1. Himalayan Insects Indicate Climate Change (Peter Smetacek)
  2. South Simvu: Kangchenjunga’s Last Kept Secret (Anindya Mukherjee)
  3. British Expedition to Januhut (Simon Yearsley)
  4. Shivling South Face (Nathan Opp)
  5. Exploration of The Canyons, Ravines and Mountains of Northeastern Spiti (Derek R. Buckle)
  6. The First Ascent of Pyagski Peak (6090 M) 2014 (Kazuo Hoshi)
  7. Telthop 2014 (Chris Horobin)
  8. First Ascent of Unnamed Peak (6184 M) in South Zanskar (Rajeev Mondal)
  9. Rupsu Across Yangzi Diwan Pass (Tapan Pandit)
  10. Kishtwar Trio (Stephan Siegrist, Thomas Senf and Dres Abegglen)
  11. Climb of Sonam Ri (Stéphane Schaffter)
  12. Lungmochey Kangri (Andy Selters)
  13. UK - US Himachal Pradesh Expedition (Paul Swienton)



1 Himalayan Insects Indicate Climate Change

Peter Smetacek

Life was slow in the hills after Independence. There was a sense of uncertainty, since no one really knew whether the violence tearing the nation apart would spill over and cause a repeat of 1857. Many European families returned to war ravaged Europe or like Jim Corbett, migrated to other British colonies. As the European community shrank, there were fewer social engagements. My father settled in the hills after the Second World War. By the 1950s, there were few Europeans left in the hills, so he devoted more and more time to his hobbies and books. Stamps were reserved for rainy days and butterflies occupied most of his sunny days.

Over the years the butterfly collection grew until by the 1970s, it began to attract international attention. In 1973, with the coming of electricity, we moved out of the era of paraffin lamps. The urge to leave the verandah lights on all night was irresistible. The next morning, all the walls would be covered with an assortment of the strangest creatures imaginable. There were dried twigs that would unroll themselves into moths, green leaves that would resolve themselves into crickets, dry leaves that flew away when touched and lichenous sprouts that grew legs and dashed off. Moths that squeaked, beetles that creaked, squawking cicadas and rattling crickets all found electric lamps as irresistible as father did.

It was not long before he was working day and night on building a collection of these creatures. There was no literature, so he had no names for them, but that did not reduce his enthusiasm one whit. Soon the walls of his room were covered with specimen boxes. This gradually expanded until every room had its quota of boxes on the wall.

In 1980, an attack of museum beetles reduced most of the collection to dust. In 1983, I began to rebuild the collection. It was slow work and although I still did not have names for the moths, I was familiar with my father’s collection and knew more or less what was to be expected.

By the late 1980s I was making steady progress identifying them. The only family of moths for which reliable information existed was the hawkmoths. In 1937, Francis Scott and T.R.D. Bell published an excellent book on Indian members of the family. Most of the work was carried out at three sites: Shillong in North-east India, North Kanara in Karnataka and Mussoorie in the Western Himalaya. By the time I had our hawkmoths identified I was astonished to discover that out of the 108 species recorded from Kumaun, 53 species had not been recorded by Bell and Scott from Mussoorie. Interestingly, all of these were previously recorded from the Eastern Himalaya suggesting that there was a general trend for these insects to move westwards. In fact, Bell and Scott only recorded 62 species from the Western Himalaya. (Seven species on Bell and Scott’s list were from the extreme Western Himalaya and Pakistan and did not occur in Mussoorie.)

This required investigation. Bell and Scott had done a thorough job. Could it be that the unrecorded species had moved into the area during the half century after their book was published? Were there any noticeable changes that would enable these moths to colonize the drier Western Himalaya? Was there any other suggestion that the environment was changing?

We knew that winters were now milder compared to the 1950s and 60s. This change had been exploited by typically plains birds that began to spend the winters at 1400 m elevation in Bhimtal, whereas previously they merely had been summer visitors. These included the paddy bird, the grey partridge, etc. A check with local botanists confirmed that no new plants had moved into the area during that period. So what had changed that enable these moths to colonize this area? Clearly, it was either the temperature or the humidity.

This was long before global climate change has received much attention. However changes in temperature or humidity were another way of saying change in climate. The Gaia Atlas of Planet Management (1982), in projecting climatic trends, predicted that the Western Himalaya would get warmer and wetter as a result of global warming.

I checked these facts at a talk at Jesus College, Oxford and was referred to the newly formed Climate Change Unit. They had only two putative cases concerning insects. The first was the ongoing northward extension of the European corn borer moth and the other was a slight expansion in the range of an English bumblebee. The Bhimtal hawkmoths, therefore, represented the first case when a community of insects had been recorded responding to climate change. The fact that all of them had previously been known from the warm, humid Eastern Himalaya strongly suggested that the Western Himalaya were getting warmer and wetter as predicted in the Gaia Atlas. It is abundantly clear that the moths had confirmed the direction of ongoing climatic change in the Western Himalaya.

Unfortunately Bhimtal is a hundred air-miles east of Mussoorie. Could it be that the moths had been here all along even before the publication of Bell and Scott’s work? The only way to confirm this would be to resurvey the hawkmoths of Mussoorie.

For the next 20 years I tried to undertake the survey, but was prevented by the lack of funds. Finally in 2013, Stephen Alter of the Winterline Foundation invited me to undertake the survey. The results have more than borne out the predictions made 20 years earlier with the Bhimtal hawkmoths, for several species not reported by Bell and Scott now appear to reside in Mussoorie.

But, what exactly was it that changed, that enable the moths to survive and thrive in this area? There was practically no difference between temperature regimes of the last fifty years. What was noticeable was that the winters were greener. During the 1960s and 70s, the hills were brown in winter. During the 1980s, things began to change and by the turn of the century the hills were lush in winter. Clearly soil humidity had increased. This would be one of the key factors enabling hawkmoths to colonise the area, since hawkmoths spent the pupal stage underground. If the soil is too dry even the hardiest hawkmoths pupae will dry out, killing the insects.

What are the implications of increased soil humidity in the Western Himalaya? Uttarakhand comprises the head waters of the Ganga river system. Although the Ganga is popularly believed to depend on Himalayan glaciers, in truth, more than half the water budget comes from rain-fed Himalayan streams where no snow ever falls. This area is the zone that has been ecologically devastated by fuel and fodder extraction. These forests were the legendary dreadlocks of Lord Shiva that he spread over the Himalaya to absorb Ganga’s fury at being ordered to descend to earth.

With the devastation of these forests, Ganga’s fury is now unbridled. By replacing the dreadlocks i.e. the forests, we can curb her fury. The hawkmoths have shown us the direction of ongoing change; it is up to us to heed the call. A warmer and wetter Himalaya will mean that forests will re-grow much more rapidly than were the winters a period of stagnant growth. At the same time, heavier rainfall during the summer months will mean greater devastation if the dreadlocks are not replaced in time.

My experience during the last 20 years has confirmed that Government cannot be depended upon to pay more than lip service to this matter. It is up to us citizens to remedy the situation. The steps needed are

  1. Permit forests to grow back. Our government has perpetrated the myth that forests are planted, a falsehood that has caused huge loss to the public exchequer. The truth is a forest is a self-regenerating system. Most forests outside national parks are degraded and require protection to be able to grow back and restore ecosystem functions.
  2. Prevent forest fires: Until the 1970s, local people identified themselves with local forests. During the 1980s western style ‘development’ and officiousness resulted in the gradual alienation of local people until today, when local people view forests fires as a spectator event and expect Forest Department staff to extinguish the fires. Naturally, the Department is understaffed, so throughout the summer months, fires spread unhindered, in fact, are often set by local people to improve the quality of forage.
  3. Develop a method of monitoring the health of forests: at present, we have clumsy, mechanical methods of monitoring forest health, such as biomass estimation, etc. This tells us very little about the health of the forest and the effectiveness of ecosystem functions. I have proposed the use of insect, mainly Lepidoptera, populations, to monitor the health of different forest types. This requires much data collection and insights.
  4. Monitoring the forests so that appropriate intervention can be undertaken on the basis of scientific data rather than administrative whim, as is the case at present. We have to have a clear understanding of what we want from public forests. Do we want lumber, turpentine, water, fodder or a combination of these? Depending on the national requirements, we must decide what we want and work towards providing that, keeping in mind that the results of decisions taken today will only bear fruit between 30 to 50 years later. After all, we are talking of re-growing forests. More important, we are talking about the water security of our country, which is being seen as the biggest challenge to internal security and prosperity in this century.

This and much more is what butterflies and moths can contribute to India’s future water security.

A study of Himalayan insects and the climate change.



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2 South Simvu: Kangchenjunga’s Last Kept Secret

Anindya Mukherjee

Maps, if caviar1 to the general, are, as Louis Stevenson has insisted, very suggestive to persons with proper imagination.

- Douglas Freshfield, Round Kangchenjunga

Story of maps and an invisible glacier

For the last few years I have been trying to explore the valleys and glaciers of the south-eastern flanks of Kangchenjunga. To be a bit more specific, my explorations were focused on the little or completely unknown glaciers like Talung, Tongshyong, South Simvu glaciers and the valley system created by their rivers (Rukel-Rongyoung or Talung Chu) emanating from them.

From the south summit of Kangchenjunga (8476 m) a high ridge extends east separating the Zemu glacier valley on the north from South Simvu, Tongshyong and Talung glaciers to the south. These three glaciers form the head of the Talung Basin. Although both Tongshyong and Talung glaciers have been visited by explorers (Talung, for the first time in 1890 by J. Claude White and Tongshyong in 1920 by Harold Raeburn); one glacier remained completely unknown - the South Simvu glacier.

How a whole glacier in the close vicinity of the mighty Kangchenjunga stood unnoticed this long is a fascinating story. The lack of a detailed map has always been a hindrance for the exploring kind. But in the curious case of South Simvu glacier, it was simply not there!

Col. Waugh’s map of 1848 and Sir Joseph Hooker’s map of 1849 (and subsequently of 1854) did not have any detail of the Talung valley as no one had ventured there yet. John Claude White’s crossing of the Guicha la and subsequent journey down the Talung Chu gorge in 1890 resulted in another map (The Geographical Journal 1910) as Talung and Tongshyong glaciers got noticed here for the very first time. But the most significant work of cartography happened with Douglas Freshfield’s ‘high level tour’ of Kangchenjunga in 1899 when Freshfield was accompanied by cartographer Prof. E.J. Garwood. Professor Garwood’s map was close to being perfect with reference to the other glaciers in the same valley, namely Talung, Tongshyong, and even Passanram glaciers. But there was no sign of South Simvu. The cause of the invisibility of the glacier in Garwood’s map has an explanation today, when one reads Prof. Garwood’s comments on how he had drawn this particular section on his map, “ ...in the case of heads of the glens under Si-imvovonchum and Siniolchum, from sketches made by Mr. Freshfield from above Gantok.”2 It is quite obvious that any map of a jagged terrain of Himalayan scale, drawn with inputs from observations made from as far as (and as low as) Gangtok surely cannot be without errors.

Interestingly, this glacier did not appear in the knowledge base until the recent mappings done by the Swiss (Sikkim Himalaya map of 1951). This was later incorporated by the American Army Corps of Engineers map of 1955. However, a very clear depiction of Upper Talung region, especially of South Simvu that drew my attention most is Tadashi Toyoshima’s map of 1977. In all my expeditions in Sikkim Himalaya so far, I have used Toyoshima’s map for preliminary planning and found it to be very accurate despite this map not being a topographical one.

The Protagonists

J. Claude White’s journey through the Talung gorge and Freshfield’s epic tour around Kangchenjunga opened doors for exploring mountaineers. Starting from Harold Raeburn (1920) to H. W. Tilman (1938), the visitors of upper Talung valley had a few distinct, yet limited objectives - climbing. Pandim (6691m), Zemu Gap (5861m) and Kangchenjunga remained their centre of attraction. Everything around was overshadowed. It can be safely assumed that once they were done with their efforts and attempts, they did not have time or energy to stay back and look around this inhospitable part of remote Sikkim. The only significant exploratory trip in the Raeburn-Tilman era (1920-1938) was taken by a small team of Paul Bauer’s party in1937. They crossed the great east ridge from north (Zemu glacier) and entered the middle Talung valley via a col located at the head of Passanram glacier. While doing this in October 1937, they in all probabilities, could not have noticed the existence of South Simvu glacier as ‘their’ col never gave them the optimal and strategic elevation to have a sneak peek on what lay immediately south of the Simvu twins.

This era was followed by a complete absence of exploratory action in this valley till 1975 when the second phase of exploratory action began. But this second phase concentrated on what their predecessors left unfinished and a series of onslaught on Zemu Gap started. Thus, in spite of being visible from the 1950s, South Simvu remained unnoticed till our visit in May 20143. Being a mountain explorer at heart, I looked at this blank in the map as a loadstone sending out strong vibrations of invitation.

Exploration of South Simvu

In April-May 2014, I was part of an expedition with Alberto Peruffo that aimed to explore the Tongshyong glacier and Talung glaciers further. While my colleagues were busy looking at possibilities of countless new routes, I decided to head off in the direction of the last unexplored glacier of Talung valley; South Simvu. Our base camp was near the confluence of Talung and Tongshyong streams, almost in the same camping ground as our Zemu Gap expedition of December 2011.

Peak 6350 m on the left, Simvu west partly visible from the neve of South Simvu

Peak 6350 m on the left, Simvu west partly visible from the neve of South Simvu

View of upper South Simvu glacier from our high point on peak 6350 m

View of upper South Simvu glacier from our high point on peak 6350 m

From the observations made during my previous three expeditions in 2011, I had formed a fair idea on how to approach the South Simvu glacier, which like Tongshyong lay completely out of sight from the Talung gorge. Signs, such as old, settled moraine ridges and a powerful stream coming from the direction of Simvu, suggested strongly of a glacial existence. But, it was not visible. We assumed it has withdrawn its reaches higher up to a shelf and has become a hanging glacier. Old terminal and lateral moraines, braided outwash stream; all suggested the classic case of a cirque glacier at our disposal here. Signs were abound to argue in favour of its retreat from a previously greater extension. How and when did South Simvu retreat? Well, this can only be diagnosed by a glaciologist but, my thought was that, as a climbing problem, a cirque or hanging glacier often offers a more severe challenge than that of a valley glacier. What will this one throw at us?

On 3 May 2014, along with Thendup Sherpa and Lhakpa Sherpa, I left base camp and kept following the steep right lateral moraine coming down from the direction of South Simvu. After a continuous climb of five hours we reached a big, slightly overhanging rock cliff. Interestingly, during all of April-May 2014, the whole of upper Talung valley engulfed itself in thick fog latest by 9.00 in the morning. This pattern of early white-out lasted for nearly four weeks of our stay inside the gorge. The same thing happened on that day as well, allowing us no chance for a better visibility. Later in the day, we took shelter below that overhang cliff.

For the next two days we did reconnaissance trips further up the valley hoping for a clearer day. Finally one morning, before the clouds came rushing, we saw the outline of an icefall that announced South Simvu’s presence. To the delight of our exploratory mind, we saw the twin summits of Simvu rising above the icefall. This re-affirmed our motivation and on 6 May 2014, Thendup Sherpa and I left our overhanging shelter hoping to cross the first icefall obstacle and set up a high camp. An easy snow gully to the true right of the icefall gave us access to the upper plateau of the glacier. Due to poor visibility and bad snow conditions it took us nearly seven hours to reach the neve of the glacier. We pushed on and camped at around 5300 m.

An attempt on P. 6350 m

From the Swiss contour map I had at my disposal, I was aware of the existence of two unnamed 6000 m peaks close to me somewhere. P. 6350 m and P. 6130 m are located on the ridge running southeast, dividing Tongshyong and South Simvu glaciers. Now that we have actually entered the South Simvu, my immediate attention was drawn towards those unclimbed 6000 m peaks. But, due to poor visibility, we got no bearings on our position that entire day (6 May 2014) and waited patiently for the early hours of the next morning, when we thought, would be able to orient ourselves.

7 May 2014. We woke up to great expectations. Today, we would see and document a glacier that had never been seen before. Thankfully, we were not disappointed with the view that morning. To our north, Simvu twins (6812 m-West and 6811 m-East) looked gigantic, dominating the skyline. To our north-northeast, after a stretch of crevasse filled snow field, we could clearly see a col (5215 m) a bit lower than our campsite sharply dropping to the Passanram (also referred to as Umaram Kang glacier in some maps) side. Above and beyond that 5215 m col, rose Siniolchu (6887 m) in all its grandeur. To our east, right across the glacier (to the south of 5215 m col) rock peaks P. 5666 m and Lhokamburichi (5495 m) formed the boundary wall between South Simvu and Passanram glaciers. Looking at the unmistakable thumb like feature of Lhokamburichi, I realised that this is the ridge that one can see from lower Talung valley while looking at Simvu. This is the ridge that completely hides South Simvu glacier from its east and south east. This is the reason it never came out in the sketches made by Freshfield from above Gangtok!

To our south we could see Narsing (5825 m); the Jopuno (5936 m) group of peaks, Pandim (6691 m) and to our immediate northwest stood two unnamed peaks, P. 6350 m and P. 6130 m respectively. Without wasting much time Thendup and I roped up and started towards the nearest objective from our campsite, P. 6350 m.

The crest of Siniolchu as seen from South Simvu glacier

The crest of Siniolchu as seen from South Simvu glacier

Within next four hours we climbed through a narrow gully to the east of P. 6130 m and reached the base of the summit rock pyramid of P. 6350 m. We were just a roped up party of two and it did not take us long to decide that we were not bagging any peaks that day. To climb the rock pyramid would need protection, which none of us were carrying in our lightweight push. When we left base camp, the maximum we were hoping to achieve was to find and reach the right glacier. When we did reach the glacier, we took our ambition a level higher, to climb an unclimbed 6000 m! Such is human nature.

We were close to 6000 m and our high point worked as a perfect vantage point for photo documentation and so I told myself to be happy with what we achieved and retreat. From here we could photograph extraordinary views of the head of South Simvu glacier, Simvu twins, Siniolchu and even its rock needles over the Passanram valley. It was nearly midday, and snow conditions were getting worse. Thendup and I have been climbing together nearly a decade now and hence trusted each other’s belay. We reached camp in complete whiteout. We packed up next morning and happily started down towards base camp.

South Simvu glacier is not invisible anymore!

Team: Anindya Mukherjee, Thendup Sherpa, Lhakpa Sherpa

Exploration of South Simvu glacier and attempt on P. 6350 m. in Sikkim Himalaya achieved by a small team in May 2014.


  1. Spelling unchanged
  2. Round Kangchenjunga by Douglas Freshfield, Pp. 304.



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3 British Expedition to Januhut

Simon Yearsley

Malcolm Bass and I had spent eight months planning a return visit to Rimo III. We had failed to climb its beautiful Southwest Face in 2012, and we keen to return. Eight months planning, eight months preparation, eight months mounting excitement, eight months training... then 10 days before we were due to fly out, we learnt that the Indian Army had refused our permission to enter the sensitive Siachen Glacier area.

SW Buttress of Janahut (Simon Yearsley)

SW Buttress of Janahut (Simon Yearsley)

That was a fairly devastating blow, but in the world of Himalayan mountaineering, things like this can always happen. It pays to have a Plan B up your sleeve. Fortunately, we have a wide range of big mountain objectives on our radar. The important thing with such a limited amount of time before we were due to leave was to chose an objective which would be quick to organise the permission for, and relatively easy to get to. We chose the beautiful Garhwal Himalaya. It’s only a couple of days drive from Delhi, and the area is dominated by the 32 km long Gangotri glacier – the headwaters of the holy river Ganges. We first visited the Gangotri glacier in 1992 when we made the first British, second overall, ascent of Yogeshwar, an attractive 6600 m peak via a new route on its South face. Since then I have returned twice to the Garhwal, and Malcolm four times so we know the area well, and had no shortage of compelling objectives to chose from.

Our Plan B was to head into the magnificent cirque at the very head of the Gangotri glacier and to attempt the unclimbed Chaukhamba IV (6854 m).

Malcolm and I left UK on 24 May 2014. Arriving in Delhi we were delighted with the support we received from the IMF who were very keen to help us secure permission for our Plan B at such short notice. Whilst waiting for the IMF briefing, we met up with Druv Joshi, who we had met on our Rimo III 2012 expedition when Druv was part of a team attempting Rimo I. It was great to catch up with Druv again, but we were a little concerned when he told us of the unusually large volumes of dangerous windslab snow lying on east facing slopes in the upper Gangotri area... our Chaukhamba I route was on northeast face. Unable to do anything about this at this stage, we left Delhi on 26 May, arriving the following evening in Gangotri.

After a couple of days in Gangotri, and a very pleasant walk-in, we established base camp at Sundervan (4600 m) on 31 May. Malcolm and I acclimatised up to 6000 m on the easy northwest slopes of Kedar Dome, and then after a couple of days mellow resting at BC, it was time to head up the Gangotri glacier.

On 6 June we left BC, accompanied by Ming Temba, Tsweang, and Dan Singh our LO. As we had the services of our two HAPs, our initial objective was to establish an ABC in one single push from BC. We were aiming to get the ABC as close to the upper cirque of the Gangotri glacier as possible, and with enough supplies for Malcolm and me to spend about 10 days operating from this ABC... and hopefully climbing Chaukhanba IV!

Two days walking up the beautiful Gangotri glacier brought back many memories of our previous expeditions and it was great to have the company of Ming Temba, Tsewang and Dan Singh who were all equally excited to be in such superb mountain surroundings. On 7 June Malcolm and I pitched our single-skin tent next to a convenient boulder, and waved goodbye to Ming Temba, Tsewang and Dan Singh. Advanced base camp was established! We were about 20 km from BC, at 5050 m, just near the Miandani glacier, very close to the head of the Gangotri glacier, and with our objective of Chaukhamba IV just round the corner. For us, this is always the exciting part of any expedition – now it was just us two climbers, with enough gear, food and gas for a good attempt at a compelling Himalayan objective.

The next day we walked round into the upper cirque to reconnoitre our line of the northeast face of Chaukhamba IV, and what a sight greeted us – we knew this face could be objectively dangerous, but try as we might we just couldn’t see any safe route at all on the face. Druv had been correct – the massive volumes of snow which had fallen in early May on strong westerly winds had created completely unjustifiably dangerous conditions, with deep layers of dangerous wind slab on all easterly aspects of this face. It was time for a Plan C. It had always been a possibility that Chaukhamba IV could be unsafe. We had discussed this possibility earlier with our liaison officer, and Dan Singh had very generously agreed that if we felt our original objective of Chaukhamba IV was unjustifiably dangerous then he would happily give us the ‘in the field’. permission to attempt an alternative peak.

From our single tent at ABC, we could look up the Miandani glacier to the southwest buttress of the unclimbed Januhut (6805 m). Januhut is an elegant mountain has attracted many suitors. It was first attempted in 2002 by an Austrian team, and in 2004 the New Zealand team Pat Deavoll and Marty Beare made a strong attempt up the big couloir on the west face, reaching 6400 m. At the same time, Malcolm and our friends Andy Brown and Paul Figg reached around 6000 m on the southwest buttress. In 2010 and 2011, Bryan Hylenski and team, made two expedition style attempts from the southeast, using fixed ropes and reaching around 6500 m.

Janahut was to be our Plan C....

At 11 p.m. on the 9th we set off, crossing the bergshrund at 1 a.m. We made good progress, climbing unroped up snowfields and short gullies, and by 10 a.m. reached a well-protected bivouac site beneath an overhang at 5900 m. This fine bivvi site meant we could rest safely, protected from the rockfall and icefall which began when the sun hit the face.

At 2.30 a.m., with the face safely frozen we were off again. Pockets of windslab kept us roped up as we moved together, weaving our way through white granite towers. It was a ferociously cold morning, with temperatures around -30° C, and it was a relief to eventually emerge into the sunshine. We had climbed the southwest buttress, but we were still a long way from the summit. A loose, scratchy rock pitch lead onto a steep ridge of hard ice. A few rope-lengths along this ridge brought us to a small hollow beside a large rock gendarme. Two hours of chopping hard ice turned the hollow into a tent platform - our Eyrie Bivvi site at 6300 m. From here we were going for the summit.

SW Buttress of Janahut (Simon Yearsley)

SW Buttress of Janahut (Simon Yearsley)

Malcolm Bass on the easier angled snow arête, approaching The Castle (Simon Yearsley)

Malcolm Bass on the easier angled snow arête, approaching The Castle (Simon Yearsley)

At 4 a.m. the next morning we set off, leaving the tent pitched at the Eyrie. A long, superb and exciting day's climbing lay ahead. After another couple of pitches up the hard ice ridge, the angle eased to a long horizontal section of ridge. Now with stunning views to east and west, we made good progress along the ridge, with occasional technical sections through short rock steps. Ahead lay a formidable 80 m high rock barrier, which we had named The Castle. Whilst the weather remained beautifully clear, by now a cold wind had strengthened dramatically. Malcolm led the first of the technical cruxes through the lower section of The Castle, with steep mixed climbing. The sting in the tail of The Castle was an awkward, hold-less chimney on my pitch above. This pitch ended at a short wall on the top of The Castle. Beyond we could see the continuation ridge leading to a fine but false summit, with the true summit visible beyond.

We had reached 6660 m. It was 6 p.m. We had been climbing for 14 hours. It would be dark in less than two hours. The summit lay 140 m above. Our tent, stove and food were 360 m below. The freezing wind continued to strengthen. We decided to descend.

By the time we regained the Eyrie bivvi site, we had been on the go for 21 hours and were very cold. In the relative warmth of the tent, we spent the few hours left of the night making endless brews and bowls of noodles.

The 13th was a day of sleeping, eating what remained of our food, and planning our descent back to the glacier 1300 m below.

On the 14th we left the Eyrie at 9 a.m. with a plan to descend the shorter east side of the mountain to a high glacial basin from which we hoped to drop down through a series of icefalls to the glacier. By 8 p.m. we were relieved to be on the flat ground of the glacial basin. We were now at the end of our 5th day, and out of food. The evening meal was two cups each of ginger lemon tea made from used tea-bags scavenged from the rubbish bag. The icefalls separating us from the safety of the glacier proved surprisingly benign. By mid-morning all we had to do was to walk the 5 km back round to ABC where we'd left a small stash of food.

The following day, 16 June, was a simple matter of walking for 10 hours down the Gangotri glacier back to base camp. Glacial streams proved difficult to cross on the way back down, and our tiredness meant that our rather large loads didn’t quite make it all the way back to BC, so on the 17 June Chewang and Ming Temba went back to the end of the moraine to collect them.

We left base camp on the 20th, arrived back at Gangotri on the 21st, and reached Delhi on 23rd June.

It had been an excellent expedition, and whilst we didn’t summit, the memories for us were of great camaraderie with our support team, and beautiful technical climbing, high on an unclimbed line.

An attempt on Januhut (6805 m) in the Garhwal, in May 2014 The British team reached 6665 m the highest reached on this unclimbed peak.

Members: Malcolm Bass (leader) and Simon Yearsley


  1. Spelling unchanged
  2. Round Kangchenjunga by Douglas Freshfield, Pp. 304.



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4 Shivling South Face

Nathan Opp

In January of 2014 Kyler Pallister, Sam Magro, and I decided we would do a trip to the Garhwal Himalaya. We picked Shivling as our main objective because its prominence and beauty. Our plan was to try the Japanese north ridge route in a five to seven day alpine style ascent. The day before we were to leave Sam had still not received his Indian visa. Kyler and I flew to Delhi with the plan that Sam might still get a visa and meet us over there. Once in Delhi we learned he would not be meeting us and we were now a two person team.

The monsoon was a little late this year and was in full swing as we travelled from Delhi to Gangotri by vehicle. The threat of the road washing out was present the whole way but the drive was especially beautiful as the fog rolled through the valleys and new water filled the mighty Ganga. After three days of driving and three days easy hike we were at the amazing Tapovan meadow on the afternoon of 10 September. The top of Shivling was 2300 m directly above us and across the Gangotri glacier were the Bhagirathi peaks, with beautiful swooping rock buttresses on II and III and I towering above them all with no obvious weakness.

One of the many beautiful rock buttresses under the south face of Shivling

One of the many beautiful rock buttresses under the south face of Shivling

Kyler Pallister on day two

Kyler Pallister on day two


Bhagirathi group from Shivling

Bhagirathi group from Shivling

Highest point reached

Highest point reached

The monsoon lingered from the 10 through the 15 September during which time we climbed a nice slabby ridge for six pitches above camp, spent one night at Camp 1 on the north ridge, and enjoyed our time in the mountains wandering around and watching the Ibex. The morning of the 16th was a perfect clear day with a light breeze out of the north. The north ridge was covered in fresh snow and not looking too promising any time soon so we hiked up past the East ridge, which was also quite covered in snow and around the base and up the Kirti glacier. We knew that there were routes established on the south face of Shivling, but we didn’t know much other than that. We poked around on the moraines and meadows below the south face until we thought we saw a reasonable approach to the S buttress.

The weather was absolutely perfect with a inspiring light north wind for the next four days while we went back to pull our cache off of the north ridge and packed for the S buttress. We were a little heavy as all of our gear was brought with the intent of a three person ascent, but nevertheless our loads were reasonable and not even half of what a 16 year old porter would carry in flip flops.

So on 20 September we left Tapovan with about 6 days of food and headed over to the S buttress. We spent the night just below the small glacier that drains the south face and woke up early to fog and a drizzle, not really knowing exactly where we wanted to go from there we unfortunately decided to spend an extra day at ABC and the weather was perfect by the afternoon. The next day we got up early again and quickly zigzagged up and across the small glacier and were at the base of the ridge by around 10 a.m. We started pitching out the moderate rock and soon found old fixed gear. After 300 m we spent the night at about 5800 m on a cramped and sloping ledge just below the ridge crest. The next day was again perfect and we found a nice bivi ledge after 2 pitches. This was too early even for us to call it a day so we continued on until almost dark and spent an uncomfortable night at 6100 m.

We got up early the next morning and also quite tired with the semi realistic idea of a 400 m summit day. We left camp in place and after a bit of a slow start and several transitions from plastic boots and crampons to rock shoes we realized that we were going to make the summit in any sort of reasonable effort and we were not willing to spend the night out. The wind up high was also a little more than it had been and we pulled the plug and began our descent at just above 6200 m. We did short rappels for most of the descent not even using the 60 meter x 8mm rope that caused us so much heavy breathing on the way up. The weather deteriorated the next day and we made it back to ABC and eventually Tapovan where the short storm gave way to more perfect weather. A few days later we tricked ourselves into trying the west ridge. There was a German guided group and we used their fixed lines to climb from Tapovan to above Camp 2 in about four hours. The giant serac ripped three times while we were up there and the next morning we went back to Tapovan with our tails between our legs.

The South face of Shivling is an amazing area, I don’t know that there is much good climbing potential on the south face itself as there is quite a bit of rock fall, but the buttresses at the bottom are some of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen.

An attempt of the south face of Shilling.

Members: Kyler Pallister, and Nathan Opp

Period : September 2014



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5 Exploration of the Canyons, Ravines and Mountains of North-eastern Spiti

Derek R. Buckle

While looking for new mountaineering opportunities in the Indian Himalaya we were particularly attracted to northern Spiti1. Firstly, none of our team had ever been there but, more importantly, several areas offered scope for exploratory mountaineering. The region to the east of the Lingti nala was especially attractive since, until relatively recently, it was a closed area to foreigners and had received little attention from Indian mountaineers. Teams led by Harish Kapadia visited in 1983 and 1987 when they successfully climbed Sibu (5700 m) and Lagma (5796 m),2,3 but no other mountaineers were known to have been to the area.

On his earlier visits Harish had photographed a high, unclimbed peak approximately due north of Tabo in eastern Spiti which he suggested that we might like to attempt, but it was clear from both available maps and Google satellite images that several such peaks existed in this area. The problem would be one of access. As noted by Harish, this region is complex and crossed by deep, often impenetrable, gorges. Another problem is its proximity to the border with Tibet so obtaining a permit (especially for foreigners) might not be possible. In an attempt to shorten the odds against rejection, we subsequently chose not to enter by way of the more direct Giu nala but selected the longer approach via the Lingti nala. Although a long time coming, we eventually received permission for this approach so that the expedition was definitely on.

Sketch map of routes, camps and peaks climbed. Adapted from the Russian 1:200,000 Military map

Sketch map of routes, camps and peaks climbed. Adapted from the Russian 1:200,000 Military map

The north face of Sisbang

The north face of Sisbang

Advanced base camp below the summit of Tangmor

Advanced base camp below the summit of Tangmor

Derek Buckle and Dave Broadhead on the first ascent of Fossil Gully

Derek Buckle and Dave Broadhead on the first ascent of Fossil Gully

Thus on 27 August 2014 the team flew to Delhi from the UK to begin the long drive to Shimla where we obtained Inner Line Permits before continuing via Sarahan, Kalpa and Tabo to Lingti. At Lingti we joined our porters and support team before taking the short drive to the road-head at Lalung (3737 m).

The trek to and from base camp

We knew at the outset that the trek to base camp would be arduous, but even after talking to the local villagers we did not fully appreciate the difficulties that lay ahead. Because of the poor and, in places, dangerous state of the path the locals had discouraged us from following the Lingti nala itself but suggested instead that we should follow a higher route over the Tuthi pass (4515 m, Zingtu Top)4. From the pass this approach descended steeply to the Zingzung nala before a brief climb and difficult descent led to the Lingti nala and Camp 1 at 3775 m, a little before the deserted hamlet of Kebri*. It was a long, hard day with several porters struggling to manoeuvre loads over the difficult terrain.

Continuing past Kebri a steep 1300 m climb on a well-defined track led to the Goldem pass (5085 m)5 with its extensive views before descending steeply to a small plateau overlooking the Sisbang nala where belemnites and other fossils were scattered in profusion. The Lingti shales are famous worldwide for their Jurassic fossils, and an extensive collection gathered by Dr. Richard Hey in 1955 is held at the Sedgwick Museum in Cambridge, UK, but we were rather surprised to find them relatively free of their matrix as was possible here. Further on a break in the cliffs bordering the Sisbang nala led via a steep descent on uneven ground to the river itself. We were able to bivouac here (Camp 2) at 4520 m in a shallow cave some 15- 20 m above the water. Because of the difficult terrain, however, we were once again well ahead of the porters and several only arrived well after dark having dropped their loads as far back as the Goldem pass.

Fortunately, the next day was comparatively short for the porters so that after retrieving the dropped loads we continued via the Sisbang pass (4812 m) to establish Camp 3 at 4801 m on scrubby grass close to the Sabu Spring. As we still had little idea where to establish base camp we eventually chose to spend a day at the spring while the climbing team and high altitude porters explored possible options. Although poor visibility hampered these forays somewhat, a suitable base camp site was found beside one of the Sheru nala tributaries at 5130 m and we relocated there on 7 September. At this point, Hamish - who unfortunately failed to receive his permit before leaving the UK - was required to leave with our Sirdar and the porters. Hoping to get back to Lalung more quickly than the four days taken in ascent they chose to descend directly to the Lingti nala and then follow the river down. In spite of eight or more forced river crossings this alternative could be accomplished in one hard day and it was the route by which the remaining team descended when we eventually returned to Lalung in two separate parties on 24 and 25 September.

Pk. 5927, Tangmor (5920 m) and Manirang from the summit of Lagma

Pk. 5927, Tangmor (5920 m) and Manirang from the summit of Lagma

Exploration and climbs east of the Lingti nala

Having established base camp we now had 16 days available to both explore the area and, hopefully, find a viable route to one of our major objectives at the head of the Talung nala. Available maps had given us little real idea of the terrain between base camp and these peaks although satellite images did show the presence of several deep and impressive gorges. Everything eventually became much clearer on our return when it was possible to plot our positions onto Google earth satellite images but for now we had to go and see for ourselves.

A day of general exploration of the broad plateau above base camp gradually clarified some of its topography, but it was clear that we were still some distance from the main peaks that we had come to climb and that we needed to reach the upper levels of the plateau to get a wider perspective. On 9 September therefore Dave, Mike and I climbed a north-facing ice gully (WI2, to which we gave the name Fossil Gully6) and subsequent snowfield to make the first ascent of a subsidiary top (Pk. 5782) before traversing eastwards to where Geoff and one of the high altitude porters had located an advanced base camp (ABC) at 5807 m beside the snowfield leading to Tangmor (5920 m). We fully established this camp two days later after which Dave, Geoff and I continued easily SSE on the snowfield to make the first ascent of Tangmor. Mike repeated this ascent the following day when he too relocated to this camp while the ever active Dave traversed the broad scree plateau to make the second ascent of what we now know to be Lagma (5796 m).

It is rather intriguing that in contrast to the more technical surrounding mountains, Lagma and its satellite peaks sit on a broad, rounded massif. Until recently a massive snow-cap covered much of this plateau and dangerous cornices are known to have caused Harish Kapadia problems when he attempted Tangmor in 19832. Perhaps reflecting global warming, only relatively vestigial amounts of this snow-cap remain and much of the area now consists of fine, unconsolidated scree.

From Tangmor the plateau extends southwards to terminate in a rocky outlier, Pk. 5927 which we climbed on 13 September via its straightforward north ridge. On account of its lack of snow we suggest the name Taklu7. While not a memorable first ascent, this summit did offer fantastic views of the high mountains to the east in which we were interested, although deep gorges prevented access from here.

With little more that we could reasonably achieve from ABC we returned to base camp to replenish our reserves before crossing the Sheru nala and continuing northwards. We subsequently placed a Camp 4 at 4485 m a little south of Philiphuk but again needed to establish higher camps if we were to climb any of the surrounding peaks. Two additional camps; at 5008 m and 5476 m, Camps 5 and 6 respectively, were later established. The latter was close to the ice band on the northern slopes of Lagma, which was unequivocally identified by Dave as the peak that he had climbed a week before. Had we appreciated the puzzling topography and realised the existence of the ice band as a source of water we could have accessed this same area relatively easily from ABC at 5708 m.

Since our interest lay not in Lagma itself, but in the cirque of mountains forming the headwall of the Talung nala, we set off on the 19 September to traverse Lagma’s northern slopes in the hope of reaching this cirque. Despite the scree an easy traverse led to a broad ridge descending to a col marking the lowest point between the Talung nala and the Tabo nala to the southeast. From here easy scree slopes (no longer glaciated as shown on the map) led to the broken, rocky north ridge of the eastern part of the cirque which culminated in a pleasant snow crest that we soloed to make the first ascent of the small rocky 5924 m summit. We tentatively called this peak Chota Sgurr8. As expected from its position, Pk. 5924 afforded panoramic views in all directions. By far the most impressive, however, were those towards the cirque itself, although extensive views extended every way we looked.

By now it was abundantly clear that we had insufficient time to progress further along the ridge towards these higher unclimbed peaks and that we would have to be content with Pk. 5924 as a consolation prize. Still wanting to achieve as much as possible while we were here, however, Mike and I climbed Lagma the following day while Dave and Geoff returned directly to the 5008 m camp. Not surprisingly it was not an inspiring climb up the unstable boulder-field south-west of camp, but it was a short-lived effort before we reached the broad scree ridge that led south to the 5796 m summit. The compensation was, of course, the extensive summit views. Now that we had a better understanding of the local geography it was possible to pick out, if not necessarily identify, many of the major peaks that characterise north-eastern Spiti and to appreciate that there is still much to do here given sufficient time, energy and motivation.

Derek Buckle (leader), Dave Broadhead, Mike Cocker, Geoff Cohen and Hamish Irvine (non-climber).


  1. For a full expedition report see D. R. Buckle, 2014 British Spiti Expedition, Mount Everest Foundation Report 2014
  2. Harish Kapadia, Himalayan Journal, 40, 96-107, 1983
  3. Harish Kapadia, Himalayan Journal, 44, 96-101, 1987
  4. Kapadia, Harish, Spiti, Published by India Publications, Delhi
  5. Name ascribed to this pass by the Lalung villagers.
  6. A name chosen to reflect the numerous fossils found around base camp and elsewhere and the mature ages of the first ascent party!
  7. The Indian transliteration of the English word ‘Baldy’ in reference to the lack of snow on and around the summit.
  8. A combination of the Indian word Chota and the Scottish word Sgurr (meaning small pointed peak).

In September 2014 five British mountaineers explored the mountains to the east of the Lignti nala in the north-eastern Spiti region of Himachal Pradesh close to the border with Tibet. Members of the team successfully climbed several of the subsidiary tops on the Lagma plateau, including Pk. 5782 via a WI2 gully (Fossil Gully, 9 September) on its north face, Tangmor (5920 m, 11 September, 1st ascent), and Lagma itself (5796 m, 2nd ascent 12 September). They also made the 1st ascents of Pk. 5927 (Taklu, 13 September) and Pk 5924 m (Chota Sgurr, 19 September) via their north ridges.

*Place names in the Spiti valley have a variety of different spellings, possibly reflecting the local Spitian and other dialects. Thus, Kebri is sometimes written as Kibri. Some other names have even more variants. The names used herein are primarily those used by the Survey of India.



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6 The First Ascent of Pyagski Peak(6090 m)2014

Kazuo Hoshi

Karcha nala lies in the Kullu district of the Himachal Pradesh but we had to had to go to Batal in Lahaul district. Karcha nala is a small river about 17 km long and joins Chandra River at the point of 1.5 km south of Batal. Karcha Parvat (6271 m) and Fluted peak (6139 m) is dominant on the north side of the river.

Four glaciers fan out to the south of the river in length of 4~10km. We tentatively named these glaciers as A, B, C and D glacier from the east. Volume of water of Karcha nala is maintained by the stream of these glaciers. There are peaks of 6060 m and 5968 m at the head of A glacier, 6105 m peak at the head of B glacier, 6066 m and 5945 m peaks at the head of C glacier, and 6090m peak at the head of D glacier. These peaks range from northeast to southwest. Steep rocky ridges in the east ridge line descend straight to Gyundi river. D glacier is the largest and its south head borders on Lower Bara Shigri glacier.

27 June : The expedition started from Batal for base camp .We went along the dry riverbed of north side of Karcha nala. Then we traversed a fragile cliff and passed big snow bridges going to the south side of Karcha nala. After crossing the small river, we established base camp on the level ground at 4300 m.

1 July : We established Camp 1 on the level site at 4800 m .We progressed more deeply into the craggy glacier of south side of Camp 1 and found a beautiful snow –covered peak behind a snowfield. We named temporarily this glacier D glacier.

2 July : Camp 2 was established on the D glacier at 5200 m.

Climbing Route Map

Climbing Route Map

Route to Pyagski peak

Route to Pyagski peak

4 July : Three Japanese members and four high altitude porters(HAPs) started from Camp 2 at 3:00 a.m.

We pushed on climbing of steep slope with deep snow and finally they reached the top of the snow-covered peak (6090 m) at 9:00 am, and got a good panoramic photograph.

6-9 July : We gathered to at base camp and returned to Batal.

We were officially informed that we made a first ascent of the unnamed peak and the peak was named as ”Pyagski” in Lahaul language.

JAC young members hope to continue to climb big Indian mountains.

First ascent of 6090 m Unnamed peak from its north side, in Karcha nala.

Expedition: The 12th Indian Himalaya expedition of the Tokai section of the Japanese Alpine Club.

Period : 15 June –17 July, 2014

Team: Kazuo HOSHI(63) (leader), Miyo SUZUKI(62) (climbing leader) and Masayo TSUCHIYA (38)



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7 Telthop 2014

Chris Horobin

Telthop (6185 m) is a peak situated to the north of Leh in the remote Shyok river valley of Jammu and Kashmir. This area is of considerable political and military sensitivity, given its proximity to the still disputed Pakistan and Chinese borders, so, for a foreign national, the majority of the peaks over 6000 m require an X Visa from the Indian Govt and that the expedition be accompanied by an Indian Army liaison officer (LO). Some of the peaks in this area cannot be climbed due to their perceived military sensitivity and others can only be climbed with a required number of Indian nationals in the team. We had Virender Singh a young but very experienced climber from Manali as our accompanying LO. He proved to be a great asset to the expedition assisting with both the planning and the climbing of our objective.

Once through the formalities in Delhi a short flight took us to Leh (3400 m) where we spent two days acclimatising to the higher altitude. From Leh we travelled north by jeep over the Khardung la (5400 m) the highest motor road in the world. The views from the top of the pass to the north over the eastern Karakorum and the Saser Kangri mountains are simply stunning. From the pass we travelled down into the Nubra/ Shyok river valley to Hundar where from where our trekking commenced.

After overnight in Hundar we moved with our support team south into the Thanglasgo valley and after three hours of walking up a steep sided gorge through which a fast and large river runs, we arrived at our first camp site and the bridge, which had been destroyed on our first attempt to climb this mountain in 2010. This bridge, now repaired, gives access to a steep and sometimes narrow valley with high mud and rubble cliffs on either side; a traverse of this valley in wet conditions would not be advisable due to stone fall, also the river, although not large, has to be crossed and re-crossed, sometimes with no bridges. Seven hours of trekking with an ascent of 900 m brought us to our second campsite at 4300 m. One more short day took us into a beautiful wide and green valley full of marmots and flowers where we established base camp at 4800 m. The views north from base camp over the Thanglasgo peaks to K25 are superb but of real interest to us was the view up the valley in which we were camped. A line of four independent peaks, all over 6000 m stretched to the south on the LHS of the valley. The furthest away and not completely visible from camp was our intended target, Telthop.

The next day we did a recce up the valley heavily laden with climbing kit, to find a place to establish our advance base camp and also to establish the best point at which to climb the snout of the glacier as this cannot be seen from base camp. After a four-hour journey and a further 300 m of ascent over difficult and time consuming moraines we found a relatively flat area on which we could place a few tents. We were also able to establish that as the best place to climb the snout and access the main glacier.

The general aspect of the face above ABC is northwest; the two ridges (west, southwest and north) bounding this face are steep in the higher sections and are broken by large rocky steps. Access to the glacier is difficult by any other means than the steep snout. After much deliberation we decided to climb the snout on the LHS, cross the bottom of the glacier to the SW ridge and climb this to the summit, bypassing the rocky steps on steep snow.

After a rest day of sitting in the warm sunshine, listening to music and reading we left the next day to do our final carry to advance base camp and to prepare for an early departure for the summit attempt.

Leaving ABC at 1:00 a.m. we gained the snout of the glacier by climbing 250 m of steep and loose moraines. The snout of the glacier was steeper than we had anticipated with an initial 60 m of 80 degree ice and then a further 80 m of increasingly less steep ice, this placed us on a level section of the glacier at around 5500 m.

Our intended route over to the SW ridge although on good firm snow proved to be heavily crevassed and, as dawn broke, the ridge itself could be seen to be steeper than anticipated and very heavily crevassed in the higher sections. We therefore decided to climb the NE face direct and access the SW ridge higher up, just below the rocky steps. This proved feasible and, after 500 m of weaving our way through the crevasses and climbing on good hard snow of up to 70°, we were able to gain the ridge at our intended spot.

The initial rocky steps were avoided by climbing 80° snow slopes above the NE face we then crossed over the ridge and after a final climb on steep and loose rock above the SE face, the summit was reached at around 10.30 a.m. by Chris Horobin, Bob Shiels, Matt Barnsley, Roland Chuter (all UK), Chuck Boyd (USA), Tashi Phunchok Zangola, Dawa Norbu Sherpa and liaison officer Virender Singh (India)) and Phujung Bhote (Nepal).

The descent was made by reversing the route to the point where we had accessed the SW ridge and then dropping down dangerously steep and extremely loose rock/scree slopes to the glacier under the SE face. This eventually gave us access to the valley above our ABC to which we returned at approx. 6:00 p.m. This choice of descent was not ideal but we were forced to take it because of our lack of sufficient equipment to equip an abseil retreat down the NE face.

After a night at ABC (mainly due to our being too tired to retreat any further) we returned to base camp and from there a further two days of trekking returned us to Hundar and the comforts of civilisation.

Given the remote nature and the sustained steep face climbing, we have given this route an overall grade of D.

Members  Chris Horobin (UK), Jane Horobin (UK), Henry Latti (Finland), Bob Shiels (UK), Matt Barnsley (UK), Roland Chuter (UK), Nigel Sharma (UK) Chuck Boyd (USA), Tashi Phunchok Zangola (India) Phujung Bhote (Nepal), Dawa Norbu Sherpa (India), Virender Singh (Liaison Officer, India)

The first ascent of Telthop (6185 m) by mixed team in 2014



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8 First ascent of Unnamed Peak 6184 m in South Zanskar

Rajeev Mondal

Continuing the success story of the virgin ascent of Plateau Peak in 2013, The Himalayan Club’s Kolkata Section decided to attempt another virgin peak. While trekking through the Gompe Tokpo area of south Zanskar some unnamed peaks by a Japanese team led by Kimikazu Sakamoto had been located. He reported that it would be a challenging climb for the young climbers.

We travelled from Kolkata to Kargil and ahead to Padum by road, which was reached on 7 July 2014. Our main problem that we had to encounter was the non-availability of porters. Our Expedition coincided with the time of the famous Leh festival, where the local population was engrossed in celebrations. To our rescue, the two local contractors, Kunga and Angrej Singh somehow arranged a few porters for us who finally agreed to ferry the load up to the base camp.

On 11 July. Ganesh and I started for the base camp along with four porters. Initially we went by the trail near the helipad and proceeded west through the right bank of Gompe Tokpo nala and climbed up by the southern route after the Ubarak village. It was a gentle ascent up to Ubarak village, but the gradient gradually increased and the final 100 m was a very steep rise. We arrived at the right lateral moraine of Gompe Tokpo glacier. From there we advanced more through the ridge of the moraine to reach the base camp

From Camp 2 looking to to P 6184 m

From Camp 2 looking to to P 6184 m

On 13 July 2014, six of us along with Dawa Sherpa ferried the load at Camp 1 We advanced for around 45 mins through the right lateral moraine ridge towards south and then took the medial moraine. After about two hours the peak Pt. 6431 appeared in full view. We dumped the load at Camp 1 on the Left lateral moraine of Gompe Tokpo glacier. We ferried more loads on the 14th and took rest on the next two days. Later till 22 July bad weather hampered us. Some members managed to reach Camp 1 were confined there.

22 July 2014, we had an exceptionally clear weather. We five, The five members and four Sherpas started for Camp 2. Crossing the moraine zone towards south we reached a snowfield. We put on our crampons and followed the left bank of the glacier. Then, passing the rock wall of Pt.- 6162, we reached the left southwest of a hanging glacier.

View from summit to Gompe Tokpo glacier (in the north)

View from summit to Gompe Tokpo glacier (in the north)

Pt. 6184 from Camp

Pt. 6184 from Camp

There is a long col between Pt. 6431 m and Pt.- 6162 m. We saw a rocky peak, Pt.- 6184 between these. The hanging glacier flows steeply down to the main glacier. We searched for a possible route but could not find any. However, at long last, we found an ice colour which led straight to the col. As it was the only feasible option available, we started fixing the rope through the couloir. We climbed 70 m at a gradient of 60° and reached under a huge rock overhang at the west wall of the couloir. Then after climbing another approx. 100 m at a steep gradient we reached another rock overhang.

The weather was clear and bright. The strong sun led to a continuous fall of different sizes of boulders through the couloir. We crossed, one by one, very cautiously and climbed over the hanging glacier. Then we reached the col (6009 m) through knee deep snow at 4:30 p.m. (N 33° 23' 20" / E 76° 48' 25" Height- 6009 m). This Col is not more than about 10 m in width and is heavily strewn with boulders. There were no snow deposits on the south side and it has a steep cliff downwards. We pitched two tents on the col. The Sherpas went to establish the route for the next day but they could not find any route for Pt. 6431 m and Pt.- 6162 m. So we decided to attempt to climb Pt.- 6184 m the next day.

On the 23rd Subrata, Aadrito, Ganesh, Arup and I along with Dawa, Pasang and Purba started at 6:30 a.m. for the summit of Pt. 6184 m . We saw some hidden crevasses on the Col. So we started fixing rope from the tent itself.

We climbed about 180 m through the ice wall towards east of the col and reached at the foot of Pt.- 6184 m . Then we had to climb both rock and ice and traversed about 30 m. We started climbing again through loose rock and snow which brought us just below the true summit of Pt.- 6184 m at 9.30 a.m. We had to fix approx 850 m of rope from Camp 2 to the summit.

From the summit the vertical west wall of Pt.- 6431 m could be seen to the east Pt.- 6162 was to the west but it was obstructed by the loose rocks and the south huge number of snow capped unnamed peak. Gompe Tokpo glacier was to the north and the valley of Padum far down.

On the summit we hoisted flags and started to climb down after an hour. We reached Camp 2 at noon and Camp 1 at 4:30 p.m. We returned to Padum on 25 July.

Members : Rajeev Kumar Mondal (leader), Subrata Dey (deputy leader), Aadrito Paul, Ganesh Saha, Arun Sen and Biplab Banerjee.

The first ascent of peak 6184 m in Zanskar.

Sponsored by The Himalayan Club (Kolkata Section).



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9 Rupsu Across Yangzi Diwan Pass

Tapan Pandit

There is a pristine river named Lingti by the locals - Linghti in Tibetan means ‘a hard instrument to cut rocks’ why such name for a river which originates from Pare chu watershed’s south eastern face? This gutsy nala flows quite a few kilometres through the dry barren and icy desert of Spiti. By then it has made its path boldly cutting down hundreds of feet to create a deep gorge.

On 4 July morning, we moved towards Lalung having travelled from Manali to Kaja and Lingti.

On 5 July the chief arranged for 6 khotas (donkeys) and their keepers to accompany us. It was a steep climb right after the village. Crossing the dry Tuti nala, the result of a big landslide, we walked along many ridges towards northwest and reached Tuti top to descend on the other side.   At Zingu nala our tiny team of four was divided. Tilak took charge of taking back sick Rono. It was up to Usha and me to complete this expedition.

On 6 July, we bid goodbye to our two friends and along with our helpers, Usha and I started our second day’s trek. It was a steep descent, our target Zingu-Lingti confluence. We reached there and trekked keeping Lingti nala to our left. The path made of boulders and slate was along the water’s edge. The cool green grass and colourful flowers filled our hearts with joy and hope As we camped near deserted houses One of the khotewalas showed us our next day’s route, a steep ascent along a high wall all the way.

On the 7th morning we started that day’s journey while the beautiful place full of flowers was still in darkness. We walked along the ridge on the right. Our target was 5180 m Sisbang top – there was no water anywhere on the way, only grass juniper and slate. When we were very tired with fatigue, suddenly a few cairns came into view. There was a surge of hope. We would climb from the south of the pass and go down from the north. We had to reach Sisbang nala, way down. So we rested at the Sisbang top and then continued descending. At last, at dusk we reached the nala. The gorge on both sides looked dangerous with loose boulders all along. But we were helpless as we needed water. So we pitched tents on its right bank. From this camp at 4500 m we would move towards right the next day.

We started walking the next day, immersing our feet in the nala’s water, traversing up to the north. Reaching ‘Sabe Sang’ a region full of bushes, we turned eastwards and came down to a dry nala. Crossing the parched area we reached Sebu. Here we came across the pass full of juniper and grass. Suddenly we saw a herd of wild goats. They halted for a few minutes at our sudden appearance but then kept on marching off down towards Sheru nala. We followed them. At Sheru gorge we found some people vaccinating yaks. We moved on along the right wall. Now our numbers had increased. Four well-kept yaks had joined us with their keepers. They would help us in the dangerous Linghti nala area. We halted at Sheru camp. With the camp fire made of yak-dung and romping khotes nearby, night fell early.

Humans, khotes and yaks - all of us marched down towards the green fields the following day. Far below we glimpsed upon silvery Lingti and a vast grazing ground on its northern ridge. Two yaks and two porters started crossing the Lingti nala with fixed rope as we had reached there after our steep downward journey. Last came the khots and yaks linked with rope. The crossing took almost one and a half hour.Ahead we reached Chaksachan ridge walking amidst greenery, wild life and the twisting - turning stream with a clear blue sky overhead. Tomorrow we would be climbing up the ridge in front. But today we set up camp on the other bank of the river.

On 10 July, our path was through a bushy thorny region leading us to the Chaksachan pass at 2 p.m. There was no sign of snow but we came across some ice patches. Down below in the moraine area we spotted colourful tents. The khotewalas accompanying us returned from here. Next morning within a short time we started climbing down through the boulder zone and came upon a thin stream. Following this nala we reached the banks of Lingti.

On observing from our camp site, we could see two gorges According to the map the second one was Chakschan Lungpa while the one in the front was Lingti river. We took the northwestern path following the right bank of the Lingti nala. It was a grassy ridge. Soon we came to the banks of Lingti. At 2.30 pm we halted for the day to set up camp.
On 13 July we started walking with a cloudy sky overhead. The gurgling Lingti was to our left. We carried on along the comparatively easier path of the Lingti valley. We could see Pare Chu watershed in front. Harish Kapadia had come to this area in 1987 and explored the entire valley till its head. They reached and named the Yangzi Diwan pass, but instead of going to Rupsu, he returned to Lingti again.

Next day, 14 July, we reached the confluence of Lakhang nala. On the 15th we started climbing up the rocky slope with great excitement, gradually coming to top of the ridge. Soon we were at the Yangzi Diwan pass. After coming down about 100 m we rested but found that four of our porters were suffering from altitude sickness. We fixed rope to go down along the glacier. It took two hours to reach a plain area where we halted with our sick friends

The next morning, we started our descent A little before Dudan, we halted for the day. It was a clear blue sky on the 17th morning. The part of the gorge where we had halted was about 2 km. wide - We reached Dudan at 9 a.m. Here, within a short distance three passes of the three Spiti areas converge. The one on the right through Takling pass reached Kyoto village of west Spiti. The central one is the commonly used path through Parang la which reaches the Kibber area of Spiti. The one on the left is Lungar nala through which we had come to eastern Spiti’s Tabo on the border with Kinnaur.

On the following day, we moved further towards Parang la. Our night halt was at Pare Chu gorge. Finally we were in Rupsu valley with its colourful tents, horses, pigeons, layerns, wild ass. Migratory swans swam across the Tso Morori - thus ended our trek in Korzok village.

Crossing of Yangzi Diwan pass in the Lingti valley, Spiti to Rupshu, Ladakh, in July 2012.

Members : Tapan Pandit, Usha Pandit, Tilak Pal and Ranjit Mal from Amtala Anweshan (South 24-Parganas, Bengal).



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10 Kishtwar Trio

Stephan Siegrist, Thomas Senf and Dres Abegglen

In early October Andreas ’Dres‘ Abegglen, Thomas Senf and I returned home after an amazing and successful trip to the Kishtwar region in northern India. A magical and remote region I first visited in 2011, we had the privilege of making first ascents on two unclimbed, and unnamed 5000 m peaks before making the second ascent of the impressive Kishtwar Shivling.

Dres Abegglen belaying Stephan Siegrist on Kishtwar Shivling. Rope lengths 7

Dres Abegglen belaying Stephan Siegrist on Kishtwar Shivling. Rope lengths 7

We left Switzerland at the start of September and were greeted in Kashmir by late and heavy monsoon rains. With a lot of luck and determination we reached our first base camp on 13 September, despite the mass flooding and terrible road conditions. Eager to make up for lost time, we climbed a line up the South face of the previously unclimbed Shiepra, bivvying at 5100 m. We reached the 5885 m high summit on 16 September and graded the route as follows: difficulties up to WI3, IV, 75° ice. Our descent took us over the exposed West ridge, via a series of abseils followed by a 50° ice slope. The new route is called Maaji, which in Hindi means mother. The honor of naming the peak was left to our Liaison Officer Ran Jan, who named the mountain Shiepra after the Hindu God, Shiva's wife.

The weather at this point was ideal and conditions looked promising, so we set off to make an attempt on another unclimbed peak nearby. Below the ridge leading to the peak is a very visible rock structure which looks like the renowned ‘playboy bunny’. Coming up with a good name for the peak was pretty easy, we named it ‘Kharagosa’, which in Hindi means rabbit. Thomas, Dres and I bivvied at 4800 m below the northeast face, we continued across the glacier to the base of the east face and then ascended 1000 m over tricky, mixed terrain. Three demanding UIAA grade V pitches led to the southeast face, bringing us over much easier ground and to the 5840 m high summit which we reached on 21 September. The new route, Pinky, is named after the most beautiful woman in the nearby village of Sumcham. After our ascent on Kharagosa we still had time so we packed up and moved our base camp to the base of Kishtwar Shivling which we reached on 29 September.

Stephan Siegrist leading the third steep mixed lengths in powder snow on he northeast side of Kharagosa

Stephan Siegrist leading the third steep mixed lengths in powder snow on he northeast side of Kharagosa

Routes on all peaks climbed

Routes on all peaks climbed

The North face of the technical and impressive mountain was first climbed in 1983 by Britain's Stephen Venables and Dick Renshaw over a stretch of seven days. Political tension between Pakistan and India has resulted in this area being more or less off-limits for almost two decades. Foreign alpinists have only recently begun to return and explore the area. Intent on making the second ascent of this magnificent peak we climbed a line up the east pillar, the target of previous expeditions, and made a first bivvy on the glacier at 4700 m before following a 50° ramp to the saddle at 5400 m. We set our second bivvy up at this point, and then climbed 10 demanding pitches past 90° WI5 ice, through a hidden couloir, bringing back memories of the famous Super Canaleta on Patagonia's Fitz Roy, then past tricky mixed terrain which led to the foot of the enormous summit cornices. On 1 October, the gods were smiling upon us: Dres, Tomas and I were unbelievably lucky to stumble across a hole in the cornice which was big enough to climb through, leading us to the 5895 m east summit. 14 abseils later we arrived back on the saddle where our tents were waiting for us. The following morning we made our descent back down to base camp. The new route is called Challo, which means let's go in Hindi.

A successful ascent on a complex and beautiful mountain like Kistwar Shivling was a real reward for me.

Kashmir is a place I am free to climb for the pure joy of the mountain and a region I cherish with deep appreciation and respect. Having all come home safely, with our backpacks full of great memories, unforgettable climbs and a lot of laughs together, has only strengthened my bond with this unbelievable and breathtaking region.

Ascents of smaller peaks in Kishtwar and Kishtwar Shivling by a new route. Ascents were made in September 2014.



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11 Climb of Sonam Ri

Stéphane Schaffter

Sonam Ri (6060 m) literally means ‘the summit that brings good luck’ in Tibetan. In the heart of the Greater Himalaya, the so-named summit had never been climbed nor skied before this summer. Some pioneer explorers of this remote region had however certainly noticed it before. Geneva’s mountain guide Stéphane Schaffter was one of them when travelling to the Reru valley with a group of young climbers in 2011.

The Zanskar region of Ladakh, part of the Jammu-Kashmir province, still offers many amazing unclimbed summits. Some of them remain officially inaccessible because of the strict military control of the region. It is an area close to Pakistan’s border.

On 27 June 2014, four Swiss skiers - Christelle Marceau from Neuchâtel, Jérémy Pernet from Les Diablerets, Pierre Morand du Pâquier and Eric Gachet from Oulens-Sous-Echallens -built a cairn on this summit. They had climbed a thousand vertical meters west face to access it. With heavy bags on their backs the climb turned out to be challenging. Skiing the steep face back down, however, compensated for all struggles on the way up.

Camp 1 with Sonam Ri behind (Eric Gachet)

Camp 1 with Sonam Ri behind (Eric Gachet)

It was Stéphane Schaffter, a well-known Swiss alpinist with many climbs in the Himalayan mountains, who initiated the expedition. Laura Bohleber – a former Freeride World Tour skier – was also part of the team. The team itself was a true two-generation venture. At the core of the project was the idea to pass on alpinist experience from one generation to the next.

Climbing west face (Eric Gachet)

Climbing west face (Eric Gachet)

The isolation in these unknown mountains imposed strong psychological and physical constraints to everyone of the team, an additional path on the way to discovering oneself in this new environment.

In the hope of finding the best snow conditions possible, the team chose the Ladakhi spring for their trip. However, this implicated many unexpected surprises on the road from Leh, Ladakh’s capital, to the small village of Reru, departure point for the expedition. It took the team three days to get to Reru, traversing passes at more than 4500 m. These had just opened after the long enduring snow of the Ladakhi winter.

Some luck and sophisticated interpretation was necessary to manage the little information available about snow conditions in this region. In fact, the expedition took place in an area of Ladakh, which is practically immobilised by the cold and the snow during six months a year.

The team established their base camp at the foot of the Katgar Kangri, a summit of 6148 m, which resembles the Swiss Weisshorn. From Reru village it took them two days to hike up to the camp.

Jérémy on the Sobam Ri west Face while skiing down (Eric Gachet)

Jérémy on the Sobam Ri west Face while skiing down (Eric Gachet)

After two days of acclimatisation at base camp, the skiers left to do a first descent of a couloir on the west shoulder of the Katgar Kangri. There they found a nice average inclination of 45° with a snowpack on ice that had already suffered from astonishingly warm temperatures. A precise check was necessary to establish which orientation of the couloir would be best to ski. With the good sensations of skiing, the team gathered confidence again, even though some of them still suffered from headaches in the high altitude.

Snow conditions only seemed to be good in west or north oriented faces. Nights decisively needed to be cold in order to solidify the snow pack. Otherwise the risk of heavy snow avalanches was high.

The team installed a high altitude camp in order to optimise acclimatisation. This also allowed getting a better apperception of the difficult conditions. Nature always has the last word in this matter - often challenging alpinists’ ambitions. Alpinists have to carefully analyse their environment in order to avoid fatal accidents.

A legend says that ‘the alpinist either gets up early or he is fast’. The day of the ascent of the Sonam Ri a good night sleep, an excellent team cohesion and careful reflections on the conditions allowed the athletes to leave the camp comfortably at 7a.m. The ascent and the descent of this virgin summit was then in the hands of each one of them.

Climbing the west face, the skiers found in front of them a steep slope of around 50° with a snowpack nicely hardened over night. Profound concentration prevailed among the team as they began the ascent. Eric opened the track. The ones following fought to catch their breath in the thin air while concentrating on putting their crampons just in the right place.

Stéphane took on the responsibility to film his friends on the mountain. ‘My mind was still occupied by the tragic death of my best friend at home a few days earlier… the thought of his death became a dangerous obsession which I had to get control of. I needed to refer to my long experience… in such a state of mind I decided without hesitation to stay in the face. I let my friends go ahead to find the pleasures of a victory of an accomplished ascent.’

Just when descending the sun lit up the face of Sonam Ri and warmed up the hard snow pack. The four skiers drew beautiful lines on the slope coming down the 1000 vertical metres. They finished their lines with a sense of accomplishment - in spite of the difficult conditions they managed to do a first ascent and a first descent with skis on an amazing virgin summit. They thought that this really was ‘a summit that brings
good luck’.

The ascent and the ski-descent of Sonam Ri (6060 m) in the Reru valley in Zanskar. The team also made a ski-descent of a couloir on the west shoulder of the Katgar Kangri (6148 m) in June 2014.



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12 Lungmochey Kangri

Andy Selters

For the 2014 season I had hoped to lead a group of five or six climbers to one of the graceful summits visible above Deskit, the main town of Nubra, Ladakh. However, various unexpected forces thwarted that plan. Most significant was an inept visa process within the U.S., as the new contractor issuing visas said that there was no such thing as the ‘Mountaineering-X’ visa that is mandatory for foreigners to climb in this region, even though we presented letters of authorisation from the IMF and India’s Home and Defence ministries. Due to this at least two members had to pull out because their visas were not forthcoming. The three of us who did obtain visas started the trip three weeks later than planned.

Then upon arrival in Nubra we learned that the only approach nala to the Deskit Kangri peaks is a narrow canyon of vertical, stream-cut rubble. Two sources agreed that it would be 100% foolish or even suicidal to venture up that nala in any kind of rainstorm. Since 15 August, the day before we’d flown to Leh, the weather had indeed changed to unsettled and stormy, and during our acclimatisation week in Nubra almost daily storms were common. So we changed our objective to another ostensibly unclimbed peak farther into the Ladakh range. This is a peak not visible from the Nubra valley, labelled 6070 on the Editions Olizane map, on the east side of the Thanglespo Tokpo, the nala leading to the Lasermo la. Those of us hoping to climb were myself, John Anton and Chuck Boyd from the U.S., plus liaison officer Suman Kant from Dharamsala, and Sirdar Stanzin Desal from Hundar. The visa delays had pushed Chuck against a fairly rapid return to family commitments back in America, so we would have to climb on an accelerated itinerary.

On 24 August we were in Hundar and a big wind bent all the poplars as if in prostrations. The wind heralded an overnight storm that turned all the peaks white down to 4800 m. The following day we were able to take a car up the newly constructed road from Hundar south all the way to the one-house village of Wachan. As soon as we arrived leaden skies unloaded a steady downpour, making us doubly glad of our new plan. Though we feared for the ability of the driver to return to Hundar through that unstable geologic formation, we would learn that any debris that fell onto the road was removable.

Lungmochey Kangri from our high camp

Lungmochey Kangri from our high camp

In just one day’s trek we arrived at a nice meadow below our objective, a beautiful campsite between the stream and the trail. The peak we had chosen on the map rose as a rounded, snowy high point on the arc of a cirque with other, rockier summits. The next day, 26 August, we hiked up into the cirque to look for a high camp location and we were swallowed in fog. But with some luck we located a small glade with a trickle of water nearby, at about 5300 m. Over the next couple of days we carried gear and squeezed two tents into the tiny spot. Storms came and went every day, depositing snow above 5500 m, then melting it. Twice we came upon a herd of ngapo, or blue sheep. We considered trying to climb the potentially higher granite summits in the cirque, but the unsettled weather and new snow high up suggested that smooth granite climbing at 6000 m would be tough. So our route to the 6070 summit would be an obvious rounded ridge leading up from the cirque, rocky on its west side, snowy on its north side. John Anton decided that he wanted a bit more acclimatization time, so I agreed to climb the peak a second time with him after a day of rest.

On the morning of the 29th the four of us woke at 3:30 a.m. to half-starry skies, but as we booted up it began to snow. We got back into the tents as the snow accumulated. Then at dawn it turned clear and we started up. After half an hour of hiking over moraine debris a fierce storm broke, and in a matter of 15 minutes several inches accumulated. We beat a retreat back to the tents. Through a break in the clouds we could see that the new snow had collected all the way down to basecamp. We settled back in the tents, expecting to give up for the day, but by 9 it was clearing again. Though our time might grow late we started back up again, and as we reached the foot of the ridge the clouds seemed to be holding off.

The climbing was obviously moderate and I had expected we’d climb the snow, but we found hard ice under powder. Three of us opted to stay to the blocky granite on the west side of the ridge, even though the new snow made it very slippery. I opted to climb the ice and snow by myself, until I found a couple of spots where the winds had sculpted steep, 75-degree waves in the crest. Unroped and with only one ice tool I decided to veer over to the rock. So I was slowed to about the pace of the others by having to take crampons off and put them back on. As we reached about 5850 m a fierce squall broke again, and we were blasted by winds and snow for about 20 minutes. This storm also passed though, and by early afternoon we reached the summit with clouds blowing by, never once needing to break out the ropes.

Suman (aka Hapi) reached the top a bit ahead of me. I had passed a rock cairn at the last step, and he said that he had stacked it there. We all shouted Lha Gyalo! and noted through the clouds that the orange granite summits to the north in the cirque were a bit higher. Our two altimeters read 6070 and 6080 m.

Just short of the summit we noticed that there was a long, continuous west-facing rock slope leading down to moraine territory, and we decided to descend that way. It was tediously loose and slightly too steep for easy descending, but it was mostly snow free and certainly faster than returning via the ridge we climbed. At the moraines we turned north toward our high camp, and found a couple of cairns stacked up. After dropping off the moraines we came to a nice little meadow where I found a few tent stakes and signs of a recent, modern camp. These signs tell not of Ladakhi shepherds but that a previous group might have attempted 6070 by our descent route. Indeed local sources told us that in recent years Jagged Globe Expeditions has been leading unauthorized summit climbs in the Ladakh range, and this is one they may have done. We made it all the way to base camp by dark, and thanks to pre-arranged transport Chuck made it back to Leh the very next evening.

After a day of rest I planned to return up the peak with John, but worse weather blew in and we decided to divert our remaining time to exploring other valleys in the area. Desal told us that the locals refer to the cirque as ‘Lungmochey’, so we decided to name the peak simply ‘Lungmochey Kangri’. The stormy weather continued, and everyone we consulted agreed they’d never seen so much continuous clouds and storm in Ladakh, much less in late August and September. Of course these were the storms that brought such disastrous flooding to Kashmir and Pakistani Punjab.

The ascent of Peak 6070 m in the Nubra valley by a British team in August 2014. They named the peaks as ‘Lungmochey Kangri’.



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13 UK - US Himachal Pradesh Expedition

Paul Swienton

A group of six climbers (4 UK, 2 US) consisting of Andy Nisbet (UK, leader), Bill McConachie (US), Paul Swienton (US), Steve Kennedy (UK), Robert Adams (UK), Tom Adams (UK), were assembled to a previously unexplored side valley of a larger valley which branches from the Darcha-Miyar valley in Himachal Pradesh, India. The objective was to climb Peak 6010, Peak 5970 and to explore the valley for any additional climbing opportunities.

Peak 6010 m, taken from high camp on Peak 5970 m, showing route and location of high camp (Tom Adams)

Peak 6010 m, taken from high camp on Peak 5970 m, showing route and location of high camp (Tom Adams)

Peak 5970 m. Left: East ridge - the team’s high point was on snowfield approximately halfway along the left hand skyline (c. 5750 m). Right: Ridge camp at 5550 m. (Rob Adams)

Peak 6010 m (new route)

An approach along the rocky ridge, followed by a traverse across the easy glacier, reached the foot of the mountain. A carry of supplies was made on 29 May. On 30 May, Bill McConachie, Andy Nisbet and high altitude porter Mangal Singh followed the same route, then climbed snow and a subsequent couloir in the southwest face to reach a camp on the south ridge at 5730 m.

The weather deteriorated and a windy and snowy night followed. In the morning (31 May), the weather improved and Bill followed the ridge (south ridge) to the top. There were several short rocky steps but the fresh snow was safe. Bill found bamboo wands on the summit and that while we thought the peak had not previously been climbed, it appears to have been climbed unofficially (as far as we can tell) from the Shingo la side. The new route was given an alpine grade of PD+.

Peak 5970 m (attempt)

On 31 May 2015, Steve Kennedy, Paul Swienton, Rob and Tom Adams attempted to climb the east ridge of the Peak 5970. A camp was established on a rock outcrop at around 5550m. After spending one night here, the team climbed higher, before encountering dangerous snow at around 250 m below the summit and deciding to retreat. After returning to base camp for two nights, a second attempt was considered, but continued poor weather meant that the team climbed no higher than advance base camp.

Sgurr Kuddu (first ascent: 5300 m)

During the afternoon of 6 June 2015, Steve Kennedy and Paul Swienton, with the assistance of Lakpa Sherpa, set out to attempt the unclimbed peak located on the east side of the valley used as the approach to base camp just beyond and north of Kuddu. The peak was identified on the available map as having a height of approximately 5300 m. After leaving base camp around mid-afternoon, and climbing to c. 4700 meters, an advanced camp was established on snow in the lower reaches of an enclosed cirque on the northwest side of the peak. Lakpa Sherpa then returned to base camp. In the process of gathering water from a small waterfall adjacent to the camp a significant slow moving avalanche was seen heading down the cirque towards the camp which had been set into the side of a small moraine slope. Fortunately, at the last moment the avalanche changed direction and narrowly missed the camp.

Early on 7 June 2015, Steve Kennedy and Paul Swienton set out from their advanced camp early at around 2.30 a.m. in excellent weather, encountering good neve, via the cirque on the northwest side to reach a prominent col close to the base of the summit snow cone at c. 5,170 m. Thereafter, more technical mixed climbing led to the summit, with the final 130 m consisting of steep 60 to 75 degree snow slopes and a final exposed rocky corner and snow arete. The summit comprised two rock pinnacles with the western-most being slightly higher. The ascent from the advanced camp to the summit took approximately 4.5 hours, with an additional 45 minutes spent on the summit pinnacle enjoying fine views of the Darcha valley and beyond.

The team named the peak Sgurr Kuddu. ‘Sgurr’ means sharp-pointed peak in Gaelic, with Kuddu being the name of the area overlooked by the peak. The route has been given an alpine grade of AD.

Ascents of Sgurr Kuddu (5300m) (first ascent), Peak 6010 m (new route) and an attempt on Peak 5970 m in one of the branch valley of the Miyar nala, Himachal Pradesh.


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