American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Asia, India, Garhwal, Sudarshan Parbat and Other Peaks, Gangotri Glacier

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1982

Sudarshan Parbat and Other Peaks, Gangotri Glacier. Our expedition consisted of five climbers and two doctors from India: Zerksis Boga, C.D. Danthi, Vijay Kothari, Kanu Pomal and me as leader, Dr. Rodhan Shroff and Dr. Vasant Desai; and four climbers from France: Bernard Odier, deputy leader, Hubert Odier, Alain de Blanchaud and Jacques Giraud. We were supported by two Sherpas and four high-altitude porters. Our principal objective was Sudarshan Parbat (6507 meters, 21,350 feet). This imposing ice pyramid had defeated five previous expeditions in the last decade. Six nearby peaks were also to be attempted. On May 1 we left Bombay for Dehra Dun, where we changed to a bus and reached Uttarkashi on the 4th and Gangnani Lanka on the 5th. The famous Gangotri Shrine opened on the 6th and we were fortunate to attend the auspicious and colourful ceremony. Next day a broken bridge stopped our load-carrying mules at Gangotri. We separated and one party went ahead to Gaumukh. On May 12 all of us with 65 loads occupied Base Camp at 15,800 feet on the Raktavarn Bamak (Glacier) about two kilometers before turning to the Swetvarn Bamak. Advanced Base Camp was occupied on May 17 on a high moraine ridge where the Swetvarn bifurcates into two valleys, west and east. For acclimatization we reconnoitered the east and west glaciers. On the 19th two simultaneous attempts were made to climb Saife and Koteshwar. Leaving Advanced Base early, Hubert Odier climbed solo the northeast face and east ridge and was on top of Saife (6162 meters, 20,215 feet; second ascent) at 8:50. He started to descend on skis at 9:30 and caused a giant avalanche. Luckily he was not carried far by it. Danthi, Dr. Shroff and I witnessed this from below and guided the badly shaken skier to safety. At the same time de Blanchaud and Giraud climbed Koteshwar (c. 6080 meters, c. 19,950 feet) by its east ridge. After a day of practicing ice-and-snow techniques, on May 21 we started building up toward Sudarshan Parbat. Hubert Odier and de Blanchaud climbed a steep couloir of rotten rock and snow to gain the east col. They fixed rope on the north face of the east ridge and descended to Camp I at 19,000 feet. For the next five days we ferried loads. On May 24 Koteshwar II (5690 meters, 18,668 feet) was climbed by Kothari, Sherpas Kami Tsering and Nawang and me, starting from Advanced Base. On the 25th Danthi, Lakhpa Tsering, Pomal and Giraud attempted Swetvarn (6340 meters, 20,800 feet) from Camp I West. They were stopped 300 feet below the summit by a dangerous ice traverse. More ropes were fixed on the east ridge of Sudarshan Parbat on the 26th and the first attempt was made on the 27th. Hubert Odier and de Blanchaud climbed in two hours a 65-foot ice wall and got to within 500 feet of the top, fixing ropes. On the 29th Danthi, Pomal and Kami Tsering camped below Saife and all the others went past Camp I West to push a camp 1000 feet higher at the start of the fixed ropes at 20,000 feet. Nawang and I returned to Camp I West. On May 30 the rest climbed the fixed ropes to a plateau. Above, the terrain was easy and they reached the summit at ten A.M. The other team climbed Saife at eight A.M. On June 3 we established Camp I East and reconnoitered the east col leading to the Shyamvarn Bamak. On the 4th ropes were fixed to the north col and beyond. On June 5 Hubert Odier, de Blanchaud and Giraud climbed Chaturbhuj (6655 meters, 21,835 feet). They left Camp I East at four A.M. and after going over the north col, descended 200 feet to the north over ice. They made a long traverse to the north ridge, by which they reached the summit at noon. On the same day Lakhpa Tsering, Kami Tsering and I crossed the east col to camp on the Shyamvarn Bamak on the east. On June 6 we unsuccessfully attempted Yogeshwar (6678 meters, 21,910 feet) by its south ridge, being stopped at 21,000 feet by a giant bergschrund which cuts the ridge from the summit pyramid. On June 7 Giraud and de Blanchaud again climbed Saife. On June 8 we all withdrew from Base Camp.

Harish Kapadia, Himalayan Club

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