American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Asia, India–Jammu and Kashmir, Mardi Phabrang Attempt, Southest Kishtwar Himalaya

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

Mardi Phabrang Attempt, Southeast Kishtwar Himalaya. In late August, Mark Miller, Sean Smith, Tom Curtiss and I visited the Kaban Nala, approaching from Kishtwar via Galhar, Athole, Schol and Kaban in four days. We established Base Camp at 12,000 feet on August 24. Our objective was the northeast buttress of Mardi Phabrang (6062 meters, 19,888 feet), which is incorrectly marked as “Gharol” on most maps. We approached from the southeast up a steep moraine that led to a large glacial basin. From there we climbed a 1500-foot snow-and-ice couloir to an exposed 17,000-foot col at the start of the major difficulties. Consistent bad weather during the next two weeks allowed only one real attempt, which failed at the foot of the buttress itself at 17,400 feet after a long and complicated traverse. Above, a 1000-foot-high rock buttress, comprised of friable rock and now draped with fresh snow, denied access to steep mixed ground. We retreated in yet another storm. Whilst the rest of the expedition walked out, I set off alone up the Kaban Nala and made the first ascent of Tuperdo II (5600 meters, 18,373 feet) via the south ridge. I then crossed a col near the east ridge of Agysol, mistaking it for the Kaban La, and made a long and difficult descent to Dangol in the Machail valley, from which I reached Kishtwar. Three expeditions have now visited the Kaban Nala, but only the 1981 Oxford party, which climbed Agysol, has ascended its main objective. Other fine lines exist, but the access is difficult and the weather variable.

Simon Richardson, Alpine Climbing Group

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