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Asia, India, Lahaul, Neverseen Tower, Attempts in 1999 and 2001

Neverseen Tower, attempts in 1999 and 2001. After a four-day trek from Karpat in the Miyar Valley, Fidel Casablancas, Enric Nadal, and I established base camp on September 13, 1999 at 4650m on the moraine of the Tawa Glacier, two hours walk from the Neverseen Tower (ca 5980m). On September 15 we installed a tent at the base of the Tower (ca 5000m) and two days later Fidel and I left this camp at 5:00 a.m. with very heavy backpacks. At 8:00 a.m. we were at the base of the couloir that gives access to the 5450m col south of the Tower. We climbed the couloir in six hours. We climbed the first pitch in the center of the couloir, then crossed to the right to reach the south col in a further four pitches (250m, five pitches, V and 70 degrees). We spent the night on this narrow pass. Next day, September 18, was cloudy and cold. Fidel climbed one pitch on the south face (45m, 6a and A2) but a storm appeared to be approaching. We decided to go down and not leave any fixed ropes. Next day in base camp there was 25cm of snow. We made a good decision.

On September 21 with Enric we climbed an unnamed peak at the end of Tawa glacier (ca 5700m). This was an easy “trekking” peak (60 degrees). On September 23, Fidel and I made another attempt on the Tower but we were tired and not in good condition. Porters had been ordered for the 25th and we left for Manali on that date.

On September 19, 2001 Fidel and I again left Manali for the Miyar Valley. This year the autumn was abnormally cold. We reached our 1999 base camp on the 23rd, and in a further four days had all our equipment at the base of the Tower where we had our camp in 1999. It then snowed for two days. The conditions in the couloir had changed a lot in two years. There was much less snow and the previous belay anchors were three meters above us and impossible to reach. The climbing was harder and we took five days to ascend the couloir, fixing ropes from new belay anchors on the left flank. By October 9 we had the couloir equipped and all our equipment on the small col (5450m). Next day we started climbing but were hit by a storm that sent us back to base camp. After three days of continuous snow the sun began to shine again. On October 14 we climbed directly to the col. We slept there in a hammock but the night was terribly cold: -25°C. Next day Fidel climbed the same pitch as he had first in 1999, but his fingers were very cold and the conditions were bad with snow on the holds. He returned to the col and we spent a second night there. This was also bad and as in the morning we had very cold fingers and toes, we decided to go down. On October 17, we left base camp and the following day reached Manali by public bus. For a report on the first ascent of Neverseen Tower and neighboring peaks, see AAJ1997, pages 274-276.

Xavi Llongueras I Orriols, Servei General d'Informació de Muntanya, Spain