Upper Pare Chu Valley, Pks. 6,206 and 6,080m, first ascents; Dhhun, second ascent. Our expedition from the Tokai section of the Japanese Alpine Club left Kaza (3,600m) in the Spiti River Valley on July 23. We trekked north up the Parilungbi Valley and over the Parung La (5,580m), dropped down the far side to the snout of the Parung Glacier (at the head of the Pare Chu Valley) and established base camp at 5,200m. [This approach followed the first section of the old trade route from Spiti to the large Tso Morari (lake) in Ladakh and onwards to Leh—Ed.] In 1999, inspired by the reports of Harish Kapadia, I visited this region, and our expedition made the first ascents of Umdung Kangri (6,643m), northwest of Gya, and Dhhun (6,200m), immediately south of Parilungbi (6,166m, climbed in 1987 by Kapadia’s Indian expedition) at the head of the Pakshi Lamur Glacier. On the latter we thought the peak we were climbing was Lhakhang (6,250m), our main target. We reached the summit in poor visibility and on returning home discovered that Lhakhang lay 1½km farther south of Dhhun. It remained unclimbed and seemed the perfect target for 2005.
Our expeditions characteristically include older mountaineers, who still maintain an interest in exploration despite limited physical capabilities. When we asked for applications for this trip, we received many from elderly climbers with limited experience, so we included easier unclimbed peaks around Parang La as additional targets. There are many untouched peaks in this little-known mountain area, where it is still possible to satisfy one’s curiosity for exploration, though it is not the place for super-technical alpine challenges.
The team split into two parties. The first, Midori Masada (50), Kunihiko Noro (64), and I (70), attempted two peaks northwest of the Parung La. We first ascended the easy Parung Glacier and placed a camp at 5,800m. On August 2 we left at 6 a.m. and followed a snow-filled gully to the top of Pk. 6,206m (height from the Russian map). It was technically easy, and we reached the summit, with our liaison officer and a porter, in two hours. The next day Masada and Noro bagged the unclimbed 6,080m peak immediately to the southwest, by the north face. Both these peaks were previously unclimbed.
The second party, Kiyoko Kanada (50), Takako Miura (62), Kazuhiro Mizuno (58), Tatsumi Mizuno (54), and Tokutaro Yanagihara (58), left base camp on July 28 and ascended the Pakshi Lamur valley to a camp at 5,100m. On the 31st they reached the glacier snout and set up a second base camp at 5,200m. On August 1 a reconnaissance to 5,600m showed the proposed route on Lhakhang to be too avalanche-prone, so on the 3rd they set out to make the second ascent of Dhhun. They established a high camp at 5,600m and at 4:00 the following morning started up the névé-covered north face. The five Japanese climbers, the liaison officer, and four porters reached the summit at 11 a.m. Unwilling to reverse the route, because of soft snow prevailing in the afternoon, they climbed down the rocky west face, though this turned out to be harder than anticipated.
Tsuneo Suzuki, Japanese Alpine Club