Herd of Dzo (hybrid yak) at field in Suru Valley, Ladakh
In late 2009, the Indian Ministry of Tourism and Mountaineering Federation proposed opening up more than 100 Himalayan mountain peaks to climbers. By the next climbing season in 2010, they were opened. The mountains are in Jammu and Kashmir, mostly in the Ladakh region, in the eastern Karakoram range. Rungofarka (6,495 meters) was one of the most notable peaks among them, and it has just been summited by a duo of American climbers. This is their first ascent of the mountain, and possibly the first ever in history. ALSO READ: Unexplored places to visit in Ladakh for your summer vacation
Alan Rousseau and Tino Villanueva made their ascent over five days, from the base camp at 3,900 meters to the peak. Their chosen route was along the North Ridge of the mountain, and their journeys begun after they won the Mugs Stump Award and Copp-Dash Inspire Award earlier in 2017. Their awards supported their trip. The duo chose Rungofarka for its technical, steep, challenging terrain. With a complex mountain terrain and technical climbing involved, they figured it was ideal for an alpine ascent of a Northern Himalayan mountain.
The two are experienced climbers, with ten years of sending routes together under their belt. They both work for the famed Seattle-based mountain guide service, Mountain Madness. They began their climb from base on September 24, 2017. Thin ice, overhanging steps and aerated ice made their climb difficult. After some failed attempts to climb the north face, they tried the north ridge, trekking to the Advanced Base camp six days later. They started climbing once again on October 1. On October 4, after days of struggle including setting up a bivy on a wind-swept face, they reached the summit around noon. NOW READ: Ladakh road trip itinerary 2017: Places to visit in Ladakh on your Manali-Leh-Srinagar bike ride
Located in the Suru Valley of Ladakh, Jammu and Kashmir, Rungofarka is one of around 104 mountains that were once restricted to climbers but are now open. They all lie at heights of 3,000 to 7,800 meters, near India’s borders with China and Pakistan. Apart from Rungofarka, the opened mountain peaks also include notable ones like Lingsarmo (6,995 meters), Techafarka (6,495m), Kangyarrag (6,210m), and Photoksar (6,080m).