Ekdant (6,128m), north spur and northeast ridge; Kartik (5,113m), north face.
By Daniela Teixeira, Portugal
(There are topos and additional photos at the end of this report.)
Ashes from the Iceland volcano threatened our flight, but Paulo Roxo and I arrived in Delhi, as planned, on May 11. Our goal was the virgin Parvati Parbat (6,257m) above the Satopanth Glacier, and something more if we had time. We had little information; a few pictures we found on the Internet, and the best available map (1:125,000). Our aim was to explore and enjoy all the inevitable surprises.
We established base camp on the glacier at 4,179m, 30°45’18.47″ N, 79°22’46.57″ E (GPS). Our choice of route was an elegant spur leading to a plateau, from which we hoped to reach the summit of Parvati Parbat. We pitched a tent at 4,750m, hoping the following day to make an acclimatization climb. However, in the night we were hit by a huge thunderstorm and snowfall. Deciding that perhaps we were not in the safest place, we dressed hurriedly and headed down to base camp.
Deeming that we were now acclimatized, we decided to try our luck with the spur over a two-day weather window. On May 21 we left base camp at 3 a.m. and climbed the more gently-angled, lower section of spur to pitch our tent on a col 5,450m. After 7 a.m. the snow became soft and deep, and together with the heat from the sun started to sap our energies. An easy rock scramble followed by a 15m rappel brought us close to the col, which we reached at midday.
Next day we began at 1 a.m., hoping to reach the summit by midday at the latest. Even at night the snow was far from perfect, and we protected an increasingly steep ascent with snow stakes and ice screws. At 5 a.m. we reached the crest and saw that the plateau marked on the map was in fact 100m down the far side. We followed close to the crest, toward a prominent triangular peak not marked on the map. We traversed 30m below its summit and then descended to the plateau, following it monotonously southwest, thinking it would lead direct to the main summit of Parvati. Two previous attempts on this ridge had stopped at a ‘dome-like foresummit,’ and at 7:30 a.m. we indeed reached a snow dome at ca 6,150m. To our horror, between us and the main summit was another sharp peak. “What’s this f…ing mountain doing here,” I exclaimed to Paulo.
The main summit was still an estimated three hours distant and the snow was becoming increasingly poor. We had to be realistic: if we went on, our return would be dangerous, with no reliable protection in the softening snow. Our spur was original, the first Portuguese new line in the Himalaya, but we hadn’t reached the summit.
Then, looking back, we saw the triangular peak we had passed. “Let’s go for it.” We climbed to the summit, now pleased that our new route had a logical conclusion (D+ 65°, 1,900m). At base camp we realized this peak was called Ekdant, and had one previous ascent [in 1980 by Shashank Kulkarni and high altitude porter Narayan Singh. These two were part of an Indian expedition attempting Parvati Parbat via the northeast ridge from the ca 5,500m col between it and Nilkanth. They named it Ekdant, which means 'one tooth'--Ed.]. The descent, of course, was epic; we had to make many 25m rappels from Abalakovs, as we had only climbed on a single 50m rope.
A few days of bad weather intervened before we again tried Parvati, this time by a more direct line on the north face. However, huge avalanche danger turned us back at 5,100m. On the last day of good weather, June 2, we opted for a beautiful, triangular peak further east, immediately south of Lake Satopanth. We took minimal gear and reached the top by the north face at 10 a.m., the crux being the last seven meters, where we had to climb rock (UIAA IV). We named the route Directa Lusitana (D+, 55-60°), and the peak Kartik (30°43’52.93″ N, 79°21’9.96″ E, GPS) to maintain the Hindu spirit of the area. Kartik was the smaller brother of Ekdant, and warrior son of Lord Shiva and his wife Parvati. It is the first virgin Himalayan summit climbed by Portuguese.