Spiti, Singekang Valley, Singekang (6,008m), attempt; Snaght Kang (5,500m), north ridge. In October and November six mountaineers from Ireland and the UK (Martin Boner, George Carlton, Sandra Kennedy, Alan Tees, Andrew Tees, and I) made an attempt on Singekang (Lion Peak), an unclimbed mountain situated at the head of the Singekang Valley. In doing so, we became the first mountaineers to explore this remote Spiti valley.
From Delhi we traveled overnight by bus to Manali, and then by 4WD to Kaza. After two days spent acclimatizing and gathering supplies, we continued east, first by road to Poh and then by foot, across the Spiti River, to the small settlement of Pomrang. Situated close to the valley entrance, Pomrang proved to be an ideal starting point. We spent the next eight days establishing three camps along the valley and within two weeks of leaving home were ready to make an attempt on the mountain.
From high camp we made a long traverse south around Singekang’s subsidiary northwestern peak, before turning sharply east into a sheltered snowy bowl. Ahead lay a steep and rather intimidating slope, covered in loose scree and featuring a tall rock tooth. However, using a fixed rope, we quickly overcame these difficulties and emerged on a narrow col that overlooked the glacier beside which we had camped and the mountains of Tibet beyond. Ahead lay the northwest ridge of Singekang and our proposed route. However, unconsolidated snow, low temperatures, and steep ice towers halted progress, and we eventually abandoned the attempt at 5,600m.
On returning to advanced base, we identified a potential route up a peak north of Peak 6,091m, a high unclimbed summit on the southern rim of the valley. Two days later we placed a high camp at 4,800m on a snow platform. This site provided excellent views south to Manirang (6,593m), the highest peak in Spiti. The north ridge of our peak was complicated by deep snow and steep ice gullies, but we made excellent progress, and after outflanking several obstacles on the crest, reached the summit in less than five hours. We subsequently named the mountain Snaght Kang.
Exploration of the valley also revealed other potential objectives. To the north we photographed an elegant rocky pinnacle (Peak 5,796m), which lay directly across from Snaght Kang. From beneath its northern face, a narrow valley appeared to give straightforward access to a snowy col and the summit slopes above. On the south side of the valley we identified Peaks
6,091m and 5,882m, which form part of the ridge connecting Singekang with Snaght Kang. Although steep and complicated in places, these two
appeared to be excellent objectives. We also found a potential crossing from the head of the valley toward the east, and we hope that our visit will encourage others to enjoy this stunning area.
Without the generous assistance of the Mount Everest Foundation, Mountaineering Ireland, Indian Mountaineering Foundation, and Adventuremania this expedition would not have been possible.
Jeremy Windsor, UK, Alpine Club