American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Asia, India Punjab, Attempt on Reo Purgyol

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1967

Attempt on Reo Purgyol. Gurdial Singh, Balbir Singh, Deepak Capoor, Major Balwant Sandhu and I proceeded beyond Simla to Kalpa, headquarters of Kinnaur District. We travelled along the Sutlej gorge, a truly fascinating countryside, and turned up the Spiti at its confluence near the village of Namgia. In 1933 Marco Pallis and Charles Warren climbed the 22,281-foot peak we were heading for. There is confusion as to its name, which is definitely Reo Purgyol. In recent times it has been known at Leo Pargial, but both the local people and the Deputy Commissioner of the area call it “Reo Purgyol.” It lies on the border and eight miles from the controversial Shipki La. Base Camp was at 16,000 feet, two days above the last town Nako and on the true left bank of the Reo Purgyol Glacier. Camp I (18,200 feet) was up the glacier and just below the west col. Here we met Pallis’ route. In 1962 an Indian Army mountaineering expedition lost a climber and two Sherpas when they attempted to bypass the col and took the steep face above Camp I direct. We climbed via the col and established Camp II just above it at 20,200 feet. The next day, June 20, Gurdial Singh, Balwant Sandhu, the mediocre Sherpas Ang Phutar and Chinze, and I climbed the miniature Lhotse face above. The snow was hard and the ice weak and wet. However we made good progress and reached 21,500 feet in about two hours. We fixed 100-feet of line on the ice step for the descent. At this point, the clouds that had been building up in the Spiti valley completely enveloped us. We kept on and soon reached the summit ridge. As we got to a bump in the ridge, the clouds cleared for a few moments and we saw the summit a hundred feet and fifteen minutes away, but across a ridge that abruptly became corniced. The clouds closed in and all that remained was a vague outline of the summit. We turned back, luckily since the wind rapidly obliterated our tracks and a later return would have been a problem. Our return to civilization began smoothly but Deepak Capoor developed pleurisy. Under the care of doctors we evacuated him in stages to 5500 feet. Returning nearly to normal, he was cleared to move to Simla, but then he suddenly passed away. We cremated him on the banks of the Sutlej near a peaceful forest in the shadow of Kinnaur Kailash.

Suman Dubey, Himalayan Club

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