Kevin Mahoney reports on his Lyman Spitzer Award supported trip to the Indian Himalaya with partner Ben Gilmore. While they were not able to summit, their alpine style, single-push attempt was impressive nonetheless! Read on for Kevin's report.
Ben Gilmore and I attempted a new line on the on the North face of Thalay Sagar 6903M in the Garhwal Himalaya of India. The line had previously been tried by an American team and a New Zealand team. On our attempt, we made it to approximately 6000M before being turned around by a storm. The line follows the major weakness to the West of the central buttress that was climbed by a Russian team led by Alexander Klenov in 1998.
Our expedition started April 20th when we met in New Delhi. We spent a day purchasing provisions and meeting with the Indian Mountaineering Federation (IMF). We met our Liaison Officer (L.O.) and took care of all official business within a couple of hours.
We left Delhi and traveled to Uttarkashi. There we finished obtaining supplies, and we met with the Director of the Nehru Institute of Mountaineering, for a handshake and confirmation of our itinerary. We then traveled to Gangotri in nine hours, experiencing minor vehicle troubles along the way. In Gangotri we met our 10 porters and organized loads. The trek to BC took 5 days, including two days longer than expected due to weather.
Once installed at BC (4700M) we hunkered down for 4 days in a storm that hammered us with snow and constant winds of 40-60MPH. Two tents were destroyed and one damaged. We sent out the L.O. with the cook and his helper to get new tents and replace damaged food. We stayed at BC repairing gear and reorganizing our thrashed camp until four days later the LO, cook and helper returned. Then, on May 10th we moved up to ABC at 5200M. The next two weeks were spent acclimatizing, scouting the route, and waiting out bad weather.
On May 26 we set out on our proposed line with two small packs with belay parkas, insulated pants, a stove, and two days of food and fuel. We were attempting the route in single push style. We climbed the first 400m solo on easy snow and ice and then climbed approximately 400m of mixed terrain. We stayed independent of the fixed lines from previous attempts, free climbed every pitch, and we left only minimal rappel anchors on the mountain. After climbing for several hours in a building storm we decided to retreat. During our descent we encountered nearly constant spindrift avalanches which made finding anchors very difficult. Back at ABC there was a short break in the weather, but soon more snow returned. We left for home on May 30.We would like to thank the Lyman Spitzer Award for its support of our expedition!