American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

India, Himachal Pradesh, Miyar Valley, Castle Peak, North-Northwest Wall, 7 D'espases

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year: N/A
  • Publication Year: 2006

Castle Peak, north-northwest wall, 7 d’espases. Last year Eloi Callado and I went to India to climb the Neverseen Tower. We put up a new route on the west face called Mai Blau (AAJ 2005, pp. 367-8). This year I went back for a couple of months, not only to climb, but also to travel around the country. I like India; I like the people, how they live and also their mountains. So wild, so hard. Such an incredible country.

Back again in the Miyar Valley during September and October, I was lucky to climb a new route, “7 despases” (480m, V+ A3+/A4), in a remote area. I wanted to try it alone. That was my goal, something personal. The opportunity arose when a Spanish Young Alpinist Federation team also planned to go to the same area. Not wanting to travel alone, I contacted them to see if I could share transport and the approach march with them. It is one thing to be alone on a wall, but it is harder to go from Delhi to the mountains, and do all the organization in a country like India, on one’s own. They agreed and were the best travel companions I could have wished for. Thanks guys!

They set up camp at Phalphu (3,900m) in the main (Miyar) valley. From there to my base camp at 4,400m was a one-and-a-half-hour walk up a subsidiary valley toward the Tawa Glacier. I decided to climb the north-northwest wall of Castle Peak, because it is steep and therefore easier for haul bags. I used a different system for hauling my two bags, because I weigh only 46kg and each bag weighed at least 50kg. I used a mobile pulley on the haulbag, which meant I needed double the amount of rope, and the system weighed more, but it preferable to not being able to haul at all, simply because I was not big enough.

I fixed the first 70m on September 17 and established my first portaledge camp at the top of pitch two. Next day I started a capsule ascent and spent 12 days (11 bivouacs) on the wall, finishing the route the 29th. I used only two camps on the wall, with the second at the top of pitch five.

There is an overhanging section, like a diving board, that takes you to the top of the face at 5,000m. I finished with the last 15m of the 2002 Slovak route Sharp Knife of Tolerance. From there it is possible to follow a ramp to a ridge. This ridge, which would be technical, could be followed for over 1,000m to the top of Castle Peak. Like the Slovaks, I didn’t climb it and the next day rapped my route.

In terms of weather I had some good days and some bad days, but even on good days there was only one hour of sunshine on the wall. It was really cold, and ice on some of the compact walls made climbing difficult.

Climbing solo is different. You can share neither problems nor happiness. The feelings you experience are entirely your own. It is very intense, the best and the worst. But I had lot of fun up there.

Silvia Vidal, Spain

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