On July 12 Rentaro Nishijima and the Indian guide Kumchuk Thines made the first ascent of Barma Kangri. High-altitude porter Pemba Norbu, Thines, and I (75 years old) repeated the route on the 17th. We were the first non-Indian party to climb in this area.
After several days spent obtaining our Inner Line Permit, we left Leh and over two days drove the Tangtse-Chushul military road (only possible by Jeep in fair weather) to a roadside base camp at 4,800m, close to an area known locally as Barma. On July 5 we established Camp 1 (5,400m) on a grassy plateau east of base camp in the Tastra Lungpa Valley. We then followed the plateau north for four kilometers and placed Camp 2 at 6,000m, on moraine near the source of the river, due south of our mountain.
On the 12th the first summit party left at 6 a.m. and climbed rock and snow to reach a ca 6,200m col on the main divide of the Pangong Range. From here they followed the ridge northwest to arrive on the huge rock summit at 9 a.m. They fixed 200 meters of rope on the final snow slope. After talking with local people, we decided to call our previously unnamed summit Barma Kangri. The name was later ratified by our LO and the IMF. Barma means intermediate in Ladakhi. The altitude is an estimate from Google Earth.
Two kilometers to the northwest stands the highest peak in the range, Kangju Kangri. The ridge connecting it to Barma Kangri appears steep, rocky, and difficult. Kangju Kangri was first climbed in 1983 by members of an Indo-Tibet Border Police and local army expedition. It has subsequently been climbed at least three times; in 1987 by the ITBP, in 1995 again by the ITBP, and in 2001 by the Indian Army. Other 6,000m peaks in the range that have been climbed are Peak 6,580m, Kakstet Kangri (6,461m), and Peak 6,134m. However, there are several unclimbed 6,000ers remaining, the highest probably 6,670m. On the 18th we made Camp 3 at 6,100m under the virgin east summit (ca 6,600m) of Kangju Kangri and climbed to the ridge between the east and main summits. At this point (ca 6,420m) we could see a sharp notch in the summit ridge, and, as continuing looked difficult and dangerous, we gave up, returned to base camp with all our equipment, and departed for Leh on the 24th.
Masato Oki, Chukyo Alpine Club, Japan