Boris Korzh, Philip Leadbeater, Kunal Masania, Andrew McLellan and Jonathan Phillips, all from Imperial College London, have recently made three first ascents in the little visited Obra Valley, west of the Bandarpunch-Swargarohini Group in India's far Western Garhwal.
The five mountaineers, who were supported by the Imperial College Exploration Board, Mount Everest Foundation, British Mountaineering Council, Welsh Sports Association and the Lyon Equipment Award, formed only the third group to climb in this area. Fortunately, a fine spell of weather, not long after their arrival, meant that their expedition was certainly the most successful.
The middle reaches of the Obra are dominated by the splendid icy Ranglana (5,554m), which had been the main objective of the first climbing team to visit this valley, the British pair Gerry and Louise Wilson, with Indian Himalaya guru Harish Kapadia and seven friends.
Conditions were poor during this 2006 visit and only a lower summit, Dhodu Ka Gunchha (5,130m), was climbed. Ranglana was not attempted, and neither were the highest peaks, Pts 5,877m, 5,849m and 5,760m, which lie at the head of the valley.
These high peaks formed the target for Derek Buckle, Toto Gronlund, Martin Scott and Bill Thurston in 2008. On a BMC Approved expedition these four were unsuccessful on the North West Ridge of Pt 5,760m and had to settle for a consolation prize of Pt 5,165m north of base camp, which they christened Lammergeyer Peak.
The Imperial College team battled receding snow and slush in the upper valley to establish a high camp at 4,900m, from where they made the first ascent of Pt 5,480m via the South West Ridge (500m, AD-).
Moving their camp a little higher to 5,100m, the five then climbed the valley's highest peak, Pt 5,877m, thought to be known locally as Dauru. Ascent was made via the North West Ridge (700m, AD) and the summit snow cap gave a truly excellent panorama.
Finally, the team climbed the shapely Ranglana (5,554m). A reconnaissance had shown the South Ridge, rising above the Maninda Valley to the east, to offer a feasible route.
The five placed a high camp just below a col on the South West Ridge and then next day crossed the pass. They now descended a short distance towards the Maninda Valley, before traversing to Ranglana's South Ridge and following it to the summit (900m, D-).
The team returned to Delhi one day before their scheduled departure for the UK and so had the novelty of being able to watch track cycling and athletics at the 19th Commonwealth Games before boarding their flights for home.