Ondrej Huserka, Wadim Jablonski set up Gangotri Playing in Garhwal Himalaya


In mid-October Ondrej Huserka (Slovakia) and Wadim Jabłoński (Poland) completed the first ascent of Gangotri Gambling (6c+ M6 A0, 600m) on Phaalkan Meenaar tower above the Kedar Tal valley in the Indian Garhwal Himalayas. The peak is named in honour of Andrzej Sokołowski.

On October 16th at 5:00 p.m. local time Ondrej Huserka (Slovakia) and Wadim Jabłoński (Poland), after 3 days of climbing, reached a virgin peak rising above the Kedar Tal valley in the Indian Garhwal Himalayas. Their “Gangotri Gambling” leads mainly through a distinct rock pillar and to the summit of Phaalkan Meenaar tower, 5602m a.s.l. Encountered difficulties are 6c+ M6 A0, the route has 600m divided by 18 pitches. Phaalkan Meenaar in Hindi means “Falcon Tower”. Thus, this peak is dedicated to Andrzej Sokołowski, nicknamed “Falcon” – a Polish climber and guide who died tragically in Tatras in September.

GANGOTRI GAMBLING by Wadim Jabłoński

The Phaalkan Meenaar is a distinct, rock tower. It’s eye-catching from the very beginning of the Kedar Tal valley. The pillar that forms its massif starts from the very bottom of the valley. However, we decided to start our route in the middle of the pillar by traversing its lower, loose-rock parts with the gully on the left side. There were still two huge rock headwalls to climb.

On the first day, weighted by our heavy backpacks we reached the ledge located to the right of the saddle under the lower headwall. The biggest challenge was approach and transportation in loose, deep snow. We have prepared a very comfortable bivy on the ledge and fixed 3 pitches above it.

On the second day, we begin by jumaring and hauling. Transport is not easy, haulbag gets stuck often. Our advantage is the temperature – it’s perfect. Neither too cold nor too warm for rock climbing. After 4 pitches and 6c+ at the end we come to the extremely loose tower. Snow covers everything, at the same time there is a total lack of ice. Every piece of rock that can move – moves and crumbles. 2 pitches took us 5 hours. At 10 pm we come to the bivy under the upper headwall.

The last day is a fight in the upper headwall. We leave the haulbag with the hope of reaching the summit and rappelling in a daylight. The upper part consists of 5 pitches – steep rock, sometimes brittle. Until the end, we do not believe that we will be able to find a line leading to the summit. Ondrej manages to find 6c + again, this time in a slab. The last meters run through a strand of extremely fragile black slate. At 5 p.m. we reach the “summit boulder” and begin the tedious descent.

After 4 rappels we reach our haulbag. It’s dark already. We decide to go down by the unknown gully to the right of the pillar. Descent through a slabby terrain cause some problems. Somehow however, we manage to reach an easy terrain, from where we go down to the bottom of the valley. We set a bivy there at 1 a.m.

Wadim Jablonski

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