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Asia, India Punjab, Kulu Pumore

Kulu Pumori. Though the 1965 expedition did not succeed in climbing Banderpunch, interest had been born among the cadets of the National Defence Academy and I was asked by the Commandant to plan another trip to the Himalayas. The main party consisting of two officers and twelve cadets left on May 28 and reached Manali by the end of May. Captain Singha, the doctor, and the Sherpas had joined the party at Pathankot. The Sherpas included the famous Everest summiter, Ang Kami. On June 2 we left for Ranela, below the Ratong Pass. Snow was as low as 10,000 feet and most of the track beyond the Ratong was still under snow. On June 5 we reached Chota Dara, where we had great difficulty in crossing the river. As no additional porters or mules could be obtained, we commenced ferrying loads to Base Camp. We were now on the Bara Shigri Glacier and were continuously gaining height. After three days, I found the members becoming a bit worn-out as we were nearing 16,000 feet. We split into a “fast-moving” and a “follow-up” group, hoping to make an attempt before the monsoon set in, which was expected early this year. On June 11 the “fast-moving” group reached Base Camp at 17,000 feet and the following day were at Advanced Base Camp at the foot of the mountain at 18,000 feet. On June 13 Camp I was established on the final ridge at 20,000 feet. The climb was over rock with one fixed rope. Our route slightly differed from Pettigrew’s 1964 first ascent above his Camp I site. We established only one camp above Advanced Base instead of the two put up by him. Our Camp I was also on the ridge but nearer his Camp II. His traverse above his Camp II first to the right and then to the left to avoid a difficult rock pitch we thought to be too dangerous this year. We kept along the loose rock of the ridge right up to the top. About 500 feet below the summit we fixed a 200-foot rope to make the ascent and descent safe. On June 14 at six A.M. the summit party of Major Cheema, Cadets S. P. Singh, Alok Chandola, Sherpa Instructor Ang Kami (in the lead) and Sherpa Sona. The going was slow and trying for the cadets who had never been to such heights before. The day was cloudless until eleven o’clock when clouds appeared from the south and hid the summit, which was still 800 feet away. Cadet S. P. Singh got sick and vomited thrice, but by sheer determination pressed on. One false crest after another appeared but at one P.M. the summit (21,500 feet) was finally reached. It was a small snowy peak where not more than three could stand abreast. They hugged and congratulated one another and offered money and sweets to the Mountain Gods. The weather was now clear with the cloud basin below. At 1:30 they descended like over-cautious cats, reaching Camp I at six p.m.

Jagjit Singh, Major, Indian Army, Himalayan Club