American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Asia, India, Western Garhwal, Obra Valley, Peak 5,480m, Southwest Ridge, Dauru (5,877m), Northwest Ridge, Ranglana (5,554m), South Ridge

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year: N/A
  • Publication Year: 2011

Obra Valley, Peak 5,480m, southwest ridge; Dauru (5,877m), northwest ridge; Ranglana (5,554m), south ridge. Boris Korzh, Philip Leadbeater, Kunal Masania, Andrew McLellan, and I, all from Imperial College, London, spent the latter part of September exploring the Obra Valley. The rainfall had been significantly higher than normal for the time of year, and roads were blocked by a number of landslides. Rather than the expected six-seven hours, it took three days from the hilltop tourist resort of Mussoorie to reach the roadhead at Jakhol. We planned a three-day walk to base camp, because the height gain was 1,700m, and this schedule would allow porters to use huts located in the valley. The weather took a turn for the worse toward the end of the trek, with persistent rain throughout the last day. Our porters became disheartened and deposited loads at 3,867m, farther down valley than we had intended. We spent two days there in persistent rain before clear weather arrived on September 20. Over the next four days we established tents at our originally planned site (4,100m) and a high cache at 4,900m. Our initial trips were through snow and slush, but the snowline gradually rose from 3,900m to 4,300m, just after we had post-holed and load-ferried our way through it.

From our high cache we were intending to make a single push to the summit of Peak 5,877m, referred to by locals as Dauru. However, we were moving slowly due to the altitude, and so changed our objective to nearby Peak 5,480m, which we climbed on the 24th by the southwest ridge (500m, AD-). We were unable to get a good fix on the summit from our GPS, so we settled for the nearest contour on the map. On our return we noticed another peak labelled 5,480m slightly north of what we climbed. It is unidentifiable on Google Earth, so maybe the peak we ascended is positioned wrongly on the map.

To climb Dauru we realized we would need to move our camp as close to the headwall at the top of the glacier as possible, to allow us to get on Dauru while the snow was still frozen early in the morning. We descended to base camp and spent the 26th resting, but as the weather remained stable we returned with more supplies the following day, collected what remained of our cache, and moved camp up to 5,100m An early start on the 28th saw Phil lead up to the col at 5,400m, after which we climbed the northwest ridge of Dauru, alternating leads to the summit (700m, AD). After enjoying an excellent panorama, we returned to our camp, packed, and descended to base camp with all our equipment.

On the 30th, in continuing stable weather, we decided to make an attempt on Ranglana (5,554m) by placing a camp on its western col. (Phil had reconnoitered this during a rest day and thought it a feasible route.) With the aid of three porters, we carried to the snowline at 4,300m, then continued on our own to camp at 4,687m, on the glacier descending from the col. Following a chilly night we crossed the 4,950m col and descended a little way toward the Maninda Valley, before joining the south ridge of Ranglana and following it to the summit (900m, D-). We descended by the same route and returned to our high camp for a night, before descending to base.

We left the area on October 4, earlier than planned, as we had received reports of further landslides near the roadhead and needed to make sure we could reach Delhi for our flights on the 9th. We arrived in the capital on the 8th and spent our final day buying souvenirs and watching track cycling and athletics at the XIXth Commonwealth Games, which were being held in the city. We thank the Imperial College Exploration Board, Mount Everest Foundation, British Mountaineering Council, Welsh Sports Association, and the Lyon Equipment Award for their generous support.

Jonathan Phillips, UK

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