American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Asia, India, Himachal Pradesh, Kumaun, Eastern Kumaun, Adi Kailash Range, Ishan Parbat, First Ascent

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 2007

Eastern Kumaun, Adi Kailash Range, Ishan Parbat, first ascent. In September an Indo-British-German party visited the Adi Kailash Range, which lie between the Darma and Kuthi Yankti valleys to the east of the Panchchuli massif.

Access to foreigners was restricted, and no climbing was recorded, until 2002, when I, a British guide, led a team to attempt the sacred summit of Adi Kailash and trek through the major passes of the range: the Shin La (5,500m) and Nama Pass (5,250m). Adi Kailash (Old Kailash, seat of Lord Shiva, 5,950m) is also known as Little Kailash, as it bears a resemblance to holy Mt. Kailash, 100km north in Tibet. Our 2002 party attempted the north face but was turned back by avalanche danger 130m below the summit.

In 2004 a British party led by Andy Perkins and Martin Welch approached Adi Kailash from the southeast and found a relatively easy way to the summit up the southwest ridge (AD), stopping 10m below the highest point in respect of the peak’s sacred status. They established the summit height as ca 5,950m, lower than indicated on local maps, and discovered an unnamed, higher, parent peak to the west. In addition they photographed an impressive range of 6,000m peaks to the south.

Martin Welch and I returned in 2006 with a team of five climbers, to attempt the highest peak in the massif, known to local villagers as Brammah Parbat (a.k.a. Nikurch Rama) and surveyed at 6,321m. However, the State Government of Uttarakhand (formerly Uttaranchal) would only allow permission to attempt Adi Kailash and refused access for any approach from the northwest, which gives the best chance of success on Brammah Parbat.

We trekked into the region via the Kali Ganga Valley and established base camp at Kuthi village (3,850m) in the Kuthi Yankti Valley. From there, we made the first ascent of a snow peak 1 km southwest of, and higher than, Adi Kailash. We approached from the southeast and climbed the south face to the east ridge at AD (one rock pitch and snow/ice to 60°). Welch, Mike Freeman, James Gibb, Mangal Singh, Stephan Rink, John Venier, and I reached the summit on September 30. We have proposed the name Ishan Parbat (6,100m), Ishan being one of the many names of Lord Shiva, who dwelt by Jolingkong Lake below Adi Kailash, before moving to Mt. Kailash in Tibet.

We also reconnoitered the Nama Valley, which runs south from Kuthi. Here lie several beautiful virgin peaks, in particular Rajay Jue (Horse Peak, 6,100m) and Cheepaydang (Peacock Peak, 6,200m). We ascended an unnamed glacier to the 900m southeast face of Brammah Parbat, where we identified several potential TD/TD+ mixed lines. I soloed to the 5,700m col between Brammah Parbat and Cheepaydang at AD. The glacier has been named Chatem and the high pass the Chatem La.

Despite great potential for alpine routes of all levels of difficulty, exploration of the range remains difficult as long as the Uttarakhand State Government adheres to its rule of only giving permits for listed peaks. Although groups may be blocked from climbing activity, trekking groups can explore the area, if they obtain Restricted Areas Visas and Inner Line permits.

Martin Moran, Alpine Club

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