Mamostong Kangri - I

Elevation (feet): 24,659
Elevation (meters): 7,516
Continent: Asia
Country: India
Latitude: 35.14083
Longitude: 77.5775
Difficulty: Major Mountain Expedition
Best months for climbing: Jul, Aug, Sep
Year first climbed: 1984
First successful climber(s): Col. Balwant Sandhu & Yoshio Ogata (Leader :Indo-Japan Joint Expedition)
Nearest major airport: Leh Airport
Convenient Center: Leh

Thanks to Debraj Dutta for adding this peak.

Mt. Mamostong Kangri-I (7516 meters) – A dream came true

The climbers of the Himalayan Club, Kolkata Section were busy planning for the Silver Jubilee Commemorative Expedition to Mt. Mamostong Kangri-I (7516 meters) in the Eastern Karakoram over the last one year. On the 7th of August’ 2010 at 11.30 am, their dream came true, when one of their climbers, Debraj Dutta accompanied by three sherpas, hoisted the National Tri Colour, the flag of The Himalayan Club and that of their sponsor-The 3C Company on the summit of this magnificent peak ,which is also the fifth highest mountain in India.

In spite of this being their first major expedition in the Karakoram, their meticulous planning, careful execution and their strong determination to succeed on a commemorative expedition, led to one of the fastest ascents on this ‘long approach’ mountain. The summit was gained within 20 days of establishing the base camp which was set up ca.4500 meters near Skyangpoche, 4 km short of the permanent camp of the Ladakh Scouts. Crossing the rapidly flowing nala across the base camp on a Tyrolean traverse was a constant risk to the members and sherpas. There had been incidents in the past, where this nala has engulfed the lives of unfortunate climbers.

The team occupied the advance base camp (ABC) at an altitude ca. 4800 meters on the 22nd of July. The next camp (Camp One) was then set up at an altitude ca.5300 meters on the Mamostong Glacier below the Mamostong Col/Hope Col (5885 meters). Camp Two was pitched on the 27th of July at ca.5600 meters on the Thangman Glacier (Kichik Kumdan glacier) after crossing over the Hope Col.The route down the Hope’s col onto the Thangman Glacier was very tricky because of its steep gradient and the presence of wide open crevasses near the bottom of the wall. The descent route had to be fixed with 200 meters of rope to ensure regular & secure ferries across the Col. Unfavourable weather prevented their progress for the next three days. The members finally occupied Camp Two on the 1st of August and their final camp was secured on the upper snow field below the east ridge on the 2nd August at ca.6500 meters. Six hundred meters of rope was fixed on the rock and ice gully leading to the upper snow field on this steep east ridge from the Thangman Glacier. On the 3rd of August, six climbers and six sherpas occupied the summit Camp in preparation of a summit attempt. On the very night of 3rd of August, the team had planned to execute its first summit attempt using a team of three climbers and four sherpas. However, heavy snowfall that night made this proposed attempt a non-starter.

Unpredictable weather forced them to reduce their team size at the summit camp to conserve food rations at this location. On the 4th morning, two climbers and one sherpa further descended from the summit camp to leave essential provisions for the remaining members for a further attempt. On the night of 4th August, four climbers and five sherpas made a brave attempt at 11.15 pm, in spite of inclement weather. After climbing for an hour, the team faced strong blizzard like condition, yet they continued on their toil, till three in the morning. Unaware of the catastrophe that was shaping up in the Leh Valley that night, they made progress up to ca.6865m. Unfortunately, very strong wind and deep snow made further progress too risky, and the team descended down to the summit camp to preserving their energy for another attempt.

Considering the unpredictable nature of the then prevalent weather conditions & depleting food stocks at the summit camp, they decided on retaining a strong and slim team at the summit camp in the hope of a favourable weather window. Accordingly, on the 5th morning, Debraj Dutta, Dy Leader of the expedition & one of the fittest climbers of the team along with three of the sherpas stayed behind at the summit camp, and the remaining members and sherpas descended down to the lower camps. The inclement weather condition however continued throughout the 5th of August and the team could not make any upward movement that night. On the 6th evening too it snowed heavily making the team feel very depressed. However, after midnight, the snowfall stopped though the overcast weather conditions continued. As a consequence of their reduced food supply at the ca.6500m and the ill effects induced by their prolonged exposure to the high altitude of the summit camp, the team set off for a final attempt at 1.30am in the morning of 7th August. Poor visibility and soft snow condition made their progress extremely slow and exhausting. They fixed 800 meters of rope on the steep inclines of the summit ridge to ensure their safe descent during their return. After toiling on for over ten hours on the trot, at 11.30 am of the morning of the 7th of August, they overcame the final ramparts of the ‘Mountain of the Thousand Demons’ and stood on its top.

The successful team returned back in the summit camp by 3.00 pm and after a couple of hours of rest, descended down to the safety of Camp Two. Continuous snow fall and avalanche had destroyed the fixed lines that they had set up between the Hope Col and the Camp Two. Thus, ropes had to be refixed once again for a safe traverse, and the team reached the base Camp on the 8th August evening. The catastrophe in Ladakh has destroyed many vital road links. The team took the help of Army to get down from the base to Panamik and then subsequently took the road to Leh.

In spite of being atop a 7500m giant they became stranded at 3500m at Leh, for close to a week due to the blocked Leh – Manali highway. Requests to the WB government, Home Secretariat to air lift them down to Delhi failed (Inspite of the WB govt having arranged the safe air-passage of stranded tourists a few days back) and hence finally the HC management had no recourse but to make financial arrangement for the air passage of the team out from Leh.

This Silver Jubilee ascent was a fitting tribute to the 1984 first ascent Indo–Japanese team that had been led by famous pioneering mountaineers Col. Balwant Sandhu and Yoshio Ogata, both of who incidentally also happen to be renowned Himalayan Club members too.

The team members were:

1. Pradeep Chandra Sahoo (Leader)

2. Aditya Gupta

3. Debabrata Ghosh

4. Debraj Dutta (Dy Leader)

5. Gautam Saha

6. Jyoti Ghosh

7. Rudra Prasad Haldar

8. Shibnath Basu

Pradeep Chandra Sahoo – Leader Mt Mamostong Kangri – I(7516m) Expedition 2010. Email: pc.sahoo@hotmail.com, Ph:+919874943156

Debraj Dutta - Dy Leader Mt Mamostong Kangri – I(7516m) Expedition 2010. Email:debrajdutta78@gmail.com, Ph:+919432245695

Thanks to Debraj Dutta for this description.