American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Asia, India—Garhwal, P 6561 Attempt

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1988

P 6561 Attempt. Greg Collum, Steve Mascioli and I attempted the first ascent of P 6561 (21,525 feet), which might be called the western summit of Santopanth. We tried the south ridge, the same route attempted by the British in 1985. We established Base Camp at Nandanban on May 27 and reached the glacial basin below the southwest face at 17,000 feet on June 7, but storm kept us there until June 10. On the 11th, we climbed the broad snow couloir to a spectacular bivouac at the 19,000-foot col on the south ridge. The next day, insecure mixed pitches led left and up to a bivouac at 19,700 feet, directly below a steep rock buttress. Since a direct line through the rock proved impossible, we traversed several hundred feet left and climbed frozen cascades and mixed ground to bivouac at 20,000 feet back on the ridge crest. June 14 dawned clear and cold. As Steve was not well, he elected to stay at the bivy, urging Greg and me to continue. We climbed two hard pitches to the central icefield. We followed the ice to steepening mixed terrain and a very exposed bivouac at 20,500 feet. The next morning we left bivy gear behind and climbed several excellent, difficult mixed pitches to just below the summit ridge. There the rock turned back from granite to shale, covered by a foot or more of unconsolidated snow. We were climbing too slowly and at 21,000 feet we retreated, bivouacking with Steve at 20,000 feet that night. We continued the descent in deteriorating weather the next day and reached Nandanban on the 17th in a wet snowstorm.

Daniel Cauthorn

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