AAC Publications - http://publications.americanalpineclub.org

Asia, India–Garhwal, Bhagirathi II and III, 1976

Bhagirathi II and III, 1979. We had little information about this part of Garhwal. The only clear fact was that Bhagirathi II had been climbed. We found out after the expedition that the first ascent of Bhagirathi III had been made from the west, from the Gangotri Glacier in 1933 by Dr. Charles Warren and C.F. Kirkus, but they had mistakenly called it Central Satopanth, confusing it with the peak that lies to the east of it. We arrived at Uttarkashi on September 15, 1979, where the Nehru Institute of Mountaineering gave us good help. The transport up the last 100 kilometers of the Bhagirathi valley was extraordinarily complicated. After heavy monsoon rains, the road to Gangotri was cut at two places, the first of them 30 kilometers from Uttarkashi, where a big landslide backed the water up into a lake 12 kilometers long. Further transport to Gangotri was made both by bus and on foot. It took us two days to reach the Gaumukh at the tongue of the Gangotri Glacier at 12,625 feet. After another 14 kilometers on the glacier, we reached Base Camp at Nandan- ban at 14,230 feet on September 21. We had only 19 days left above Base Camp. Because of the shortage of time, we did not attempt the steep west faces of rotten rock above the Gangotri Glacier. We wanted to do all climbs alpine-style and so established Camp I at 19,000 feet in the huge cirque below the east face of Bhagirathi II. A four-man Japanese reconnaissance team was looking for a route to the summit of Bhagirathi I (22,494 feet, 6856 meters). We decided to try the northeast ridge of that peak over the “Double Peak” and began fixing ropes. To test our acclimatization, on October 1, 1979 Jan Stráský, Jirí Vitha and I ascended Bhagirathi II (21,365 feet, 6512 meters). We ascended the southeast face and descended an icefield on the east face. We returned to the attempt on Bhagirathi I. Leopold Pálenícek and Karel Jerhot slept at Camp II on October 2. Thomáš Šantavý and I were to follow the next day, but he fell ill and I continued by moonlight to catch the others at a higher bivouac. We three continued on the difficult, sharp ridge leading to the “Double Peak.” We reached the untrodden northern summit (21,510 feet, 6556 meters) at 4:30 P.M. on October 4, 1979. It was clear that we could not continue along the technically complicated ridge to the summit of Bhagirathi I. We descended along the ridge toward the col between the “Double Peak” and Bhagirathi III, bivouacked and climbed through the col and down the broken glacier to Camp I. On October 7 we three moved back up to a little higher than the Bhagirathi II bivouac. On the next morning we traversed an icefield with little altitude gain to the Bhagirathi II-Bhagirathi III col. From there Bhagirathi Ill’s north ridge rose at about 50°. All three of us reached the summit (21,175 feet, 6454 meters) at 4:30 P.M. on October 8, 1979. Other members of the expedition were climbers Pavel Hilbert and Mrs. Božena Kuklová, TV photographer Mrs. Božena Kroupová, physician Dr. Karel Kašpar and biologist Dr. Ivan Brticka. (Translated by Vlastimil Šmída.)

Zdenek Lukeš, T.J. Banka Paraha Klub, Czechoslovakia