Himalayan Adventures: Shan-Ri - Part 2
If you've not read part 1 yet, catch up here.
Base camp at 4400m
Two days resting at base camp (4400m) and: “Here we go!”
Since we left a big part of the gear stashed at camp I, this time we were fast, managing to reach the tents at 5170m, in a mere three hours.
The next day we packed everything, and again with heavy loads we climbed up to the glacier from where we had a clearer view of the mountains.
We pitched the tents at 5550m. We were lucky to find a relatively comfortable spot on a rocky moraine out of the glacier ice. From there we could see the whole range and finally decided on one mountain. It would be the last peak of the valley, with no name and no known ascent. For sure it was more than 6000 meters!
On the next day (31st August), we left the tents at 4:00 a.m. and spent the next three hours crossing the very gentle glacier with no crevasses at all. No rope needed. Perfect!
The team crossing the glacier at dawn
Looking at the north face of the mountain we immediately chose the line to climb. On the first 100m we climbed on moderate ice and didn´t need to belay much. Essentially, we were simul climbing. After that preliminary section we climbed two more 50m ice pitches, finding some mixed moves on the way. The final “pitch” was a steep 100m ice ramp that proved a bit strenuous to the team`s calves. We had a good rest at the ridge to rehydrate and eat something before committing to the last part of the route. In front of us there was a beautiful ridge to cross. The north face of the mountain, a deep void falling directly to the glacier, was on our right hand. “We have to take care there. Remember, if someone slips, just scream loud for the rope mate to react on time and jump to the other side of the ridge… the partner really has to jump!” I emphasized the tone. It looked like an easy ridge, just walking, but not allowing for any distraction. Carefully, we crossed it. The snow was perfect so, in the end, we did it easily. After the ridge, we found another steep ramp to climb. That was the last obstacle before the summit that we reached at 2:30 p.m.
Top left:João at one of the belays | Bottom left:João, Tiago and Pedro, in the middle of the north face of “Shan-Ri” | Middle:Pedro climbing the “North Face Indirect” | Right:Me at the summit of Shan-Ri (6197m)
The weather was perfect and the air was clear. We could see distant mountains on the horizon, how many of them unclimbed I wondered? The GPS marked 6197m. The team was happy, it was their first virgin summit, what a privilege!
João, Pedro, Tiago and me at the summit of Shan-Ri (6197m)
Being the guide, I was starting to feel a real sense of mission accomplished, however there was one “little detail” preventing me from full relaxation… we were at the summit of the mountain, not at the bottom! Carefully we started our descent. After one 60m V-thread abseil, we down climbed our route of ascent, then continued down the east ridge reaching a small col from where we had to abseil. We had some difficulty in finding a good spot to install the first rappel. The rock was extremely shattered and there was a lot of loose stones on the first few meters of the descent. We had to pull the ropes very carefully as there was the potential of many rocks falling on us. Not a good perspective at all! After a while I found a small crack at a relatively solid chunk and finally managed to place a small cam and a peg. Good enough! It took us three 60m abseils to reach the bersrhund. It was dusk already when we went down the glacier arriving at the abandoned bivi tents at camp II, at 10:00 p.m.
Coming down from the east ridge
Half an hour later, everyone was enjoying the coziness of the sleeping bags.
This time the “mission accomplished” feeling was finally complete.
Non-officially, we nicknamed the peak “Shan-Ri”. In Ladakhi language, “Shan” means “Snow leopard” and “Ri”, goes for “peak”. Our route of ascent was named “North face Indirect (300m)”. After that we followed the East ridge to gain the previously unclimbed summit.