After a multi-day trek up the steep Sumur Lungpa to establish a base camp by the Sumur Lakes at 5,160m, Derek, Drew, Rafal and Howard made the first ascent of Point 6068 via its technically easy SW slopes (Alpine F) on 18th September following an arduous 5h of post-holing from a high camp at 5,743m. Deceptively, this top turned out to be the high point of three convergent ridges rather than a true peak per se and was thus called Deception Point. We were unable to get a Ladakhi translation. Only roped glacier travel was required.
Several days later, Derek, Drew, Rafal and Howard made the first ascent of PK 6078, a twin summitted peak at the head of glacier beyond the East Rassa Col, via its SE Face on 25th September following extensive post-holing over 5h from a camp at 5,680m. The face steepened only for the final few hundred metres to the lower rocky South summit (6,071m) before a relatively straightforward traverse was made to the slightly higher snow-covered North top (6,078m). We graded this at Alpine PD and called the peak Tsagtuk Kangri (Ladakhi for Twin Snow Peak).
After an earlier failed attempt due to unstable snow conditions, Derek, Drew and Rafal successfully completed the first ascent of the attractive PK 5991 via its steep, 45° WNW Ridge on 29th September from a high camp on the glacier at 5,500m. Once again the route involved continuous post-holing, but because of our previous attempt on 16th September the early part of the climb was made less strenuous by the presence of vestigial tracks. Requiring double axes for security we graded this route Alpine AD and chose to call the peak Sumur Kangri after the major glacier system from which it rose.
Every peak/point was climbed in excellent, clear weather but climbing options were limited on account of unstable snow lying on all northerly faces. There was extensive evidence of recent avalanche activity during our time on the glacier system, with at least one occurring as we passed safely beneath it. It was this ever present danger that prevented our venturing over the East Rassa Col (north-westerly aspect) onto the Rassa glacier itself, which was one of our primary objectives.
The team are grateful for the support of the Mount Everest Foundation, the Montane Alpine Club Climbing Fund, the Austrian Alpine Club (UK) and Duffler of Sweden.
* Unfortunately, Jamie left early in the expedition on account of a family bereavement, although he did stay long enough to take part in the failed attempt on Sumur Kangri on 16th September.
Team: Derek Buckle (leader), Drew Cook, Jamie Goodhart,* Rafal Malczyk and Howard Pollitt
Photographs and text by Derek Buckle