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Asia, India, Ladakh-Kashmir, Retsheriah, P 19,590

Retsheriah, P 19,590 and Bobang Peak, Ladakh, and N9, Zanskar. Our expedition was composed of Robin Andrews, Bill Hodgson, Simon Brown, John Hall and me as leader. Between August 26 and September 20 we climbed three peaks and narrowly failed on a fourth. The first Base Camp at Tshringmad was reached in two days from Panikhar. Retsheriah (5182 meters, 17,000 feet) was climbed for reconnaissance purposes on August 27 by Hodgson and liaison officer Sah Girish. Between August 29 and September 2 we attempted P 19,590 (5971 meters). It took three days and three bivouacs to reach the foot of the east ridge, which was heavily corniced and uncompromisingly steep. It had defeated a Japanese team two years earlier. We tried twice to climb the ridge but were beaten back first by treacherous snow conditions and finally by technical difficulties which so prolonged our ascent that reaching the summit in one day was out of the question. As we had no sleeping bags, we reluctantly turned back from 19,000 feet on September 1. With little fuel and food, we had to return to Base Camp. Having two days before the pony men would return, we turned to Bobang Peak. On September 3 Hodgson, Brown and I climbed the right-hand peak of Bobang (5665 meters, 18,588 feet) in 11 hours from Base Camp. We had ascended the badly crevassed East Bobang Glacier but avoided it on the way down by descending a steep ice ridge on the left side of the glacier. We descended to Panikhar the next day. On September 7 we set off on a two-day truck ride, which brought us to Box, a name on the map but nothing more. Ahead of us lay the huge Durung Drung Glacier and and there wasn’t a porter within miles. Our aim was to get ourselves, food and gear to the Kiar Nala for an attempt on unclimbed Cathedral Peak, 30 miles away over glaciers and an 18,000-foot pass. After six days of slog, it became clear that even if we crossed the col, there would be insufficient time to climb Cathedral Peak. We decided to climb one of the peaks at the head of the glacier instead. Andrews, Brown and Hall tackled an attractive triangular peak on the west side of the glacier. Later investigations indicated that this was possibly N9, a peak climbed by a 10-man Italian expedition led by Giorgio Mallucci in 1980. The three of them reached the summit (6116 meters, 20,066 feet) by the south ridge at three P.M. on September 17. The only troublesome part was a 300-foot rock step near the top. The soft yellow rock had the consistency of cheese and climbing was very unpleasant. Two bivouacs were required on the ascent.

Stuart Hepburn, Carlisle Mountaineering Club, England