Asia, India, Miyar Nala, Castle Peak Subsidiary Summits, First Ascents

Publication Year: 2005.

Castle Peak subsidiary summits, first ascents. Roberto Iannilli and Domenco Perri left Rome on July 27th, spent several stressful days in Delhi trying to regain their missing baggage and then experienced more delays above Manali, when a heavy storm washed out the road over the Rohtang Pass and 13 porters had to be hired to transport all their gear to the far side. From a base camp at 4,000m in the Miyar they hoped to attempt the big west-facing rock wall on the unnamed 6,000m+ peak at the head of the Spaghetti Glacier (Iannilli had climbed ca 400m of this in 2003 and the left side of the face was climbed a little later the same year to a 5,845m foresummit—christened Mahindra— by Slovaks Dodo Kopold and Ivan Stefanski; see AAJ2004). However, the wall was plastered with snow and ice, so the pair changed their objective to a lower sub summit of Castle Peak, overlooking the main valley.

After establishing an Advance Base at 4,650m, the Italian pair attempted the west face, very compact in the lower section to a large ledge system, then a more featured headwall above. On August 5 they climbed a 480m crack system to the ledge. A White Chocolate Croissant was graded UIAA VI. On the 9th, after a couple of rainy days, they made a light and fast attempt on a more direct line to the right but on the headwall it started to rain and the pair retreated, having to sit out the night with no gear at 5,000m. On the 12th they started up the face once more, this time with bivouac equipment. After a night on the ledge, they reached the summit on the 13th, having climbed 1,500m (18 pitches) to 6c. They named the summit Iris Peak (5,400m) and the new route, which they rappelled, Mustang Café.

On the 19th Iannilli soloed another route more to the left, ending on a lower subsidiary summit. This was about 5,000m in altitude and named David62’s Nose. The 13-pitch route (740m of climbing) was named Prot House and had difficulties up to 7a+. The same day two young French women, Margherite Arpin and Aurèlie Delage, arrived in the valley and while they were waiting for their third compatriot to show up in several days time, they joined Iannilli and Perri for a fourth route up a wonderful crack line on David62’s Nose. Delage and Iannilli alternated leads on the 13-pitch (590m) climb, which they named Shim-Nak (6b). Iannilli suggests that the altitudes quoted by the Slovak team for Castle Peak and the subsidiary summit on the north flank reached by The Sharp Knife of Tolerance (2002), are greatly exaggerated. The Italians placed only two bolts (on one compact slab pitch) during their stay, relying on nuts, cams, and pegs for belays and protection.

Roberto Iannilli, Italy