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Asia, India, Garhwal, Nanda Devi

Nanda Devi and Nanda Devi East. Our expedition was organized jointly by the Indian Mountaineering Foundation and eight guide-instructors of the Ecole Nationale de Ski et d’Alpinisme at Chamonix. We had as our objective to traverse from Nanda Devi (25,645 feet) to Nanda Devi East (24,391 feet) and vice versa. There were five Indians: Balwant Sandhu, Alok Chandolo, Dorjee Lathoo, Prem Chand and Dr. Devuderjit Singh; and eight Frenchmen: Yves Pollet-Villard, Walter Cecchinel, Jean Coudray, Maurice Cretton, Charles Daubas, Yvon Masino, Raymond Renaud and I. The Indians were responsible for the approach march, the recruiting of porters and Sherpas and the food for the approach and Base Camp. The French provided the equipment and food for the actual climb. The team assembled in New Delhi on April 28 but took six days to clear customs. We traveled in two days by truck to Joshimath. The approach to Base Camp took ten days. We could find only 70 porters and had to use 200 pack-goats which carried 20 pounds apiece to the Rhamani. A helicopter lifted 2½ tons to within a day of Base Camp. The 70 porters relayed supplies from the Rhamani to Base Camp. Thus precious time was lost. We had hoped for eight Sherpas but had only four good ones. Kashmiris and local porters could not be used much on the mountain. We thus lost another ten to twelve days with problems of load carrying. At a Base Camp at 16,400 feet we divided into two teams for the two peaks. On the main peak Camps I (19,000 feet), II (20,350 feet), III (22,300 feet) and IV (24,275 feet) were established on May 20, 25, June 1 and 11 respectively. On Nanda Devi East Camp I (19,350 feet), II (20,350 feet), III (21,825 feet) and IV (22,475 feet) were pitched on May 23, 26, June 6 and 13 respectively. The summit of the main peak was reached on June 14 by Coudray and Renaud and on June 16 by Balwant Sandu and Prem Chand. Pollet-Villard, Cecchinel and Dorjee Lathoo got to the top of Nanda Devi East on June 16. After preparing much of the traverse below the summits, the climbers were ready to attempt to climb the ridge linking the two peaks when the monsoon broke on June 19. It stormed for eight days, obliging us to give up.

Maurice Gicquel, Club Alpin Français