American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Asia, India–Garhwal, Bhagirathi III, West Pillar, Alpine-Style

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

Bhagirathi III, West Pillar, Alpine-Style. After arriving at Nandanban on September 10, Scott Flavelle and I spent until September 22 acclimatizing. From September 23 to October 2 we made the first alpine-style ascent of the west pillar of Bhagirathi III, following the route done capsule-style by Spaniards in the pre-monsoon season. Unfortunately the Spaniards did not leave the mountain as they found it. They left garbage at the base of the route as well as dozens of fixed pitons, an unnecessary bolt, more trash on the ledges and much rope on the upper route. We did our best to clean up the mess at the base and cut down most of the fixed rope. The route is an instant classic. We enjoyed cold clear days on the climb and perfect climbing conditions in a spectacular setting. On September 23 we carried two big loads each up the ice to the beginning of the rock, climbed four pitches and hauled three bags up two of them. On the 24th we hauled the rest of the bags and then climbed two difficult aid pitches. On the 25th we did four aid pitches in dihedrals to the snow terrace. On September 26 we fixed three pitches and hauled a bag with the ice gear. The next day we jümared the three pitches and climbed two more to a second snow terrace. We also fixed another pitch. On the 28th after jümaring the rope, we climbed the crux, two long difficult steep aid pitches to the crest of the buttress where the ice begins. On the 29th we did an aid pitch and then three mixed pitches to bivy on 50° mixed ground. After sorting gear and leaving a cache, on the 30th we climbed three mixed pitches and bivouacked at one P.M. October 1 was summit day. We climbed five pitches to get to the top at ten A.M. We then threw most of the unnecessary and unbreakable gear off to be picked up at the bottom. We bivouacked on the second snow terrace. On October 2 we rappelled down our route to reach the base of the wall at noon.

David Lane, Alpine Club of Canada

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