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Asia, India—Garhwal, Thalay Sagar, Attempt on the North Face

Thalay Sagar, Attempt on the North Face. Dr. X. Bigard, H. Giot, H. Sachetat, P. Royer, D. Seguier, J.P. Chaligne, liaison officer Malkeit Singh Meit and I left Gangotri on August 27 and after a three-day approach got to Base Camp at Kedartal at 15,600 feet on August 30. By September 6 we were established at Advance Base at 17,400 feet at the foot of the north face of Thalay Sagar, which we attempted by the couloir in the center of the face. On September 9 and 10 we fixed rope on the first 1650 feet of very sustained slopes: 60° to 80° slabs covered with ice. It stormed from the 11th to the 13th. On September 15 and 16 we prepared the route to 21,325 feet, having great difficulties on ice. There were three vertical or overhanging rope-lengths without bivouac sites. On September 20 and 21 Sachetat, Royer, Seguier and I made a summit attempt, finding great difficulties on fragile ice. Sachetat made a 200-foot leader fall and was seriously injured. Seguier and Royer were badly affected. A painful retreat lasted late into the night. The three were evacuated to Delhi. We could see that there was little chance to climb the north face, where the last obstacles were very formidable: compact slabs covered with verglas which ended in overhanging chimneys. Giot, Chaligne and I decided on an attempt on the west ridge. We bivouacked on September 27 at 20,350 feet on the snowy west ridge. On the 28th we continued up easy climbing to the summit step at 21,325 feet. We got to a vertical rotten-rock pitch at 22,150 feet but felt we lacked the equipment to continue. We left Base Camp on October 4.

Jean-Claude Marmier, Lieutenant Colonel, Groupe Militaire de Haute Montagne