Alpine Club exploratory first ascents in Indian Himalaya

Posted by Lindsay Griffin on 31/10/2014
Dave Broadhead at a 5,476m high camp overlooking the Talung cirque. The bulky mountain on the far left is virgin Kamen Gyalmo, while Chota Sgurr is the snowy top visible furthest right. Derek Buckle

Supported by grants from the Alpine Club Climbing Fund and the Mount Everest Foundation, four AC members made four first ascents in a relatively remote area of the Indian Himalaya, not far from the border with Tibet.

The Spiti River valley in Himachal Pradesh lies east of Lahoul. Spiti literally means "middle country", as it lies across the main Himalayan chain between Tibet and India.

Perhaps one of the most famous expeditions to the mountains of Spiti took place in 1860, when a member of the Survey of India carried a pole to the top of Shilla, a summit computed at the time to be over 7,000m. It remained an "official" altitude record for many years, erroneously as Shilla was later discovered to be 6,132m.

The highest peak is Gya (6,794m) northeast of the Spiti River and more or less on the border with Tibet. This complex mountain saw many attempts before a successful conclusion in 1998 by the Indian Army.

The second highest mountain in the region northeast of the river is thought to be Peak 6,531m on the Survey of India map, and has been referred to as Kamen Gyalmo.

This was the original goal of the AC expedition, though the most feasible approach, from the south, would take them close to the Tibetan border and gaining a permit from the Indian military seemed unlikely.

Until recently the area northeast of the Spiti Valley was closed to non-Indians, but the British team was eventually allowed to approach from the Lingti Valley to the northwest.

From its headwaters on the Tibetan border, the Lingti flows southwest to the Spiti River, and the peaks to its east have only been visited twice by mountaineers, both expeditions led by the guru of Indian Himalaya exploration, Harish Kapadia.

After acquiring Inner Line permits in Shimla, and with a fifth member, whose permit had failed to arrive before he left the UK and was therefore not allowed to go above base camp, Dave Broadhead, Derek Buckle, Mike Cocker and Geoff Cohen made an arduous five-day trek from the roadhead to a base camp at 5,130m.

From here they explored the Langma Plateau and first climbed a subsidiary top, Peak 5,782m, by a short steep couloir at WI2. They named it Fossil Gully due to the numerous fossils found around base camp and the combined age of the three summiteers being less than a dozen years short of 200.

They also made first ascents of Tangmor (5,920m), attempted by Kapadia's 1983 expedition, and the neighbouring, higher, Taklu (5,927m)

They then moved northeast and after establishing two more camps, reached a point overlooking the high cirque at the head of the Talung valley.

A long ridge ran east over several summits to Kamen Gyalmo, an impractical distance for a realistic attempt. The climbers were able to reach the first top on this ridge, which they named Chota Sgurr (5,924m), by its sharp north ridge.

They also made second and third ascents of the straightforward Langma (5,796m, first climbed in 1983) by different routes.



« Back

Post a comment Print this article

This article has been read 876 times

TAGS

Click on the tags to explore more

RELATED ARTICLES

Essential alpine know-how
0
Essential alpine know-how

Heading for the Alps this summer? Whether you’re a novice taking your first tentative steps on foreign snow and ice, a trekker planning a hut-to-hut walk, or a seasoned alpinist hoping to add to your collection of summits, we’ve got loads of essential skills and equipment advice for you right here on the BMC website.
Read more »

Celebrating 100 Years of Everest
0
Celebrating 100 Years of Everest

2021 marks the centenary of the first expedition to Mount Everest. To commemorate the occasion, The Alpine Club is hosting a landmark exhibition entitled ‘Everest: By Those Who Were There’ at its premises in Shoreditch, London.
Read more »

The most impressive traverse ever completed?
0
The most impressive traverse ever completed?

Belgian climber Sean Villanueva O'Driscoll has been willingly stuck in Patagonia since Covid-19 kicked off, and making the most of it: jaws dropped around the climbing world when he became the first to solo the Fitz Roy Traverse late last week. This epic route, fantasised about by anyone who has ever seen a photo of the jagged skyline above El Chalten, was first completed by the dream simul-climbing team of Alex Honnold and Tommy Caldwell in 2014. The route traverses the iconic Cerro Fitz Roy and its six satellite peaks: 5km of ridge line with around 4000m of vertical gain.
Read more »

Post a Comment

Posting as Anonymous Community Standards
3000 characters remaining
Submit
Your comment has been posted below, click here to view it
Comments are currently on | Turn off comments
0

There are currently no comments, why not add your own?

RELATED ARTICLES

Essential alpine know-how
0

Heading for the Alps this summer? Whether you’re a novice taking your first tentative steps on foreign snow and ice, a trekker planning a hut-to-hut walk, or a seasoned alpinist hoping to add to your collection of summits, we’ve got loads of essential skills and equipment advice for you right here on the BMC website.
Read more »

Celebrating 100 Years of Everest
0

2021 marks the centenary of the first expedition to Mount Everest. To commemorate the occasion, The Alpine Club is hosting a landmark exhibition entitled ‘Everest: By Those Who Were There’ at its premises in Shoreditch, London.
Read more »

The most impressive traverse ever completed?
0

Belgian climber Sean Villanueva O'Driscoll has been willingly stuck in Patagonia since Covid-19 kicked off, and making the most of it: jaws dropped around the climbing world when he became the first to solo the Fitz Roy Traverse late last week. This epic route, fantasised about by anyone who has ever seen a photo of the jagged skyline above El Chalten, was first completed by the dream simul-climbing team of Alex Honnold and Tommy Caldwell in 2014. The route traverses the iconic Cerro Fitz Roy and its six satellite peaks: 5km of ridge line with around 4000m of vertical gain.
Read more »

BMC MEMBERSHIP
Join 82,000 BMC members and support British climbing, walking and mountaineering. Membership only £16.97.
Read more »
BMC SHOP
Great range of guidebooks, DVDs, books, calendars and maps.
All with discounts for members.
Read more »
TRAVEL INSURANCE
Get covered with BMC Insurance. Our five policies take you from the beach to Everest.
Read more »