American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Asia, India–Karakoram, Rimo III and Other Peaks in the Terong Basin, Eastern Karakoram

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1986

Rimo III and Other Peaks in the Terong Basin, Eastern Karakoram. Our Indo-British expedition was a joint venture between Bombay Mountaineers, Harish Kapadia, leader, Arun Samant, Muslim Contractor, Dhiren, Zerksis Boga and Dr. Meena Agrawal and Alpine Club and Alpine Climbing Group members, Jim Fotheringham, Henry Osmaston, Tony Saunders, Dave Wilkinson and me. Three Bhotias from Kumaon, Har Singh Senior, Har Singh Junior and Pratap Singh also joined us. We visited the Terong Basin, east of the Siachen Glacier snout, to attempt unclimbed 7000-meter peaks in the Rimo group and 6000-meter peaks, which we have given Balti and Ladakhi names. We were the first expedition to visit the Terong Basin since Dr. Visser’s 1929 party. The walk-in from the army base at the Siachen snout started on June 14. The first camp was just inside the entrance to the Terong valley. After a difficult river crossing, the second was placed at the snout of the Terong Glacier. Base Camp was not fully established until July 23 at Siab Chushku, the meeting point of the North Terong, Shelkar Chorten and South Terong Glaciers, only 18 miles from the Siachen snout. We had been seriously delayed by a lack of adequate and good Ladakhi porters. We turned north up the North Terong Glacier and two days later settled Advance Base at 5000 meters where that glacier forks. From June 26 to July 3 the weather remained unsettled and we spent the time acclimatizing and exploring the North Terong side glaciers, with the Bhotias assisting with load carrying. An ascent was made to “Ibex Col,” which lies immediately south of Rimo I and leads over to the South Rimo Glacier. From July 4 to 17 we enjoyed 13 days of fine weather. We split up into small teams. Three peaks above a cwm on the east side of the east branch of the glacier were climbed: “Sondhi” (6480 meters, 21,260 feet; south of Ibex Col) via west icefall and west ridge on July 13 and “Sundbrar” (6300 meters, 20,670 feet; west of Sondhi) via west icefall and west ridge on July 12 both by Samant, Dhiren; “Safina” (5975 meters, 19,603 feet; south of Sundbrar) via west ridge on July 6 by Samant, Contractor. Boga and Agrawal crossed Ibex Col to climb “Lharimo” (6070 meters, 19,915 feet; 2½ kms east of the Rimo chain on the southern edge of the South Rimo Glacier) via the south ridge on July 12. “Doab” (6045 meters, 19,833 feet; immediately north of Advance Base, splitting the North Terong Glacier) was climbed by the south ridge of July 15 by Contractor and Har Singh. Kapadia and Pratap Singh attempted “Saigat” (6130 meters, 20,112 feet; west of Rimo III) and reached 5800 meters on the south face. Four of us British climbers began an attempt on Rimo I (7385 meters, 24,230 feet) on July 4, climbing snow slopes to bivouac on the southwest spur at 6400 meters. Fotheringham and Wilkinson descended because of unpleasant snow conditions and concern over Wilkinson’s chest cough. After a day’s delay, Saunders and I continued on for four days of sustained mixed climbing (Alpine ED) until the attempt was brought to an abrupt halt at 6850 meters when I dropped a rucksack full of vital bivouac equipment. On the seventh day we made a rapid descent to the glacier and Advance Base. On July 11 Fotheringham and Wilkinson crossed Ibex Col to inspect the eastern side of Rimo. They quickly discovered that Rimo I offered no obvious line suitable for a fast ascent with their limited time, food and equipment and so they switched their attention to Rimo III (7233 meters, 23,731 feet), which looked easier. They spent a day climbing up into the glacial branch between Rimo III and Rimo IV and the following day climbed 800 meters of mixed ground (Alpine TD inf) to bivouac on the east-northeast ridge of Rimo III about 500 meters below the summit. (An ascent of Rimo IV by the facing ridge was claimed by the Indian Army in 1984.) On the fourth day, July 14, they climbed deep snow along the ridge to the summit of Rimo III. Another two days’ work, in deteriorating weather, took them back down to the South Rimo Glacier and over Ibex Col to Advance Base. Bad weather and the return to careers by five members ended the first (North Terong) phase. The rest of us descended to Base Camp before setting off to explore the Shelkar Chorten and South Terong Glaciers from July 20 to 25, when the weather was again fine. Contractor and Har Singh reached 5400-meter Warshi Col, which links the South Terong Glacier to the Nubra valley, while Kapadia and Dhiren climbed up a northeast branch of the glacier to 5750-meter Terong Col, which links the South Terong and the South Rimo Glaciers. I travelled up the Shelkar Chorten Glacier, climbing Chorten Peak (6050 meters, 19,849 feet; 7 kms east of Base Camp) before crossing Shelkar Col and the South Terong Glacier to climb Ngabong Terong (6180 meters, 20,276 feet; 8 kms southeast of Base Camp). Finally on July 26 and 27, the remaining members ferried loads back down the Terong valley and across a cliff rope traverse, avoiding the now dangerously flooded river crossing, and back down the Siachen snout to the Nubra valley. Henry Osmaston carried out interesting glaciological studies.

Stephen Venables, Alpine Climbing Group

This AAJ article has been reformatted into HTML. Please contact us if you spot an error.