Eastern Pinnacle Summit
On 12th July, 2020 I along with two fellow mountaineers, Junaid Ahmed and Nazir Raina scaled Eastern Pinnacle. We were accompanied by a very able and generous Nazir Jr., the pony man. It was quite surreal. As we stood on the summit, to one side was Lidder Valley and to other was Sindh Valley. The view was panoramic. What made this summit different, other than the joy of climbing itself and the fascinating view, was a sense of making the summit historic. The peak has remained un-scaled from last 75 years. It was first scaled by John A. Jackson, a British explorer and mountaineer, in 1945; and since then has remained un-scaled.
Eastern Pinnacle Peak lies snugly between Valehead Peak and Central Pinnacle Peak in the Thajwas Range. One gets to see peaks like Mount Kolahoi, Buttress, Mount Burdlau, Valehead, Central Pinnacle, Thajwas etc; and alpine lakes like Dodsar, Hoksar, Handilsar, Barfsar (Kashmir’s highest recognized altitude lake), Sormesar & Chaingsar.
The Peak comes second in the succession of peaks after Mosquito and Valehead Peaks; Central Pinnacle, Western Pinnacle and a few other peaks continue in this succession before they blend with the Greater Thajwas Range.
The summit starts with a steep trek of around 4 hours from Sarbal Village – the last village of Kashmir Province before it merges with Ladakh. We pitched the camp at Durinar meadow (alt. 11650 ft), spent the night in this breathtaking meadow. The meadow has a crystal blue lake called Durinar Lake in its vicinity, the lake is harboured in a giant granite rock. We pitched our tents at a location that serves as the base camp for two wonderful alpine peaks, Mount Innominate and Crystal Peaks and leads a trail to Kolahoi Pass.
We spent the night in the Durinar meadow that stands at an altitude of 11650ft. The weather was dry and winds blew soothingly. But it took no time for a storm to arrive. The wind blew strong and then bringing rain and a sharp drop in temperature. However, we felt quite optimistic in scaling the peak. We got some sleep after a light dinner, woke up at 3:00 in the morning. After breakfast, we checked all the gear including mountaineering hardware like crampons, ropes, ice-axes, rock pittons, snow pittons etc. By 4 in the morning, we started our summit.
The entire summit is steep. In about 3 hours we reached Durinar Lake (13685ft); post Durinar Lake we reached Nilnag Lake (14000ft) while trudging on the trail that is rough and made up of granite boulders. The boulders are quite big but stable. Immediately after Nilnag, to the left, the snout of Innominate Glacier starts. To the right, we manoeuvred a steep gully of around 450m; the gully is floored with thick snow and rocks. The gully transports one to the Thajwas Glacier 3rd. This is where the summit line starts. The last 100 m has a ridge of stable rocks and corneas along the route. Summit is rock formed and has a sharp and deep drop to its right. We summited at 11:00 AM. One beholds the mighty peaks of Sirbal from the summit.
We found ourselves quite lucky. We took the weather forecast quite religiously; the weather forecast had predicted a storm in the afternoon so we were adamant in finishing the summit before the noon. As we were coming down from the summit, barely half an hour into the descent from the summit, a second storm ripped the place, this time it being aggressive. The summit became opaque and gloomy, covered in thick clouds and rain. The descent turned out challenging with a fair degree of thrill and excitement.
To the other side of the summit lies Kolahoi Valley. It would take a few hours of descent to the valley and will be handy for the mountaineers to get down from the altitude quickly if storm or rough weather or sickness befalls.
The summit in no way is recommended to be finished in two day. I, along with other mountaineers, have been traversing this place for years, are quite adept with the altitude and the roughness of the trail. For us it was in no way a reckless move to finish this summit in two days; however, it was a pure alpine ascent. The summit should be finished in at least five days, the second camp should be pitched at Durinar Lake, and another day should be kept for acclimatization while being at Durinar Lake with the full adherence to climb high and camp low.
This summit was part of the program in which Cliffhangers India is intending to scale all the prominent mountain peaks of the valley that include the ones which rarely are being scaled. Last year, we summited Valehead Peak.
Quick facts about Eastern Pinnacle
First Climbed by John A. Jackson in 1945; remained un-scaled till 12th July, 2020.
Coordinates: Latitude: 34 degree 14 minutes 03 seconds North; Longitude: 75 degree18 minutes 26 seconds East.