By Kimikazu Sakamoto, Japan
Lenak and Giabul Valleys, exploration.
In 2009 our group explored the Raru Valley, taking photographs of virgin peaks and producing a sketch map (AAJ 2010). We presumed there were other hidden valleys in this region, where no mountaineers had explored. I contacted Harish Kapadia about the Lenak and Giabul Valleys, southeast of the Raru. He told me he had never heard of exploration in either. We organized an expedition for 2010, but when we arrived in Delhi in early August, we found that torrential rainfall in Ladakh had caused landslides, devastating the area, so we abandoned our goal.
In 2011 Sachiyuki Hatta, Toshio Ito, Mitsuhiko Okabe, Akira Taniguchi, and I, all aged between 70 and 73, reached Leh on August 7. Three days’ drive took us to Padam. From here a road is being constructed to Darcha over the Shingo La. In 2009 it was open only as far as Raru Village, but now we could drive farther, to Dorzong. On the 17th we reached Shanka (four houses and ca 20 people) at the entrance to the Lenak Nala. From the 18th to 25th we explored the Lenak Valley and from 26th to September 4th the Giabul. The latter has two large side branches, which we tentatively named Namkha Tokpo and Sachi Tokpo.
In the two valleys lie 15 peaks over 6,000m, 10 over 5,900m, eight over 5,800m, and 15 over 5,700m. In our sketch map we have labeled the mountains of Lenak L1, L2, etc. and those in the Giabul G1, G2, etc. During our stay we saw no mountaineers or trekkers and met only several women taking care of yaks. We were lucky with the weather.
These valleys are wonderful places with attractive mountains, beautiful scenery, and no garbage. We hope young climbers will attempt these virgin peaks.