Trio of New Routes in Indian Himalaya

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The three Slovenian new routes on (left to right) Bhagirathi II, Bhagirathi IV, and Bhagirathi III. Photo by Marko Prezelj.

The three Slovenian new routes on (left to right) Bhagirathi II, Bhagirathi IV, and Bhagirathi III. Photo by Marko Prezelj.

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.

Climbing the upper slopes of Bhagirathi II, with the west face of Bhagirathi III in the background. The Slovenians climbed a line (not visible) to the right of the Scottish Pillar, the right skyline on Bhagirathi III. Photo by Marko Prezelj.

Climbing the upper slopes of Bhagirathi II, with the west face of Bhagirathi III in the background. The Slovenians climbed a line (not visible) to the right of the Scottish Pillar, the right skyline on Bhagirathi III. Photo by Marko Prezelj.

Climbing low on the southwest face of Bhagirathi III, with the summit of Bhagirathi II in the background. The Slovenians climbed the prominent snow ramp in the center to reach the ridge below Bhagirathi IV, the peak in the middle. Photo by Marko Prezelj.

Climbing low on the southwest face of Bhagirathi III, with the summit of Bhagirathi II in the background. The Slovenians climbed the prominent snow ramp in the center to reach the ridge below Bhagirathi IV, the peak in the middle. Photo by Marko Prezelj.

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

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