Top 10 Peaks in Western Garhwal Himalayas, Uttarakhand

Western Garhwal, part of the state of Uttarakhand in India, East of the Bhagirathi River is the region of Western Garhwal Himalaya, which is more easily reached from Har-ki-doon and the Tons river.

It is considered as a most attractive climbing arena comprising the Swargarohini (I-IV) and the Bandarpunch peaks – White Peak (6102 m), Ban-darpunch (6316 m) and old black peak Kalanag (6387 m). Interestingly, this region first came into prominence when the Doon School masters – R. L. Holdsworth, J. T. M. Gibson, J. A. K. Martyn and Gurdial Singh – used this area to offer climbing experience to their wards during summer holidays.

In fact, the first ascent of Bandarpunch in the year 1950 was by Jack Gibson and other young climbers. Since then the Nehru Institute of Mountaineering has taken its students to the area, and they also climbed the peak in the year 1975. Gibson and his boys also made the first ascent of Kalanag in the year 1955. The tradition was continued by Hari Dang (ex-pupil, now master in the Doon School) who led another summit party in the year 1968 to Kalanag, which is regarded as an excellent area for training youngsters to climb and ski.

It is not only Swargarohini but all the peaks of the Western Garhwal region are considered beyond the capabilities of beginners. Swargarohini II (6247 m) was climbed by the Canadians (Virk and Clarke) in the year 1974 and again by a Bombay team (Anil Kumar) in the year 1985. Two more Indian ascents were made when a Bombay party (headed by R. Wadalkar) teamed up with an Oil and Natural Gas Commission expedition to reach the top. Swargarohini III (6209 m) was also climbed (its first ascent) by the Bombay party in the year 1985. Swargarohini I (6252 m) is an extremely tough proposition, which is still awaiting its first ascent. Climbing prospects in Western Garhwal region is defined as difficult and impossible. So many peaks in this region of the Himalaya Mountains remain unclimbed merely because they are unnamed and therefore they are of less publicity value.

However, it’s crucial to remember that mountaineering in this region requires careful planning, technical skills, and adherence to safety guidelines. Always prioritize safety and consider seeking guidance from experienced mountaineering organizations or guides before embarking on expeditions in Western Garhwal. To climb these Peaks climber need to seek the permission from IMF : Indian Mountaineering Foundation(click here to get the complete process )

Here are some notable peaks in Western Garhwal that you might consider for your expedition:

1. Swargarohini

A group of peaks with the highest reaching around 6,252 meters (20,505 feet). It offers technical challenges and stunning views. This trek starts from a popular small Pahadi village called Sankari, Uttarakhand. “Swargarohini, When we refer to Swarga Rohini in the context to heaven, i.e. Swarga, this is the legendary path. As per legends belief, Swarga Rohini is the only path from where one Can Reach Heaven in Human form.

Height : 6,252 meters

2. Bandarpunch

Twin-peaked mountain with West Peak at around 6,316 meters (20,722 feet) and East Peak at around 6,102 meters (20,019 feet). It offers challenging climbs.

Bandarpoonch is a magnificent massif which lies in the Garhwal division of the mighty Himalayas. The name ‘Bandarpoonch’ (or Bandarpunch) literally translates to “the tail of a monkey” in Hindi, referring to the Hindu monkey God Hanuman, who accompanied lord Rama in the conquest to rescue goddess Sita from the captivity of Ravana in Lanka.

Standing ferociously tall at the western edge of the High Himalayas, Bandarpoonch is located within the Govind Pashu Vihar National Park & Sanctuary, and is part of the Sankari Range. This beautiful, robust massif comprises of 3 peaks which surpass 6000 m, namely-

  • Bandarpoonch I at 6316 m
  • Bandarpoonch II at 6106 m and,
  • Kalanag / Black Peak at 6387 m

3. Black Peak (Kala Nag)

At an astounding 6387M, Kalanag (or Black Peak) is the highest peak of the Bandarpunch chain , followed by Bandarpunch I (Saraswati Devi Parbat) at 6316 m, and  Bandarpunch II (Hanuman Parbat or White Peak) at 6102 m. It literally means “Black Cobra” due to its upper portion’s striking resemblance to the black cobra / snake, which is a religious reference to Lord Shiva’s necklace. It is close to the Ruinsara Valley. One of the most beautiful valleys in the Western Himalayas, this expedition is a delight for trekkers both in the winters as well as summers, the climb to the summit of Black Peak is challenging and technical.

4. YSR Peak

YSR Peak! With the ambition to trek an unnamed peak, GoClimbUp team joined forces to select and prepare to climb YSR peak in the Swargarohini ranges. With the altitude believed to be more than 5000m.

Summit Successfully Completed by: Thandup Sherpa, Prashant Rawat, SaiKiran Aluri , Vijay Rathi on 11th May’2022

YSR Peak, situated at an altitude of 5250 M. It is the mountain located in between Swargarohini Ranges. Basepoint is Sankri, a hamlet situated at an altitude of 1950m above sea level in Mori (Tehsil), Uttarkashi district of Uttarakhand, India. It is a part of the Govind Balabh Pant Wildlife Sanctuary. Sankri is a village 25 km away from the sub-district headquarters Mori and 195 km from the district headquarters Uttarkashi.

5. Chaukhamba

This is another mountain peak that has a height of about 7138 meters. The word “chaukhamba” means four pillars.

Chaukhamba is a mountain massif in the Gangotri Region of the Garhwal Himalaya, of the Western Garhwal. Chaukhamba as the name denotes, has four summits along the north east – southwest trending ridge. The highest peak that is part of this entire range is named as Chaukhamba I. This highest peak is named as the chief peak of the Gangotri Glacier and is the prominent part of the eastern range of the entire group. The location of this peak is majorly towards the state of Uttarakhand. The peak is also part of holy city of Badrinath. It has assumed religious significance as it lies at the head of the holy Gangotri glacier. On the western slopes starts the Gangotri glacier; one of the largest in the Himalayas (excluding Karakoram). The Gangotri glacier gives rise to the Bhagirathi which is one of the two main sources of the holy River Ganga. At the end of the Gangotri glacier is a better-known mountain: Shivling Peak. The Shivling peak is another important mountain of this group.

Elevation of the Chaukhamba Range
The four major pinnacles of the Chaukhamba can be named as northeast-southwest crest and elevates to a range of 7138 m to 6854 m whereas the average elevation of the mountain range is 7014 m. The major cliff is located towards the northeast end. The mountain prominence (it is a measure of vertical separation between mountains) of Chaukhamba is 1,594 m (5,230 feet).

  • Chaukhamba I is 7138 m
  • Chaukhamba II is 7070 m
  • Chaukhamba III is 6995 m
  • Chaukhamba IV is 6854 m

Mountaineering at Chaukhamba Peak
After unsuccessful attempts in 1938 and 1939, Chaukhamba I was first climbed on June 13, 1952, by Lucien George and Victor Russenberger. The path covered by them was from the northeast end that included Bhagirathi glacier and the Kharak glacier. The major pass of this mountain range is the Mana Pass and Chaukhamba I has been declared as major peak that has an eminence of almost 1500 m.

6. Shivling Peak

Shivling is a mountain at tapovan in the Gangotri Group of peaks in the western Garhwal Himalaya, near the snout of the Gangotri Glacier, one of the biggest glaciers in the Himalayas, and Tapovan, a beautiful lush meadows, both being also popular pilgrimage sites in Hinduism.

Shivling is a peak in the Gangotri group of mountains near the snout of the Gangotri Glacier. As the name suggests the Shivling peak resembles Lord Shiva and is also called ‘Mahdev ka Linga’. Its amazing form is often compared to that of “Matterhorn peak”. In fact, the early European visitors used to call it “Matterhorn Peak” due to its similarity in appearance to that Alpine peak.This lofty magnificent peak is located at an altitude of 6,543 meters above mean sea level.

It is considered as one of the most beautiful peaks in all Garhwal. Though the peak is not of great elevation, it is dramatically rocky and difficult to climb. This fact makes it a famed prize for adventure lovers. It was first scaled on June 3, in the year 1974 by a team from the Indo-Tibetan Border Police, led by Hukam Singh. Since then around ten other routes have been discovered to the summit which used all major ridges and most major faces of the mountain.

Attractions of Shivling Peak
Shivling is well guarded from all sides by rocky terrain except on the west side where the slope is moderate enough for the accumulation of snow. It forms the western gateway for the lower Gangotri Glacier, which is just opposite the Bhagirathi peak.

When seen from Gaumukh, Shivling appears as a single pyramid but it is actually a mountain with twin summit. The northeast pinnacle is slightly higher than the southwest pinnacle. The region between Gaumukh and Shivling lies on Tapovan meadow, which is a famous pilgrimage destination.

7. Thalay Sagar Peak

Thalay Sagar is a mountain in the Gangotri Group of peaks in the western Garhwal Himalayas, on the main ridge that lies south of the Gangotri Glacier. It lies in the northern Indian state of Uttarakhand, 10 kilometres (6 mi) southwest of the Hindu holy site of Gaumukh (the source of the Bhagirathi River). It is the second highest peak on the south side of the Gangotri Glacier (after Kedarnath), but it is more notable for being a dramatic rock peak, steep on all sides, and a famed prize for mountaineers. It is adjacent to the Jogin group of peaks, and has the lake Kedartal at its base

It is valued by mountaineers as it provides scope for mountaineering. Its base is adorned with a lake called Kedartal. Other peaks close to Thalay Sagar Peak are Meru Peak, Shivling, Kedarnath, Mount Satopanth, Badrinath, and Chaukhamba I.

Due to Thalay Sagar’s consistently steep profile, no attempt was made to climb the peak until the late 1970s. It was the time when hard technical rock climbing has started being executed at high altitudes. Astonishingly, the first attempt to climb such a hard peak like Thalay Sagar proved to be successful. An Anglo-American team was the first to climb the Thalay Sagar on 24th of June, 1979 via the northwest couloir.

After the first ascent, many other routes were experimented with and discovered on the Thalay Sagar Mountain by mountaineers. As per estimations, 9 different routes were discovered via which at least 15 ascents were made. Using 5 different routes, some more direct than others, mountaineers had climbed the north face of the peak, in particular. A notorious band of shale near the summit comprising of rotten and dangerous rocks acted as a major difficulty for mountaineers in the direct routes on Thalay Sagar.

A person named Basanta Singha Roy became the first Indian to successfully ascent Thalay Sagar in the year 2008. He is a famous climber from a mountaineering club called Mountaineers Association of Krishnanagar (MAK).

Even a woman from Kolkata (the capital city of West Bengal) climbed Thalay Sagar on 22nd of July, 2012. Her name is Tusi Das. She was a part of a five-member women’s team from the Alipore-based Kolkata Albatross Adventure Society. It is important to note that Tusi Das was the only member of this team to reach the summit of Thalay Sagar. Tusi Das’s ascent has received the distinction of being the first woman ascent on Mt Thalay Sagar.

8. Bhagirathi Peaks: Bhagirathi I (6,856 m), Bhagirathi II (6,512 m), and Bhagirathi III (6,454 m)

Bhagirathi Peak can be found in the Western Garhwal Himalayas. It is a group of three peaks, Bhagirathi I (6,856 m), Bhagirathi II (6,512 m), and Bhagirathi III (6,454 m). The highest of these peaks dominates the valley to Gaumukh, which marks the end of the Gangotri Glacier and the origin of the Ganga river. The base camp for mountain expeditions to Bhagirathi is Nandanvan, a beautiful meadow dotted with alpine flora. The best time for expeditions is in the months of May, June and September.The mountain is named after Bhagiratha, the legendary king of the Ikshvaku dynasty who brought the River Ganges, to Earth from the heavens. To commemorate his efforts, the mainstream that comes out of Gangotri Glacier snout “Gomukh” is called Bhagirathi, till it meets Alaknanda River at Devprayag where the name changes to Ganga.

It was first climbed by A Japanese team in 1980. It is surrounded by Glaciers on four side on the eastern side of the Massif is Vasuki Glacier, on the western side its Gangotri Glacier the main glacier in this area, northern side is surrounded by Chaturangi Glacier and southern side guarded by Swachhhand Glacier.

The entire massif and surrounding area are protected within the 2,390 km2 (920 sq mi) Gangotri National Park, the third largest national park in India.The Gangotri National Park is home to several world-class treks, including Gangotri Gomukh Tapoban, Kerdarnath Vasuki tal trek. Har ki dun valley trek.

9. Meru Peak

Meru Peak is a mountain located in the Garhwal Himalayas, in the state of Uttarakhand in India. The 6,660-metre (21,850 ft) peak lies between Thalay Sagar and Shivling, and has some highly challenging routes. The name Meru likely originated from the Sanskrit word for “peak”.

In the Puranas, Meru is described as the golden mountain in the centre of Jambudwipa. Its height is about eighty-four thousand Yojanas (a yojana is nine miles) and its depth is sixteen thousand below the surface of the earth. Its diameter at the peak is thirty-two thousand Yojanas and at its base sixteen thousand. Thus this mountain is like the seed cup of the lotus of the earth.

The shape of Meru according to this description is that of an inverted cone, and by the comparison to the seed cup its form should be circular. The Padma compares its form to the bell-shaped flower of the Dhatura, the Vayu represents it has having four sides of different colours; or white on the east, yellow on the south, black on the west, and red on the north.

On the summit of Meru is the vast city of Brahma, extending fourteen thousand leagues and renowned m heaven. Around it in the cardinal points and the intermediate quarters are situated the majestic cities of Indra and the other regents f the spheres. It is believed that Mount Meru is in short the Olympus of India.

The first successful climb of the route was made in October 2011 by Conrad AnkerJimmy Chin, and Renan Ozturk. In 2015, the feature film Meru was released, documenting Anker’s team’s two attempts on the route. It included footage taken by Chin and Ozturk on both attempts, originally intended just for posterity

10. Obra Valley Peak : Pt 5480 via the SW ridge at Alpine AD-, Pt 5877 (Dauru) via the North West ridge at AD, and Pt 5554 (Ranglana)

The Obra Valley is to the north of Delhi, located in India’s Western Garhwal lying to the west of the Bandarpunch-Swargarohini  Base Camp of these peaks is Sankari Uttarakhand.

The Obra Valley offers a great deal for exploratory mountaineers, with many peaks remaining unclimbed and the potential for new routes being very promising. Dauru’s neighboring peaks rise above 5,640m to its south west. These peaks could be accessible from the NW Ridge of Dauru or alternatively from their South  Ridge starting from the glacier. Peak 5,489m looked like an attractive objective, with easy access via its NE Ridge, however with what looked like a somewhat more technical mixed upper section. To the east of Ranglana is the unclimbed peak Andurko (5,195m). Ranglana itself presents several attractive potential new routes, including its East, West and North Ridges, and a potential line spotted on its SW Face. All of these routes would provide a significant challenge with large sections of technical rock or steep snow/ice climbing. None of the peaks in the upper Devkir Glacier, at the head of the valley, have been climbed. Two of the highest peaks are situated here, Peak 5,849m and Peak 5,760m. Also the Swarga Rohini Peaks to the east of the glacier, rising up to 5,300m, would be worthwhile with a potential for a long traverse along the ridge and relatively easy access from the glacier.

This content has been referred from Imperial college london obra valley 2010 

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