Suj Tilla West (earlier known as Suitilla), first and second ascents. Two of the finest ascents of the season were on Suj Tilla West (6,373m). These were made by two separate teams in different styles. The peak rises steeply near Ralam village in eastern Kumaon and had been attempted previously. The recorded height was 6,373m, but on recent maps the true height has been given as 6,394m. First a team from the Indian Mountaineering Foundation attempted the peak, fixing ropes to the ridge. However one of the members slipped and was injured. Other team members helped in the rescue and the attempt was given up.
Then came an alpine-style climb of the peak—a wonderful first ascent by two British climbers, Graham Little and Jim Lowther. They reached the summit on September 28. This is what Jim Lowther had to write about the climb: “Graham and I climbed the peak in pure alpine style in a 22-hour long continuous push. By the time we got to the western summit at 6,373m (which we thought was going to be the highest point on the ridge but turned out not to be) we were totally spent and didn’t have any reserves left to traverse the ridge to the other, eastern point, which we now believe to be 21m higher. We had to get down fast because we had no bivi gear. This we did, and when we met up with the Navy a day later, we told their leader about the height differences of the two summits. The western summit we climbed is the one that you’d naturally assume is the highest point, as it is the dominant snow peak visible from Ralam. The eastern summit is set back along the ridge.”
Within a few days they were followed by a team from the Indian Navy, who fixed 1,100m of rope and followed almost the same route to reach the same point. This was a worthwhile second ascent of the peak. (See report below by Satyabrata Dam.)
Harish Kapadia, Honorary Editor, The Himalayan Journal