Slovenians Rok Blagus, Luka Lindic, and Marko Prezelj have completed a hat trick of impressive new routes in the Bhagirathi group in northern India’s Garhwal Himalaya. After a week of poor weather, the trio enjoyed several weeks of good conditions and climbed three new routes in a total of 17 days.
First up was the west face of Bhagirathi IV (ca. 6,200m), a 1,000-meter mixed route climbed and descended in a single day. This was likely first ascent of this peak, although it’s possible that someone had previously climbed the easier slopes on the opposite side.
On September 21 and 22, the three men found a new line up the west face of 6,454-meter Bhagirathi III. Their 1,300-meter mixed route (ED 6b WI5 M5) zigzagged up a granite prow to the right of the Scottish Pillar route (Barton-Fyffe, 1982), followed by mixed climbing on shale to reach the summit. (They likely joined the Scottish route on the upper mountain and possibly also shared some ground with a 1993 Czech route that began further right.) The three Slovenians traversed the peak and descended the southeast side.
One week later, the Slovenians began their hardest new route: the southwest face and upper west ridge of 6,512-meter Bhagirathi II. The trio took two days to climb the initial granite wall, finding difficulties up to 6b+ (5.11-), WI6+, and M8. On the third day, they reached the ridge, which had been climbed in 1984 by an Italian team, and followed it to the summit. They traversed the peak and descended the east side, returning to base camp on the fourth day. The team gave this extremely difficult climb an overall grade of ED+/ABO.
The Slovenians had planned to climb in the eastern Karakoram but did not get a permit from the Indian authorities, and they decided to visit the Bhagirathi group just three weeks before departing from home. “In general, it was kind of an onsight trip,” Prezelj said.
Dates of Ascents: September 15–October 1, 2009
Sources: Marko Prezelj, Thebmc.co.uk, American Alpine Journal, Himalaya Alpine Style