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Asia, India—Garhwal, Shrikanta

Shrikanta. Our group consisted of Peter J. Fuhrmann, technical leader, Thomas Anderson, Claire S. Israelson, Scipio Merler, my wife Sharon Virk and me, organizational leader, all Canadians, and the Indians Rattan Singh and liaison officer Gurdeep Singh Maliah. We had permission to climb Shrikanta (20,180 feet) at the western extremity of the Gangotri group. We assembled in Dehra Dun on September 25. An enormous landslide demolished some 14 kilometers of the Gangotri “highway,” so it took us three days instead of one to get to the roadhead. The route to Base Camp followed the Dudh Nala, a tributary of the Bhagirathi River. Our 17 porters helped us to Base Camp below the snout of the Dudh Glacier at 12,500 feet in three days. It was usually sunny in the morning, rained or snowed in the early afternoon but cleared in the evening. The route from Base Camp followed the ablation valley to the west of the Dudh Glacier, heading due south. Advanced Base Camp was in the valley. Two more camps were put on the north ridge, the higher at 18,200 feet. Most of the severe technical difficulties were encountered in the steep, extremely hard ice above the last camp. Two ice axes were broken. After two days of route preparation, the final attempt was made on October 15. Blowing snow engulfed the summit party of Fuhrmann, Israelson, Merler and Rattan Singh at one P.M. However they persevered and attained the summit at four P.M. The retreat was only possible in the blowing snow because of the 1200 feet of fixed rope and Rattan Singh’s uncanny route sense.

Dilsher S. Virk, Alpine Club of Canada