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Team Authors New Lines in India's Himachal Pradesh
Posted on: October 21, 2015
Crystal Davis-Robbins, belayed by Whitney Clark, climbs cracks on the final pitch of NibbiJibbi (5.10-, 400m) on the west face of peak CB6a (5450m), Himachal Pradesh, India. [Photo] Whitney Clark
When Whitney Clark and Crystal Davis-Robbins set off in August on an expedition to the Indian Himalaya with only a picture of an unnamed peak nestled in the region's 4250-meter Hampta Pass as their objective, they believed the peak in the photo was unclimbed. Even though the two met the previous winter in El Chalten, Patagonia, this expedition to the Lahaul and Spiti district in the state of Himachal Pradesh would be their first time climbing together.
Over two months, the women established two new routes. On September 17, they climbed the west face of the peak they saw in their photo, CB6a (5450m), by their route NibbiJibbi (5.10-, 400m). Their climb of CB6a could be its second ascent, as they unexpectedly found a cairn on the summit that they later learned belonged to a Finnish team. On September 29, they completed the first ascent of an unnamed 5100-meter peak in nearby Miyar Valley, by their line Poornima (5.10, 600m).
Davis-Robbins climbing the 5.10- offwidth on Pitch 3 of Poornima in Miyar Valley, India. [Photo] Whitney Clark
The team was still on their expedition when we reported on their climbs.
This was Davis-Robbins' fifth trip to India but her first expedition to the Himachal Pradesh region.
Before their expedition, Davis-Robbins connected with local climber Korak Sanyal over social media and they talked about the potential for climbing undeveloped walls in the region. The women later met Korak and his twin brother Spandan. The brothers' nicknames are Nibbi and Jibbi.
For their first climb in the area, the women packed twelve days worth of supplies and traveled by mule for three hours until sharp rocks in the moraine stopped the mules at 4300 meters.
Clark shared her account of the team's ascent of NibbiJibbi with Alpinist via email.
After a day of recon and acclimatization, we moved camp to 4800 meters and spent a few hours digging out a tent site on the moraine above the glacier. Alarm set for 4 a.m., we nervously eyed an approaching electric storm and listened to light snow falling on our tent. The approach took us across the glacier toward the steep west face. We started toward a system about halfway up the gully and climbed steep frozen choss until we reached the base of the rock [and] started up slabby 5.7 terrain with frozen toes and fingers. Crystal took over and I got to enjoy first rays of the rising sun as she launched into some of the loosest rock I have climbed in the mountains. After a full rope length, the terrain steepened and I led the crux pitch of the route, which led us to the ridge. The crux was 5.10- and consisted of a steep bulge and fine crack climbing on good rock. Once on the ridge, we simulclimbed on easy terrain for 100 meters and made our way toward the east face where the rock steepened. We switched leads for three more 60-meter pitches of 5.8 and 5.9 terrain and topped out on the summit around 2 p.m.
They named their route after their friends Nibbi and Jibbi. "They are aspiring alpine climbers and hope to repeat the route some day," Clark said.
After a few days rest, the pair set out on the next objective, an unnamed 5100-meter peak in the nearby Miyar Valley. Clark writes:
We hiked to base camp [up the Takdung Glacier] in a day with ten days of food and used mules to get into the valley. Bad weather forced us to stay in base camp for the first five days but with clear weather coming, we packed four nights [of] food and headed up the Takdung on September 27. Heavy snow and an extremely loose moraine deterred us from venturing too far up the valley. We established camp at 4200 meters. Waking up to freezing temperatures [the next day], we got a leisurely start and got to the base of our intended route at 11:30 a.m. Crystal began climbing runout terrain to gain a large corner/chimney system. I led up the steep corner system and encountered really fun stemming, chimneying and wild face climbing up dikes and knobs. Crystal took the third pitch and climbed a steep 5.10 offwidth. Luckily there was smaller gear to be had as we didn't have a cam larger than a #4. I led the fourth pitch that started with an overhanging squeeze chimney followed by steep 5.10 finger cracks and stemming in the wide corner system. A few more long pitches of 5.8 and 5.9 climbing led us to [a false] summit, [and we continued up the final] 300 meters on the ridge on blocky and snowy terrain until we topped out at around 8 p.m.
Under the full moon, we downclimbed the lower-angle terrain and opted to rappel the northeast ridge to avoid the flakes and chockstones found on our route of ascent. Eight or so rappels later, we found ourselves in the loose gully and finally made it back to camp around 2 a.m. We found no information about the peak and no signs of other ascents. We are not sure if it is a sub peak of Castle or a separate peak on its own. Our route is called Poornima (Sanskrit for full moon).
Davis-Robbins (left) and Clark (right) after completing NibbiJibbi on the west face of peak CB6a. [Photo] Whitney Clark
Both routes were established without bolts.
History of the Team
We featured both Clark and Davis-Robbins in Matt Van Biene's Chalten Portraits in March 2015:
"[Davis-Robbins] first trip to Chalten was when she was in her early twenties, and she fought her way to the summit of Fitz Roy. Since then she has put up new routes around the massif, including on Fitz Roy itself. She has fully embraced the Argentine culture and lives in northern Patagonia with her husband, still frequently seeking adventure in the high Andes," Van Biene wrote here.
To read additional NewsWires on Davis-Robbins, read Crystal Davis-Robbins, Ryan Nelson Send in Patagonia from March 7, 2007 and Unreported Patagonia Sends by Walsh, Brazeau, Davis-Robbins from July 7, 2007.
"[Clark] began climbing in the Cascades and the Sierra. She has climbed extensively throughout the most beautiful ranges in North America. Patagonia was a natural extension, and I caught up with her after she had just arrived from a climbing binge in the Cochamo Valley of Chile. Her job as a nanny, she says, allows her the perfect balance of work, play and climbing time," Van Biene wrote here.
This trip was partially supported by a Shipton/Tilman Grant.
Route overlay of Poornima (5.10, 600m) on an unnamed 5100-meter peak in the Miyar Valley, India. [Photo] Whitney Clark
Sources: Whitney Clark, Crystal Davis-Robbins, alpinist.com
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