NEW ALPINE ROCK ROUTES IN INDIA'S MIYAR VALLEY

Posted on: October 23, 2006


Climbing high above the Miyar Valley in India's Himachal Pradesh during the first ascent of Goya Peak (D-: 5.9, 600m, Metherell-van der Spek, 2006). The main valley descends southeast toward the 6000-meter Gangstang Group in the far distance before turning right and eventually dropping to Udaipur on the Chenab River. [Photo] Oliver Metherell

In September, a multi-national team of Jeremy Frimer (Canada), Oliver Metherall (UK) and Michel van der Spek (The Netherlands) made two first ascents of alpine rock climbs in India's Miyar Valley. The team set up base camp at the usual spot near the entrance to the Dali (a.k.a. Thunder) Glacier and first spent some time acclimatizing and reconnoitring a peak on the far (west) side of the main valley. They dubbed this peak "Himashanca" due to its resemblance to the famous Jirishanca in Peru's Cordillera Huayhuash. However, they found the approach to the attractive north face problematic due to heavy crevassing and an inspection of the valleys to the south also shed no light on a possible descent, were they successfully to reach the summit. They returned to climb nearer base camp, unaware that this mountain—Pt 5930m—had in fact been climbed in 2005 by Catalans, Oriol Baro and Oscar Cacho, via a 950-meter route on the north face they named Antiparques (TD M6 60 degrees).

On September 14 Frimer and van der Spek climbed the Gateway Ridge, reaching the 5600m summit ridge via much simul climbing and roped pitches up to 5.9. They returned to the tent that evening after a complex descent. On the 23rd Metherall and van der Spek made the first ascent of a peak directly above base camp. After several ropes pitches up the southwest ridge, the third pitch crux being 5.9, the two untied and climbed up easier terrain to the 5300-meter summit. Named Goya, this peak lies above the north bank of the Dali Glacier, close to Lammergeier Peak (5300m), a fine pointed spire first climbed in 2004 by Britons, Graham Little and Jim Lowther. Metherell and van der Spek reversed their route (D-, 600m), down climbing and making four rappels. A Polish team was also active in the region and a report of their three first ascents will appear shortly.

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