New Route on Meru Shark's Fin

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Meru Central’s Northwest Face: Red line marks the 2006 Czech route, including an attempt to the left of the central prow; yellow line marks Valeri Babanov’s 2001 solo route.

Meru Central’s Northwest Face: Red line marks the 2006 Czech route, including an attempt to the left of the central prow; yellow line marks Valeri Babanov’s 2001 solo route.

A pair of Czech climbers has completed a new route to the summit of 20,700-foot Meru Central (aka the “Shark’s Fin”) in the Garhwal Himalaya of India. Marek Holecek and Jan Kreisinger climbed the 6,500-foot route in a 13-day round trip, with difficulties of 7a (5.11d), M5, and 80-degree ice.

Their route climbed much of the striking northwest prow of Meru, but then angled right below the final headwall to join Valeri Babanov’s 2001 route, the first to reach the summit of the peak. The coveted central line remains unclimbed.

Babanov made the first ascent of Meru Central, solo, via a line to the right of the prow, following snow and ice slopes in the upper section to gain a lower-angled ridge. At least 16 attempts have been made on the main line up the prow, including attempts by Americans Mugs Stump and Scott Backes, Pete Takeda and Dave Sheldon (three tries), and a lightweight attempt in 2003 by Conrad Anker, Doug Chabot, and Bruce Miller that got two-thirds of the way up the prow.

Kreisinger, 32, has done new routes on Amin Brakk in the Karakoram, Patagonia, Nepal, and Kyrgyzstan. Holecek, 40, has climbed wall routes in Yosemite, Patagonia, Kyrgyzstan, and Norway. Holecek previously attempted Meru with Filip Silhan, who died in the Alps in 2001, and the new route is named Filkuv Nebesky Smich (roughly “Filkuv’s Heavenly Laughter”) after Holecek’s partner.

Note: The first photo of the Czech line, published last week on www.czechclimbing.com and republished on this web site and others, showed the Czechs’ intended route, and reports mistakenly indicated they had climbed the direct line on Meru Central’s prow. The new photo shows the actual line.

Date of Ascent: Summit reached October 6, 2006

Sources:www.czechclimbing.com; www.meru06.wz.cz; 2002 American Alpine Journal; http://www.bdel.com/mugs_stump/2003_cma.html; http://climbmeru.com/

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