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Asia, India, Garhwal, Shivling, East Ridge, Third Ascent

Shivling, East Ridge, Third Ascent. When my boss, Captain Bolo, asked us to suggest an expedition for the spring, I immediately remembered a picture of Shivling and proposed to him the east ridge. Our small team was made up of Doctor Pascal Urbain and four climbers: Frédéric Gentet, Laurent Miston, Philippe Renard and myself. On April 30, a bus brought us from Delhi to Gangotri. Two days of trekking were necessary to reach Base Camp (4300m). The East Ridge of Shivling, a.k.a. the Ganesh Ridge (VI 6 A3), was climbed for the first time in 1981 by Doug Scott, Greg Child, George Bettembourg and Rick White. It was considered, at that time, to be one of the most technical routes ever climbed in alpine style.

On May 14, we decided to try the original South Ridge route of Bhagirathi III. We had the authorization and moreover it would improve our acclimatization for Shivling. The day after, we walked seven hours around the Bhagirathi range to pitch a camp at 5300 meters. The South Ridge contains grade 4+ climb and 55-degree slopes. On May 16, after seven hours, we reached the icy and sharp summit ridge.

On the 19th, good weather incited us to leave for Shivling’s East Ridge. Philippe and Laurent stayed at BC. An easy beginning was quickly followed by the crenellated part of the ridge. Some very old fixed ropes reminded us that Doug Scott and his friends were here 18 years ago. We stopped before the night, having climbed 1300 meters from BC. The next day, we encountered the first hard part of the ridge. The weather changed very quickly and the snow came. We had not worn our rock climbing shoes for a long time! At 4 p.m., Frédéric climbed up to fix a rope for the morrow. He put a 40-meter Tyrolean traverse across a little pass beneath us. May 21 was cloudy; above the Tyrolean, we free climbed an A1 pitch. With climbing shoes, it’s 6b.

The fourth day, I climbed a strenuous pitch with large cracks and arrived at the first pendulum. The haulbag made a nice flight! Then we climbed a difficult chimney; it was snowing a lot. May 24 was summit day; it was snowing and the wind was strong. Frédéric climbed three pitches and I did the last rocky pitch. The wind was always strong when we did the 200 meters of the ice cap in deep snow. After a small serac, we reached the summit. We went down on an icy 45-degree ridge. Approaching the great serac of the normal route, the fog was still present. So, we preferred to make a sixth bivouac.

Antoine de Choudens, Groupe Militaire de Haute Montagne