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    MAJOR EXPEDITIONS TO THE INDIAN HIMALAYA IN 2007

    Compiled by Harish Kapadia

    The year 2007 saw diminishing mountaineering activity in the Indian Himalaya. One of the main reasons was the stiff charges enforced by two state governments which contain  large number of peaks i.e. Sikkim and Uttarakhand. In the addition to the charges laid by the Indian Mountaineering Foundation these two states insist on additional charges and stiff conditions which has put-off  many climbers.  As a result there was not a  single expedition in the eastern regions, i.e. Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh and far lesser expeditions to Uttarakhand areas. 

    There were 113 expeditions (61 Indian and 52 foreign) and out of these about 70 expeditions were to very routine peaks which have been often climbed for e.g. Stok Kangri, a peak which can be climbed in about three days from Leh, received as many as 25 expeditions. In fact this peak was always climbed illegally by many parties, but now the Indian Mountaineering Foundation has opened a branch office at Leh and hence these expeditions registered with them and paid the fees.

    There were only two expeditions  from Japan and one from Britain,  countries which always sent most number of teams here. There were two expeditions each  from Italy, Czech, New Zealand and Korea. 

    The requirement for  X-Visa stamped on the passport has been done away with in case of 113 peaks (list available on IMF website). Foe these peaks IMF can give a single window clearance  and even collect the fees to be paid to the State governments when due. For other peaks old requirements and formalities continues.

    Three expeditions visited the Eastern Karakoram which takes much organizing and clearances. The Siachen area was declared open for trekkers with a fan fare. But soon Pakistan registered   a strong protest. At present only one team consisting of military cadets visited the first three stages on the Siachen, otherwise all other trekkers have been stopped. However, the rule for allowing joint expeditions to the Siachen Glacier  continues.

    Expeditions to Kalanka, Changabang were beaten  by freak storms in September and October. Many expeditions to difficult peaks like Arwa Spire, Arwa Tower were successful in month of May. Among the other good climbs were the ascent of Kulu Makalu, Mukut Parvat East Peak, Manirang and Menthosa, all by Indian mountaineers. The west ridge route on Nilkanth, pioneered by Martin Moran in 2000 was repeated by a team by  the Himalayan Club members from Kolkata.  It was an energetic climb with members proceeding from last camp to summit and back with two bivouacs  in  almost 57 hours on the mountain. They had excellent weather and made full use of it. The cryptic message on reaching the summit, as agreed before, was “The Himalayan Club is smiling”, which it was! The Indian Mountaineering Foundation organized as many as 7 expeditions in the year. Two were by ladies team. Its expedition to Changuch, an unclimbed mountain rising above the Pindari Glacier,  ran into extreme bad weather. After waiting for few days, at the first clearing the team decided to climb along the Pindari icefall to move to higher camp. An avalanche landing on their camp  killed two Sherpas on the spot and the third one was rescued, now destined to spend at least one year recuperating. Similarly, on peak Rimo I, an instructor from a mountaineering institute was drowned in the Terong river in the early part of the expedition. Later running into bad weather, the leader Maj. K. S. Dhami received severe frost bite. Full details of his ascent are still awaited. Similarly, an Indian-Australian expedition to 6350 m small peak rising above Col Italia could not reach far as the Thangman glacier was in flood and it was not possible to cross.  The same glacier was crossed, with great difficulty, earlier by the Indo-American expedition which climbed Chong Kumdan I. Their attempt on the virgin peak of Chong Kumdan  II did not take off as the glacier was highly broken. This expedition too, lost one porter due to altitude sickness. But a curious case was of Sherpa Ang Tashi who was struck by pulmonary oedema. Tashi was regularly climbing to heights, had climbed Everest and was one of the very fit Sherpas around. He luckily managed to survive as a helicopter could carry him to hospital in time. Nearby Mamostong Kangri was climbed by two teams; Indo-French expedition by the normal route and by the Vikas Regiment of  the Indian Army via a variation approaching from the east. For the first time there was an Indo-Bangladesh expedition  which climbed Rubal Kang.

    The trekking agencies, particularly those who take students and young to mountains are unregulated here. This year two deaths of young people on very routine treks have raised much controversy. On challenge by one of the parents, the High Court in Mumbai has ordered the government to frame rules for such agencies. This could be the welcome step that Indian mountaineers have been waiting for. 

    Many other changes are evident in the Himalayan range, directly due to global warming. The lower villages are receiving less snow and have complained that the fields are now drier as the snow melt used to irrigate the fields. At a village the flowers and fruits that were grown, now have to be planted almost a thousand feet higher as the rising temperature has made it unsustainable at their height. And the glaciers are certainly receding; like the  Chong Kumdan glacier.

    A trekking team was permitted, for the first time, to trek near the tri-junction where India, China and Burma borders meet – the eastern most point of India. Considering its  sensitive nature  as Indian and Chinese forces had clashed here, this was a major opening of minds. This team located Chinese inscriptions on a huge rock. This rock was mentioned in the Geographical  Journal in 1910 by Ronald Kaulback, who was member of the party with F. Kingdon-Ward. Further research is needed to completely decipher these writings, but it is an important discovery.

    Following are details of some important expeditions in the Indian Himalaya in 2007.

    UTTARAKHAND

    The Arwa Group

    The Arwa group in central Garhwal has been attracting climbers from many nationalities  for few years now. This year was no exception. Despite the  administrative difficulties there were two attempts on these two peaks.

    Arwa Spire (6193 m)

    Expedition: Korean    

    Leader and (Members): Park Heungsoo (5)

    Period: June 2007                              

    Details: Bad weather, snow fall

    Arwa Tower  (6352 m)

    Expedition: Swiss       

    Leader and (Members): Thomas Senf (4)

    Period: May - June 2007                               

    Details: Leader plus Stephen Siegrist, Denis Burdet climbed north face on 7/6/07, Good weather,

    Bhrigupanth (6772 m)

    Expedition: Indian

    Organisers: IMF Ladies Expedition   

    Leader and (Members): Ms. Bimla Negi Deoskar (8)

    Period: August- September 2007      

    Details: This peak was climbed on 19th September by Ms. Bandana Gurung, Ms. Kavita Burathoki, Ms. Chandra Bist and Ms. Kusum Chauhan with Sherpas.  The base camp was at Kedar Tal and final, Camp 2,  was set up at 6100 m, ,. This was a climb, following the route of first ascent by Arlene Blum in 1980. The peak was climbed a few times after the first ascent also.

    Changabang (6866 m)

    Changabang and Kalanka, in Central Garhwal, are major climbing challenges.  Due to its steep walls  many routes have been attempted and climbed. However storms in autumn foiled all attempts on these peaks.

               

    (a) Expedition: New Zealand

    Leader and (Members): Brian Edward Elder (4)

    Period: August – October 2007         

    Details: Attempted north face reaching 6200 m on 18th Sept. and later tried west ridge reaching 6000 m on 1 October. Major storm in late September stopped the climb.

    (b) Expedition: French           

    Leader and (Members): Graziani Yannick and Trommsoorf Christian

    Period: October 2007

    Details: This two member team reached 5800 m. two huge snow falls stopped attempt.

    Kalanka (6931 m)     

    (a) Expedition: Czech Republic         

    Leader and (Members): Petr Masek (3)

    Period: September -October 

    Details: Continuous bad weather, reached 5200 m on north face.

    (b) Expedition: Dutch

    Leader and (Members): Mike Van Berkel (3)

    Period: August- September 2007      

    Details: Bad weather

    Changuch (6322 m)

    Expedition: Indian

    Organisers: IMF         

    Leader and (Members): Cdr. Satyabrata Dam

    Period:  October 2007           

    Details: The expedition encountered severe bad weather while at a lower camp. While they were at Camp 2, a serac fell on the camp. Two Sherpas, Ang Nyima and Mingma Sherpa, died on the spot.. One Sherpa, Pemba , was badly injured, and will take almost a year to recover. The . attempt was given up. In spite being visible from the popular trail to the Pindari glacier the peaks has remained virgin due to its difficulties.

    Kamet (7756 m)

    Expedition: Indian

    Organisers: Howrah District Mountaineers and Trekkers Association.        

    Leader and (Members): N. P. Rao (12)

    Period: June – July 2007       

    Details: The team followed  the normal  route from Purvi Kamet glacier. Six  camps were established, up to 7100 m. The summit was reached on 30 June 2007 by six Sherpas and one member, namely Pemba Sherpa, Nyima Sherpa, , Dhuppa Sherpa, Dawa Sherpa, Dilip Tirkey, with  Molay Mukherjee

    Mukut Parvat East (7130 m)

    Expedition: Indian

    Organisers: Saad Mountaineers        

    Leader and (Members): Rajan Deshmukh (8)

    Period: June –July 2007        

    Details:  This is a satellite peak of Mukut Parvat, Koreans climbed a lower point in 1998  paving a way for the first ascent next year by an Indian team. The Koreans returned to climb the true peak in 2000.. The present team climbed  the main I from the last camp  at 6520 m on  Slingsby’s col with the  East ridge Of Abi Gamin They followed the route taken by NIM and Koreans. The summit was  climbed on 17th July.

    Shivling (6543 m)

    Shivling, on the Gangotri glacier, remains popular as ever. Most number of expeditions in Garhwal were organized to this peak.

    (a) Expedition: Indian

    Organisers: Giripremi, Pune  

    Leader and (Members): Rahul Yelange

    Period: May – June 2007      

    Details: After the first ascent by ITBP team, led by Hukam Singh, surprisingly no civilian Indian team had climbed this challenging peak.  This team of young climbers from Pune just achieved that.  They followed the normal route and set up Camp 3 at  6040 . On way to the summit they  climbed wall, the major difficulty of this route. The summit was reached on  9th and 10th June..

    (b) Expedition: Korean           

    Leader and (Members): Ko Jim Hee (5)

    Period: August- September 2007      

    The team attempted north face. High point of 6400 m was reached on 2nd September. They faced constant bad weather.

    (c) Expedition: Czech Republic         

    Leader and (Members): Jiri Pankava (6)

    Period: June- July 2007         

    Details: The team followed the normal route. For the first fortnight they faced many  days of bad weather. However the summit was climbed by all 7 members.

    (d) Expedition: Indian

    Organisers: South Calcutta Trekkers Association

    Leader and (Members): Brijes Day (8)

    Period: August- September 2007      

    Details: Following the first successful Indian civilian  climb  another ascent was made on 1st September by a team from Kolkata. They too established three The summiteers were :Rajsekhar Maity, Barun Majumder, Pasang, Pemba and Phurba Sherpas.

    (e) Expedition: Indian

    Organisers: Summiteers, Kolkata     

    Leader and (Members): Susanta Basak (10)

    Period: June- July 2007         

    Details: Shivling was again climbed  by a team from Kolkata.  From Camp 3 at 6000 m. six climbers reached the summit.

    Nilkanth (6596 m)

    Expedition: Indian

    Organisers: The Himalayan Club, from Kolkata Section.     

    Leader and (Members): A.V.M. (Retd) A. K. Bhattacharrya (11)

    Period: May- June 2007        

    Second Ascent of the West Ridge

    On 11th of June. 11 members reached the summit. Attempt was via west ridge and the route followed by Martin Moran  in the year  2000.  After braving many difficulties and inclement weather on the lower slopes the team fixed ropes and climbed to higher slopes and set up Camp 2. Finally on the ascent, the  team  bivouacked at 5900 m because of bad weather,  anchoring on fixed ropes. They decided to establish Camp 3 at 6300 m. On 11th June they left their bivouac at 1.30 a.m. with headlamps. Long trudge on the snow slope was  followed till a gully was reached.   at 5.30 a.m. By 9.30 they were at the proposed site of Camp 3. Even though tired, they decided to continue towards the summit as weather was favourable and the slopes ahead were gentler.   After reaching the summit they  returned straight down to the  bivouac point reaching there at 3.00 at night. Next day by 2.00 p.m.  they were at Camp 2. They had spent almost 57 hours of continuous climbing from Camp 2 to summit and back with two bivouacs en route. This was  the first Indian ascent from the west ridge.

    Name of the Summiteers: Gautam Ghosh, Debraj Datta, Subrata Chakrabarty, Gautam Saha, Bijender Sing, G. Prasanna, Dinesh Rawat, Mingma Sherpa, Ang Nima, Thendup Sherpa, Pemba Sherpa

    Exploration in the Panpatia Glacier

    The trail from Badrinath to Kedarnath valley, as followed by the team of Shipton and Tilman is a fascinating piece of history. Their trail via the Gandharpongi valley was followed by a British team led by Martin Moran. There was a route from the nearby Panpatia glacier to cross a pass towards the southern valley, giving an easier exit to the Kedar valley. This exploration was completed this year by a team led by Tapan Pandit from West Bengal. In June they entered the Khirao valley and reached its head where the Panpatia Bamak lies. Following the northern edge they crossed Parvati Col to reach the upper plateau. Traversing to southwest on this plateau they crossed Panpatia Col to descend to Kachni Tal and Madhyamaheshwar. 

    Few parties had tried to undertake this crossing from both directions in the past and failed. With this historic crossing the routes of earlier explorations are now completed.

    HIMACHAL PRADESH

    Gangstang (6170 m)

    (a) Expedition: British

    Leader and (Members): Martin Moran (8)

    Period: September – October 2007  

    Details: Martin Moran, Arun Mahajan, Peter Ashworth, Gustav Fierrocarion, John Leeddle, Luder Sing (LO) reached the summit on 30th September. .This was a new route, west face couloir and south west ridge. They had  on and off clear weather. They had originally planned to climb nearby Nainghar Choti.

    (c) Expedition: Indian

    Organisers: Kolkata Trekkers Youth 

    Leader and (Members): Ashim Kr Ghosh (10)

    Period: August September    

    Details: After establishing three  camps up to 5640 m, Sanjib Kumar Dey and Mohansing Thakur climbed the peak on 31st August.

    Khang Shilling (6360 m)

    Expedition: Indian

    Organisers: Snout Adventurers Association, Kolkata           

    Leader and (Members): Ujjal Ray (11)

    Period: August – September 2007    

    Details: Approached from Khamengar valley, the  second ascent of this peak was made by the same route. They established two camps, up to 5550 m. The north ridge of the peak forms a col with Shigri Parvat.  First attempt was made on 2nd September, which  because of snowfall stopped at 6010 m. The summit was climbed by Devdas Nandy, Surojit Bhowmick, Deepankar Ghosh, Inderjeet and Chandar on 3rd September  The . peak stands at the head of\ the Khamengar valley  to the west

    Kullu Makalu (c. 6100 m)

    Expedition: Indian      

    Organisers: Mountaineering Association of Krishnanagar, W.B.

    Leader and (Members): Basanta Singha Roy (10)

    Period: May – June 2007      

    Details: As the name suggests this peak stands in the Kullu Himalaya. However it does not have difficulties anywhere near to Makalu in Nepal. The present team  fixed rope till Camp 2 but  the  final rock wall stopped them. They reached 6200 m on 13th of June having  established three  camps till 5600 m.

    Manirang (6593 m)

    Expedition: Indian

    Organisers: Himalayan association, Kolkata 

    Leader and (Members): Ujjwal Ganguly (6)

    Period: August – September 2007    

    Details: Spiti area. After  gap of more than a decade  this peak was climbed again. 

    The summit was reached  on 2nd September through south  ridge from Manirang pass. Uttam Jana and two Sherpas, Nima Dorje, Narender reached the summit.

    Earlier ascents were by J. de V Graaf (first-1952), Col. Balwant Sandhu (1988) and Paul Nunn and Divyesh Muni in 1994 as part of  the Indian-British expedition.

    Menthosa (6443 m)

    Expedition: Indian

    Organisers: Indian Mountaineering Foundation Ladies Expedition   

    Leader and (Members): Chaula Jagirdar

    Period: August 2007  

    Details: This peak stands half way up the Miyar valley above the Urgus village. The team reached Tingrot by road.  From Tingrot village they approached the higher slopes via Urgus nala. Camp 2 was at  5945 m. From here Bhanita Timyunpi, Tusi Das, Ms. Chanda, Sange Sherpa, Lakhpa Tenzing, Lakpa Sherpa and Harsh reached the summit on 18th August.

    Mulkila IV (6514 m)

    Expedition: Indian

    Organisers: Indian Mountaineering Foundation Ladies Expedition.  

    Leader and (Members): Deepu Sharma (8)

    Period: June – July 2007.      

    Details: Peaks of the Mulkila Group are named from Peak 1 to 10, as they rise about a cirque. Mulkila IV is the highest and most challenging peaks of the group.

    The team approached from the Milang glacier in Lahaul.  Two camps were established. On 14th July  Left at 2.00 am for the summit, climbing via  north ridge, They crossed sharp rock ridges and climbed two gullies of about 10 m each. They found a small box containing a paper with names of 1939 expedition summiteers, who had made the first ascent. They fixed almost 155 m of rope. The summit was reached at 3.00 pm after 13 hours of continuous climb. They reach Camp 2 near midnight. The peak was climbed by Parineeta Chauhan, Kusum Bharati, N. Bidyapati Devi, Neeta Rani and Rinchen Sherpa. Amar Prakash a leading mountaineer from Manali was appointed as ‘advisor to the team’.

    Mulkila V (6370 m)

    Expedition: Indian

    Organisers: Bhadrakali Padatik, Hooghly, W.B.       

    Leader and (Members): Prosenjit Mukherjee (7)

    Period: June – July 2007       

    Details:  This a relatively easier summit of the Mulkila Group.  This team approached the peak from Taragiri glacier and climbed the south face. Camp 2 was set up at 5700 m. All members reached the summit on 23rd June

    Phawararang (6394 m)

    Expedition: Indian

    Organisers: Kamarhati Trekkers association, Kolkata          

    Leader and (Members): Malay Kani Halder (7)

    Period: August – September 2007    

    Details: The peak rises to the east of the Jorkanden massif.  Approaching from the Lalanti glacier they established two camps.  Six  persons reached the summit on 29 August.

    Ramjak (6318 m)

    Expedition: Indian

    Organisers: Phoenix Kolkata 

    Leader and (Members): Debashish Kanji (5)

    Period: June – July 2007       

    Details: The peak is seen from the popular trekking route from Darcha to Shingo la. However it had defied several attempts till it was first climbed by an Indian team in 2002.  The present team attempted the peak via the south- southeast ridge. Due to bad weather could not proceed above 5350 m.

    Rubalkang (6187 m)

    Expedition: Indian- Bangladesh Joint Expedition      

    Leader and (Members): Basanta Kumar Singha Roy and S. M. Muntasir Mamun (14)

    Period: May - June 2007       

    Details: The major  achievement of this team was being the first joint team with climbers from Bangladesh and India. They climbed this relatively easy peak in the Kullu Himalaya,  on 30 May (6 members) and 31 May (5 members) by south face.

    P. 6036 m (Miyar glacier)

    Expedition: Indian

    Organisers: Nilkanth Abhijatri Sangha, W.B. 

    Leader and (Members): Sameer Sengupta (7)

    Period: July 2007       

    Details: This a small peak in  the Miyar nala in Lahaul. They set up the base camp near Dali got. The summit was reached by all eight members on 30th July.,.

    P. 5617 m (‘Forward Peak’)

    Expedition: Japanese

    Organisers: Osaka University           

    Leader and (Members): Daisuke Tsutsumi (7)

    Period: August – September 2007.   

    Details: This small peak is located  in the  Miyar nala valley, Lahaul.  It is located near the  Tarasalmu pass Which leads to Darcha in the east. The summit was reached 8th September by north face.

    ZANSKAR and  LADAKH

    P. 5200 m (Kargil area)

    Expedition: Italian       

    Leader and (Members): Mourizio Orsi (5)

    Period: August 2007  

    Details: A small peak in  Zanskar, near Gulmotonga (Kargil). Summit was reached on the 20th August by all members. Route followed was the east face and the north ridge They proposed the name as  ’Golden Sentinel’”..

    Mari (6587 m)

    Expedition: Japanese

    Leader and (Members): Rentaro Nishijima (6)

    Period: July – August 2007    

    Details: The peaks stands near the  Pangong lake,  village Man, Ladakh. The team  attempted Mari via P. 6342, hoping to  traverse to Mari.  But the  ridge was rocky and knife-edged and  they could not cross it. So P. 6342 was reached by south face by seven  members on different dates.

    EASTERN KARAKORAM

    Chong Kumdan I (7071  m)

                     

    Expedition: Indian American Joint Expedition

    Organisers: The Himalayan Club, from Mumbai section.

    Leader and (Members): Divyesh Muni and Don Goodman (8)

    Period: July – August 2007.   

    A New Route Climbed On Chong Kumdan I

    On August 20, 2007, 4 p.m., expedition members, Divyesh Muni, Donald Goodman, Marlin Geist and Chris Robertson; and Sherpas Nima Dorje, Ming Temba and Pemba  Norbu  climbed a new route on Chong Kumdan I.  Our new route climbed the southeast ridge to its intersection with the main east ridge, and following it to the summit.  This was the second ascent of this high peak, the first being by an Indian British team led by Harish Kapadia in 1991. They had attempted this route but reached the summit via the north west ridge.

    Our main ambition was to climb the virgin peak of Chong Kumdan II (7004 m). However on approaching the glacier it proved to be too difficult and dangerous (specially for porters) to negotiate the broken glacier. This attempt never took off.

    The route on Chong Kumdan I involved 45 to 55 degree ice for 400 m to the crest of the southeast ridge. We fixed 500 m of fixed line on this section. Further, we followed the crest of the southeast ridge a few hundred meters to elevation 6,450 m where we established Camp 2.  The 20 to 30 degree slopes were underlain by hard ice. We spent nearly 4 hours excavating tent platforms. From Camp 2, we climbed the remainder of the ridge  to where it intersects the east ridge near 6,800 m. 

    Above Camp 2 four ropes were fixed and the route continued past several gendarmes and passing a cornice to the right at the top of the slope.  This part of the climb could be made without fixed lines, as the slopes were moderate.  The maximum slopes are about 45 degrees near the intersection with the East Ridge. Due to the poor condition of the snow, it took us more than 5 hours to negotiate  the last section to the summit.

    One of our Kumauni support staff, Anand Ram passed away on 10th August due to high altitude sickness at the Saser Brangza Army camp.  Our Sherpa Sirdar, Ang Tashi took ill on 15th August at Camp 1.  He was accompanied down to ABC by members on 16th and when there was no improvement in his health  despite being provided bottled oxygen and medication, he was evacuated by helicopter and was hospitalised at  Hundar. 

    Mamostong Kangri (7516  m)

    a. Expedition: Indian French Joint Expedition

    Leader and (Members): Chewang Motup Goba and Paulo Grobel (7 French and 9 Indians)

    Period: July – August 2007    

    Details: This high mountain (peak of Thousand Devils) stands on the ancient trade route to Saser La. It has been climbed several times before. The Indo-French joint expedition climbed via the southeast ride, the normal route. Paulo Grobel, Gayton Michel, Sherpa and Thinless Konchok  reached the summit on 19th August 2007.

    b. Expedition: Indian Army

    Leader and (Members): Col. Ashok Abbey (30)

    Period: October-November 2007      

    Details: This strong team made an ascent of the peak as autumn cold and snow was settling in the area. The followed a new approach route. After crossing Saser La the turned north along the Shyok and turned further west in the  Thangman valley leading towards the Mamostong Kangri peak. Climbing a ridge directly they avoided the Hope Col. Summit was reached by several members (numbers and names not known at present).

    Rimo I (7385 m)

    Expedition: Indian

    Organisers: Indian Mountaineering Foundation         

    Leader and (Members): Maj. K. S. Dhami

    Period: July – August 2007    

    Details: This peak stands in the side valley to the east of the Siachen glacier. Due to bad weather and porter troubles they were in trouble since starting.  Kalyansing (an instructor at NIM) died, being drowned in the Terong river, in first few days of the expedition.   Leader Dhami suffered serious frostbite. The summit was not reached.

    Unnamed Peak (6350 m)

    Expedition: Indian Australian Joint Expedition           

    Leader and (Members): Motup Chewang Goba and Geoff Beiley (13)

    Period: May – June 2007      

    Details: The peak is situated near Col Italia, Eastern Karakoram. The expedition had planned to cross Saser La, and follow  trail along the Shyok and Chong Kumdan glacier dam site.  However due to unseasonal poor weather rivers were flooded. Soon after crossing Saser  la they reached  the Aq Tash nala, which was  in flood. The horses could not cross this flow and the expedition had to be abandoned.

    ARUNACHAL PRADESH

    Exploring the Lohit valley,  the eastern-most valley of Arunachal Pradesh

     

    The Lohit valley,  in the eastern Arunachal Pradesh (formerly NEFA) is deep and thickly wooded. It is the easternmost valley of India. At its eastern extremity the borders of India --China and Burma meet at what is called the “Tri-Junction”. To the north of Tri-Junction is Jechep la (Pass), leading to China  and to the south lies the Diphu La (Taluk Pass) which leads to Burma. This valley is of historical significance for many reasons.  There were many early travellers here which approached the route from the Sadiya Frontier district and went on to travel to Rima in the Zayul (now in China). This was the easiest of  routes as no high pass is to be crossed and the trail runs along the river.  Many  parties followed  this trail, prominent being  F. Kingdon-Ward, Col. F. M. Bailey, T. T. Cooper and the Pandit explorer A. K. (nicknamed ‘Krishna” or Rai Bahadur Kishen Singh). Both the Chinese and the British surveyed the area and built a track from their respective areas.

    In 1962 in a bloody war the Chinese  aggressors attacked Indian posts and came down to Walong and little beyond. The heroic battles at the Namti Plains and the (western) Tri Junction are legends. We visited the ‘Helmet Top’ where the remains of the gallant Indian defenders are kept, and walked to the ‘Millennium Point’ where, amongst few other places, the receiving of the first sun rays of the present Millennium to the Asian Sub-Continent was celebrated.   

    It was our aim to reach the Diphu La (the Taluk Pass) which stands at the head of  the Dichu valley. Many explorers like Kingdon-Ward and others had travelled on this route often and apart from early difficulties the valley follows the natural line to the pass. However the present day political conditions dictated that the Dichu valley cannot be approached. Hence as an alternative we had to follow the Sat Ti valley to its south.

    Delayed due to local festivities, we   started the trek from Dong, a village  6 km to the north and on the left bank of the Lohit. The first thing on the trail was to cross single log bridge about 100 feet above and across the Sat Ti. We had crossed many bridges in the Arunachal treks in the past (‘Foot Suspension Bridges’) which were scary enough, but in this less trodden valley such ‘single log bridges’ were particularly  dangerous.  The trail otherwise was through thick jungles and with many steep ups and downs.   Camp. Ahead of this after an hour of After few days we reached a bridge with water flowing over the bridge. One had to jump across few thin branches to reach the other bank. More such dangerous bridges (2 of them) were promised ahead. It was thought that the discretion is better part of the valour and we decided to return - to be safe rather than sorry and cause a major inconvenience in the area.

    Walong Inscriptions

    After much  inquiries we were able to locate the Chinese inscriptions on  huge rock, which were mentioned by Ronald Kaulback, in the Geographical Journal. 

     On clearing the  surroundings the red letterings of the Chinese markings (written in 1910  or much before)  were seen. These were deciphered partly and this significant fine will  require further research.

    During the year two books of note were published.  Heights of Madness   by Myra MacDonald considers the war on the Siachen Glacier. She was a reporter with Reuters in India and in that capacity flew over the glacier in poor weather, met army officers and talked to  those involved in the war. Later same exercise  was repeated on the Pakistan side.  The other book is by  leading  British author Charles Allen, Kipling Sahib   which brigs out the life of Rudyard Kipling in India. It was released at JJ School of Arts in Mumbai, where Kipling was born.

    Finally, the Alpine Club 150th anniversary was celebrated in the Indian Himalaya by organizing a small expedition to the Kagbhusandi valley. The team climbed two peaks, despite plenty of snow on ground and one of the peaks was named “AC 150” fitting to the occasion. On way to mountains we were at Auli, a ski resort above Joshimath. Mobiles worked only at a point about a kilometre away. Mark Higton, immediately left for the spot with his mobile registered in England but operational here, in front of Nanda Devi. He called the London Police department. The call was diverted to an operator in Scotland. Giving his credit card number, Mark paid the fine for a traffic violation in London, to avoid penalties - it was the last day to do so.  The Scottish operator murmured in amazement at the end of it all, ‘No one has paid us traffic fines from high Himalaya, Sir !’

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