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Asia, India, East Karakoram, Rimo IV and Migpa, Ascents and Tragedy

Rimo IV and Migpa, Ascents and Tragedy. An Indo-French Expedition went to the East Karakoram in July and August. Expedition members were (Indians) Harish Kapadia (leader), Huzefa Electricwala, Kaivan Mistry, Lt. Commander Satyabrata Dam, Raj Joshi; and (French) Jean F. Tripard (Deputy Leader), Dr. J.F. Manificat, Olivier Follmi, and Bernard Odier. The Liaison Officer was Captain Rahul Jain. The expedition climbed two peaks, Rimo IV (7169m) and Migpa (5935m). They reached two historic passes, Karakoram Pass and Col Italia. Two new cols were explored, Lharimo and Dzomsa cols. Three Rimo glaciers were explored for the first time in several decades. And other points in the area were observed and reached.

However, the expedition suffered a tragedy when, upon returning from the successful trip, Kaivan Mistry was swept away in the Shyok River. Three other members who fell in the river with him managed to survive, but Kaivan hit a rock and died instantly. His body was recovered lower down and sent to Mumbai.

Starting from Leh on July 31, the team followed the trail to the Karakoram Pass. Caravans passed this historic Central Asia Trade Route until 1959. The India-China War of 1962 put the area under restriction. In the past 40 years, ours was perhaps only the third civilian party to visit the Karakoram Pass.

On August 12, the team reached Gapshan. From here, two separate base camps were established: on the right bank of the South Rimo Glacier and on the Central Rimo Glacier at the foot of the central moraine.

Two camps were established on the way to the peak. After a day of bad weather, Rimo IV (7169m) was climbed (third ascent) on August 23 by Dr. J.F. Manificat and Sherpa Pema Tsering. Lt. Cdr. S. Dam reached an altitude of ca. 6800 meters, before descending to help the ailing Liaison Officer, Captain Rahul Jain, down to ABC. The route to the summit followed the west face, and was approached from the cwm between peaks Rimo III and IV.

Two cols, Lharimo Col, on the southern rim of the glacier, and Dzomsa Col, on the northern rim of the South Rimo Glacier, were reached on August 24 and 25, respectively, each by three French members.

The area of the Central Rimo Glacier had been visited only twice before. In 1913, an expedition led by Filippo de Filippi spent some weeks on both the South and the Central Rimo glaciers, mapping the area, though the party did not reach Col Italia. Their photographs and panoramas are a complete record of these glaciers. In 1930, a party of Italians led by Prof. G. Dainelli climbed on the Siachen Glacier. The Nubra River, which drains the Siachen Glacier, was flooded and blocked their exit beyond Warshi. As an alternative escape route, they climbed on the Teram Shehr Glacier and crossed a high col at its head and descended the Central Rimo Glacier. They named this col “Col Italia.” Their party then returned to civilization by the caravan route from the Depsang La. No other party had visited this glacier in the last 70 years.

Three Indian members and four Sherpas proceeded on the Central Rimo Glacier. After initial difficulties, they opened the route which led to “Lake Filippi,” which is at the center of the bifurcation of the Central and the South Rimo glaciers. The party followed the right bank of the Central Rimo Glacier, setting up four camps as far as the foot of Col Italia. En route were seen “Lake Dainelli” and the snout of the North Rimo Glacier (the international boundary). After a day of bad weather, Col Italia was reached on August 23 by Harish Kapadia, Kaivan Mistry, Huzefa Electricwala, and Sherpas Pemba Tsering and Karma. The Col is a seven-by-seven-kilometer plateau, and the expedition members were able to overlook the legendary “Raider’s Cols 1 and 2” toward the Shaksgam Pass.

They returned to Camp I on August 25. On the 26th, the Sherpas Huzefa, Nima, and Karma made the first ascent of Migpa (5935m) and obtained a view of both the glaciers. The expedition returned by the same route to Sasoma on September 2 and to Leh on September 4.

Harish Kapadia, Honorary Editor, The Himalayan Journal