The aim of our expedition was to complete first ascents of peaks at around 5,900m in the Greater Himalaya, in the Zanskar / Ladakh region of northern India. We also sought to plan and carry out everything independently; to pursue Alpine style / mixed snow and rock routes; and to summit some of the remaining unclimbed Zanskar peaks.
In August 2015, we arrived in southern Zanskar and took several lifts (in taxis, buses and Tata trucks) to get to Reru, where we found that all the bridges and the main road connecting the Tsarap river villages had been washed away completely by floods two months earlier.
We had a longer walk in than expected, over five days, and this involved some treacherous landslide crossings. We roped up to cross some scary loose sections even though the locals would charge onwards quite happily. We were joined all the way by a stray dog which acted as a great guard, despite being hopeless at carrying loads. He even climbed the mountain with us, but wasn't seen after that. Our camp was attacked by a yak one evening which the dog valiantly chased off. We also met a dynamite team blasting its way through a landslide on the path, but only once we came within 50 metres of them and the path exploded right before us.
We established a high base camp south of Surle, explored, and made an ascent of L5 (‘Sgurr a Mhadaidh Fuar’) at 5,897m (GPS determined height), which we understand to be the first. Difficulties included ice to 50 degrees, and extensive loose rock. We made an attempt on another peak (L4) but were unable to complete it, due to bad weather approaching and we judged we would not be able to reach the summit and return safely before nightfall. Both peaks were among those identified and numbered by the Kyoto Zanskar expedition.
From when we set out on foot until our return to Padum, we ate only home-made flapjacks (10kg) and dried ration packs, and drank only water with iced tea powder. It was an excellent trip and the mountain is named after the dog. By Calum Nicoll