Thursday, October 27, 2011

Saltoro Kangri the highest mountain #31 in the world

Saltoro Kangri is the highest peak of the Saltoro Mountains, better known as the Saltoro Range, which is a minor range of the Karakoram. It is one of the highest mountains on Earth, but it is in a very remote location deep in the Karakoram.

Saltoro Kangri lies in a region controlled by India on the southwestern side of the Siachen Glacier.

Notable features

Saltoro Kangri is the 31st highest independent mountain in the world. In addition, it rises dramatically above the Pakistani-controlled valleys of the Kondus and Saltoro Rivers to the west of the peak (draining eventually into the Indus River.) Due to danger from military operations, Saltoro Kangri is little visited. Areas just to the west are controlled by Pakistan, to the east by India.


Climbing history

The mountain was reconnoitered by the intrepid Workman couple in 1911-12.

The first attempt on the peak was in 1935 by a British expedition led by J. Waller, which reached c.24500' on the SE ridge.

A British university expedition led by Eric Shipton approached this peak through the Bilafond La via Pakistan with a Pakistani climbing permit. They recced the peak but did not attempt it. This expedition was inadvertently the first move in the deadly game of Siachen oropolitics that would lead to the Siachen conflict of 1984.

The first ascent of Saltoro Kangri was in 1962, by a joint Japanese-Pakistani expedition led by T. Shidei. This piggyback expedition put A. Saito, Y. Takamura and Pakistani climber R.A. Bashir on top on July 24, following the S.E. ridge route.

US maps of the area in the 1960s showed the Line of Control between Pakistani and Indian territory running from the last defined point in the 1949 Agreement, NJ9842, to the Karakoram Pass (held by India), thus putting the whole of Saltoro Kangri and the entire Siachen Glacier in Pakistan, even though the boundary was undemarcated from NJ9842 northwards. This appears to have been an error.

The Himalayan Index lists only one more ascent of the mountain, in 1981, and no other attempts.


Rakaposhi the highest mountain #27 in the world

Rakaposhi is a mountain in the Karakoram mountain range in Pakistan. It is situated in the Nagar Valley approximately 100 km north of the city of Gilgit in the Gilgit District of the Gilgit-Baltistan province of Pakistan. Rakaposhi means "Snow Covered" in the local language. Rakaposhi is also known as Dumani ("Mother of Mist"). It is ranked 27th highest in the world and 12th highest in Pakistan, but it is more popular for its beauty than its rank might suggest.

Rakaposhi was first climbed in 1958 by Mike Banks and Tom Patey, members of a British-Pakistani expedition, via the Southwest Spur/Ridge route. Both of them suffered minor frostbite during the ascent. Another climber slipped and fell on the descent and died during the night.

Park

The people of Nagar has dedicated the Rakaposhi range mountain area as a community park. The Minister for Northern Areas inaugurated the park. The Rakaposhi mountain range is the home of endangered species such as Marco Polo sheep, Snow Leopard, brown bear, wolves and many other species.



Notable features

Rakaposhi is notable for its exceptional rise over local terrain. On the north, it rises 5800m in only an 11.5 km horizontal distance from the Hunza River. There are magnificent views of Rakaposhi from the Karakoram Highway on the route through Hunza. A tourist spot in the town of Ghulmat (located in the Nagar Valley) called "Zero Point of Rakaposhi" is the closest convenient view point of the mountain.

Time line

  • 1892 Martin Conway explores the south side of Rakaposhi.
  • 1938 M. Vyvyan and R. Campbell Secord make the first reconnaissance and climb a north-western forepeak (about 5,800m/19,000') via the northwest ridge.
  • 1947 Secord returns with H. W. Tilman and two Swiss climbers; they ascend via the Gunti glacier to 5,800m/19,000' on the south-west spur.
  • 1954 Cambridge University team, led by Alfred Tissières, attempts the peak via the south-west spur but only reached 6,340m/20,800'. Also, an Austro-German expedition led by Mathias Rebitsch attempted the same route.
  • 1956 A British-American expedition, led by Mike Banks, reaches 7,163m/23,500' on the Southwest Ridge, above the Gunti glacier.
  • 1958 The first ascent, noted above.
  • 1964 An Irish expedition attempts the long and difficult Northwest Ridge.
  • 1971 Karl Herrligkofer leads an attempt on the elegant but difficult North Spur (or North Ridge).
  • 1973 Herrligkofer returns to the North Spur but is again unsuccessful due to time and weather problems.
  • 1979 A Polish-Pakistani expedition ascends the Northwest Ridge from the Biro Glacier.
  • 1979 A Japanese expedition from Waseda University, led by Eiho Ohtani, succeeds in climbing the North Spur. Summit party: Ohtani and Matsushi Yamashita. This ascent was expedition-style, done over a period of six weeks, with 5000m of fixed rope.
  • 1984 A Canadian team achieves a semi-alpine-style ascent of the North Spur, using much less fixed rope than the Japanese team had. Summit party: Barry Blanchard, David Cheesmond, Kevin Doyle.
  • 1985-1987 Various unsuccessful attempts on the long East Ridge.
  • 1986 A Dutch team climbs a variation of the Northwest Ridge route.
  • 1995 An ascent via the Northwest Ridge.
  • 1997 An ascent via the Southwest Spur/Ridge (possibly the original route).
  • 2000 An attempt from the East side (Bagrot Glacier).
  • 2003 A Mountaineering expedition team of Chiltan Adventures Association Balochistan led by Hayatullah Khan Durrani with coordination Malik Abdul Rahim Baabai & Noor Mohammad Khilji followed by Saad Tariq Saddiqi Manager of the team from Alpine Club of Pakistan (Islamabad) achieves ascent of the Southwest Spur/Ridge (first ascent route. expedition members Abdul Samad Khilji (Late)Mohammad Ali Khan Mandokhail (Late) Syed Taimoor Shah (Late) Nasibullah Khilji (Late) the others were stayed at 6000m ,
In 2005 Nazeem Khan Climbed up the peak of This Mountain (Mubeen Khan the eye witness of this historic event)


Climbing routes

The routes with successful summits so far have been (see the timeline as well):
  • Southwest Spur/Ridge (first ascent route). Long, but not exceedingly technical. Some tricky gendarmes (rock pinnacles). Has been repeated.
  • Northwest Ridge. Long, and more technically difficult than the SW Spur/Ridge. Has been repeated.
  • North Spur (a.k.a. North Ridge). Shorter than the above two routes, but much more technically difficult. Has been repeated, including a semi-alpine-style (capsule style) ascent.
Attempts have also been made from the east side (Bagrot Glacier), the East Ridge, and the North Face.

 


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Muztagh Tower the highest mountain #91 in the world

Muztagh Tower (also: Mustagh Tower; Muztagh: ice tower), is a mountain in the Baltoro Muztagh, part of the Karakoram range on the border of the Gilgit-Baltistan region of Pakistan and the Xinjiang Uygur region of China. It stands between the basins of the Baltoro and Sarpo Laggo glaciers.

Early prominence

The Mustagh Tower was made famous by a spectacular but somewhat misleading photograph taken by Vittorio Sella during the 1909 Italian expedition to K2. Taken from the upper Baltoro, due southeast of the mountain, the twin summits were perfectly aligned and the mountain was seen as a slender tooth, and looked impregnable. In 1941, the photograph was featured in a popular book on mountaineering with the caption "The Last Citadel".

First and second ascents

Nearly fifty years after Sella's photo was taken, in 1956, his photograph inspired two expeditions to race for the first ascent. Both teams found their routes less steep than Sella's view had suggested. The British expedition, consisting of John Hartog, Joe Brown, Tom Patey and Ian McNaught-Davis, came from the Chagaran Glacier on the west side of the peak and reached the summit via the Northwest Ridge first on July 6, five days before the French team (fr:Guido Magnone, fr:Robert Paragot, André Contamine, Paul Keller) climbed the mountain from the east. The doctor François Florence waited for the two parties at the camp IV during 42 hours without a radio, when they went, reached the summit and came back to this camp.


Notable ascents and attempts

  • 1984 Northwest Ridge 2nd of route, 3rd of peak by Mal Duff, Tony Brindle, Jon Tinker and Sandy Allan (all UK).
  • 1990 The fourth ascent was made by Göran Kropp and Rafael Jensen.
           A lower summit, 7,180 m (23,560 ft) was first climbed in 1984 by the northeast ridge.
  • 2008 On 24 August 2008, the Northeast Face was climbed by two Slovenian alpinists, Pavle Kozjek and Dejan Miškovič. They bivouacked on the crest after 17 hours of climbing. They decided not to go to the summit because of strong wind. Just after they started descending, Kozjek fell to his death.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Masherbrum the highest mountain #22 in the world

Masherbrum (also known as K1) is located in the Gilgit Baltistan of Pakistan. At 7,821 metres (25,659 ft) it is the 22nd highest mountain in the world and the 9th highest in Pakistan. It was the first scaled and mapped peak in the Karakoram mountain range, hence its name.

The meaning of the name "Masherbrum" is not entirely clear. It may come from mashadar (muzzle-loading gun) plus brum (mountain), from the resemblance of the double summit to an old muzzle-loader. It may also come from masha (queen or lady), giving "queen of peaks." Other meanings have also been suggested.

Geography

Masherbrum is the highest peak of the Masherbrum Mountains, a subrange of the Karakoram range. It is a large and striking peak, which is somewhat overshadowed by the nearby 8,000 metres (26,000 ft) peaks of the main range of the Karakoram which includes four of the fourteen Eight-thousanders, namely K2, Gasherbrum I, Broad Peak and Gasherbrum II.

The Masherbrum Mountains lie to the south of the Baltoro Glacier and the main range of the Karakoram lies to the north of the Baltoro. The main range is the continental divide of southern Asia. Rivers to the south flow into the Arabian Sea. Rivers to the north flow to the Yellow Sea.

The Baltoro Glacier is the route most commonly used to access the 8000m peaks of the Karakoram, and many trekkers also travel on the Baltoro. Masherbrum also lies at the north end of the Hushe Valley, which serves as the southern approach to the peak.


Climbing history

In 1856, Thomas Montgomerie, a British Royal Engineers lieutenant, noticed a tall mountain in the Karakorams and called it K1 (denoting peak 1 of the Karakorams). To the local people of the area, it is known as Masherbrum.

Masherbrum was reconnoitered in 1911 by the intrepid Dr. William H. Workman and his wife Mrs. Fanny Bullock Workman. It was first attempted in 1938 from the south; the attempt failed just short of the summit.

After two more failed expeditions, in 1955 and 1957, Masherbrum was first climbed in 1960 by George Irving Bell and Willi Unsoeld, part of an American-Pakistani expedition led by Nick Clinch. They succeeded in climbing the southeast face route that had stymied the earlier parties.

The Himalayan Index lists three additional ascents and six additional failed attempts on Masherbrum. The ascents include two by additional routes, the NW Face and the NW Ridge/N Face.

Laila Peak (Hushe Valley)

Laila Peak in Hushe Valley near Gondogoro glacier is in Karakoram range and is 6,096 metres (20,000 ft) high. It has a distinctive spear-like shape. Its northwest face has a slope of 45 degrees in more than 1500 vertical metres.

It has been climbed by Simon Yates, among others. According to the local people in Hushe, Laila peak has been climbed only twice, a total of only seven people have summited.

The height of the Laila peak in Hushe Valley is controversial. Some believe it to be 6200 metres whereas some mention it as 6614 metres. In a Japanese mountaineering map by Tsuneo Miyamori (published in 2003), the height of Laila Peak is mentioned as 6096 metres.

First Skiers on Laila Peak

In the summer of 2005, the first ever ski attempts on Laila Peak were made by Fredrik Ericsson and Jörgen Aamot from Scandinavian countries. Although they could not reach the summit, they skied down the North-West face of the peak. They described it as "one of the most amazing mountains they have ever seen, like a needle it points straight up in the sky".


Frederik and Jörgen reached the base camp of Laila Peak (4150 metres) on June 18, 2005, and they were at Camp1 (5000 metres) on June 22. They made their first attempt to summit on Friday, June 24. They started climbing from 5000 metres at 2:30 am and after seven hours of climbing when they were only 100 metres from the summit, they realized that it was too icy to continue, and started skiing down on the North-West face of Laila Peak towards Gondogoro Glacier.

Permit

The mountain lies in a restricted zone. The village of Hushe is the gateway to the mountain, in the Masherbrum Valley below but the Gondogoro and Chogolisa valleys are restricted. In order for non Pakistani citizens to visit these valleys a permit must be purchased from the Ministry of Tourism ($50 per person), and a licensed guide is required for the duration.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Khunyang Chhish the highest mountain #21 in the world

Khunyang Chhish or Kunyang Chhish is the second-highest mountain in the Hispar Muztagh, a subrange of the Karakoram mountains of Pakistan. Alternate variations of the name include Kunyang Kish and Khiangyang Kish, among others. Its height is also sometimes given as 7823m. It is ranked 21st in the world and 8th in Pakistan.

Location

Khunyang Chhish lies in the heart of the Hispar Muztagh, north of the Hispar Glacier, one of the major glaciers of the Karakoram, and east of the Hunza River valley. It rises on the southwest side of the Khunyang Glacier while Distaghil Sar (the highest peak of the Hispar Muztagh) dominates the glacier on its northern end.



Notable features

Khunyang Chhish is the 21st highest independent mountain in the world. It is also notable for its rise above local terrain: for example, it rises almost 4000m above its southern base camp on the Khunyang Glacier, and it rises 5500m above the Hunza valley in about 33 km. It is a steep, pointed, and complex peak; it easily rivals the slightly higher Distaghil Sar, which has a more rounded profile.


Climbing history

The first climbing attempt on Khunyang Chhish was made in 1962 but the climb was aborted after an avalanche on 18 July killed two climbers, Major James Mills and Captain M. R. F. Jones. Their bodies were never recovered.

The next attempt was in 1965 but another climber died after the collapse of a narrow ridge at 7,200 m (23,600 ft).

The first ascent was accomplished by a Polish team led by Andrzej Zawada in 1971. They climbed a long route up the South Ridge of the peak from the Pumari Chhish Glacier. However, one of their members was killed in a crevasse accident.

The second, and only other recorded ascent, climbed the Northwest Spur to the North Ridge. Two British climbers, Mark Lowe and Keith Milne, completed this route on July 11, 1988. The route had first been attempted in 1980, and had been attempted again in 1981, 1982, and 1987.

The Himalayan Index lists three recent attempts on this peak, in 2000 and 2003.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Baintha Brakk #87 highest mountain in the world

Baintha Brakk or The Ogre is a steep, craggy mountain, 7,285 metres (23,901 ft) high, in the Panmah Muztagh, a subrange of the Karakoram mountain range. It is located in Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan. It is famous for being one of the hardest peaks in the world to climb: twenty-four years elapsed between the first ascent in 1977 and the second in 2001.

Location

Baintha Brakk rises above the north side of the Biafo Glacier, one of the major glaciers of the central Karakoram. It lies about 75 kilometres (47 mi) north of Skardu, the major town of the region, and about 30 kilometres (19 mi) north of the roadhead at Askole.

Notable features

Baintha Brakk is exceptional in its combination of altitude, height above local terrain, and steepness. It is a complex granite tower, steeper and rockier than most other Karakoram peaks. (The Latok peaks next to Baintha Brakk are similar, however.) For example, its South Face rises over 3,000 metres (9,800 ft) above the Uzun Brakk Glacier in only 2 kilometres (1 mi) of horizontal distance.

It is because of this steep, rocky nature that Baintha Brakk has been both so difficult to climb and so attractive a target for extremely high-level mountaineers.


Climbing history

Following two unsuccessful attempts in 1971 and 1976, the peak was first climbed by two Britons, Doug Scott and Chris Bonington, in 1977. (The other members of the party were Mo Anthoine, Clive Rowland, Nick Estcourt, and Tut Braithwaite. Estcourt, Anthoine, and Rowland all reached the lower West Summit, while Braithwaite was injured early on by rockfall.) They climbed via the Southwest Spur to the West Ridge, and over the West Summit to the Main Summit. The ascent of the summit block required difficult rock climbing that extended the boundaries of what had been done at over 7,000 metres (23,000 ft).

The descent was an epic: On the first rappel from the summit, Scott broke both legs. Later, Bonington broke two ribs and contracted pneumonia. Also, much of the week-long descent to base camp was in a major storm. However, they were all able to reach base camp, where they had a long wait for assistance.

The second ascent of Baintha Brakk was made by Urs Stöcker, Iwan Wolf, and Thomas Huber, on 21 July 2001, via the South Pillar route, following their first ascent of the subsidiary peak Ogre III (circa 6,800 metres (22,300 ft)). They note that there were more than 20 unsuccessful expeditions in the interim. Mountain INFO magazine characterized their ascent as "arguably the most notable mountaineering achievement during the entire 2001 season."

Tirich Mir #33 highest mountain in the world - Highest in peak Hindukush range

Tirich Mir (alternatively Terich Mir, Terichmir and Turch Mir) is the highest mountain in the Hindu Kush region and the highest mountain outside of the Himalaya-Karakoram range, located in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan. The mountain was first climbed in 1950 by a Norwegian expedition consisting of Arne Næss, P. Kvernberg, H. Berg, and Tony Streather.

Tirich Mir overlooks Chitral town. It can easily be seen from the main bazaar. It can also be seen from Afghanistan. According to a local legend, it is impossible to climb it, because of all the Jinns, demons, witches and fairies who live up there. Locals also believe that Tirich Mir is an abode of fairies. From all over the Hindu Kush, fairies are said to come here for special meetings, washing and grinding rice.


Almost every year, a few tourists are killed while hiking and trekking around Tirich Mir. Often, they fall down into deep crevasses and their bodies are never found.

The last village in Chitral before reaching Tirich Mir is Village Tirich. It is located in Mulkow. The people there speak the Khowar language. The residents are available for hire as porters and tourist guides and will lead trekkers part way up the mountain, but there is a point beyond which they will not go.

It is believed the origin to the name Tirich Mir is "King of Tirich" as Tirich is the name of a side valley of the Mulkhow valley of Chitral which leads up to Tirich Mir. An alternatively etymology derives its name from the Wakhi language. In Wakhi trich means shadow or darkness and mir means king so Tirich Mir means king of darkness. It could have got this name as it causes long shadows on the wakhan side of its face.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Saraghrar the highest mountain #78 in the world

The "walk of the gods
Saraghrar is the fourth highest independent peak in the Hindu Kush. The entire Saraghrar massif is a huge, irregular stretched plateau at elevation around 7,000 m (22,966 ft), lying above vertical granite and ice faces, which protect it all around. Its distinct summits are poorly identified, and information gathered from expeditions that have visited the area is often misleading. The main summits are: NE summit (7,349 m (24,111 ft)), northwest summit (7,300 m (23,950 ft)), southwest summit (7,148 m (23,451 ft)), south summit (7,307 m (23,973 ft)) and southeast summit (7,208 m (23,648 ft)). To date (2005), the northwest summit is the only unclimbed peak of the massif.

Climbing history

In 1958 a British team led by Ted Norrish made a first try on the northeast summit (7,349 m (24,111 ft)). This expedition was stopped by the death of member P. S. Nelson. The year after, on August 24, 1959, northeast peak was climbed for the first time by an Italian team led by Fosco Maraini and including Franco Alletto, Giancarlo Castelli, Paolo Consiglio, Carlo Alberto "Betto" Pinelli (these four reached the top), Silvio Jovane, Franco Lamberti (doctor of the expedition) and Enrico Leone, all members of the Italian Alpine Club (Rome section). Their route ascended via the Niroghi glacier on the northeast of the massif.

Franco Alletto (left) and Paolo Consiglio (right)

On August 24, 1967, Satoh Yukitoshi and Hara Hirosada, members of a Japanese expedition led by Kenichiro Yamamoto (Mountaineering club of Hitotsubashi University) reached the South Summit for the first time by the Rosh-Gol glacier.

In 1971, Nagano, member of a Japanese expedition (Shizuoka climbing club) led by Akiyama Reiske, summitted the SW peak for the first time on July 29.

Three Catalan expeditions in 1975, 1977 and 1982 tried the NW summit via a rocky route. On August 9, 1982, Juan Lopez Diaz (expedition leader), Enrique Lucas Llop and Nil Bohigas Martorell reached the northwest II summit (7,200 m (23,622 ft)).

In 2005, five members of a Swiss expedition led by Jean-Michel Zweiacker reached the southeast summit (7,208 m (23,648 ft)) for the first time (Mazal Chevallier, Sébastien Grosjean and Yves-Alain Peter on July 24; Marc Bélanger and Jean-Michel Zweiacker on July 29).

The "ice tower"

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Shivling (Garhwal Himalaya) dramatic rock peak

Shivling is a mountain in the Gangotri Group of peaks in the western Garhwal Himalaya, near the snout of the Gangotri Glacier. It lies in the northern Indian state of Uttarakhand, 6 kilometres (4 mi) south of the Hindu holy site of Gaumukh (the source of the Bhagirathi River). Its name refers to its status as a sacred symbol of the God - Lord Shiva's Shiva Linga. It was called "Matterhorn Peak" by early European visitors because of its similarity in appearance to that Alpine peak. While not of locally great elevation, it is a dramatic rock peak, and most visually striking peak seen from Gaumukh; that and the difficulty of the climb make it a famed prize for mountaineers.

The mountain and its setting

Shivling forms the western gateway for the lower Gangotri Glacier, opposite the triple-peaked Bhagirathi massif. It lies on a spur projecting out from the main ridge that forms the southwest side of the Gangotri Glacier basin; this ridge contains other well-known peaks such as Bhrigupanth, Thalay Sagar and Meru.

It was also called Mahadeo Ka Linga or (Mahadev Ka Linga) Appearing as a single pyramid when seen from Gaumukh, Shivling is actually a twin-summitted mountain, with the northeast summit being slightly higher than the southwest summit, 6,501 m (21,329 ft). Between Gaumukh and Shivling lies the Tapovan meadow, a popular pilgrimage site due to its inspiring view of the mountain.

Shivling is well-defended on all sides by steep rock faces; only the west flank has a moderate enough slope for snow accumulation.


Climbing history

After British exploration of the Gangotri Glacier in 1933, a German expedition led by R. Schwarzgruber climbed nearby peaks and did a reconnaissance of Shivling in 1938. They reported "no feasible route" on the mountain due to its steepness and the threat of falling séracs.

Shivling was first climbed on June 3, 1974 via the west ridge, by a team from the Indo-Tibetan Border Police, led by Hukam Singh. The ridge is the lowest-angle feature on the mountain, but still involves serious mixed climbing, and is threatened by the sérac barrier noted by the Germans. The ridge leads to the col between the two summits; a steep snow/ice ridge then leads to the main summit.


Since the first ascent, at least ten other routes have been climbed on the peak, ascending all major ridges and most major faces of the mountain. All routes are extremely serious undertakings.

In 2004 Shirshendu Mukherjee became the youngest person in the world to have climbed the mountain at the age of 19 as a part of an Indian expedition.

In 2005,Basanta Singha Roy,Debashis Biswas both climbers from Mountaineers Association Of Krishnanagar (MAK),West Bengal,India, were the first successful summiters of India, as a part of a total civilian effort i.e without any army support.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Exploration and climbing history of Nanda Devi

Nanda Devi (main summit)

The ascent of Nanda Devi necessitated fifty years of arduous exploration in search of a passage into the Sanctuary. The outlet is the Rishi Gorge, a deep, narrow canyon which is very difficult to traverse safely, and is the biggest hindrance to entering the Sanctuary; any other route involves difficult passes, the lowest of which is 5,180 m (16,990 ft). Hugh Ruttledge attempted to reach the peak three times in the 1930s and failed each time. In a letter to The Times he wrote that 'Nanda Devi imposes on her votaries an admission test as yet beyond their skill and endurance', adding that gaining entry to the Nanda Devi Sanctuary alone was more difficult than reaching the North Pole. In 1934, the British explorers Eric Shipton and H.W. Tilman, with three Sherpa companions, Angtharkay, Pasang, and Kusang, finally discovered a way through the Rishi Gorge into the Sanctuary.

When the mountain was later climbed in 1936 by a British-American expedition, it became the highest peak climbed by man until the 1950 ascent of Annapurna, 8,091 metres (26,545 ft). (However higher non-summit elevations had already been reached by the British on Mount Everest in the 1920s.) It also involved steeper and more sustained terrain than had been previously attempted at such a high altitude. The expedition climbed the south ridge, also known as the Coxcomb Ridge, which leads relatively directly to the main summit. The summit pair were H.W. Tilman and Noel Odell; Charles Houston was to be in place of Tilman, but he contracted severe food poisoning. Noted mountaineer and mountain writer H. Adams Carter was also on the expedition, which was notable for its small scale and lightweight ethic: it included only seven climbers, and used no fixed ropes, nor any Sherpa support above 6,200 m (20,300 ft). Eric Shipton, who was not involved in the climb itself, called it "the finest mountaineering achievement ever performed in the Himalaya."

After abortive attempts by Indian expeditions in 1957 and 1961, the second ascent of Nanda Devi was accomplished by an Indian team led by N. Kumar in 1964, following the Coxcomb route.


CIA Mission

Attempts were made from 1965 to 1968 by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), in cooperation with the Indian Intelligence Bureau (IB), to place a nuclear-powered telemetry relay listening on the summit of Nanda Devi. The device was designed to intercept telemetry signals from Chinese missile test launches in Xinjiang Province, in the period of relative infancy of the Chinese missile program. As a result of a massive snowstorm during the initial climb, the device was lost in an avalanche and, so far as is known, has never been found. As a result of this activity, the Sanctuary was closed to climbing by foreign expeditions during much of the 1960s, and was not re-opened until 1974.


Subsequent Climbs

In 1976, a large Japanese Indian expedition set up camp with the stated purpose of completing the two peak traverse. This was accomplished in efficient fashion by two members and several members climbed both the East and West peaks.

A difficult new route, the northwest buttress, was climbed by a thirteen-person team in 1976. Three Americans, John Roskelley, Jim States and Lou Reichardt, summitted on September 1. The expedition was co-led by Louis Reichardt, H. Adams Carter (who was on the 1936 climb) and Willi Unsoeld, who climbed the West Ridge of Everest in 1963. Unsoeld's daughter, Nanda Devi Unsoeld, who was named after the peak, died on this expedition.

In 1980, The Indian Army Corps of Engineers made an unsuccessful attempt.

In 1981, the first women stand on the summit as part of a mixed Indian team, led by Col Balwant Sandhu. Rekha Sharma, Harshwanthi Bisht and Chandraprabha Aitwal, partnered by Dorjee Lhatoo, Ratan Singh and Sonam Paljor respectively, climbed on three ropes and summitted consecutively. The expedition was notable for the highest ascent ever made by Indian women up to that point in time, a descent complicated by retinal edema and vision loss in the climbing leader and a subsequent failed claim of a solo ascent by a later member of the same expedition. All three women went on to Everest in 1984 but did not make the summit although Sonam Paljor and Dorjee Lhatoo did. Dorjee Lhatoo climbed Nanda Devi East in 1975 and participated in the 1976 Indo-Japanese expedition as well.

This was followed in 1981 by another Indian Army expedition of the Parachute Regiment which attempted both main and East peaks simultaneously. The expedition had placed a memorial to Nanda Devi Unsoeld at the high altitude meadow of Sarson Patal prior to the attempt. The successful attempt lost all its summiteers.

In 1993, a forty member team of the Indian Army from the Corps of Engineers is given special permission. The aim of the expedition is multifold - to carry out an ecological survey, clean up the garbage left by previous expeditions and to attempt the peak. The team included a number of wildlife scientists and ecologists from Wildlife Institute of India, Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History, World Wide Fund for Nature and GB Pant Institute for Himalayan Environment and Development amongst others. The expedition carried out a comprehensive ecological survey and removed, by porter and helicopter, over a thousand kilograms of garbage right out of the park. The team also successfully scaled the peak placing five summiteers, namely Amin Nayak, Anand Swaroop, G.K.Sharma, Didar Singh and S.P. Bhatt, on top.


Nanda Devi East

Nanda Devi East was first climbed in 1939 by a four-member Polish expedition led by Adam Karpiński. They climbed the south ridge, from Longstaff Col; this is still the standard route on the peak. The summit party were Jakub Bujak and Janusz Klarner. Karpiński and Stefan Bernadzikiewicz died later in an attempt on Tirsuli.

The first attempt to traverse the ridge between the main summit and Nanda Devi East resulted in the death of two members of a French expedition in 1951. Team leader Roger Duplat and Gilbert Vignes disappeared on the ridge somewhere below the main summit. Tenzing Norgay was in a support team on this expedition; he and Louis Dubost climbed Nanda Devi East to look for the missing pair. Some years later Tenzing was asked what was the most difficult climb he ever did, expecting him to say Mount Everest; he surprised his interlocutors by saying Nanda Devi East.

An Indo-French East-West Traverse expedition, back for some unfinished business, in 1975 successfully put several members on both peaks but the traverse remained unconsummated until the following year. The East Peak was climbed by Chamonix climbers Walter Cecchinel, Dorjee Lhatoo and Yves Pollet-Villard, climbing lightweight and unroped from Camp IV.

In 1981, an Indian Army expedition followed the same line. Phu Dorjee Sherpa, a climbing instructor from the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute and his partner fell from the vicinity of the final ice field. It is assumed that they summitted.

The standard approach to the south ridge route, from the Milam Valley to the east, passes through Lawan Glacier via Lawan Gad and thence to Longstaff Col. The trek to base camp goes through the villages of Munsiyari, Lilam, Bogudiar, Martoli, Nasanpatti, and Bhadeligwar. An alternate route climbs the southwest face, from a base camp inside the Sanctuary.



Partial timeline
  • 1934: First entry into the inner Sanctuary by Eric Shipton and H.W. Tilman
  • 1936: The first ascent of Nanda Devi by Odell and Tilman.
  • 1939: First ascent of Nanda Devi East by Klarner, Bujak.
  • 1951: Attempted traverse and death of Duplat and Vignes. Second ascent of Nanda Devi East.
  • 1957: First Indian attempt on Nanda Devi led by Major Nandu Jayal.
  • 1964: Second ascent of Nanda Devi by Indian team led by N. Kumar. Nawang Gombu, first man to climb Everest twice, climbs main peak in between his Everest climbs.
  • 196?: Covert ascent by Indo-American expedition?
  • 1975: A 13-member Indo-French expedition led by Y. Pollet-Villard including Coudray, Renault, Sandhu, and Chand ascend the West Peak. Pollet-Villard, Cecchinel and Lhatoo climb East Peak but do not complete traverse.
  • 1976: Fifth successful ascent by 13-member Indo-American expedition. Three members (John Roskelley, Jim States, Lou Reichardt) reach summit despite extremely adverse conditions. Nanda Devi Unsoeld died from acute mountain sickness.
  • 1976: A 21-member Indo-Japanese team approaches the south ridges of main peak and Nanda Devi East simultaneously, and achieves the first traverse, going from Nanda Devi East to the main summit.
  • 1980: An Indian Army expedition by the Corps of Engineers led by Jai Bahuguna unsuccessfully attempts the peak driven back by bad weather from 7600m.
  • 1981: An Indian Army expedition by the Parachute Regiment attempts both main and East peaks simultaneously but has the highest ever number of casualties on the mountain.
  • 1981: A second Indian-led expedition places women climbers on the peak.
  • 1993: Indian Army team from the Corps of Engineers, led by V.K. Bhatt, succeeds in placing five summiteers on top, including Amin Nayak, Anand Swaroop and G.K. Sharma.


Recent history and conservation

After the re-opening of the Sanctuary in 1974 to foreign climbers, trekkers, and locals, the fragile ecosystem was soon compromised by firewood cutting, garbage, and grazing. Serious environmental problems were noted as early as 1977, and the sanctuary was closed in 1983. Currently, Nanda Devi forms the core of the Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve (which includes Nanda Devi National Park), declared by the Indian government in 1982. In 1988, Nanda Devi National Park was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, "of outstanding cultural or natural importance to the common heritage of humankind." The entire sanctuary, and hence the main summit (and interior approaches to the nearby peaks) are off-limits to locals and to climbing expeditions though a one-time exception was made in 1993 for a 40-member team from the Indian Army Corps of Engineers to check the state of recovery and to remove garbage left by prior expeditions. Nanda Devi East remains open from the east side, leading to the standard south ridge route.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Nanda Devi the second highest mountain in India

Nanda Devi is the second highest mountain in India (excluding Pakistan-administered Kashmir) and the highest entirely within the country (Kangchenjunga being on the border of India and Nepal); owing to this geography it was the highest known mountain in the world until computations on Dhaulagiri by western surveyors in 1808. It was also the highest mountain in India before Sikkim joined the Indian Union. It is part of the Garhwal Himalayas, and is located in the state of Uttarakhand, between the Rishiganga valley on the west and the Goriganga valley on the east. Its name means Bliss-Giving Goddess. The peak is regarded as the patron-goddess of the Uttarakhand Himalaya.

Description and notable features

Nanda Devi is a two-peaked massif, forming a 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) long high ridge, oriented east-west. The west summit is higher, and the eastern summit is called Nanda Devi East. Together the peaks are referred to as the twin peaks of the goddess Nanda. The main summit stands guarded by a barrier ring comprising some of the highest mountains in the Indian Himalayas (one of which is Nanda Devi East), twelve of which exceed 6,400 m (21,000 ft) in height, further elevating its sacred status as the daughter of the Himalaya in Indian myth and folklore. The interior of this almost insurmountable ring is known as the Nanda Devi Sanctuary, and is protected as the Nanda Devi National Park. Nanda Devi East lies on the eastern edge of the ring (and of the Park), at the border of Chamoli, Pithoragarh and Bageshwar districts.


In addition to being the 23rd highest independent peak in the world, Nanda Devi is also notable for its large, steep rise above local terrain. It rises over 3,300 metres (10,800 ft) above its immediate southwestern base on the Dakkhni Nanda Devi Glacier in about 4.2 kilometres (2.6 mi), and its rise above the glaciers to the north is similar. This makes it among the steepest peaks in the world at this scale, closely comparable, for example, to the local profile of K2. Nanda Devi is also impressive when considering terrain that is a bit further away, as it is surrounded by relatively deep valleys. For example, it rises over 6,500 metres (21,300 ft) above the valley of the Ghoriganga in only 50 km (30 mi).

On the northern side of the massif lies the Uttari Nanda Devi Glacier, flowing into the Uttari Rishi Glacier. To the southwest, one finds the Dakkhni Nanda Devi Glacier, flowing into the Dakkhni Rishi Glacier. All of these glaciers are located within the Sanctuary, and drain west into the Rishiganga. To the east lies the Pachu Glacier, and to the southeast lie the Nandaghunti and Lawan Glaciers, feeding the Lawan Gad; all of these drain into the Milam Valley. To the south is the Pindari Glacier, draining into the Pindar River. Just to the south of Nanda Devi East, dividing the Lawan Gad drainage from the Dakkhni Nanda Devi Glacier, is Longstaff Col, 5,910 m (19,390 ft), one of the high passes that guard access to the Nanda Devi Sanctuary. For a list of notable peaks of the Sanctuary and its environs, see Nanda Devi National Park.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Namjagbarwa highest peak in the eastern Himalaya

Namcha Barwa is a mountain in the Tibetan Himalaya. The traditional definition of the Himalaya extending from the Indus River to the Brahmaputra would make it the eastern anchor of the entire mountain chain, and it is the highest peak of its own section as well Earth's easternmost peak over 7,600 metres.

Location

Namcha Barwa is in an isolated part of southeastern Tibet rarely visited by outsiders. It stands inside the Great Bend of the Yarlung Tsangpo River as the river enters its notable gorge across the Himalaya, emerging as the Dihang and becoming the Brahmaputra. Namcha Barwa's sister peak Gyala Peri 7,294 metres rises across the gorge 22 km to the NNW.

Notable features

Namcha rises 5,000 to 6,800 metres above the Yarlung Tsangpo. After 7,795 metre Batura Sar in the Karakoram was climbed in 1976, Namcha Barwa became the highest unclimbed independent mountain in the world. until it was finally climbed in 1992.

Frank Kingdon-Ward may have presaged the effects of global warming some 85 years ago when describing "a quaint prophecy among the Kongbo Tibetans that Namche Barwa will one day fall into the Tsangpo gorge and block the river, which will then turn aside and flow over the Doshong La [pass]. This is recorded in a book by some fabulous person whose image may be seen in the little gompa [monastery] at Payi, in Pome. " (126-7)


Climbing history

Namcha Barwa was located in 1912 by British surveyors but the area remained virtually unvisited until Chinese alpinists began attempting the peak in the 1980s. Although they scouted multiple routes, they did not reach the summit. In 1990 a Japanese-Chinese expedition reconnoitered the peak. Another joint expedition reached 7460m in 1991 but lost member Hiroshi Onishi in an avalanche. The next year a third Japanese-Chinese expedition established six camps on the South Ridge over intermediate Nai Peng (7,043m) reaching the summit October 30. U.K. Alpine Club's Himalayan Index lists no further ascents.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Melungtse

Melungtse is the highest mountain of the Rolwaling Himal in the Himalayas.

The peak has a long summit ridge capped by the east (main) summit and the west summit, also known as Melungtse II, 7,023m. The mountain's steep faces make it more difficult than its elevation would suggest.

Location

Melungtse lies just north of the Nepal/China border, on a western spur ridge coming out of the main north-south trending ridge of the Rolwaling Himal, in Tingri County, Xigazê Prefecture of Tibet. To the southwest, across the Menlung Chu, lies Gauri Sankar, which, though a bit lower (7134 m), is much more visible from Nepal, hence better-known. Melungtse lies about 40 km west of Mount Everest.


Climbing History

Melungtse was off limits to climbing until quite recently. The first attempt was made in Oct 1982 when Bill Denz made a strictly illegal attempt on the South East Ridge, after sneaking over the border from Nepal's Rolwaling Valley. However he turned back while still low on the route. In 1987 and 1988 Chris Bonington led two expeditions, with the second one succeeding in putting Andy Fanshawe and Alan Hinkes on the west summit, but did not climb the main summit. Another attempt in 1990, this time on the East Ridge of the main summit, failed well below the top.

The first ascent of the main peak came in 1992, and was an alpine style tour de force. Slovenians Marko Prezelj and Andrej Stremfelj ascended the dangerous, 2000m Southeast Face in less than two and a half days up and down.

The Himalayan Index lists only one other attempt on Melungtse, a failed attempt via the North Face in 1999.

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