American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Asia, India–Garhwal, Gangotri Region

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1985

Gangotri Region. Our four-man team of Dave Cuthbertson, Pat Littlejohn, John Mothersele and me came to attempt the east face of Kedarnath Dome in late September. Unfortunately Cuthbertson developed pneumonia soon after arrival at Base Camp, necessitating his speedy evacuation to a hospital. Therefore we decided not to try the impressive 5000-foot-high rock wall which forms the central prow of the east face. Instead we undertook shorter climbs from an Advance Base on the Ganohim Bamak. Littlejohn and Mothersele attempted the west ridge of Kharchakund alpine-style by the German route but failed due to a lack of time and exhaustion less than 250 metres from the top. I teamed up with New Zealander Don French and between October 10 and 13 climbed the fine 600-metre-high rock spur which falls from the subsidiary ridge of Kedarnath Dome’s east flank. It gave a magnificent 20-pitch route on perfect granite with a summit altitude of around 5800 metres or 19,000 feet. The pillar was approached by the side glacier of the Ganohim Glacier which flows close beneath the main east face. We bivouacked at the bottom of the pillar, in a notch at two-thirds height and again at the bottom after an abseil descent. The climbing was all free with protection solely from wires and Friends, except for one piton which was left in place. The weather was dry and fine but very cold and windy at altitude. The cold prevented difficult free climbing except during hours of sunshine. After this Littlejohn and Mothersele made a major rock climb on the impressive granite walls of the Gangotri valley, several of which are 500 metres high. They ascended the northeast ridge of the clean granite dome which rises on the south side of the valley three kilometres upstream from Gangotri village. It gave 450 metres of good free climbing. The summit altitude was about 4000 metres or 13,125 feet. There is a vast potential as bad-weather options or for low-budget rock-climbing trips.

Martin Moran, Alpine Climbing Group

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