Author Dmitry Golovchenko, Moscow
Moveable Feast. Thalay Sagar 2016
This September our team passed a new route on one of the most famous and beautiful mountains in the Indian Himalayas, Thalay Sagar (6904m). Initially it was our backup option as we planned to go to Nepal, however we had to change plans.
Team: Dmitry Grigoriev, Sergey Nilov and myself. We have been mountaineering together since 2013.
As far as I know, nobody has ever climbed North face of Thalay Sagar without using portaledge. We, on the contrary, ceased using portaledge after "No Fear" on Trango Nameless. It was a sort of extra challenge for us this time – try to make it with a tent for 2 persons.
When I first examined Thalay Sagar I was pretty sure that the buttress left from the central couluar has been climbed. But then Lindsay Griffin sent me a picture showing all lines and it turned out that it has been climbed only in part, surprisingly! Decision didn't take too long.
Flight Moscow - Delhi, taxi Dehli - Rishikesh, jeep Rishikesh - Gangotri and after 40 hours since the start of our journey, we were discussing with porters the prices to Kedar Tal base camp. We had no success when first tried, and spent one day carrying part of our stuff ourselves. Next day 6 porters were engaged. Way to Kedar Tal takes 2 days, 1.5 in fact. Here we faced first obstacle: porters did not have tent and food since they expected that we would provide it all to them. We were not prepared as well, and unexpectedly had to open our high altitude food. Later we new that this is common situation for India: expedition should take care of porters. We were again surprised when met a big (24 members) Indian army team there. They had no success in climbing classical route last year and came back. It turned out that British line was quite popular in Indian army. They use it as a training for higher altitudes and climb it more or less every 3-4 years.
Our route starts from a crevasse, between ice and rock. The first 500-600 meters climb a steep slope of ice and snow. Then you deal with the first bastion, vertical rock with sets of cracks all filled with ice. It took us 2 days to climb 200 meters. Due to the wind and weather conditions even the vertical sections were covered in snow and ice. And if you see rock, it most probably means that it is both steep and smooth. Further up, mixed climbing begins up the 300-400m high, 70-80° rock barrier. One of the ledges for our tent was under the overhanging rock (we had to chop some ice to build it) and we found some equipment there: ropes and some aid climbing gear. We assume it was left by the 1994 Italian expedition. One pitch further leads to the summit bastion: black and quite loose rock, overhanging at 110 degrees. We tried to bypass this, however we were unsuccessful and eventually decided to climb it straight up. After the bastion, the final section starts and a snow slope leads you straight to the summit. Here we took some pictures and later we found some Indian fixed ropes and used them for the descent.
- Thalay Sagar (6904m), "Moveable feast", buttress of North face
- Length: 1400 m
- Elevation: 1200 m
- Average degree: 62o
- Wall average: 71o
- Mixed climbing: up to M7
- Ice climbing: WI5
- Free climbing: F5c
- Aid climbing (totally 5 pitches): from A1 to A3
- Russian grade: 6b
- Alpine grade: ED2
- Start: 09.09.2016
- Summit: 17.09.2016
- Bace camp: midnight from 18.09.2016 to 19.09.2016
- Descent via classical route climbed in 1979