Three Himalayan First Ascents by Swiss Team

© Thomas Senf/

A team of Swiss climbers consisting of Stephan Siegrist, Andreas "Dres" Abegglen and Thomas Senf made three notable first ascents in the Himalayan sub range of India's Kishtwar region this Autumn. Their achievements include first ascents of peaks Shiepra (5885m), Kharagosa (5840m) and a new route up Kishtwar Shivling (5895m), which is believed to be the second-ever ascent of this mountain.

Arriving in Kashmir at the start of September, the team were greeted with heavy monsoon rains which made reaching their first base camp challenging, according to Stephan: "Eager to make up for lost time, we climbed a line up the south face of the previously unclimbed Shiepra, bivvying at 5100m. We reached the 5885m summit on 16th September and graded the route as follows: difficulties up to W13, IV, 75 degree ice." The team's liaison officer named the peak Maaji, which means 'mother' in Hindi. 

Stephan Siegrist climbing Maaji on the 5885m peak Shiepra  © Thomas Senf/
Stephan Siegrist climbing Maaji on the 5885m peak Shiepra
© Thomas Senf/

With perfect conditions following this first ascent, the team made the most of good weather and searched for another unclimbed peak - Kharagosa, which is Hindi for 'rabbit' - so named due to a rock structure below the peak resembling the iconic Playboy bunny. Bivvying at 4800m below the North East face, the team continued across the glacier to the base of the East Face and ascended over 1000m of tricky mixed terrain. Reaching the 5840m summit on September 21st after three demanding UIAA Grade V pitches followed by some easier terrain, the team named the route 'Pinky' (6a [5.10] M4, 1000m) after the most beautiful woman in the nearby village of Sumcham. 

Kharagosa Peak  © Thomas Senf/
Kharagosa Peak
© Thomas Senf/

Still having some time left on their trip, the team moved their base camp to the foot of Kishtwar Shivling, which they reached on 29th September. First climbed in 1983 by British climbers Stephen Venables and Dick Renshaw, the North Face was until now the only route ascended on this peak, after tensions between Pakistan and India rendered this area off-limits to alpinists for almost two decades. The team set their sights on the East Pillar of the mountain - a previous objective for earlier expedition attempts - and bivvied on the glacier at 4700m. After following a 50 degree ramp to the saddle of the mountain and making a second bivvy spot at 5400m, the team climbed 10 difficult pitches of 90 degree W15 ice, then continued through a hidden couloir and past tricky mixed terrain which brought the trio to the base of the summit cornices. On 1st October the team discovered a hole in the cornice which was large enough to climb through, and led them directly to the 5895m East summit. This new route was named 'Challo' (W15, M6, 600m), meaning "Let's go!" in Hindi. 

Kishtwar Shivling  © Thomas Senf/
Kishtwar Shivling
© Thomas Senf/

Stephan commented: "A successful ascent on a complex and beautiful mountain like Kishtwar Shivling was a real reward for me." He added: "Kashmir is a place I am free to climb for the pure joy of the mountains and a region I cherish with deep appreciation and respect."

The Swiss Trio in India: Abegglen, Siegrist and Senf  © Thomas Senf/
The Swiss Trio in India: Abegglen, Siegrist and Senf
© Thomas Senf/

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