American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Asia, India, Himalaya, Zanskar, Golden Sentinel, North Ridge, East Face; The Chessboard

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 2009

Golden Sentinel, north ridge, east face; The Chessboard. In August 2007 the Curbatt Group from the Menaggio section of the Italian Alpine Club celebrated its 25th anniversary by an expedition to the Suru Valley, where we hoped to climb a virgin summit above 5,000m. Members of the group had climbed nearby Kun in 1995, 4,600m Gulmatonga Tower in 2002, and in 2003 5,500m Kova Peak by a magnificent 1,000m route on compact granite with 29 pitches to 6a+.

Leader Maurizio Orsi, Andrea Bordoli, Daniele Curti, Alessandro Giudici, Daniela Travel- la, Cristian Trovesi, and I arrived in the Suru during early August, hoping to attempt Shafat Fortress. To our surprise we discovered Jonny Copp and Micah Dash already acclimatized, and ready to go. So we turned to the second major tower on the ridge north of the Fortress, a ca 5,200m rock peak that we dubbed Golden Sentinel. [The first is Peak Giorgio, climbed by another Italian expedition in 2005 and repeated by Copp and Dash in 2007—Ed.]

We climbed the Golden Sentinel by two routes: an eight-pitch route, UIAA VI, on the airy north ridge and a line up the east face named Viaggio nell’Ignoto, a seven-pitch route, alsoUIAA VI. We used only nuts, Friends and a few pegs. Both routes began from an advanced camp placed below the summit pyramid, ca 900m of relatively easy terrain above base camp. We then turned to a subsidiary buttress rising 700m above our 4,000m base camp. Here, we established a l,200m-long route of great character, weaving an intricate line up dihedrals and slabs at UIAA V+. We named the route the Chessboard. We completed all routes in a day. Most of us approached the area via a flight from Delhi to Leh, but Giudici and Travella cycled the 1,000km in 15 days.

Fabrizio Mazza, Italian Alpine Club

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