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Asia, India, Garhwal, Nilkanth, West Ridge, New Route

Pt. 5919m and Pt. 5447m, First Ascents. Between May 18 and June 1, a British party explored the unclimbed Panpatia range of peaks to the south of Nilkanth. The range, known as the Vishnu Ghar (Vishnu’s Fortress), is approached by a two-day trek from the Badrinath road and is not subject to any access restrictions. Approaches to many attractive 19,000-foot summits were difficult due to receding glaciers with steep icefalls, but, on May 24 and 25, Robin

Bennie, Steve Brown, Harold Edwards, Denise Forster, Paul Josse, James MacKenzie, Simon Needham, and Jonathan Preston (all U.K.) made the first ascent of Pt. 5919m, for which they propose the name “Lakshmi’s Peak,” at PD+/AD- standard. On May 21, Eddie Gillespie, John Leedale, Martin Moran, and John Venier reached the South Summit of Pt. 5447m after a 300-meter climb of AD- standard, only to find that the North Summit is ten meters higher. The name “Ravindra’s Peak” is proposed for the peak, which offers good training climbs for parties based in the Panpatia Valley.

Between May 27 and 31, a party of 12 made the first recorded crossing of the 5200-meter Panpatia Col to Madhyamaneshwar Temple and Kalimath. This col lies three kilometers south of the Satopanth Col, which was used by Shipton and Tilman on their epic crossing of the Badrinath-Kedarnath Watershed in 1934. The Panpatia Col was gained by a direct route through the Panpatia Glacier icefall (PD+), which was practical in the pre-monsoon season. Steep snowslopes offered a straightforward descent of the western side of the col to Maindagalla Lake and Madhyamaneshwar. This is a relatively safe and highly recommended crossing. A clutch of summits between 5400 and 5850 meters in this area, together with 6257- meter Parvati Parbat on the north side of the Panpatia Glacier, all remain unclimbed.

Martin Moran, United Kingdom