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Asia, India, Kulu Himalaya, Parvati Valley, Various Ascents

Parvati Valley, Various Ascents. The expedition was a joint effort of the Himalayan Club, Mumbai, and The Mountaineers, Seattle. The primary aim of the expedition was to have a climbing holiday in a congenial mountain setting, to promote friendship and camaraderie between Indian and American climbers and to initiate the groundwork for future mountaineering adventures between the two nationalities. For this reason, the upper Parvati Valley of the Kulu Himalaya was chosen, with its abundance of peaks of modest height (the highest in the area being Peak ‘A’, 6248 meters) and varying levels of technical difficulty, with the added bonus of a delightful approach march with two sites of hot springs thrown in! The expedition climbed five peaks varying in height from 5360 to 5805 meters. Two of the climbs were first ascents. An attempt was also made on the technically challenging Pt. 6127m (South Parvati).

By September 22, all the climbers, the LO and Inder, one of the cooks, were ensconced comfortably at Advance Base Camp at 4650 meters, which was almost at the end of the left lateral moraine of Glacier IV, a grueling distance of 7.5 kilometers as shown on the excellent Survey of India map. From there, the team climbed the following: Pt. 5605m (“Snow Peak”) (second ascent overall; first Indian and first American ascent), on September 23, via a line on the east face and the northwest ridge to the corniced summit (Karen Close, Howard Weaver, Jim Tweedie, Ajay Tambe and Shridhar Nivas); Pt. 5360m (Twin Peak) on September 24 and 25, via the elegant J- shaped east-northeast ridge. The classically alpine snow ridge that automatically draws the eye from Advance Base was later christened “The Birdwalk” as it had large prints of a bird’s foot all the way to the summit. Leaving camp at 6 a.m., the climbers made their way across the lower part of the northwestern branch of the glacier on to the talus slopes, which gave access to the east-northeast ridge. The summit was reached at 11:45 a.m. Another party followed the same route the next day. (September 24: Don Goodman, Natala Goodman, Aloke Surin, Si Lin Hu, Jaspal Chauhan; September 25: Jim Tweedie, Howard Weaver, Karen Close, Ajay Tambe). (This was the first ascent of the higher of the twin summits.) Pt. 5360m, on September 25 (Mike Bums and Steve Cox), by the northwest face to northwest ridge. Descent was made by the northeast ridge. It was the first ascent and traverse of the peak. Their account of their climb stated that the route ascended around bergschrunds and through slide paths to the deep col (between Snow Peak and Pt. 5360m) at 5182 meters. The route “continued up from the col, taking the direct route up snow arêtes and passing over an eight-foot cornice on the summit slopes of the northwest face. …[we] summitted at 12 p.m. under clear but building skies…[and] descended the east-north east ridge…[via] steep snow and bergschrunds… back to the bivy…”

Pt 5805m (“Ridge Peak”), on September 25, by the northeast ridge was gained via the col between Ridge Peak and Pt 6127m (“South Parvati”), by Jim Tweedie, after six members had retreated from the same route on September 26. It was the second overall ascent of the peak and the first by the northeast ridge. Pt 6127m (“South Parvati”) was attempted on September 29 by Karen Close and Ajay Tambe via a couloir on the right side of the south face that was climbed to gain access to the rock of the south face, but after a bivy at their high point of 5640 meters the climbers retreated due to unfavorable weather conditions. Pt. 5445m (“Hidden Peak”) on October 1, was climbed by the southeast ridge (Jim Tweedie and Aloke Surin). Base Camp was evacuated on October 7 and in three days the expedition was back in Manikaran, reaching New Delhi on October 11.

Aloke Surin, The Himalayan Club