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    MAJOR EXPEDITIONS TO THE INDIAN HIMALAYA IN 2011

    A total of 40 foreign expeditions attempted peaks in the Indian Himalaya. 21 of these

    expeditions were to easy and routine peaks. Of 57 Indian expeditions, about 1/3 were serious attempts that are covered here. Not unexpectedly, no Indian team, except ones from the Indian Mountaineering Foundation, climbed in Uttarakhand as the local rules demand payment of fees from Indian teams as well.

    The pride of place in the climbing world for 2011 would go to the First ascent of Saser Kangri II, led by Mark Richey of USA. It was bold line and done in fine style. Steven Swenson almost lost his life on this expedition.

    After decades, peaks in Kishtwar area were climbed. It was closed for several years

    due to political reasons. Hopefully this is a new beginning for this area which has

    vast potential.

    Many small expeditions made exploratory forays into new valleys and climbed small butchallenging peaks in areas near Kang la, in Pangong range and in the Kullu. Exploratorytreks to the Girthi Ganga valley in Uttarakhand were undertaken. In the farthest easterncorner of the range a team explored a route up to the border with Burma.

    UTTARAKHAND

    Arwa Spire (6193 m)

    Team: Swiss

    Leader (Members): Roger Schaeli (3)

    The team attempted the steep Arwa Spire via the north face in May. All four members reached 5700 m. Due to bad weather they spent much time up to this level but could not proceed further.

    Meru (6450 m)

    Team: American

    Leader (Members): Conrad Anker (2)

    A three member American team climbed Meru ‘Shark’s Fin’ in the Gangotri glacier

    area. They used almost 50 kg of hardware, 30 kg of food on the route. They spent

    11 nights in bivouacs on the climb. The leader with James Chin and Renan Ozturk

    reached the summit on 02 October.

    Shivling (6543 m)

    Team: British-Australian

    Leader (Members): Simon Yates (4)

    The team attempted the traditional route on this sharp peak. They reached 6000

    m but dangerous avalanches along the route forced them to give up the climb in

    early October.

    Rajrambha (6539 m)

    Team: Indo-Tibet Border Police, India

    Leader (Members): Vishal Anand (18)

    This peak stands near the Panch Chuli group of peaks. After establishing a base

    and advance base camp they made two more camps. Following the east ridge, 8

    members reached the top on 13 June and 10 members on the 14th.

    Bhartekhunta (6578 m)

    Team: The Indian Mountaineering Foundation

    Leader (Members): Ms Kavita Burathoki (6)

    The team proceeded from the Gangotri glacier, Gaumukh to make a base camp at

    Khada Pathar on left bank of the glacier. The next two camps took them to the foot of

    the east face of Kirti Stambh.

    Starting at midnight on 29 May, they climbed the east slopes of Bhartekhunta. The

    summit was reached in six hours. Leader, Soni Shah, Shanti Rai, Pooja Jangam, Ribanish Rympei reached the top with guides Chandra Bahadur and Pratham Singh Powar.

    Nilkanth (6597 m)

    Team: The Indian Mountaineering Foundation

    Leader (Members): Ram Singh Salthia (7)

    The peak was attempted from the west face, from the Khirao ganga. They reached

    5320 m when heavy snowfall stopped their progress.

    Changuch (6322 m)

    Team: The Indian Mountaineering Foundation

    Leader (Members): Dhruv Joshi (7)

    The team followed the same route as Martin Moran’s team during their first ascent. From the Pindari glacier they made Camp 1 at 5380 m, Camp 2 at 5755 m on col with Chhota Changuch. Five members reached summit on 11 June - the leader, Dr. Andan Vaidhya, K. W. Lynddoh, Bharat Bhushan, Takpa Norboo, Chetan Pandey and Harish Kumar.

    (Article, HJ 67)

    Nanda Bhannar (6236 m)

    Team: The Indian Mountaineering Foundation

    Leader (Members): Dr Anil Gurtoo (3)

    The team made a steady progress climbing from the Kafni glacier. Camp 2 was set

    up at 5800 m in the upper Kafni icefall. At this camp one member developed high

    altitude sickness and the team had to carry him down 200 m urgently. The climb was

    abandoned on 22 June due to the rescue.

    Kharcha Kund (6632 m)

    Team: The Indian Mountaineering Foundation

    Leader (Members): Ashish Kr. Singh (6)

    The team attempted the peak in May, rather early in the season. They attempted the

    north ridge which was too steep and snow bound. A huge avalanche engulfed their

    camp leading to loss of equipment. Bad weather continued and the climb was given

    up on 19 May.

    Gangotri III (6577 m)

    Team: The Indian Mountaineering Foundation

    Leader (Members): Debabrata Mukherjee (3)

    Despite some poor weather this team made several attempts to climb the summit.

    On 16 June the attempt was stopped at about 6370 m, due to bad weather.

    Next day, 17 June 2011, the leader with Subid Ali and Himadri Nandi reached about

    6560 m on the summit ridge. They stopped there, about 15 m short of the peak

    as there was a dangerous cornice which looked threatening and about to fall at

    any time.

    Exploring Girthi Ganga

    A team led by Ashutosh Mishra made pioneering explorations in the Girthi Ganga

    valley, Uttarakhand. Girthi is a tributary of Rishi Ganga (draining Nada Devi glaciers)

    and joins Alaknanda river. Girthi forms a narrow and formidable gorge in middle

    sections which makes it a hard trek. Moreover it is near the China border so getting

    permissions is very difficult.

    In last few decades Girthi gorge was explored by the Scottish Himalayan expedition

    in 1950 (Bill Murray and three others) and the route was followed in 1986 by a team

    from Mumbai (Harish Kapadia). The gorge is fed by several streams and valleys from both sides, each leading to small valleys, containing unknown peaks.

    Facing all the administrative and route difficulties the team proceeded slowly to reach head of the valley. It made the head of the valley and visited Unta Dhura pass leading to Milam. Then Jainti dhura pass and Khingar la (both near the border) we reached by them, possibly the first civilians to reach there after restrictions were enforced. This team enjoyed the characteristics and pleasures of the early explorers. (Article, HJ 67)

    HIMACHAL PRADESH

    ‘Chemma Peak’ (6105 m)

    Team: Japanese

    Leader (Members): Hoshi Kazuo (4)

    A team of seniors from Japan made the first ascent of this peak on 09 July 2011.

    The peak is situated at head of the Karcha nala, Lahaul and on border with Spiti.

    They established two camps from base and climbed the northeast face. The leader

    with Tanabe Motoyoshi, Ishuii Httoshi, Shinbora Yutaka, Kuze Katsumi and LO D.

    Gajendra reached the summit,

    Deo Tibba (6001 m)

    Team: French

    Leader: Jerome Guggisberg and L. Rayssac

    A two-member team ascended the east face of this peak situated in near Manali,

    Himachal Pradesh. Konchok Thinless, Sakalzeng Rigzin, Eagan Thakur and Virendra Singh reached the summit with the two French climbers on 29 April.

    Peaks in Kang la Area

    Team: British

    Leader (Members): Jonathan Paul Moodie (6)

    A strong British team climbed several peaks in valleys east of Kang la and northeast

    of Kangle in Reru valley.

    a. ‘Lama Jimba Kangri’ (6276 m) - This was the highest peak climbed by them via

    its west face, traversing to east gully. All members namely the leader, Dr Kamal

    Masania, Dominique Southgate, Jonathan Bull, Virgil Scott, Robin Jones, Joe

    Prinold and Sgt. Anupam Mukherjee (LO) reached the summit on 06 September.

    b. Peak 5405 m via northwest face was climbed on 10t September by four members.

    c. ‘Mose Kangri’ (5930 m) - Three members reached the summit on 11 September.

    d. Peak 5985 m was climbed via the north face by two members on 15 September.

    Peaks 6160 m and 6181 m (Himachal Pradesh), near Parag la, Spiti

    Team: Japanese

    Leader (members): Kiyoshi Ishii (5)

    a. Peak 6160 m was climbed on 07 August via the southwest face. Yudai Satou with

    Jay Prakash Rai reached the summit.

    b. Peak 6181 m was climbed on 09 August by east face by nine members - the

    leader, Kiyoshi Ishii, Toshihiko Kawauma, Chikako Kimura, Akira Asakura and

    Yudai Satou (Japanese) and Jay Prakash Rai, Angfuri Lama, Prakash Chanel and

    Yaduram Sharma (LO) (Indians)

    Deo Tibba (6001 m)

    Team: Travellers’ Guild, West Bengal, India

    Leader (Members): Prosenjit Samanta (10)

    This dome shaped peak in the Manali area of Kullu Himalaya stands at the head of

    Jagatsukh nala. The team made two camps and followed the route over the Norbu

    peak. Five members reached the summit on 09 June.

    Devachan (6000 m)

    Team: Himalaya’s Beckon, Kolkata, India

    Leader (Members): Arupam Das (10)

    The peak stands on the Tos nala, Kullu Himalaya. This large team made three camps and crossed the col along Papsura. They followed the south ridge to the summit on 03 August. The summit was reached by Dipankar Sen, Sudip Roy and Arupam Das (leader).

    Unnamed Peak 6015 m

    Team: Mitrapara Youth Mountaineers & Culture Association, W.B., India

    Leader (Members): Samir Sengupta (10)

    This peak in Lahaul stands near to KR-II (6187 m) and KR-IV (6340 m) which were the original aim of this expedition. However the team could not attempt them. Pk 6015 m was climbed on 04 August by the leader, Sandip Roy and Nirmalaya Ghosh.

    CB 12 (6248 m)

    Team: Pimpri Chinchwad Mountaineering Association, Pune, India

    Leader (Members): Arjun Pethkar (9)

    This is the high peak in the Chandra Bhaga group of the Lahaul Himalaya. The area

    is popular due to easier access. They established an advanced base camp and

    camp 1. Starting from the last camp at 2 a.m. reached the summit at 6 a.m. Peak was climbed on 06 August by the leader and five members with two Sherpas.

    KR-V (6258 m)

    Team: Summiter, Kolkata, India

    Leader (Members): Aloke Kr Das (10)

    The Koa Rong nala in Lahaul contains several peaks, including this high peak. The

    team made a camp on the west of the peak, at 6225 m. On 22 August 6 members and 2 Sherpas reached the summit in 40 minutes. They found a cairn on the summit.

    Dawa Kangri (6140 m) and Lagbhorche (6000 m)

    Team: Rifle Factory Sports Council, Kolkata, India

    Leader (Members): Ashim Ghosh (10)

    These peaks stand on the Loser nala, the border between Lahaul and Spiti. It does

    not receive many teams. After setting up two camps, Lagbhorche was climbed by 4

    members with 2 high altitude supporters.

    Later, on 27 August, Dawa Kangri was climbed by the leader with Tapas Dey,

    Radheshyam Halder, Paramesh Chatterjee and 2 high altitude supporters.

    LADAKH - ZANSKAR

    Mari (6585 m)

    Team: Japanese

    Leader (Members): Masato Oki (4)

    This was a team of seniors from Japan. The leader was 77 years old and other

    members were between 60 to 69 years. They climbed this high peak situated in the

    Pangong Range of Ladakh area. They followed the south face to southeast ridge to

    make the ascent. The summit was reached by K. Ouchi, Norio Katayanagi, Isamu

    Kezuka and Dawa Sherpa. (Note, HJ 67)

    Peaks in Ladakh-Kishtwar

    Team: Swiss

    Leader (Members): Stephan Schaffer (10)

    This large team climbed in the Kishtwar area. It is a beautiful area with many peaks

    but has not been visited for several years due to political trouble. These peaks were

    climbed in smaller groups and alpine-style:

    a. Red Apple peak (6070 m) on 17 August by six members: Leader, Fred Duraz,

    Gregory Triollet, Jiri Minar, Laurence Marie-Gabrielle Di Florio and Oliver

    Messerli.

    b. Gocook peak (6050 m) Following the northwest ridge, the leader with Marc

    Roullier and Sebastian Colsonet reached the summit on 21August

    c. Unnamed Peak 6050 m was climbed by the south face along the southeast ridge

    to the summit. Four persons reached top; Fred Duraz, Oliver Messerli, Passang

    Lama and Golkal Chontel (cook).

    Cerro Kishtwar (6155 m) – White Sapphire (6040 m)

    Team: Swiss-Austrian-USA

    Leader (Members): Siegrist Stephan (3)

    A small experienced team made two first ascents in the Kishtwar area. No bolts were

    used and both the summits were climbed in alpine-style.

    a. Cerro Kishtwar. (6155 m) - the first ascent of its south summit was made by

    northwest face and south ridge to the main summit. Then they followed the east

    ridge to the north summit (second ascent). They named this route as ‘Yoniverse’.

    Summit was reached by the leader, David Lama, Denis Burdet and Robert Frost

    from 25to 29 September. Route was 1200 m and they made 26 abseils on return.

    b. ‘White Sapphire’ (6040 m) - The first ascent of this shapely peak near to Cerro

    Kishtwar was made by leader and Denis Burdet in a two-day climb on 4-5 October.

    They climbed the west face to north summit (5080 m) to the main south summit at

    6040 m. It was 850 m climb and 11 rappels were made to return. They named the

    route as ‘la viree des Contemporains’.

    EAST KARAKORAM

    Saser Kangri II (7518 m) and other peaks

    Team: Indo-American (11)

    Leaders: Mark Richey and Motup Goba

    Steve Swenson, Mark Richey, and Freddie Wilkinson made the first ascent of Saser

    Kangri II, the second-highest unclimbed mountain in the world, 7518 m (24,665 ft).

    The team began their ascent from an advance base camp at 5800 m on the South

    Shukpa Kunchang glacier on 21 August and summited on 24 August, returning to ABC the next day. Their five-day, continuous-push ascent and descent of the mountain’s southwest face, without pre-established camps or fixed ropes, is one of history’s highest first ascents to be accomplished in alpine style.

    Although the technical difficulties on the 1700 m face were overcome smoothly, the

    team confronted with an unexpected medical emergency when a sinus infection

    suffered by Swenson worsened into a serious respiratory problem just after reaching

    ABC. Steve’s condition was serious as he coughed up large, glue-like clumps of

    phlegm that would block his airway periodically, preventing him from breathing. The

    team feared for his life. Using a SAT phone they initiated a rescue effort through

    Global Rescue, the American Alpine Club, the American Embassy in Delhi, and their

    agent. Mark Richey’s wife Teresa had just arrived in Leh and spent time on the phone tirelessly urging the State Department, the Embassy, and everyone involved to cut through red tape and approve clearance for the Lama helicopters.

    The Indian Air Force alone has helicopters capable of landing and taking off at high

    altitudes. Without this persistence they would have waited another day for the chopper and that may have proved fatal for Steve. Finally at around 4 p.m., as worsening weather threatened to cancel the rescue, clouds lifted and two Lama helicopters, flying low over the mountains, appeared above the glacier. Swenson was evacuated from ABC on 26 August to a hospital in Leh where he recovered quickly in a few days.

    Richey and Wilkinson remained on the glacier and cleared camp with the Sherpa

    staff, rejoining Swenson in Leh on 30 August.Despite the scare, the team is ecstatic about the quality of their adventure.

    Other First Ascents by the team

    Additionally, the team, which included Emilie Drinkwater, Kirstin Kramer, and Janet

    Bergman, made the first ascents of four other unclimbed 6000 m mountains in the

    region.

    Tsok Kangri, 6585 m - first ascent, via the north face, 680 m on 31 July by Richey,

    Swenson, Wilkinson.

    Saserling (6100 m) - first ascent, via the south face on 06 August, by Bergman and

    Wilkinson

    Pumo Kangri (6250 m) - first ascent, via west face, 05 August by Drinkwater and

    Kremer.

    Stegasaurus (6660 m) - first ascent, via the south glacier to south ridge on 09 August by Bergman, Drinkwater, Kremer, Richey, and Wilkinson.

    Indian team members Chewang Motup, Co-leader, Raj Kumar, liaison officer, Konchok Thinless, Sirdar Pemba Sherpa (aka King Kong), Dan Singh Harkotia, Jangla Tashi Phunchok, and Tshering Sherpa.

    The expedition was awarded the prestigious 2012 Piolet d’Or as the best expedition

    of 2011.

    Mark Richey

    (from www.markrichey.com)

    (Article, HJ 67)

    Peak 6130 m (Arganglas valley)

    Team: Indian-British

    Leaders (members): Skalzang Rigzin (Indian) and Guillaume Francois (French)

    A large expedition visited the remote Arganglas valley in the Nubra valley. However

    due to the weather in July, logistics and illness they could not make much headway

    and the attempt was given up early.

    Peak 6017 m (near Mamostong Kangri)

    Team: Indian-Spanish

    Leaders (members): Kusang Sherpa (Indian) and Jonas Fernandez Cruces

    (Spanish)

    The team had permission to attempt the high Mamostong Kangri (7516 m). After two

    camps they reached the Mamostong Col (5807 m) but the weather (in mid- August)

    was deemed not suitable to attempt the summit.

    The team then climbed a nearby peak of 6017 m through a central couloir of the west face. They named the peak as ‘Junai Kangri’.

    Saser Kangri IV (7416 m)

    Team: Indian, The Himalayan Club, Kolkata Section

    Leader: P. C. Sahoo (10)

    The team travelled to the Nubra valley in Ladakh and established a base camp on the South Phukpoche glacier. After the initial ferries to establish two camps bad weather stopped their progress to attempt Saser Kangri I.

    On 06 August, six climbers started moving up from C3, traversing the icefield that led

    steeply to the col, while a team of Sherpas who had already opened C4, moved up

    the upper face of SK IV and fixed two coils of rope on it.

    On 06 August, Purba Sherpa reached the summit of SK IV, climbing solo. On 09

    August, after setting up C4, Debraj Dutta and Ang Dorjay Sherpa, Meghlal Mahato

    and Mingma Thendu Sherpa summitted Saser IV in two parties.

    Members: Pradeep Sahoo, (leader), Debraj Dutta (deputy leader), Meghlal Mahato,

    Kakali Ghosh, Binita Soren, Sheelarani Mahato, Subrata Dey, Biplab Banerjee,

    Debabrata Ghosh, and Rajeev Kr Mondal.

    (Note, HJ 67)

    (I am grateful to the Indian Mountaineering Foundation, Lindsay Griffin, Rajesh Gadgil and several individual contributors, as mentioned, for the information)

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