American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Asia, India—Garhwal, Garuda Bank

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1967

Garuda Bank. In May I took five undergraduate students of St. Stephens College, Dehli University, Ashok Chakravarti, Amrish Thomas, Gursev Singh, Sandeep Bagchi and Verhese Varkki, on a training expedition; only a couple of them had had previous elementary experience. For this purpose we chose Devban (22,481 feet) in the Kamet region, previously ascended by Frank S. Smythe in 1937 and described by him in The Valley of Flowers. We did not hire Sherpas because of expense but took local residents for porters. Six of the ten went over 18,000 feet. Kalyan Singh and Bhin Singh are well-versed in climbing technique, and the former has made ascents of at least ten summits over 21,000 feet, mostly with Gurdial Singh. We arrived at our 13,500-foot Base Camp on May 14, after four days in a cave, sheltering from a storm that deposited four feet of snow. Base Camp was by the snout of the Banke Glacier, from which issues the Amrit Ganga, above Gamsali. Our route to the Banke Plateau differed slightly from Smythe’s and there were interesting points where heavy fresh snow lay on steep, waterworn rock. Camp I was at 15,500 feet, much lower than anticipated, and we reached the plateau at 18,000 feet to establish Camp II. We could see Devban five miles away across the plateau, but the thought of making tracks in the heavy snow was heartbreaking. Instead we climbed the nearer and easy Garuda Bank (c. 19,500 feet), not a distinguished looking peak, but in all probability a first ascent. All six members and the porters mentioned by name above made the top on successive days, May 19 and 20. A most unforgetable view awaited us. The whole of Garhwal, from Nilgiri and Mandir Parbats, Rataban, Hathi and Ghori Parbats, Dun- agiri, Nanda Devi, Trisul, Lampek, Kamet and the rest were visible. We could even see Kailash and the massive Gurla Mandhata over the blue ranges in Tibet.

Suman Dubey, Himalayan Club

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