American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Asia, India—Himachal Pradesh, Ninjeri, Chango Glacier, Spiti

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1983

Ninjeri, Chango Glacier, Spiti. The Chango Glacier lies at the northeastern end of the Kinnaur District of Himachal Pradesh on the Indo-Tibetan border. The glacier is surrounded by snowy peaks and Chamonix-type aiguilles, which had been viewed from Leo Pargial in 1933 by Marco Pallis but had remained unexplored. In June 1981 I was a member of the expedition which charted a route to the glacier, but we made no attempt to climb peaks. On May 27 our seven-member team of present and former members of St. Stephen’s College, Delhi University, left Delhi for the village of Chango, our roadhead. The journey by road took two days via the Sutlej and Spiti valleys on the Hindustan-Tibet road. Being behind the Inner Line, no foreign expeditions are allowed. The journey through the awesome granite walls of the Sutlej valley to the dry, barren Spiti valley is a fantastic experience. The people of Chango were friendly and honest. Porterage was ridiculously inexpensive and nine porters and eight mules ferried our food and equipment to the snout of the glacier in a two-day march from the village up the Chango gorge. With more snow than in 1981, members and porters ferried loads in three days from our approach camp at the glacial snout at 14,500 feet and established Base Camp on the medial moraine at 16,500 feet on June 7. There are ten major peaks above 20,000 feet. Except for Leo Pargial (6791 meters, 22,280 feet), the highest, at the head of the southern branch of the glacier, all others were unclimbed and unnamed. We chose P 21,800 (6645 meters), the second highest, at the head of the northern branch of the glacier. Advance Base was established at 18,000 feet at the base of the south ridge. The first 1500 feet of the ridge over steep rock and hard snow led to easier ground. After a gradual ascent of another 500 feet, we placed our high camp at 20,000 feet. At five A.M. on June 13 Sanjiv Saith, Rahul Sharma, Chering Namgyal, Deepak Chandnani and I left camp. We soon veered off the south ridge and were climbing on the west face. The last very steep 500 feet were on a wind-slab. Frightfully cold, we reached the summit at 9:40. The peak we climbed, though the second highest, was not the most difficult. We named the peak “Ninjeri.” Ninje is Ladakhi for pure and Ri means mountain.

Yousuf Zaheer, St. Stephen’s College, Delhi, India

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