American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Asia, India—Himachal Pradesh, Climbs in the Lingti Valley, Spiti

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

Climbs in the Lingti Valley, Spiti. The Lingti valley lies northeast of Kaza, west of Tibet’s Pare Chu valley and south of Ladakh’s Rupshu district. Without a trade route to Tibet or Rupshu, local villagers do not venture into this valley. In 1983 we penetrated halfway through the valley and climbed four peaks, the first mountaineers to do so. After leaving Bombay on June 6, we finally reached Lalung village after a long bus trip on July 17. With 12 yaks we trekked for nine days over Zingu Top (4510 meters), Sisbang Top (5060 meters), crossed the Lingti at Phiphuk, over Kuli La (4880 meters) to Chaksachan La (5230 meters). The locals had no knowledge beyond this point. We ferried our baggage to the banks of the Lingti at 4280 meters. The Lingti river, springing from the border of Rupshu, flows southeast and makes a huge turn to the southwest after meeting Chaksachan Lungpa. We first hoped to descend the river to this junction and proceed north to the base of Gya (6794 meters), the highest peak in Himachal Pradesh. At the end of three days and six difficult river crossings, we were back where we had started. The Lingti cut through a deep gorge near the junction which was not fordable at that time. We turned upstream and in two days were at 4940 meters near the upper watershed. On July 4, Dhiren Toolsidas and I headed north for a high pass leading to Rupshu, camping at 5470 and 6000 meters. On July 5, we had crossed a new pass, the Yangzi Diwan (5890 meters), and climbed the pass peak, Lama Kyent (6040 meters). On July 6, we descended 250 meters and climbed steep scree and snow to the summit of Parilungbi (6166 meters), above the Rupshu plains. This was the only peak we climbed which was not a first ascent. We returned by the same route to Base Camp in one long day. At the same time Muslim H. Contractor and porter Har Singh had entered the Lhakhang Nala to the west, but Har Singh had felt sick and they returned from 5720 meters without climbing Lhakhang (6250 meters), the highest peak in the upper valley. We entered another valley leading westwards to the base of the legendary Shilla. We failed to reach the north col of Shilla because of dangerous snow. On July 12 we got to Shilla’s east col but conditions ahead were thought too dangerous. We turned southwards along the ridge and climbed Labrang (c. 5900 meters). A valley farther south leads east to the base of Gyagar, which has a high ridge running to the northwest with six peaks on it. After a steep, exposed climb, we placed three camps at 4880, 5340 and 5970 meters, the latter between Runse and Geling. On July 18, Contractor, Toolsidas and I reached the summit of Runse (6175 meters). We probed toward Gyagar (c. 6400 meters), but a rock buttress and cornices made us realize that we needed more time and support for the climb. On July 19, we climbed Geling (6100 meters) and traversed to the northwest to the summit of Gyadung (6160 meters). With four porters we ferried our loads out. We returned via Chaksachan La and Kuli La to Shelatse and then went west over Syarma La (5040 meters), crossed the turbulent Syarma and passed across the Shilla Jot (5850 meters), reaching Kaza on July 30.

Harish Kapadia, Himalayan Club

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