Major Expeditions to the Indian Himalaya 2016

These summaries are extracted from information sent by Lindsay Griffin (AAJ Senior Editor) and the American Alpine Journal. You will find details on some expeditions covered here as well as not, in the Expeditions & Explorations section of this Volume.


East Karakoram

Nya Kangri, southeast face, attempt

Team - Indian

In May 2016, a team led by Divyesh Muni arrived in Leh, hoping to make the first attempt on Shahi Kangri (6934 m). The approach was largely unknown, and proved to be too narrow, with vertical walls - it would be impossible to carry loads around the bottlenecks. They decided to attempt Nya Kangri (6480 m). They reached summit camp at 5965 m but had to turn back, about 250 m from the top due to stormy weather. Details of the expedition are available elsewhere in this Volume.

Nya Kangri, south-southwest ridge, attempt

Team - Greek

Giorgos Margaritis, Petros Tolias, and Nikolas Kroupis of the Hellenic Alpine Club of Komotini, Greece aimed to make the first ascent of Nya Kangri (6480 m), above Sumur in the Nubra valley. Starting 24 August 2016 they approached the mountain over several days by the glacier that flows initially west and then north from the mountain. Their high camp was at 5810 m on the upper glacier, However fresh snow made it too dangerous to continue above the high camp.

Rassa glacier, Lak Kangri, southeast face; Thrung-Ma Kangri, south face, ascents

Team - British

Five Alpine Club members, Mike Cocker, Drew Cook, Gus Morton, and Derek Buckle and Knut Tønsberg (from Norway), received permission to attempt unclimbed peaks bordering the extensive Rassa Glacier.

The team first climbed Peak 6222 m which they named Lak Kangri. A few days later after a short spell of poor weather, they attempted Peak 6315 m. which they named Thrung-ma Kangri. Details of the expedition are available elsewhere in this Volume.



Stok range, Sukhu Kangri, northeast face and southeast ridge; Kang Yatze group, Dzo Jongo, northwest face and east ridge, ascents

Team - Spanish

In late June 2016 Sergio Martín de Santos and Oskar Porras Aramendi headed to Stok Kangri (6150 m), which they climbed on July 6 via the normal route. This completed their acclimatization and the following day they climbed Sukhu Kangri (6005 m), a summit on the watershed ridge that runs south-southeast from Stok Kangri.

After a few days of rest in Leh, they set out for the Kang Yatze range (a.k.a. Kang Yissay). On July 15 they climbed Reponi Mallai Ri (6050 m) by the standard route. Finally they ascended the northwest face of Dzo Jonjo.



Shafat valley, various routes; Z2, east ridge, ascents

Team - Spanish

In 2014, Sidarta Gallego and Oriol Baró visited Zanskar and climbed a number of new routes. Oriol realized the potential of the area, mainly for rock climbs, and returned in July 2017 with José Castanera, Alvaro “Tasio” Ortiz, and Lluc Pellissa. The result was seven new routes, on peaks up to 6175 m, with maximum difficulties of 7a and M5.

They based themselves at 3900 m in the Shafat valley, a side valley of the Suru and home to the Shafat fortress, where they climbed established routes on Golden Sentinel (ca 5200 m) and Punta Georgio (ca 5135 m), put up by Italians. The view from these tops gave them many ideas. Lluc and Oriol first climbed Aguja Tunlup via the route Sangui then all four of them climbed Aguja Pomo Yan Le (ca 5000 m).

The next target was a bold pillar leading to the east summit of Shafat fortress. Luca and Oriol turned to the 5700 m west summit of Shafat fortress and climbed the Estética Goulotte (900m, V/5+ M5).

The team also climbed shorter routes on the slabby rock buttress below the Golden Sentinel–Shafat fortress north ridge.

After 20 days at this base camp they transferred equipment to the other side of the river. From there they climbed two new routes : the Superestético Espolon (Lluc and José) and Mas Arrogante, Desplomada y Ordesina (Tasio and Oriol) on the Pilares de la Tierra. They also climbed a rock route at the entrance to the valley leading up to Nun Kun : 700 m. José and Tasio went to climb one of Sergio Ricart’s routes near Padam, and Lluc and Oriol travelled up the road as far as the Pensi la, walked up the Rumdum (Rangdum) or Z2 valley, and climbed the east ridge of Z2 (6175 m) via a 900 m route in a 23-hour round trip.

Mulung Tokpo, exploration

Team - Japanese

Since 2009 Kimikazu Sakamoto has been exploring southern Zanskar and photographing unclimbed peaks.

In August 2017, Toshio Itoh, Akira Taniguchi, and Sakamoto visited the Mulung Tokpo (Mulong valley), northwest of Padam. This is the next valley north of the Haptal. The Indian Mountaineering Federation does not have records of any climbing in the area. There are a number of attractive lower peaks, three in particular - M13 (5902 m), M15 (5871 m), and M16 (5882 m).

Rangtik, Shimling and Denyai valleys exploration, Remalaye west, south face, attempt

Team - Slovenian

From mid-July to the start of September, Anastasija Davidova and Matic Jost explored the Rangtik, Shimling, and Denyai tokpos. The first two valleys are northwest of the Haptal, the last northwest of the Mulung.

They spent 20 days in the Rangtik, where they acclimatized with an ascent of the south face of Remalaye (H5, 6278 m) as far as a prominent point on the west ridge, which they named Remalaye west (6266 m). During a period of poor weather, they made attempts on Phobrang (5800 m) and H8 (6193 m), and repeated the 2008 Spanish route Rolling Stones (Pellissa-Ricart, 500m, D+ UIAA V+ 65° ice) on a peak named Shawa Kangri.

With no improvement in the weather, they trekked up the Shimling Tokpo, crossed a 5638 m col to the Mulung Tokpo, descended to Zunkul Gompa, and then went up the Denyai Tokpo. They found many attractive peaks in this valley - it is possible these remain unclimbed and unnamed.

In September when the weather improved the pair returned to the Rangtik, where they almost climbed H8. They retreated just a hundred m from the summit as they had no bivouac gear. There are many great opportunities for alpine-style ascents at all grades in this area.

Chhogo valley, T16, south summit, southwest face; T13, northwest ridge, attempt/ ascent

Team - Romanian

Based on a report in the Japanese Alpine News by Kimikazu Sakamoto and some Google Earth imagery, but with limited information, Cosmin Andron and his wife Cristina Pogacean planned a low-budget summer expedition to the Zanskar range. Their targets were T13 and T16 on the Sakamoto sketch map (AAJ 2013).

Along with two Indian friends, Prerna Dangi and Karn Kowshik, they trekked two days up the Chhogo Tokpo and established base camp on moraine at 4900 m, at the entrance to a small side valley rising southeast between the T16 and T13 massifs. Three days later they set off for the northwest ridge of T13 (6436 m) for an acclimatization climb. Satellite imagery indicated T13 would offer easy lines, but a long, complex ridge forced them to turn around at 5900 m.

Over three days on the face and Cosmin and Christina were finally close to the exit onto the final ridge. They experienced some of the best rock climbing either of them had done in the high mountains to a false summit and finally reached the south summit at 4:00 p.m. The flat, tabletop north summit was over a kilometre away with a number of pinnacles along the connecting ridge - it is not known which the higher summit is (Google Earth and Matic Jost photography shows the north summit to be considerably higher).

Z1 (6163 m), Suru valley, attempt

Team – Indian - Canadian

In August, Taylor Maavara, Bharat Bhushan and Karn Kowshik attempted Z1 (6163 m) in the Suru valley of the Zanskar Himalaya. This peak had earlier been climbed in 1980 by an Indian Japanese expedition. Avalanche conditions forced the team to retreat to the Kun base camp.

Kishtwar Himalaya

Brammah II (6486 m) via the south face, ascent

Team - American

The American duo of Jeff Shapiro and Chris Gibisch made the 3rd ascent of Brammah II (6486 m) in the Kishtwar via the south face in October 2016. They approached it via the Kijai Nala drainage, leading to a cirque between Brammah II (6425 m) and Arjuna (6 230 m). It was a complex approach so it took quite a while to find an access route to the peaks. Finally they concentrated on the safest route on the south face of Brammah II and climbed it over two days, taking over a day to descend. They named the route Pneuma (1300 m, VI AI4 M5). Details of the expedition are available elsewhere in this Volume.

Kishtwar Shivling, east Pillar, via Dei Trentini, ascent

Team - Italian

Brothers Silvestro Franchini and Tomas Franchini along with Nicola Binelli and Luca Cornella, made the first ascent of the East Pillar of the Kishtwar Shivling (5780 m) in June 2016. They observed that the east pillar is surprisingly vertical, even overhanging in places, and their line was thus the only feasible option for climbing predominately alpine-style, connecting weaknesses on the face. Initially they were forced to retreat due to rock fall that damaged their ropes and an avalanche narrowly missed their camp. Luca headed back to base camp. On 7th June the remaining three re-fixed ropes on the lower section and hauled their gear up. The next day, Nicola, Silvestro and Tomas set off in alpine style, attaining their high point of the previous attempt by 12:30 p.m. and continued to 5600 m. On the 9th they reached the summit of the pillar at 5780 m. They named their route Via dei Trentini VIII A1 M4+, 800m.

Monte Iñaki, southeast ridge, ascent

Team – Chilean - German

Max Didier, Cristobal Señoret (Chile), and Caro North (Germany) made the first ascent of the unnamed rock peak immediately south-southeast of Kishtwar Shivling. They climbed alpine style via the southeast ridge from an advanced base camp on the glacier below at 4000 m, making one bivouac on the ascent and another on the descent.

Just two pitches above the bivouac was a massive slab that had no options for natural protection. Here, they placed two hand-drilled bolts. Above this lay the most technically difficult section of the route, a fine overhanging crack system (6c+/7a).

The route had clean, solid granite throughout, except for three pitches in the middle where they found a rocky gully hidden from the sun and thus quite icy. The the summit altitude was 5370 m and they named it Monte Iñaki after Iñaki Coussirat, a good friend who died on Fitz Roy the previous January.

Later, they put up two rock routes on a little spire below and to the northeast of Monte Iñaki. Both had five pitches and difficulties up to 6b+ on good granite.

Gupta, northeast face and east ridge, ascent

Team – British - American

Jim Lowther and his American friends Mark Richey and Mark Wilford decided to attempt the 5618 m unclimbed peak Gupta in the Kishtwar area. On September 26 they ascended scree and a small snowfield to the base of a rope fixed during acclimatization. Over the next six hours Richey led about six pitches up snow-covered rock to a decent bivouac site.

After glorious climbing the next day, they reached a superb bivouac site perched hard on the east ridge, with the summit beckoning above. The top was an arrangement of tottering blocks with unrestricted views into Zanskar, Pangi, and toward Kashmir.

Details of the expedition are available elsewhere in this Volume.

Himachal Pradesh - Lahaul

Pangi valley

Sersank (6050 m), north buttress, ascent

Team – British - American

Mick Fowler and Victor Saunders teamed up after 29 years to make the first ascent of Sersank Peak (Shiv Shankar 6050 m) via the north spur September – October 2016. Going over the Sersank la (5000 m) they accessed the bottom of the face. The fourth day was the crux with several ice pitches to negotiate. On day five they reached the summit plateau, and finally the summit the next day. They then spent two days descending the south and west face. Details of the expedition are available elsewhere in this Volume.

Miyar valley

Raja peak, north face, Peak 6036 m, James peak, north face, ascents

Team - British

John Crook and Dave Sharpe arrived in the Miyar in September 2017 – their first trip to the Himalaya. The objective was the north face of an unclimbed 6294 m peak, hidden from view in the remote Temasa valley, which, on summiting they named Raja Peak (6267 m). They finally made several impressive ascents, sharing a permit with Martin Moran and others. On arrival they established an advanced base camp high on the Miyar glacier and acclimatized by ascending Pk 6036 m. After the ascent of Raja peak and a couple of rest days, they made the first ascent of James peak via the north face.

Marikula Killa, north spur, ascent

Team - British

During September and October 2016, Ian Dring and Martin Moran made the first ascent of Peak 5755 m in the upper Miyar valley. Peak 5755 m is the rock bastion lying immediately north of Dali Got base camp, at the junction between the Miyar and Jangpar glaciers. A prominent pinnacle on the southwest ridge was climbed in 2004 by a British party and named Lammergeier Spire. However, despite its accessibility, the full mountain had not been climbed. The north spur is an eye-catching line rising in a series of sweeping steps to a cluster of pinnacles. The ascent was made in alpine style over six days.

On October 1, they reached the junction of the spur and the northwest ridge and travelled light to the top with a deviation onto the west face. After a cold bivouac near the summit, the duo descended the west face. The peak was named Marikula Killa for this mountain is the citadel of the goddess Marikula, an ancient local devi revered by the people of Lahaul.

Shailaputri, southwest face, ascent

Team - British - Swedish

Charlie French and Anette Kinde arrived in the Miyar valley in September and set up base camp close to Padang at 3700 m. The objective was the peak referred to as Tharang II (32°50’15.22”N, 76°56’42.00”E Google Earth) by the 2012 British expedition that climbed Tharang I to the northeast.

They approached from the Uldhampu valley, making two camps. On the 28th they attempted the southwest face of the peak, retreating from 5900 m due to weather conditions and lack of time.

A couple of days later they tried again, reaching the summit at 6025 m. The overall grade was AD. The peak was named Shailaputri, which means daughter of the mountain.

Gangstang, northwest ridge (6162 m), ascent

Team - British

The attractive pyramid of Gangstang is most often climbed by its southwest ridge, the route of the first ascent, approached from the Gangstang glacier. Malcolm Bass and Guy Buckingham made the first ascent of the northwest ridge of Gangstang (6162 m). It was predominantly rock and mixed climbing on blocky granite. One camp partially overhanging the north face, and another luxurious bivvy, took them to the summit on the third day.

They reached the summit in thick cloud, more concerned with finding their way down than celebrating. They camped again just 100 m below the summit while descending.

Kullu valley

Lalsura (6004 m); Shigrila (6247 m), Kullu, ascents

Team - American

On September 18, after a three-day trek, Tico Gangulee and Chris Wright reached a base camp at the junction of the Tos and east Tos glaciers, southwest of the Shigrilas. They spent the next week acclimatizing and establishing an advanced base camp in the upper east Tos and a high camp at about 5200 m on the edge of the Shigrila glacier, below the peaks. By late September they started with the lower of the two Shigrilas, dubbed Lalsura (Red Sail) after its composition of handsome red rock. They went up the relatively easy-looking northwest ridge and reached the top at 9:15 a.m. The peak measured 6004 m. Due for a rest, but fearing the weather was about to change, they began to work on the next objective. Climbing many pitches, weaving through short sections of ice, mixed, and a considerable amount of steep névé they made their way up to and across a broad stripe of snow that cuts across the face. Finally they bivvied on a ledge. They next day they climbed to the top of Shigrila, 6247 m, laughing and hugging in the sun. They descended directly from the summit in a series of rappels to regain the bivouac site.



Thalay Sagar, north face, ascent

Team - Russian

In September, Dmitry Grigoriev, Sergey Nilov, and Dmitry Golovchenko climbed a new route (the north face) on one of the most famous and beautiful mountains in the Indian Himalaya, Thalay Sagar (6904 m). They named the route Moveable Feast grading it ED2 M7 WI5 5c A3, 1400 m.

They started up the route on 9 September 2016. It took two days to climb 200 m. Above, there was 300–400 m of mixed climbing at 70°–80°. Eventually they reached the summit barrier, which is loose black shale and overhanging at 110°, climbing it directly. Eventually snow led them directly to the summit. They reached the top on 17 September, spending nine days on the face, without using a portaledge. For this ascent they received the Russian Golden Ice Axe award and the Piolets d'Or.

Chaukhamba III, south ridge, ascent

Team - American-Canadian

Joel Kauffman, Jason Kruk, and Tad McCrea climbed the 1600 m south ridge of Chaukhamba III (6974 m), stopping on the summit ridge just 16 m below the top. The team spent 12 days away from their base camp on the Panpatia bank during their final, alpine-style push, with six days on the actual route.

Western Garhwal

Vishnu Killa (5968 m), east glacier and south face, ascent

Team – British - Indian

In May 2016 a team led by Francis Blunt, Adele Pennington, and Martin Moran and Heera Singh and Mangal Singh (India) made the first ascent of Vishnu Killa (Vishnu’s Citadel, 5968 m) in the Vishnu Ghar Dhar range. Facing a mass retreat of porters, the team ended up ferrying the 500 kg of supplies to base camp. They started the summit push on 20 May, crossing a col and then a complex glacier to the serpentine ridge then on to the overhanging cornice and finally the summit, where they had magnificent views of the Nanda Devi range. Progress was facilitated by a full cover of spring snow. Other summit members were Stephen Fletcher, Phil Griffiths, Martin Hulme, David Lohmann, Raymond McCourt, Simon Ridout, and Nigel Williams. Details of the expedition are available elsewhere in this Volume.





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