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Asia, Nepal, Damodar Himal, Gaugiri, First Ascent

Gaugiri, first ascent. Jim Frush (then-president of the AAC) and I went exploring for an obscure 6,110m (20,046') peak called Gaugiri, which is in the Upper Mustang district northeast of the Annapurna massif on the Tibetan border.

We had an idea of roughly where the peak was from a trip to Mustang in the fall of 2001, but no one had ever attempted to climb the peak and there were no photos or description of it or its exact location. This was the first permit issued for a peak under the new regulations, and the first ever in Upper Mustang. It was one out of the list of 103 newly opened mountains, many of them unknown to mountaineers, ranging in altitude from 5,407m (17,740') to 7,349m (24,111'). Eighty-three of them are between 6,000m and 7,000m high. As we set out for Gaugiri from Kathmandu in mid-May, we didn’t know whether we would be tackling something that was technically difficult or an easy walk uphill. But first we had to find it. We had the latest 1:50,000 maps, produced in 2000, from a detailed Finnish Meteorological Institute survey, but even these maps proved to have put some significant lakes in totally the wrong place, which caused us some problems. However, we found Gaugiri and were pleased to discover a southwest ridge that would definitely not be just a trek to the top and decided to climb it.

From our base camp at about 5,400m (17,700'), we set out at 7:30 a.m. on 28 May in relatively good weather after some days of snowfall, and quickly reached and ascended the ridge. Most of it was covered by good snow, with some loose rock in places. Some sections were quite steep (45° - 55°). Unaccompanied by any Sherpas, we were on the summit at 1:20 p.m., stayed an hour enjoying the view, and were back at base late the same afternoon . It is a fun, classic route with no great difficulties. Our total time out from Jomosom was 20 days.

The mountain dominates its area as the high peak on a long southeast ridge. Its summit, on the border with Tibet, has dramatic views of the giant 8,167m Dhaulagiri I to the southwest, a wide panorama of Tibet to the north and east, and a range of glaciated 6,000m-7,000m peaks to the south.

Peter Ackroyd, AAC