American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Asia, India—Kashmir and Ladakh, Indian Army Expedition to Nun-Kun Massif

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1979

Indian Army Expedition to Nun-Kun Massif, 1977. The massif can be described as a huge névé basin enclosed by a circle of seven peaks: Nun or Ser (23,410 feet), Kun or Mer (23,252 feet), Pinnacle Peak (22,808 feet), P 6800 (22,310 feet), White Needle (21,523 feet), P 6420 (21,096 feet) and P 6410 (21,031 feet). It feeds three glaciers: the Shafat to the east, the Fariabad to the south and the Kangriz Glacier to the north. The peaks rise steeply from the basin and the slopes below it are also precipitous. The approach to it via the Kangriz had been described as nearly impossible by the Swiss in 1953 when they climbed Nun from the south. The approach by the Kangriz Glacier had never been successfully attempted, nor had any one expedition climbed more than one peak, except the Bullock-Workmans, who climbed Pinnacle Peak and P 6800 on the same day. We approached by the Kangriz and climbed five peaks on July 3, 1977. We reached Base Camp at Parkachik (11,975 feet) on June 6. After a ropeway was placed over the Suru River we moved Base Camp across on June 8. Advanced Base (13,950 feet) on the right shoulder spur of the Kangriz Glacier was occupied on June 11. The glacier had three icefalls. We skirted the first by climbing the rocks near the tongue of the glacier onto the spur to the west. All loads were dumped by the porters below the second icefall on June 15 and higher, loads were carried by expedition members. This was Dump Camp (15,100 feet). The second icefall rose to 17,000 feet and required fixed ropes, aluminum ladders and a tyrolean traverse across a 100-foot crevasse. Staging Camp just above it at 17,900 feet was occupied on June 22. The third icefall was equally difficult. It actually proved to be the biggest hurdle because of an 80-foot ice wall at its head protected by a big crevasse, which was barely bridged by soft snow. The Summit Base Camp at 19,700 feet was established on June 26. After reconnaissance two separate Summit Camps were established on July 2. From June 30 on we received meteorological reports that the monsoon would be on us by July 3. Since it would have taken three or four days more for Nun, we gave up that attempt. Five separate ropes were nominated to climb five different peaks on July 3, 1977. Captain K.S. Sooch, Lieutenant M.P. Yadan, Spr. Bansi Lal and I left camp between Kun and Pinnacle Peak at 2:50 A.M. Snow conditions were atrocious and we could make the summit via the northeast ridge only at four P.M. Major S. Sablok, Second Lieutenant G.K. Sharma and Naik Marhans Singh left the same camp at the same time for Pinnacle Peak via the west ridge. They had mixed rock, snow and ice. They reached their summit at noon. Captain P.K. Babbar and Khichhar set out for P 6420 and Captain V.S. Grewal and Naik Pal- winder for P 6410, leaving Summit Base Camp at 4:30 A.M. and returning to camp at 11:00 A.M. The other Summit Camp was near White Needle. Captain K. Bahayya, Lieutenant M.A. Naik, Second Lieutenant J.S. Sekhon, Spr. Kanwar Singh and Spr. Jasmer Singh left this camp at 8:30 A.M. and were on top at 9:50. A second ascent of Pinnacle Peak was made by Captain Somesh Sharma, Second Lieutenant C.B. Thaldiyal, Naik Y. Mahato and Spr. Sarmapat Singh via the east ridge. They started at two A.M. but did not reach the summit until three P.M. because of bad snow. On their return they were tired and tried to take a short-cut down the steep south face. Mahato fell 100 feet before stopping in soft snow. Then at 8:30 P.M. the entire rope fell 250 feet badly injuring themselves. I had been watching the descent and fearing an accident had sent a rescue party. The injured rope was reached within ten minutes of the fall. They were evacuated to Srinagar by helicopter the next day.

L.P. Sharma, Lieutenant Colonel, Indian Army

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