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Asia, Bhutan, Chatarake and Kang Bum

Chatarake and Kang Bum. Bas Gresnigt and I made a climbing expedition to western Bhutan. Our first objective was a mountain that the Swiss trekking map of Bhutan calls Chatarake and is given as 6500 meters high. This is also called Djodrake by locals. From Paro we trekked via Drukgyal Dzong into a region probably not previously visited by Westerners. On October 27, we reached the foot of the northeast buttress on a 4800-meter pass. We climbed the next day to the summit, which we reached at 1:10 P.M. The height was a little disappointing, in reality “only” 5570 meters (18,275 feet). From there we traveled to the region just previously visited by the British party, the Basingthang peaks. The British had suggested that there was a hidden “Andean-type” mountain which was probably the highest in the Wohney-Gang group. After heading up several wrong valleys, we finally found our “Andean” mountain. On November 5, we reached a crevassed glacier and got to the summit of the peak (5780 meters, 18,964 feet). However, it was not the highest of the group. This proved to be a sharp rock needle, further south. After traversing a narrow ice ridge, Gresnigt climbed to its summit, while I belayed. From there, we headed for Kang Bum, given on maps as 6494 meters. However, the mountain looks lower although certainly more than 6000 meters. We crossed into and ascended the Thimpu valley. Our horse driver, who had accompanied the Japanese first-ascent party, explained the route. On November 9, we were camped on Kang Bum’s southern glacier. In order to reach the upper glacier, we had to climb threatened slopes and both steep rock and ice. On November 11, we left our Camp II before sunrise. After a steep section to a foresummit, we climbed on over several false summits to the summit at nine A.M. where we had a magnificent view all the way from Everest and Kangchenjunga to the 7000-meter peaks of the Lunana district to the east. We were back in Thimpu, the Bhutanese capital, on November 14.

Ronald Naar, Koninklijke Nederlandse Alpen Veriniging