American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Rimo III (7,233m), southwest face, attempt; Dunglung Kangri (6,365m)

India, East Karakoram

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Author: Malcolm Bass, Alpine Club, U.K.
  • Climb Year: 2012
  • Publication Year: 2013

Our Indo-British expedition comprised Satyabrata Dam (Indian leader) and me (British leader), Paul Figg, Simon Yearsley (both U.K.), Dan Singh Harkotiya, Tashi Phunchok, and Konchuk Thinless (India), the British artist Rachel Antill, and liaison officer Raj Kumar.

Satya Dam is a renowned explorer, mountaineer, influential ex-military commander, past leader of an Indian Everest expedition, and was liaison officer on our Vasuki Parbat expedition in 2010. His prestige, and the large number of trouble-free trips to India made by the British members over the last 20 years, were no doubt instrumental in our gaining permission to visit the Rimo peaks. The army at Siachen Glacier base proved very helpful, and two soldiers accompanied us throughout (at army expense), in addition to our military LO.

We approached from the west via the North Terong Glacier. Crossing the Terong River was made possible by a Tyrolean fixed by the joint Indian Army–IMF expedition attempting Rimo I (7,385m), which was ahead of us. Unfortunately, we had snowfall on 15 of the 26 days spent at or above base camp (4,950m), and never experienced temperatures less than -7°C.

After exploring a route up the horribly boulder-strewn glacier and icefall to reach the basin beneath the southwest face of Rimo III, we acclimatized by climbing to 6,400m in the couloir between Rimo III and II. Then, from a high camp at 5,775m below the southwest face, we climbed through the night up a couloir left of the elegant central buttress of Rimo III, reaching a high point of ca 6,200m before descending the following morning in a snowstorm that turned to rain below 6,000m. After more days of snowfall, and realizing the face would not clear, we decided to attempt an attractive unclimbed peak at the end of a ridge southwest of the Rimo group, west of previously climbed peaks Sondhi and Sundbrar.

On September 13 we scrambled 500m to a bivouac on a rocky spur at 5,600m. It snowed overnight, but we left at 6:30 the following morning, climbing a south-to-north rising line across two icefields (hard, brittle ice) and two, loose snow covered rock spurs to a final icefield, which we climbed direct to a gendarmed ridge at the top of the southwest face (ca 6,000m). We followed the attractive crest east to reach a ca 6,180m col between the forepeak and summit pyramid, then moved together with intermediate ice screw protection before climbing three harder pitches to the summit. Winds were gusting 40-50mph, and in a whiteout it all felt very Scottish. The ascent was 700m from the bivouac, 1,200m from the glacier, AI3. Our altimeter recorded 6,365m, and we named the peak Dunglung Kangri, which in local Ladakhi means “sharp, windy mountain.” The expedition was grant-aided by the Mt. Everest Foundation, British Mountaineering Council, Alpine Club, and Polartec.

Using traditional siege tactics, the Indian Army–IMF expedition climbed high on the original 1988 Japanese route up Rimo I, but missed the summit due to bad weather.

Malcolm Bass, Alpine Club, U.K.

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