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Indian-Japanese East Karakoram Expedition 2002
Indian Tricolour and the picture of Lt. Nawang Kapadia on the summit of
expedition consisting of 5 Indian and 5 Japanese mountaineers undertook a long
traverse of the Eastern Karakoram valleys
for two months and achieved a lot.
The team covered almost 550 km (with various repeated load-ferries), carried
almost 2500 kg of food,
equipment and personal gear (first on 55 mules, later by personal ferries
by 11 members and 15 Sherpas and
porters) and lived continuously on
snow for almost 35 days, braving
rather cold temperatures.
team traversed a historic route in the Shyok valley and returned via the Nubra
valley (the Siachen glacier). Five passes were reached or crossed, two large
glaciers were fully traversed and a
vast unknown ice plateau
was explored. Above all, the first ascent of a virgin and
difficult 7030 m high peak of
Padmanabh was achieved.
team traversed the Shyok river
valley from the Shyok village (Tankse - Darbuk)
to Karakoram Pass, along the ancient winter Trade route – the first
expedition to achieve this in last five
Karakoram Pass, on the
international border between Indian
and China was reached. First time in history of independent India that a
team involving foreign mountaineers was permitted to visit the Pass. (One
sole British photographer had reached the pass in 1997).
Japanese mountaineers were the first from their country to stand on
the pass after 93 years.
team traversed the entire Central Rimo Glacier and the Teram Shehr Glacier
by crossing Col Italia, the high pass between the two glaciers. It was for
the first time, since its first crossing in 1929, that this pass was crossed
– after 73 years. (An Indian team
consisting of almost same members had reached the pass in 2000, but had
not crossed it).
high and vast Teram Shehr Ice-Plateau was explored and various cols
surrounding the Plateau were investigated. The Plateau is a unique feature in the Karakoram with ice and snow at height of about
6200 m, surrounded by high peaks on all sides.
This was for the first time that anyone had reached the plateau (Harish
Kapadia and Ryuji Hayashibara), seen so often in photos taken from peaks
Picture of Lt. Nawang held up against the
true summit of Padmanabh
top of the mountain with the photograph of
first ascent of peak Padmanabh (7030 m) was made on 25th June
2002 (Hiroshi Sakai and Yasushi
Tanahashi) After setting up a second Base Camp (5650 m)
at its foot another high summit camp was made at 6250 m near a col at
foot of the south ridge. In next four days, 16 pitches of ropes were fixed
till about 6750 m. Two teams consisting of Japanese and Indian mountaineers
worked together to push the route. Finally a team of 2 Japanese and one
Indian (Lt Cdr S. Dam) started for the summit. However Dam had to
drop out of the final attempt soon. Two Japanese
in a long push of almost 11 hours of continuous climbing reached the
summit. Both had previously climbed Nanga Parbat but rated this peak more
difficult in many aspects than that famous ‘Killer mountain’.
A team of Indians
and Japanese (Motup Chewang, Rushad Nanavatty and Dr Oe
(each of them had worked hard and reached high in preparing the final
route) was poised to attempt the summit again in next two days but due to
onset of bad weather for next few days
plans had to be given up.
was the highest peak on the
Teram Shehr Plateau and a major first ascent
in the Siachen Glacier group after many years.
team returned via the Siachen Glacier to the Nubra valley. This was the
first international team to climb on this war-torn glacier since 1986. These
were the first Japanese mountaineers to visit the glacier from the Indian
side since the conflict on the Siachen Glacier
began in 1984 (many Japanese teams had climbed on the Siachen Glacier
between 1972-1983, approaching it from the west).
Despite gathering war clouds between India and Pakistan while the
expedition was on the mountains, the Indian army fully backed the team and
at no point we were asked to stop or change route.
expedition is grateful to the Indian Army for permission and
support to undertake this
venture. We are specially thankful to Lt. General
R. K. Nanavatty, PVSM, UYSM, AVSM, General Officer Commanding – in –
Command, Northern Command, Indian
Army, without whose strong support
we would not have been able to climb in this area or complete the expedition
under difficult situation that developed.
Full detailed report
about the expedition is available on www.harishkapadia.com.
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