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Asia, India, Himachal Pradesh, Miyar Valley, Castle Peak, Various First Ascents

Castle Peak, various first ascents. During September Stefano Cacioppo, Cesare Giuliani, and I, members the Italian Alpine Club, put up four new routes on Castle Peak. Standing at the end of the long ridge forming the southern rim of the Chhudong Glacier, Castle Peak has four summits. In ascending order and from north to south these are David 62’s Nose, Iris Peak, an unnamed summit, and the main summit. While a number of routes have been established on the southwest face, some ending at large terraces, I believed that until 2008 only David 62’s Nose (ca 4,850m) and Iris Peak (ca 5,200m) had been reached—both by me in 2004.

On September 9, after bad weather stopped an attempt on the 5th, we climbed to the unnamed summit via a route we named Lost on a Dream Track. It had 1,600m of climbing, though only 650m were pitched (UIAA VI and VI+); we moved together on the rest (UIAA IV). Once on the summit we discovered someone had been there before. [Editor’s note: this is likely Spanish climbers Ferran Rodriguez and Victor Sans, who in 2005 climbed Tinc Por on the north face. The route ends on this broad summit, 100m higher than and separate from Iris Peak. It is also possible that the Spanish Patricia Viscarret and Alberto Urtasun, who climbed “Iris Peak” in 2005 via the route Ananda, may have reached this summit instead.] Our idea was to name this summit after Stefano Zavka, a fellow Italian who disappeared in 2007 while descending K2. We still hope this is possible, even if we were not the first to climb it, as no previous party has openly assigned a name.

We fixed the first 400m of Lost on a Dream Track and left ropes for an attempt on the highest summit of Castle Peak. Returning on the 11th, we jugged the ropes and continued up right to bivouac at 4,900m. The next day we climbed to the high point, arriving at 2 p.m. and recording an altimeter reading of 5,470m. We would like to name this highest point Tivoli Peak (Tivoli being the section of the Italian Alpine Club of which Giuliani is a member). The route, Miguel’s Race, has 2,200m of climbing,

1,200m of which we simul-climbed (UIAA III and IV) and the rest of which we belayed (UIAA VI and VI+, with a pitch of VII and another of VII+). Some of the hard pitches involved wide cracks, which were difficult to protect. Due to the complexity of the descent, we didn’t get off the mountain until the 13th.

We then added two shorter routes to the southwest face, on the slabby terrain below Iris Peak and David 62’s Nose, ending on the large grassy terraces. On the 16th we put up Placebo Effect (450m of climbing; UIAA VIII-) and on the following day Clandestine Route (450m; UIAA VI+). We tried a fifth route, but snowfall pinned us down for several days, and an avalanche destroyed our advanced base. The loss of equipment forced us to forego further climbing.

Roberto Iannilli, Italy