 to 50 m in gendarme wall using Friends 1.5 to 3, Rocks 2 to 9 plus Rockcentrics

6 to 8. Poor visibility till 0400 and 5650 m. Up side of buttress on 40 degree snow leads to col right of gendarme, then two short pitches along arete to flat spot where ridge merges into bulk of LK. Andy puts in fixed rope from col down and left to buttress off two screws, meeting four who has taken decision to go for summit from ABC. Summit (5900 m) at 0730 for Andy's team by going right to rocky ridge and then up immediately right of this on snow. Awesome views of Nanda Devi, Kailash, Api. Depart 0815, leaving 2 screws on col to facilitate descent.

Return: 9 October to 16 October.

Base camp, return trek, Delhi and back to London.


Climbs on smaller peaks by a British team in Eastern Kumaun, in area of Kuthi and Jolingkong lake.

12 Auden's Col

A crossing from Khatling side

Sabyasachi Bose

The most practical and feasible connection between two pilgrim centres - Kedarnath and Gangotri - is through Maiali pass and Auden's col. Maiali pass has become a regular trek route to reach Kedarnath from Ghuttu. But Auden's col is different. It is situated on the connecting

ridge of Gangotri III (6577 m) and Jogin I (6465 m) - between the Rudugaira glacier