American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Asia, India, Ladakh-Kashmir, Agyasol East

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

Agyasol East. Our object was to climb either Agyasol or Shivling in the Kishtwar Himalaya, both unclimbed peaks of about 6200 meters (20,342 feet). The Kingston Polytechnic team had spent a long time in 1980 trying to approach Agyasol and finally was successful in finding a way via a side valley of the Chenab. Their high point seems to have been the site of our Super Advance Base. A fortuitous sight of an official map enabled us to identify their approach via the Kaban Nala, a side valley off the Chenab River. Simon Richardson, leader, Nick Barrett, Mike Harrop, Roger Everett and I travelled by a slow bus from Jammu to Kishtwar and thence to the roadhead at Galhar, 20 miles beyond, which we reached on August 26. The approach from Galhar to Base Camp via Shashu, Athole and Kaban took six days, largely because of problems with muleteers. At Kaban thieving porters were hired. As a result of these problems, Base Camp was sited at 12,000 feet, further down the valley than was ideal. We spent three days organizing camp and exploring to try to find our mountain, which eventually was located further up the main valley and not up the side valleys as originally supposed. It became obvious that a major rock step would be the main problem. On September 4 we set up Advance Base at 14,750 feet at the foot of the glacier below the col on the south flank of the Agyasol massif. A reconnaissance over the col the next day revealed an approach on the other side to the rock step on the east ridge of the mountain proper by easy but badly crevassed snow slopes. On September 6 we were camped on this col at 17,900 feet with food for five days. The weather then deteriorated and after three nights three of us descended, leaving Everett and Barrett at Super Advance Base with provisions for another six days. On September 12 the weather turned fine and by eleven A.M. the snow had sufficiently sloughed off for them to attack the rock-ice buttress. They bivouacked at its top. The next day the going was on a snow-and-ice arête with some steep, exposed sections. The east summit was reached at 10:15 A.M. and the bivouac regained at 1:30 P.M. The next day they descended the buttress, mostly by abseil. (The central summit is about of equal height and is separated from the east summit by a difficult, gendarmed ridge that dips 1000 feet.) On the 16th Everett and I had to leave Base Camp to return home. Richardson and Harrop went back up. Bad weather again intervened and they had to sit out four nights at Super Advance Base. The rock-and-ice buttress was climbed on the fifth day by a slightly different line in dubious weather, but the next day, September 21, they had perfect weather and went to the summit. Richardson and Barrett climbed on September 24 and 25 the rock summit behind Base Camp, a peak just a bit less than 5000 meters (16,404 feet). They followed the dihedral line on the east face.

John Wilkinson, Oxford University Mountaineering Club

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