Silva Vidal's bold new route
"I found a picture on the internet (John Middendorf's web) about a nice wall, no idea where it was, how long it was, the approach, the rock quality, or any information that tends to be helpful when you go for a climbing expedition.
But I wanted to go there and try to climb it, because it looked nice. After some weeks trying to get information about the area and the wall, I realized there was not enough information. Anyway I bought a plane ticket and my friend Eulàlia Sancho decided to join the trip. So we left with 5 huge haulbags and drums and spent more than a week trying to arrive to the valley; the Kinnaur valley, with public transport. An odyssey.
Without knowing where to start the approach, once in the valley, showing the picture to the locals (thanks to Sonu Pandey from Banjara camps) and getting help from some porters, we started to walk up in the middle of the rain. That didn't stop for the next month and a half.
We couldn't see the wall from there, we had no idea where it was, and it took me two days to find the way up to the base. It was like trying to hike up a river ravine and I had to fix some rope in the most committed places because it was dangerous, not hard but slippery.
In the 7 days that I spent on this BC I never saw the whole wall, so the logistics about quantity of food and water was not easy. I didn't know how many days it could take to climb it. I counted food and water for 18 days and finally I spent 25. Water was not a problem, you just needed to take out the cooking pot and wait for a minute. Food was something else, every day less, but still enough.
Two days after our arrival to the BC, Eulàlia left because she wanted to continue traveling through India. I went down with her and asked for 3 more porters that could help me carry the gear as close as possible to the wall.
Then after they left I spent a month alone up there. As always I didn't take a phone, Internet or any kind of device to communicate.
First I set an ABC (4,430m) close to the wall, the portaledge hanging on a boulder, because there was no flat place to put the tent between the BC and the base of the wall. As there was no roof or something that can protect the portaledge from the rain, it was a horrible ABC and I decided to fix as little as possible, until the first wall roof and get on the wall as soon as possible.
I fixed the 3 first pitches (150m) and then spent 25 days hanging on the wall, alone, in horrible weather, because this years monsoon season has been very strong. A local newspaper published that the Kinnaur valley got 156% more rain than usual this year.
The roads, the bridges, some houses where gone.
From the month and a half that I spent up on the mountain, there was rain and fog every single day. One day, when jumaring, I lost my consciousness due to hypothermia because of an excess of humidity. I tried to quit the route several times but I couldn't, I really wanted to be there and I always thought that the weather was going to change, and it did; it got worse in September. Amazing. But I held onto this hope because it helped to continue climbing.
It was a solo ascent and I spent 25 days (from 15th August to 8th September) on the wall, during this summer's crazy monsoon.
To rap down the same route, took me 2 and half days, because of the weather, some problems with the rappels that finally I could arrange and the roofs and traverses that made them harder.
Once on the ground I spent 3 days carrying all the gear down to the BC, again having to fix gear at the same slabs like during the approach and waiting there for the porters.
The result was "Naufragi" (shipwreck in Catalan) 1,050 meters climbed, A4+/6a+ at 5,250m in the Kailash Parbat range, Himachal Pradesh, India. I didn't get to the main summit of the mountain, which was still far away (I haven't seen it, it's a huge mountain), but to the end of the main wall.
And now back home and lucky that at least here I have an umbrella."
photo: Silva Vidal with one of the haulbags full of gear on her way to basecamp.