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Asia, India-Garhwal, Nanda Devi, North Ridge Attempt

Nanda Devi, North Ridge Attempt. Our expedition comprised Vladimír Starcala, leader, Dr. Jan Charousek, Kamil Karafa, Ludek Záhoran- ský, Ceslav Wojcik, Bretislav Husicka, Petr Hapala, Jan Marek, Josef Zeitler, Josef Kývala, Leos Horka, Petr Gribek, Josef Kulhavý, Otokar Srovnal, Milan Martaus, Augustin Milata and me as climbing leader. Our arrival in India was delayed by the revolution in Afghanistan, where we lost four days, and then we lost ten days in customs. The approach march began on May 17 from the village of Reni. We faced heavy troubles with hiring porters because of other expeditions, there being only 28 available. We divided into several groups; the last one with 80 porters arrived on May 28 at Base Camp on the lake Haaj Kund in the center of the northern branch of the Nanda Devi Sanctuary. Because of a lack of fixed rope and the time delay, we finally decided on the north ridge of Nanda Devi. The access route was along the left edge of the triangular wall seen from Haaj Kund. The buttress starts with rotten black rock. In the middle, rotten rock is replaced by steep ice and firn.

Camp I was established at 18,000 feet on May 27. Three days later Camp II was pitched at 20,000 feet. Camp III was established on the top of the first peak (P 6600, 21,654 feet) where the two spurs of the north ridge join. This camp was separated from Camp II by a 60° ice slope, the most difficult section of the ascent. From P 6600 to P 6895 (22,621 feet) the route was not as difficult, here mostly firn and ice, but some easy rock. On June 7 Záharanský, Hapala and Husicka reached P 6895 followed the next day by Gribek and me. Another six members of the party got this high afterwards. We aimed at making Camp V under the north buttress of Nanda Devi. The next part of the north ridge was not simple. After a short descent from P 6895, a long sharp ridge of rocky towers partially covered by unstable snow made a serious obstacle. The rotten rock made fixing ropes difficult, but it had to be done, pitch by pitch. The last attempt to establish Camp V began on June 19. Srovnal, Kulhavý, Horka and I quickly reached Camp IV but were caught by a heavy snowstorm and wind. We dug a small snow cave and spent a bad night. The next day we continued. The fixed ropes were extended from the sharp rocky ridge up the next peak of the north ridge, but because of deep snow it became necessary to give up further climbing. The approach of the monsoon and the date of the arrival of the porters forced us to abandon the attempt.

Vlastimil Šmída, Czechoslovak Central Sporting Organization, North Moravian Section