Himalayan Journal vol.65
The Himalayan Journal
Vol.65

Publication year:
2009

Editor:
Harish Kapadia
Index
  1. EDITORIAL
  2. Serbjeet Singh: Artist and Alchemist
    (W. M. (Bill) Aitken)
  3. The Great Game of Mapping the Himalaya
    (Rasoul Sorkhabi)
  4. Amphu Laptsa Middle - First Ascent
    (Dr. Olaf Rieck)
  5. Annapurna Fang
    (Park Soo Seok)
  6. The British Zemu Gap Expedition, 2008
    (Adrian O'Connor)
  7. The Everest Olympic
    (Colonel Ashok Abbey)
  8. Over the Hump
    (Dr. V. K. Sashindran)
  9. Tirsuli West
    (Gautam Dutta)
  10. Vasuki Parvat
    (Mick Fowler)
  11. The Bagpipe Treks
    (Harish Kapadia)
  12. Dhauladhar Dilemma
    (Satyabrata Dam)
  13. Nilkanth Missed
    (Jagdish C. Nanavati Ombudsman)
  14. Chong Kumdan II
    (Paulo Grobel)
  15. Gorge Country in Southeast Tibet and Mountains in Sichuan
    (Tamotsu Nakamura)
  16. On Lampak North
    (Vinay Hegde)
  17. Many a slip..
    (Dr Burjor Banaji)
  18. Zanskar Anyone?
    (Harish Kapadia)
  19. EXPEDITIONS AND NOTES
  20. BOOK REVIEWS
  21. IN MEMORIAM
  22. CORRESPONDENCE
  23. NEWSLETTER 62 (2008-2009)

Nilkanth Missed

Jagdish C. Nanavati Ombudsman

An expedition to Nilkanth, 6596 m in Garhwal Himalaya led by AVM Apurba Kumar Bhattacharyya announced successful ascent of the mountain by a party of 11 climbers (7 members and 4 Sherpas) on 11 June 2007. The expedition was sponsored by the Himalayan Club, organised by its Kolkata Section. The expedition approached this difficult mountain from the Khirao valley on south of the mountain. Base camp was set up at 4100 m. Route selected was up the lower rocky face/ridge to reach the west ridge and follow the same to the summit.

The claim of the ascent was required to be investigated by the sponsoring body, which had entrusted the matter to myself as the Ombudsman appointed by the Managing Committee. After prolonged study and correspondence with the leader and a spokesperson for the expedition, it was found that the expedition had not reached the summit of Nilkanth but had stopped at a point on the west ridge estimated to be at least 100-150 m below the summit.

The spot taken as the summit by the climbers was marked by the leader on a photograph taken by a Slovenian expedition in 2001. (see photo) This location is marked as 'HC Calcutta Summit Point'. That this spot was on the west ridge itself and not on the summit was also revealed from a photo by Martin Moran, which was looking down the same ridge from a spot above the location of 'H.C. Calcutta Summit Point' (see Photo) The photo was taken by Martin Moran while still on his way to the summit in the year 2000. This photo reveals the outcrop of rocks near which the leader of 2007 expedition had marked as their 'summit point'. The altitude of this region of rocky outcrop and its closer point on the west ridge is indicated to be between 6400 to 6450 m.

It must however be noted that the climbers had successfully overcome the lower difficult features of rocky towers and the hazardous gullies to emerge on the mixed snowy ground below the west ridge. Camp 1 was set up at 5250 m before the rocky section. Camp 2 was a bivouac at c. 5900 m still on the upper rocky section. The summit climb was launched from this bivouac on the early morning at 0130 hrs on 11 June. When all the climbers emerged above the mixed snowy section of the west ridge at about 6150 m at 0930 hrs, they halted for an hour or so debating whether to proceed. They took leader's guidance on the wireless. The leader was stationed at the base camp. Eventually it was decided to proceed further at about 1030 hrs.

Slovenian photo with markings by leader of HC Calcutta Section Nilkanth Expedition 2007, marking the highest point reached by the expedition.

Slovenian photo with markings by leader of HC Calcutta Section Nilkanth Expedition 2007, marking the highest point reached by the expedition.



Same rocks on Nilkanth seen from a distant view from the Panpatia glacier. (Debabrata Mukherjee)

Same rocks on Nilkanth seen from a distant view from the Panpatia glacier. (Debabrata Mukherjee)



Looking back from the summit ridge of Nilkanth. The point reached by Calcutta team as indicated by their leader is seen below. (Photo by Martin Moran who reached the highest point (summit) of Nilkanth)

Looking back from the summit ridge of Nilkanth. The point reached by Calcutta team as indicated by their leader is seen below. (Photo by Martin Moran who reached the highest point (summit) of Nilkanth)



This upper section of south facing snow slopes were described to be 40° - 55° steep on an average. The first climber reached the 'HC Calcutta Summit Point' at 1407 hrs. Others joined him one by one by half an hour or so. The weather had turned cloudy with hardly any views at that time. The climbers had stopped at the edge of the west ridge under a large cornice which they had termed as the 'Second Cornice'. It was from this point that the leader was again contacted on wireless. The climbers informed him that there was no higher ground seen except the 'Second Cornice', which they estimated to be 12 m higher. The leader advised them not to step over it.

The expedition could not obtain any clear photos of the summit views around due to the cloudy condition. Several group photos were submitted at and near the final location. (see Nilkanth Souvenir, published by the expedition, May 2008)

The climbers spent 1 hour 23 minutes at their final location and at about 1530 hrs commenced descending the mountain. Eventually they reached the bivouac point well past midnight, being thoroughly exhausted by their long ordeal on that day.

It was unfortunate that climbers did not notice the higher ground above their final location and thus terminated their climb on the west ridge below the 'Second Cornice'. They had fixed ropes almost through out the route followed. Their effort was commendable but unfortunately missed the true summit of Nilkanth, 6596 m.

Note: The Managing Committee of the Himalayan Club has accepted the findings of the Ombudsman. Full Report available on the Himalayab Club website; www.himalayanclub.org
Summary:

Report by Jagdish C. Nanavati, Ombudsman, on claim of ascent of Nilkanth peak (6596 m) by an expedition from the Kolkata Section of the Himalayan Club.