Unnamed peak on the Spaghetti Glacier, Miyar Valley, The Last Minute Journey. Making an alpine ascent in the Himalaya is often a dream for young climbers. It’s the same as packing only two bags and heading to the big mountains for the most beautiful adventure. We were lucky to fulfill our dreams. In the middle of August two young Slovak mountaineers, Ivan Stefan- sky (25) and myself (23), approached a virgin 6,000+m peak near the head of the Miyar Valley; a little-frequented area. In 1998, Italians, Gianluca Beilin and Diego Stefani, had designs on the 6,000+m peak but had to make do with an ascent of neighboring Thunder Peak instead. Shortly after another Italian team, comprising Antonella Cicogna, Fabrizio Defran- cesco, and Mario Manica, also reached the foot of the peak but were prevented from climbing by bad weather. In 2002 a strong Slovak team also planned to attempt the ca 700m big wall that forms the west face of this peak but was not able to reach the mountain and climbed elsewhere in the valley. In all, the complicated approach up the aptly named Spaghetti Glacier, and unstable weather were reasons why this summit had not been climbed.
In 2003 it was the same again with the weather. The monsoon was a never-ending story. Every day, snow and rain stopped any activity. In the morning the entire face was covered with snow and ice, while by afternoon it had changed to streams of icy water. In spite of these terrible conditions, there was a team of four Italians trying to climb the smooth slabs in the left part of the wall.
We decided to attempt the overhanging corner on the right side of the face. We hoped that after climbing a 200m-long crack the wall would be not so steep and we would be able to continue to the top on more mixed terrain. Our time was running out and progress of both teams was slow. Wet, icy cracks, together with rock and icefall from the ledge in the upper part of the face, were scary. Every meter climbed in these hopeless conditions drained our energies and our will to continue.
Every day we returned to our advanced base, situated one hour from the wall. This camp, pitched on the glacier, was not really comfortable, particularly during the long wait for better weather. After six days of rain and snow we decided to make our final attempt. We had fixed the hardest part of the face and it was now, theoretically, an easy matter to reach the less steep, upper section of the wall. However, running water in the chimney and constant rain prevented any progress. We retreated.
That same day the Italians decided to go home and we decided to channel our remaining energies into a bold-looking ice and mixed line to the left of the Italian attempt. We knew that during the night everything would be frozen and if we were quick enough we could climb all the ice faster than it disappeared.
We started at 1 a.m. and climbed most of the route using headlamps. The angle reached 70° but the crux was a section of vertical ice above 5,500m. In five hours we climbed a narrow corner system and by noon we were on the top of a 5,845m summit (two altimeter readings). We christened it Mt. Mahindra and named our 900m route, The Last Minute Journey (EDI). This was the end of our never-ending wait.
Dodo Kopold, Slovakia