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Asia, India, Western Garhwal, Gangotri, Meru Central, Spring Attempt and Successful Autumn First Ascent

Meru Central, spring attempt and successful autumn first ascent. On his second visit to the Gangotri in 2001, Valeri Babanov from Russia made the much sought after first ascent of 6310m Meru Central, commonly referred to as The Shark’s Fin. Before his successful ascent in September there had been possibly as many as 15 separate attempts to climb this difficult summit on the sharp crest between Meru South and North. The majority of these attempts had concentrated on the northeast rib, which finishes up the spectacular granite prow of the Shark’s Fin and is by far the most compelling line on the peak.

Babanov and his wife Olya arrived at Tapovan Base Camp (4270m) at the end of April. More or less following the line taken on all previous attempts, Babanov climbed the huge snow/ice slope to the right of the initial rocky rib, then beneath the “Black Wall” traversed up left along a ramp to reach the crest. The weather was poor and Babanov reached a high point during mid May of ca 5800m before retreating because of dangerous avalanche conditions. He returned in August and summited solo on September 22 following an easier but loose line to the right of his earlier attempt. Babanov named the route, Shangri La, and graded it Alpine ED F5c/6a A1/A2 M5 and 75-degree ice. He was later awarded the French Piolet d’Or prize for 2001. His full account appears earlier in this Journal.

Based on reports from Valeri Babanov