After our intended target (Chaukhamba II SW face) became unattainable insofar as we could not reach the BC for reasons independent of our will we haphazardly had to switch objectives. We had only researched the Chaukhambas and we had no background information on the Bhagirathis except on II and III (the lines climbed by the Slovenes). As we were below Bhagirathi I we decided to give the looming SW face an honest try without knowing what would lie ahead. The snowy ridge leading westwards from the summit looked easy but the wall was to be deciphered.
We established ABC on the right moraine of the Gangotri glacier and a day later (27/09) we moved up with backpacks a bit too heavy for what we were planning on doing…. The climb was entirely on rock (up to UIAA VI+). We had two bivies: one semi hanging and one cosy enough – in both the crucial aspect being protection from rockfall. On 28th we had a dusting of snow during the afternoon and the night but nothing major. However with weather significantly deteriorating by lunchtime on the 29th we decided to descend from 3 pitches or so below the snow ridge. Not equipped to aid and pulling the backpacks the way ahead looked from below more demanding to free onsight than we were prepared to attempt and weather gave us the nudge. Next day at lunchtime a snow blanket was covering the glacier as well as the SW face and from our BC on the Gangotri glacier we considered ourselves lucky to not be hanging in our harnesses….
We encountered unusually dry and warm weather (water being a problem till higher up where we had to climb to and collect icicles). Following the topo of the ’83 W ridge route it revealed UIAA VI and A2 above our high point – a fairly disappointing turn of events which comes again to strengthen the fact that navigating in uncharted waters is much harder than following a trodden path… Had we know would we have pushed further? The comfort given by the accessibility of what lies ahead is never to be underestimated….
We haven’t encountered any signs of passage and we are inclined to believe that except the last pitch the ground covered was new. We abseiled the route and we left only those anchors (slings and pegs) in place.
Without the generous help of “Aramis Feeling”, “Cloud Troopers” and “Techo” this would have not been possible! Thank you!
Cosmin Andron & Cristina Pogacean