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Asia, India, Himachal Pradesh, Miyar Valley, Pt. 5,650m, Gateway Ridge, Not to Summit; Jangpar Glacier, Reconnaissance

Pt. 5,650m, Gateway Ridge, not to summit; Jangpar Glacier, reconnaissance. Hanging to the east of the greater Miyar Valley, the Chhudong (a.k.a. Tawa) Valley is predominantly flat, save for a slabby cliff situated just before the Chhudong Glacier. On September 14 Michel van der Spek (Netherlands) and I made an alpine-style first ascent of the 1,100m ridge that rises north from just below the glacier. The climbing was on what I believe to be metamorphosed granite, characterized by consistently solid rock, with many face features but few cracks.

We began just below the glacier, gaining the ridge by a 4th-class left-trending chimney/ramp. After crossing a snow gully, we climbed an easy 5th-class ridge before cutting left onto a second ramp. The sun rose as we roped up. After climbing one pitch to gain the upper crest, we simul-climbed for several pitches, before increasing difficulties slowed our progress. While inclined at moderate angles, the ridge’s challenge lay in its narrow and, in places, hammer-head crest. We climbed five pitches (to 5.9R), before traversing onto the right flank, where we again found the terrain

suitable for simul-climbing. We reached a notch in the summit ridge at 1 p.m. and climbed the final crest toward the top. After 100m of climbing to 5.10-R, we terminated our ascent 50m from the summit, so as to leave enough daylight to contend with our chosen descent ridge, which we could see was far narrower than we had anticipated.

After several raps and stuck ropes, we simul-climbed an 80m traverse across a hanging slab to a notch. Here the descent ridge became particularly difficult, so we rappelled onto a hanging scree field on the south side of the crest, which gave access to the upper section of the ramp by which we had gained our ascent route. We named our climb Gateway Ridge (1,100m, TD- 5.9/5.10-R).

After recuperating in base camp, Michel, Sarah Hart (Canada), and I visited the relatively unexplored Jangpar Glacier. Brits had visited this valley early in 2004 (see AAJ 2005, p. 367), where they encountered much snow, which expedited the approach but hindered climbing efforts. Our visit was probably the first during the usual autumn climbing season. While we can confirm that there is much in the way of alpine and big-wall potential on granite or metamorphosed granite, the challenges of approaching these climbs should not be understated. We found the camping situation in the rubble-filled valley and its arid swales to be abysmal, and noticed that icefalls, extending from wall to wall, barred reasonable access to the majority of peaks. The challenge and expense in climbing these walls would undoubtedly be in the approach.

Jeremy Frimer, Canada