American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Toro Peak, South Face, Various Routes; Neverseen Tower, Second Ascent of Horn Please

India, Himachal Pradesh, Miyar Valley

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Author: Llewellyn Murdoch
  • Climb Year: 2017
  • Publication Year: 2018

In May 2017, Nick Craddock (NZ), David Shotwell (USA), Allison Swintz (USA), and I traveled to the Miyar Valley. We had the advantage of Nick’s vast experience in India. Although he had not been to the Miyar, Nick has spent years working out of Manali, which was our starting point. This gave us vital prior knowledge of weather, conditions, contacts, and just how India works: These were immensely valuable, given that the rest of us had never been to India before.

We established base camp below the west face of Castle Peak after a leisurely four-day trek with porters. After some time acclimatizing, we climbed a series of routes on the south face of Toro Peak (ca 4,970m) above the Chhudong Valley. We called these Wind-up Bird (8 pitches, 22, Murdoch-Swintz); Who Gives a Shit (5 pitches, 17, Craddock-Shotwell); Comfortably Numb (7 pitches, 20, Murdoch-Swintz); and Moving through Space (takes the start of No Mind, then continues direct for six pitches, 18, Murdoch-Shotwell). David and Nick also repeated the 2015 French route, No Mind (8 pitches, 6a+, Tournier-Zucchini) and equipped it for a rappel descent.

We also climbed two parallel lines on the east ridge, which we named Sporli Memorial Spur, Left and Right (around 10 pitches, 17). These led to some exposed ridge climbing to reach the spectacular summit. [Editor’s note: So many parties have now climbed routes on Toro Peak that it is difficult to identify how much new ground was climbed by the New Zealand team. Sporli Memorial Spur (East Ridge) was first climbed in 2007 as Toro Ridge (300m, V+, Andrej and Tanja Grmovsek), while Wind-up Bird appears more or less identical in the upper section with the 2009 Polish route Get Up in the Morning (300m, V, Banasik-Fidryk).]

After a substantial rest and some bad weather, we carried equipment to around 5,000m on the Chhudong Glacier, below Neverseen Tower (5,750m). Our goal was the second ascent of Horn Please (ca 700m, UIAA VII, Di Vicenzo–Marcheggiani-Miele, 1992). All except Alison made this ascent, climbing 25 pitches (up to grade 22), using fixed ropes and making several bivouacs.

From the lower Takdung Valley, we also climbed a number of one- to three-pitch routes below the south face of Castle Peak and made an attempt on Iris Peak. We would like to thank the New Zealand Alpine Club Expedition Fund for financial support.

– Llewellyn Murdoch, New Zealand Alpine Club

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