Name of the Peak: Nya Kangri, Height: 6530m, Area: Nubra valley Dist: Leh, State : J &K
Team: Divyesh Muni (L), Rajesh Gadgil, Vineeta Muni, Rajan Rikame
Agency: Rimo, Sherpa : Samgyal, Cook: Narbu & Kami
Duration: 14 th June 2008 to 9 th July 2008
Sponser : Himalayan club, Mumbai
Three months before the expedition start date, the team selection has been initiated by the expedition leader Divyesh who was the Secretary of the Himalayan Club and a well known mountaineer in the current lot of mountaineers. My previous expedition leader Rajesh Gadgil was also part of the team including Vineeta, who had completed the well-known Trans-Himalayan expedition. Now she has photography as another asset apart from mountaineering.
Until 1st of May the peak was not decided since previously the expedition was part of Himalayan exploration organized by well known Sr. Mountaineer Mr. Harish Kapadia. Later the trio of our team (except me) decided to climb Nya Kangri peak. The leader has identified this peak on 2001 after they explored this valley and climbed many peaks. The photograph of the peak was taken just as a curiosity by the team. Its shape looks like a fish tail and hence it has been named as Nya Kangri at that time. In ladakhi language Nya mean fish tail while kangri means peak.
For me, a mountaineering expedition gap of one year(2007) is kind of rare. I had thought of organizing Bhramanti expedition to Deotibba (Hp/Manali), but due to my absence (working in the USA), it was too much of a work load on my teammate. I decided to join this expedition to Nya Kangri. I landed in Mumbai on 8th June 08. The rest of the days in Mumbai I sorted my personal gear as well as other common expedition gear.
On the 14th of June we would fly to Delhi & then to Leh the next day. We had an overnight stay at the YMCA before we went to Leh the next day (15 th). The flight to Leh in the morning had rejuvenated everyone. It was my first view of the Himalayas. Many snow clad peaks were standing still in the clouds and some were clearly visible. At 7:11am we landed at Leh airport and welcomed by the peak Stok Kangri. Stok Kangri is the most frequently visited peak by foreign expedition these days due to easy access and it is above 6000m. It can be climbed in 2-3 days if you are well acclimatized.
When we arrived at an altitude of +12000ft, our leader warned us to move slowly because we were at sea level the previous day. This would allow us to acclimatize to the altitude. We spent 3 days at Leh for all sorts of formalities, like inner line permission and submitting the permit approval to the respective authorities in Leh. We purchased food and packed up at Rimo’s godown. I purchased traditional jewelry for which Leh is famous for.
On the 18th of June we left Leh with our entire luggage load to Tirit village. At around 13000ft we encountered an animal called a Marmut. They are prolific at this particular altitude. Vineeta enlighted all of us with her famous Trans-Himalayan expedition route which she took from the same area. She is blessed with good visual memory and along with Divyesh & Rajesh, she passed along a different route information. It was inspiring just learning about the area and her experiences during her trek. The route goes via the world famous Khardungla pass which is at around 17800ft. Being a tourist attraction, we took a break for some photographs. We could identifiy our peak 'Nya Kangri' from this pass easily. Because it was my first visit, it was a joyous occasion for me. It took 7 leisurely hours to reach our destination hotel “Yarab Tso” in the Nubra Valley. We crossed crossing the Shayok river on the way.
The next day (19th of June) we reached the approach march start point. The peculiarity of this point is there is a 20ft Buddha’ sculpture carved from the rock. We rented 12 mules to carry our extra luggage to the cave. All set, we four team members, 1 Sherpa & 2 other staff ( cook & assistant) started to head towards intermediate BC(IBC) called Osekar, which is at 3875m. It was a 7hr trek traveling 2-3 big mountains. The route in between was demolished due to a landslide. This affected one of our mules which fell down with a load. The next day we had a rest since I was the casualty of high altitude and heat. It was a day to acclimatize for all of us. We trekked another 5 hrs to BC (Phonglas) on the 21st along the right side of the river moving towards North-West. In Ladakh grazing ground is called GLAS. North-east of this valley the Arganglas area exists. The name Argan was given to a community that grew from marriages between local Ladakhi women and Muslim travelers who came to the area. The Argan Kangri peak is dominated in this area. Also the Yamandaka, which had been climbed by two intrepid Americans accompanying Bonington, lies to the North east side of our Base camp but not visible from BC. It was afternoon by the time we reached the BC. We saw a wild Yak on the way standing in the middle of our route. We quietly passed by him. He was standing still for a long time watching us an inviting us to capture him with our camera. Due to warming (Ice melting) the water level has already gone up making it hard for us to cross the river. We used mules to cross the cold water river since our BC was on the left side of the river. Our Target was in front of us to the North. The BC was at 4630m as per our trusted device (GPS). We synchronized all our altimeter watches. From the 22nd to the 25th we reached the Advance Base Camp (ABC) site. The next two days load ferry (L.F.) & 25th shift to ABC which is at 5430m.
To the camp1 & summit attempt:
Most of us did two acclimatization L.F. to ABC on the 23rd and 24th. On the 25th, I rested at BC while the entire team went to ABC for establishments. On the 26th Rajesh took a rest at ABC. Divyesh and Samgyal tried to open the route to camp 1 (C1) until 5700m, before I reached the ABC from BC with my personal gear. The 27th was a rest day for us all. On the 28th we all did L.F. to high point while Rajesh and Samgyal was supposed to continue to open the route further in continuation with the last route opening. Due to heavy snowfall and wind, they could not move further to the last achieved high point. We all just dumped the load at one place & returned to ABC. The next day on the 29th we again had bad weather which continued until the 1st of July. The 2nd of July it was a final attempt for us to clear the hurdle
of the remaining route opening
to C1. This time Divyesh & Samgyal left early at 5:15a followed by us (Rajesh and me) to carry the load to C1. We reached 5800m while Samgyal and Divyesh struggled for the route clearance further to that point by 100m. We reached the place where we dumped the equipment at around 11:00a & filled our sacks with the load. Just after 10m height gain Divyesh waved me from the top to return back with all the load. Rajesh confirmed their safety and packed the remaining load for the return. That was the end of our summit attempt. Due to fresh powder snow on hard ice they were not able to get any anchoring in place at the selected route (chute). Due to the shortage of time Divyesh had taken this decision.
The next day we returned to BC. Further the next day we return back with all load with the addition porters from BC to the road ahead (Yarab Tso) on 5th of July. We celebrated our attempt at Yarab Tso hotel in Tirit. On the 6th we all returned back to Leh by road. We cleared all formalities with the agency. The Rimo owner Mr. Motup briefly summarized our effort as “we do mountaineering to enjoy the mountains & if one summitted, it’s a bonus". We happily accepted the saying while dining at “Tibetan Restaurant” with Mr. Motup in celebration of our safe return. We also visited the famous Dr. Norboo of Leh who is researching on High Altitude sickness. He is one of the well known and respectful personalities in Leh.
Since we all had one day extra, I decided to join rafting in Indus on the 7th of July. It was great fun. On the 9th we all returned back to Mumbai by air. We visited IMF(Delhi) on the way to convey our 'Thanks' in appreciation for the Government clearance for the expedition. We also wished the Director, Wing Commander Vijay Dahia who is planning in the same area for one of the peak climbing. Once we returned home all our sunburn slowly vanished with some dark spots on our faces in spite of using 50 SPF cream. This was one of the indication of the Sun's gift from Leh to us, so that we might come back to the same peak with better protection and planning. Overall it was great fun for us as well good expedition experience.
Photo Link: Click Here
Written by: Rajan Rikame