Corrected history of Laila Peak/Toshain II and Heran Peak; Schlagintweit Peak (5,971m), first ascent; Mamu Choti (ca 5,730m), possible first ascent; attempts on Toshain I and Peak 6,324m. This story begins with an old, awkward mistake. In 1997 some friends and I climbed a beautiful 6,132m peak in the Rupal Valley and claimed the first ascent (AAJ 1998), calling it Laila Peak. In April 2009 an e-mail from Roger D. Mellem revealed that he had climbed the same peak in 1974 with Willi Unsoeld and others (AAJ 1975, pp. 213- 15). Although he had known this since 1998, he waited more than a decade to tell us because he didn’t want to spoil our memories. What a nice gesture. We got the name Laila from locals. Unsoeld and friends called the peak Toshain II. Manfred Sturm, who did the second ascent in 1975, referred simply to Toshain. Since this is neither the first- nor second-highest peak in the group, perhaps Laila would be the best name.
Now that I had taken a fresh look at the old photos and maps, I was eager to visit the area again. We organized a team and traveled to the Rupal Valley in June. We camped on the right lateral moraine of the Toshain (Rupal) Glacier, at the so-called Mazeno Base Camp meadow (4,000m). For acclimatization, we attempted the 5,971m peak opposite base camp. Reinhold and Gunther Messner had claimed the first ascent of that peak in 1970, climbing from the southeast, and called it Heran Peak. Locals call it Buldar Peak (Old Peak). Thomas Niederlein and I climbed the northwest ridge (PD) in three days. Since, to our knowledge, the peak was not virgin, we turned back where the northwest ridge meets the long, nearly horizontal summit ridge. But Robert Koschitzki followed our track the next day and continued to the mountain’s highest point.
Back in Germany, Himalayan chronicler Wolfgang Heichel told us that neither the Messner brothers nor Sumio Tanaka and his Japanese team, who did the north pillar in 1990, had reached our summit. Nor had Mark Twight, who climbed northeast ridge in 1988. All of these climbs ended at the 5,717m east summit, or Heran Peak, 1.8km from the highest point. So it is likely that Koschitzki did the first ascent of the 5,971m peak on June 29, 2009. To unscramble the naming chaos, we suggest calling the higher summit Schlagintweit Peak, after the German scientist Adolph Schlagintweit, who visited the Rupal Valley in 1856.
Koschitzki, Niederlein, and I, plus Annette Longo, Norbert Trommler, and Gernot Frank, ascended another peak by a straightforward route (PD-) on July 1. It is the highest point between Mazeno Pass and the so-called Toshain Pass. We measured an altitude of 5,730m by GPS and called it Mamu Choti.
Next we attempted the virgin 6,424m Toshain main peak. It took us three days to find a route through the seracs of Toshain Glacier. From a camp at 5,700m, we reached the foresummit, 150m below the highest point, at midmorning on July 7. However, high avalanche danger prevented us from proceeding.
The next day Robert and I attempted neighboring Peak 6,324m, the second highest of the Toshain group. We climbed the north ridge to 6,100m, where Robert was caught in a slab avalanche. I was able to belay him, but we turned back.
Christian Walter, Alpinclub Sachsen, Germany