American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Peak 5,600m

India, Ladakh

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Author: Ed Harstead
  • Climb Year: 2014
  • Publication Year: 2016

Kathy Connelly and I are primarily trekkers and not necessarily looking for elevation. In the summer of 2014 we wanted to explore a wild place without seeing other people—or even traces of them. If we could, we wanted to make the first ascent of an obscure 5,000m to 6,000m peak. In the end, we met all these goals.

After traveling the rough new road to Skarchen (3,600m), we trekked a day to Hundar Drog (4,100m), then spent an extra day acclimatizing. From here we reached the seldom-visited Sniu Valley, and from that time onward saw no other people, nor prayer flags, though we did find prehistoric drawings. The next day we reached base camp at 4,900m in the southwestern branch of the Sniamo Valley. The only known Western group to have entered this branch previously was the 2008 BSES expedition (AAJ 2011). BSES had looked at the first two western side valleys, imaginatively named Valley 1 and 2.

Gurmat, our guide, Lotus, his assistant (enlisted as he had once trekked into the western branch of the Sniamo), and I moved south from base camp up what we named Valley 3, reached a glacial lake, and cramponed up the left side of the glacier above to a saddle. From here we turned southwest and climbed the ridge to a 5,600m summit (ca 34°22'20"N, 77°22'13"E, Google Earth). In descent we took the opposite side of the glacier. We spent the next couple of days looking at Valleys 1 and 2 before reversing our approach trek.

Ed Harstead, USA

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