MORE NEW ROUTES IN INDIA'S MIYAR VALLEY

Posted on: November 26, 2007


The Neverseen Group, as seen from the Grmovseks' advanced base camp. The pair encountered snow plastered on the walls of even steep and south-facing peaks. [Photo] Andrej Grmovsek

In September 2007, my wife Tanja and I traveled to Miyar Nala, Himachal Pradesh, Indian Himalaya. We decided on this destination because there are no climbing permits or bureaucracy problems that are so typical for the rest of the Indian Himalaya. The area is getting more and more explored, but there are still some very interesting walls with no or only a few climbing routes to-date.

We traveled as simply as possible and arrived in Tingrit, a small village at the end of the road in Miyar Nala (Valley) on September 8. After a two-day foot approach with two horses for our stuff, we came to base camp under Castle Peak in a mix of rain and snow. The next three weeks had plenty of unstable and bad weather, but also two nice spells.

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On September 16, we climbed the east ridge of a rounded mountain we called Toro Peak (ca. 4850m) for acclimatization. We called our route Toro Ridge (V+, 300m) The peak has been climbed previously and has a hiking ascent option. We returned to base camp but decided to go for another acclimatization climb after a day of rest.

Toro Ridge (V+, 300m, 450m of climbing) on a rounded mountain the Grmovseks called Toro Peak (ca. 4850m). [Photo] Andrej Grmovsek

We made an afternoon approach to the base of the mountain and took a short bivouac under a boulder. In the night, we climbed 500 meters of a loose gully, and with the first sun beams, we started climbing perhaps the most aesthetic peak in the area. A perfect right-angled ridge led to the summit, with a huge window of rock at the top. After ca. 500 meters of climbing, we were surprised by old slings, as we thought we were climbing an untouched line. A bit angry, we continued climbing. The last pitch to the arch, which formed the top of the peak, was seriously rotten and loose and was the crux of this route. By early afternoon we were celebrating on a perfect summit. We were even happier when we didn't find any rappel slings at the top.

Korklum Gou-Window Peak (ca. 5600m) and the route Shangrila Ridge (VII R, 600m, 900m of climbing) [Photo] Andrej Grmovsek

After returning home, we read a new AAJ report about an unfinished Canadian try on more or less the same line. This provided confirmation that we were the first people on this summit. So we named the peak Korklum Gou-Window Peak (ca. 5600m) and the route Shangrila Ridge (VII R, 600m). After that climb we spent five rainy and snowy days in base camp with Slovak climbers Andy and Juraj. The temperatures fell significantly and a lot of fresh snow accumulated on the upper walls. After the weather improved we decided to move to the Tawa Glacier side valley, under Neverseen Tower. The approach to this advanced base camp is almost 1000 meters in altitude gain, and half of it wanders on an unstable glacial moraine. Fresh snow on moving and slippery moraine stones made walking very hard and dangerous. Even south-facing, steep walls like Neverseen were plastered in snow. So we decided to stop on the glacier and wait until the walls were clear of snow.

Trident Ridge (VII/VII+, 500m, 1000m of climbing) on Premsingh Peak (ca. 5200m). The Grmovseks experienced "enormous cold for rock climbing, even in the sun." [Photo] Andrej Grmovsek

So as not to lose time in such nice weather, we climbed a nice three-tower east ridge opposite our temporary camp. But it was snowing again all night, and we waited one more day so our secondary climb could dry. Then, on September 29, we finally climbed Trident Ridge (VII/VII+, 500m) on a virgin peak we called Premsingh Peak (ca. 5200m). It was enormously cold—for rock climbing—even in the sun, and it became clear to us that our wish of climbing Neverseen was not a suitable option. With only few days left, we returned to base camp, and on October 1, we climbed our last route on the rock tower David's 62 Nose (ca. 4950m) on Castle Peak's south face. We called our route Lufoo Lam-Windy Way (VII+, 350m). This tower had been climbed previously by Italians.

Lufoo Lam-Windy Way (VII+, 350m, 400m of climbing) is on a rock tower called David's 62 Nose (ca. 4950m) on the south face of Castle Peak. [Photo] Andrej Grmovsek

Climbing in this remote and un-crowded valley was a great adventure. It is nice to move around without any control—no officers—and to deal only with very hospitable local Buddhist people. The climbing itself was enjoyable because of the featured rock, which is something between granite and gneiss and is far more solid than it looks. We used only removable protection and left only a few rappel slings on the mountains to keep the area as adventurous as possible. We really enjoyed climbing our four new routes, on two virgin peaks, but our wish of climbing something new on Neverseen remains. I suggest the late summer season is probably not the best time for rock climbing in this area because of low temperatures. There is still something worth climbing and a lot worth exploring in this region.

For remote regions like Miyar Valley, it is very important to have accurate information of previous expeditions, their attempts and routes. We discovered that some altitudes of peaks were not measured or reported correctly in the past. Before our expedition we tried to get as much information as possible, but still we figured out that some peaks had seen attempts and we couldn't get any information on them. Climbers from Italy and Slovakia put together a sketch map with names of peaks, information, pictures and altitudes, but that information is not updated any more. It would be great to continue that kind of work for any remote region.

Korklum Gou-Window Peak (ca. 5600m). The route Shangrila Ridge (VII R, 600m, 900m of climbing), climbs the obvious ridge line across the center of the photo, then curves back to the right and finishes on the prominent summit tower. [Photo] Andrej Grmovsek



Comments
Jonathan Willy

Andrej, Seeing as you were the last reported climber in the region and I'm headed there in a little over a month, would you be open to sharing whatever maps and information you do have on the valley?

2008-05-07 22:36:34
guidedeba

Dear talking about the Ethics. But I think you should first evade the ethics when you tried to hoodwink the law of India and climbing in Miyar Nala area wihtout any permit from Indian Mountianeeing Foundation and even trying to give names which is not permitted according to Indian law. Doyou know that you could be prosecuted for that? . If you check the rules of climbing in INdia you will find that if you want to go climbing in any part of Indian Himalayas then you need to have the pemit and pay a fee to Indian Govt. As India is a big county and trust the Foreign Nationals you should not take the advantage of that.. I think you should try to get the permit for your next venture in any Indian Himalayan Venture. Otherwise you might have to pay more than double as penalty , or spend some nice time of your life behind he bar. These stolen ventures are now under the eyes of IMF. And from next year this area and other sneeking areas would be taken care of. Hope you don't want to save some money and take risk again.

2007-12-05 04:14:24
Tanja Grmovsek

Mr. Frimer or better Jeremy!

I'm sorry if we hurt you. But in Slovenia most of the climbers follow the ethic that says you climb a new route when you climb the wall to its obvious finish – top of the mountain or end of the wall (difficulties). Normally if you finish a climb just a pitch short from the top - you don't finish the route and you don’t' name it. But there might be many other ethics I guess. We are living in the world of many different cultures! You make it very fare and I hope that next time you won’t just quit below the summit.

We spoke with local people abut the name of this peak, that you call P5650. They didn't have a name for it, but they talk about it as a peak with a window – so we find appropriate to call this mountain Korklum Gou, which means Window peak in their local language. We measured the peak 5600m (5618m with GPS).

About your downgrading. I know the grades are very subjective and also vary locally. But you can’t downgrade the pitch that you didn't even climb! We felt that last pitch was the hardest and the only one we graded R and 5.10c.

Tanja Grmovsek

2007-12-04 04:25:22
jeremyfrimer

I was the Canadian, that along with Dutchman Michel van der Spek, climbed "Shangrila Ridge" in 2006. A few comments:

1) Congratulations to Mr. Grmovsek and team on their climbs in the Miyar Nala Valley.

2) While we did not go to the top, we turned back from the shoulder immediately below (50m from) the summit block as the hour was late. So we did climb more than 90% of this line, and we did give it a name: "Gateway Ridge" and we have consistently referenced the peak as "P5600". While the purity ethic of the day calls our adventure an "attempt", I'm not so sure what the ethic of the day says about re-naming peaks and routes.

3) I see that Mr. Grmovsek suggests a grade of "VII R" (which translates to 5.10d according to Wikipedia). We feel and felt that the climbing that we did warranted no more than 5.10a R. Allow me to downgrade this "new route".

Jeremy Frimer

2007-11-29 14:21:34
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