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Asia, India, East Karakoram, Junction Peak, Ascent; Singhi Kangri, South Face, Attempt

Junction Peak, ascent; Singhi Kangri, south face, attempt. An Indian Army expedition led by Col Ashok Abbey visited the Siachen Glacier from August 31 to October 7. Moving relatively swiftly up the glacier, the expedition established base camp on September 12 at the "Oasis," the junction of the Siachen and Teram Shehr glaciers. Climbers immediately set about making an ascent of Junction Peak (6,350m), a fine vantage point first climbed in 1912 by American Fanny Bullock-Workman and her Italian guides. The team established Camp 1 at 5,320m on the 14th and began opening a route on the west face. They eventually reached the summit a little after 1 p.m. on the 18th, after an eight-and-a-half-hour ascent from the final camp. The ascent, only the third of Junction Peak, was made in avalanche-prone conditions.

The expedition then made only the second-ever attempt to climb 7,202m Singhi Kangri near the head of the Siachen on the border with China. They established a new base camp on September 16 at 5,100m and Camp 1 at 6,325m on the 21st, having climbed the west face. It appeared that the hardest part of the climb was over, and they deemed only one more camp necessary before making a summit attempt on both Singhi Kangri and Pt. 6,850m. However, poor weather and dangerous snow conditions prevented further progress, and they abandoned the route on the 29th.

Singhi Kangri was climbed in 1976 by a Japanese expedition, in what was a remarkable climb. The Japanese, under the leadership of Haruo Sato, approached up the Bilafond Glacier in what is now Pakistan, crossed the Bilafond La and descended the Lolofond Glacier to the Siachen. They then moved up the Siachen to attempt the south face of Singhi Kangri, but finding it too difficult, crossed another pass (Staghar La) in the wall dividing the Siachen from the Staghar Glacier in China. They established their Camp 2 (an advanced base) on the Staghar and from there climbed the northwest ridge to the summit with two further camps. The expedition left Kaphlu in Pakistan on June 9 with 137 porters, and the first summit party, Masafumi Katayama, Junichi Imai, and Shohei Takahashi, only reached the top on August 8.

After their 2006 attempt, members of the Indian Army expedition reached the Sia La (leading over to the Kondus Glacier) at the western tip of the Siachen and also walked up Peak 36 Glacier to inspect the northeast faces of Saltoro Kangri I (7,746m) and II (7,705m) for a possible future attempt. The lower of the two summits is currently one of the highest unclimbed peaks in the world. A serious attempt on the Saltoros could not be mounted in 2006 because of the on-going Siachen war, but hopefully the climbs by the Army indicate relaxation regarding access permits in the future.

Harish Kapadia, Honorary Editor, The Himalayan Journal