Fowler and Ramsden climb the Prow of Shiva

Posted by Lindsay Griffin on 10/11/2012
Shiva from the peaks of the Miyar Valley to the east. The Prow is the steep right-hand skyline and the peak was traversed from right to left. Andrey Muryshev
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The well-tried and tested partnership of Mick Fowler and Paul Ramsden succeeded on the previously unclimbed northeast ridge of Shiva, an impressive 6,142m peak in the Pangi region of Himachal Pradesh, India.

The prominent Shiva, which lies in a relatively little-explored region between the peaks of Eastern Kishtwar and the Miyar Valley, was first climbed in 1988 by an all-woman Japanese expedition, led by the celebrated Junko Tabei, the first female to climb Everest.

They climbed moderate terrain on the glaciated southwest face, finishing along the south ridge. This route was repeated in 2002 by an Indian team.

In 2010 the Tarundi Valley to the east was visited by an Italian team, who took excellent photographs of Shiva and its northeast pillar. At approximately the same time this mountain was being attempted from the opposite side by a small Russian team, who failed on the difficult northwest ridge.

One of the Russians, Andrey Muryshev, was very helpful in providing Fowler with information and photographs, though his assessment of the northeast ridge was less optimistic.

"....the [upper section] of the ridge is 700m above the col and in October all the rock will be frozen. On the other hand, the buttress is very steep, so ice will be scarce. It will be very hard dry tooling with very hard protection. I saw your route on Siguniang: it is much easier. Still, your idea inspires me".

Fowler and Ramsden took the view that being inspired was good, and after establishing base camp in the Tarundi Valley, acclimatized by climbing a 5,500m peak to the north of the Prow (the name now given to the northeast ridge).

From the summit they had a wonderful view of their objective and noted, with much excitement, that the loose shaly rock, which characterises the Pangi region, gave way to good granite as the ridge steepened.

On their ascent of the Prow it took two days to work through complex glacier terrain on the east side of the mountain, and then climb through a further  night to reach the crest of the ridge.

Challenging snow and ridge climbing led to an impasse, where ice on smooth slabs proved too thin to climb. However, they were able to circumvent this by aiding an overhanging crack on the east flank.

Above, lay numerous pitches up ice choked cracks in Chamonix-style granite, and long protectionless leads on thinly iced slabs, reminiscent of winter climbing on Ben Nevis.

Six days out from base camp they reached a final icy chimney splitting the headwall, where an afternoon storm forced another bivouac. The summit was reached mid-morning on the seventh day.

Fowler and Ramsden descended the south ridge with a further two bivouacs and, with the assistance of images of the southeast flank stored on their digital cameras, threaded a way through icefalls and rock steps to arrive at base camp nine days after setting out.

Meanwhile, the other members of this four-man team, Steve Burns and Ian Cartwright, had made the first ascent of a fine snow and ice peak on the east side of the Tarundi Valley, giving it the name Shiva Shakkar. The height was estimated to be ca 5,500m.

This expedition received grant support from the Mount Everest Foundation.



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