Landing just after dawn at Simikot airstrip with all our baggage was already a great success. Our goal was to climb Ashvin (6,055m) and to explore the Limi Group, a large “blank on the map”with more than 15 peaks over 6,000m. (See AAJ 2015 story for more about lesser-known peaks in western Nepal.) However, early on the approach we were surprised to meet a team of young Japanese mountaineers from Doshisha University, returning from making the first ascent of this mountain from the valley of the Chuwa Khola. We had conflicting thoughts: Their success marks another successful stage in my project to promote climbing in West Nepal. But there was obviously disappointment, because I had proposed to the Ministry of Culture, Tourism, and Civil Aviation that this peak be opened, and I had planned to climb it in the spring of 2013. We would follow the same route on the mountain, though our approach to the base would be different.
Ashvin has two summits, north and south, the former a less inspiring peak. The Ashvins are the two Vedic gods in Hindu mythology, and unfortunately a spelling mistake has crept into the official list of open peaks, on which the ministry refers to the mountain Aichyn, a name without meaning.
On September 24, from a high camp, Hugues De Varax with Rajan Lama, Dhan Magar with Marie Christine Duchateau, Jean-Paul Charpentier with Pierre Derieux, and Daniel Gascard, Magali Gorce, and I reached the summit of Ashvin North (30°17'35"N, 81°52'22"E, 6,025m, F). The following day De Varax with Dhan Magar, Charpentier with Derieux, and Rajan Lama and I first climbed the northeast ridge of a subsidiary peak Kaya Ko Himal, then descended from that summit southeast to what we called Cosmos Col, and finally finished up the west ridge of Ashvin (30°16'15"N, 81°51'28"E, PD).
As part of the Limi Himal Project, my website soon will have a page where all can share their experiences in this area. It may go some way toward convincing the Nepalese government to open the entire range under a special permit system, encouraging mountaineers to think “outside the box,” have adventures in this remote area, and in so doing help improve its economic situation. [Currently only Ashvin and Ardung (6,034m) are on the permitted list in this region.] With their fine ascent of Gave Ding, Mick Fowler and Paul Ramsden are showing the way.Go west, but make sure you share the experience with others.
Paulo Grobel, France
Editor's note: The Japanese team reached the summit in two groups on September 3 and 8. The summiters, on their first climbing venture outside their country, were Shintaro Salto, Yuki Senda, Yuto Kamaki, Kaya Ko, and Yumo Uno.