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Asia, India, Himachal Pradesh, Gangotri, Meru Central, Northeast Face, Variation

Meru Central, northeast face, variation. On September 17 Marek Holecek and I reached base camp at Tapovan, with the intention of climbing the Shark’s Fin on Meru Central (6,310m). From the 18th to the 23rd we acclimatized and bouldered. On the 24th we transported our equipment to the base of the northeast face of Meru, crossing a 5,200m col. The next day we started on a capsule style-ascent, taking one portaledge, 200m of rope for fixing, the usual climbing hardware, and a few bolts. The following day we established our first camp, on the left edge of the lower snowfield at 5,250m. On the 28th, after moving our equipment up to the top left corner of the snowfield, we made our second camp at 5,650m, at the point where the snowfield joins the rock ridge. By October 2 wed climbed 200m up the rock ridge and made our third portaledge camp at 5,900m, more or less at the base of the Shark’s Fin itself. The next day we climbed a chimney encased with snow and ice, then traversed into the corner toward the left edge of the headwall. We reached our high point on this line the next day, after having spent nine days on the face. It had been hard work, we were tired, and I was beginning to have health problems.

We returned to Camp 3 and the following day continued up a different line. With Marek in the lead, we climbed a steep rock step to reach the snowfield on the right side of the headwall and returned again to camp. On the 6th we went for the summit, making a rising traverse across the steep upper snowfield to join the last section of the Babanov route (the original route to the summit of Meru Central, climbed by the Russian Valeri Babanov, solo, in 2001.) This proved dangerous. Snow conditions were bad, with no possibility to arrange protection. Once we connected with the Babanov route, we found ourselves on good snow/ice and after seven long pitches reached the crest of the northwest ridge. From here we continued easily up the crest for 70m to the summit.

We spent that night in a bivouac sack just beneath the crest and the following morning made it back to our portaledge at Camp 3. By mid-afternoon on the 9th we were down to the base of the wall and continued to Tapovan, reaching it that evening. We spent 13 days on the wall, placing two bolts and climbing 2,000m, with difficulties up to 7a M5 and 80°.

Jan Kreisinger, Czech Republic