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Asia, India, Nilkantha, Garhwal

Nilkantha, Garhwal. An Indian expedition finally succeeded in climbing beautiful 21,640-foot Nilkantha, which had repulsed seven previous attempts, including Willi Unsoeld’s try in 1949. (A.A.J., 1956, 10:1, pp. 75-80.) The expedition was under the leadership of Captain Narinder Kumar and consisted of Flight-Lieutenants A. K. Chowdhury and A. J. S. Grewal, Captain Mulk Raj, O. P. Sharma and Lieutenant R. C. Ray. They left Joshimath on May 30 and passed through Badrinath on the way to set up Base Camp at 15,000 feet on the Santopanth Glacier on June 3. Immediately they set about reconnoitering routes. Although they established camp at 18,000 feet on the west col, they could find no route on the west ridge and decided in favor of the north face. They placed Camp I at 16,500 feet on June 6 and Camp II at 18,000 feet the next day. Above Camp III, which was at 20,000 feet, they had a 150-foot vertical ice wall, which cost them considerable effort before they established Camp IV 600 feet higher on June 11. In bad weather they placed Camp V the next day at 21,200 feet. Early on June 13 Chowdhury and two Sherpas worked in a heavy snowstorm to help prepare the route. After their return at 10:30 a.m., O. P. Sharma and the Sherpas Phurba Lobsang and Lhakpa Giyalbu Lama set off towards the summit, which they reached at 5:15 after seven hours of difficult climbing in bad weather. They were benighted during the descent and had to spend the night out. The next day they returned to their companions, Kumar, Chowdhury and two other Sherpas, at Camp V and together the whole party retreated to Camp IV, still in miserable weather ; all suffered frost-bite. After finding a new route down to Camp III, they descended further, finally reaching Base Camp on June 17 despite the serious frost-bite, which affected Captain Kumar most severely.