Asia, India, Himachal Pradesh, Shiva (6,142m), North Face, Attempt
Shiva (6,142m), north face, attempt. In 2008, while climbing a new route on Mahindra in the Miyar Valley (AAJ 2009), we were captivated by a mysterious peak to the northwest. I later discovered it was Shiva, first climbed in 1988 by Junko Tabei. I explored the mountain on Google Earth and found that it had a huge north face, which I estimated to be ca 1,800m. I could find no further photographs but went in September 2010 with fellow climbers Evgeny Korol and Alexander Kornilov and snowboarder Natalia Lapina to see and climb it. Only the seeing part of the plan was successful.
Climbing the north side of Shiva is problematic. It is divided into two parts by a central spur. On the lower section of the east-northeast face, huge hanging glaciers constantly discharge avalanches. Two fine ice couloirs rise almost to the summit, but accessing them is difficult, and due to poor weather during our stay, they were avalanching. The north face is only 50° and shorter, because it starts from an easily accessible ice terrace at ca 5,000m. However, even here a route will be dangerous due to a large serac barrier in the middle of the face. There are only three lines that can be considered objectively safe: the arêtes bounding the face to the left (east) and right (north) and the central (northeast) spur.
We tried the central line, starting at 5,000m. Although it looked simple at first, the 45-50°snow was wet, deep, and unstable. Evgeny spent an hour
climbing one ropelength with no protection. We gained rock, only to find slabs under 10cm of wet snow. In good conditions it would have been a walk. We had provisions for five days but quickly realized we could not climb this terrain in that time. More importantly, we didn’t have enough pegs for a rappel descent, and unprotected down- climbing was unthinkable. We retreated, leaving a stash of gear below the ridge.
For four days the weather was bad, and when we returned, we found our equipment had been buried by a huge ice avalanche. Our climbing was over. I was in fact relieved, as the whole experience had seemed too dangerous. I wonder if this ridge is justifiable, as the top is capped by an overhanging serac barrier that may prove insurmountable. From about September 20 to the 30th, the weather was good, but it was too late for us. We hope this information will help future parties climb this magnificent objective.
Andrey Muryshev, Russia