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Asia, India-Garhwal, Changabang

Changabang. Our group consisted of Elke Rudolf of West Germany, Brigitte Koch of Belgium, and Mark Moorhead, Rod Mackenzie, Jon Muir and me of Australia. At Lata we hired Dharam Singh, nine other porters and some 70 goats for the approach. We were delayed for four days at Lata Kharak due to heavy rain and arrived at Base Camp near the Ramani Glacier at 15,000 feet on August 31. For the next 18 days we climbed Hanuman (6075 meters, 19,931 feet) and other minor peaks for acclimatization. We four Australians began our first attempt on Changabang on September 20, leaving our Advance Base at 17,000 feet. We started up the snow slope on the left of the southwest ridge and just before the slope finished, we joined the ridge proper. We spent our first night at the first Japanese bivouac site at 19,250 feet. The next day we climbed difficult aid and mixed pitches to the second Japanese bivouac site at 19,800 feet. From there we traversed to reach the Italian south-buttress route. We climbed a few more pitches of this route before tossing for the night on a miserable little ledge halfway up the conspicuous triangular snowpatch on the Italian route at 20,000 feet. Following two days of snowfall, we abseiled down the Italian route until we reached the col where the Italian route ascends from the Changabang Glacier. Below the col on the Ramani side is an 800-foot wall. On the lower 650 feet we left our four climbing ropes for a second attempt. The descent below the band to the glacier was interesting without ropes! We began out second attempt on October 2 and after reascending our ropes and climbing a few other pitches, we reached the col that night. The next day we reached our previous high point on the Italian route at 21,000 feet and left rope on the two pitches above it in the afternoon. On the 4th we reached the top of the snow dome at midday and spent the night about a third of the way along the gendarmed ridge to the summit. On October 5 we reached the summit and bivouacked there. It took us two days to uescend to the Changabang Glacier via the east ridge , which was so covered with hard water ice that we abseiled 1000 feet down its southern side. From the Changabang Glacier we had planned to cross to the Ramani via Shipton’s Col but because of snowy slabs and the likelihood of bad weather, we chose to walk back to Base Camp via the Rishi Gorge. This took four days and brought on new dimensions of fatigue. Of the two routes, I prefer the Italian. It had some fine rock and interesting mixed pitches, nearly all of which could be climbed free. The hardest climbing we did was on the Italian route.

Craig Nottle. Australia