Lungmochey Kangri, Northeast Ridge
I had arranged to lead a commercial group up a peak in the Ladakh Range, south of the Nubra town of Deskit. Unfortunately, the new visa contractor hired by India within the U.S. had a very difficult time issuing the requisite “X” visas for climbing in this region. This resulted in two members having to drop out, and the rest of us were delayed by three weeks. The Indian Mountaineering Foundation had arranged for our ministry clearances and did what they could.
John Anton, Chuck Boyd, and I salvaged the trip and were joined by liaison officer Suman (“Hapi”) Kant and Ladakhi sirdar/guide Stanzin Desal. We acclimatized with some trekking around the Nubra valley, and then drove south from the village of Hundar up a newly extended road to the one-home village of Wachan. From there we trekked south for a single day, past Hundar Dak, to a base camp below our objective, a cirque of peaks marked on the Swiss Olizane map rising to between 6,000 and 6,070m. These peaks form part of the east rim of the Thanglasgo Valley. They were not particularly impressive, but since Chuck’s time was running very short, and we had generally limited resources, we looked forward to one or maybe two enjoyable first ascents.
On August 29 Chuck, Hapi, Stanzin, and I climbed the northern and most accessible summit in the cirque. Brief but intense storms delayed our start. We climbed along the snow-stone boundary forming the crest of the northeast ridge. I found hard ice underlying much of the snow, while the others chose to stick to the snow-covered granite blocks on the west side of the crest. We never felt the need to break out a rope. At about 2 p.m. we reached the summit, where our altimeters read 6,070m. We noticed that the west slope was easier and fairly snow free, so we descended that way. During our return to base camp we noticed cairns and camp signs that suggested someone in recent years might have made an unauthorized ascent.
With Stanzin’s help we named the peak Lungmochey Kangri after the local name for the cirque. I intended to reclimb the peak with John Anton, but worsening weather prompted us to do more exploratory trekking. Terrible, unprecedented floods in Kashmir, and Ladakhi conversation, told a tale of how Ladakh’s summer weather has become much wetter and far less reliable.