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Asia, India—Garhwal, Shivling West Summit

Shivling West Summit. After establishing Base Camp at Tapovan on September 1, Dan Jenkins, Austin Weiss and I lazed about for nine days. On September 10, we hiked to the base of our route and bivouacked in a beautiful meadow. The next morning, we made a foray up the gully which gives access to the southeast ridge. At two A.M. on September 12, we headed back up the gully and moved quickly over a giant gendarme and traversed the ridge toward the snow basin. After some postholing and slow going, we carved a ledge beneath a cliff and erected the tent at 4500 meters. The next day took us to a 700-meter diagonal traverse to the headwall, a 100-meter gully and another 100 meters of loose flakes to the ridge at 6000 meters. We could dig three trenches for a bivouac. From here the ridge steepened and became very demanding mixed climbing with poor protection. We made little headway that day, gaining only 150 meters, and returned to the airy bivy spot. In the morning the grey sky filled the air with snow. We spent a miserable day watching snow pile up on our sleeping bags. September 16 dawned with blue skies. We jümared to our high point but soon were engulfed in another storm. The conditions ruled out the last 400 meters of the southeast ridge and so we began a long traverse of the south face. At two A.M., we were beneath the col, but separated from it by the hardest climbing of the route. At 4:30 on September 17, we made it and sat down for our first rest in 22 hours. As soon as the sun warmed us, we scrambled to the west summit, only to be stopped from the real one by 25 horizontal meters of rotten rock with too much air on both sides. Our little summit was but one or two meters lower. Our long descent involved traversing toward the northwest ridge, making two spectacular rappels down the face of a hanging glacier and six rappels along the side of a gully which lies to the left of the west ridge. On the last rappel, the anchor popped and I tumbled 150 meters before miraculously coming to a stop unhurt in soft snow on a 50° slope. We descended the rest of the gully, traversed the west ridge and after another bivouac got back to Tapovan at three P.M. on the 18th.

Chris Warner