AAC Publications - http://publications.americanalpineclub.org

Asia, India, East Karakoram, Nya Kangri, South Ridge, Attempt

Nya Kangri, south ridge, attempt. In June and July the Himalayan Club sponsored Vineeta Muni, Rajesh Gadgil, Rajan Rikame, and me in an attempt on the beautiful unclimbed snow and ice pyramid Nya Kangri (6,480 m), at the entrance to the Arganglas Valley. Since 2001, when I first visited the valley, Nya Kangri has been high on my list. As we flew in to Leh clouds hung ominously over the region. We stayed a night at Tegur before starting our approach march on June 19. For three days 11 horses carried our food and equipment to base camp at Phonglas (4,600m) on the true right bank of the river. Light rain accompanied us on the walk in, while it snowed higher on the mountains. With the south ridge as our objective, we reconnoitered a route to advanced base, which we placed at the snout (5,400m) of a small glacier originating from the south face. A 700m gully on the southeast face led to the crest of the south ridge. It proved a challenge to find a route up this gully that was safe from constant rockfall coming from a rocky ridge to the west, and also from avalanches discharging down the southeast face.

On June 26 we fixed four ropes in the gully, reaching a height of 5,800m. Our chosen route looked good and appeared safe from objective hazards for most of its distance. We hoped to establish Camp 1 on the 28th, but the weather broke at our high point. We left gear and retreated in strong winds and heavy snow.

The weather gods were not kind. For two days it snowed heavily, plastering the entire region. We now had little time in which to climb the mountain and keep to our return schedule. On July 2 we made a final attempt to establish Camp 1, digging out our ropes and reaching 5,900m. From there we had to cross a narrow snow chute, before reaching the base of a 200m snow slope leading to our proposed site. Deep, unconsolidated snow over hard ice and rock made this too dangerous, and we reluctantly descended, removing all our gear.

June is considered the best period for climbing in the East Karakoram, but for us the conditions were more like those during the monsoon in Mumbai. But when we got home to Mumbai we found out it had not rained there at all during peak monsoon season.

Divyesh Muni, Himalayan Club, India