Minus 15 and Falling

Robin Hamer

Colinand Robin infront of Nanda DeviColin and Robin with Nanda Devi in the background

In 1981 the two of us were back at altitude, this time in the India Himalaya. We’d walked and climbed to reach the Nanda Devi Sanctuary, a remarkable place, inaccessible, remote, a unique ecosystem.


Robin and Colin Himalayan poster

Our first Poster, Robin on the left Colin on the right

We were lucky because so very few people have had permission from the Indian Government to explore the Sanctuary.  Today no-one can enter this lost world.


Maiktoli from the glacier

We were attempting to make the first ascent of a 23,000 ft mountain called Devtoli and a ridge traverse to Maiktoli.


Nanda Devi

South Face of Nanda Devi

At that time mountaineering expeditions were large.

We were breaking the pattern, just two of us climbing together carrying everything we would need on our backs.

Rishi Ganga gorge

Two figures in the vastness of the Rishi Ganga gorge

Before mobile or satellite phones, we were cut off from the rest of the world. The nearest habitation lay ten days away.

Nanda Devi porters

We needed 14 porters and our Liaison Officer to get us into the Sanctuary. They would leave us for a month and then return.

Nanda Devi river crossing

river crossings were tricky and cold

Colin in the Rishi Ganga gorge

Colin during one of our five days in the Rishi Ganga gorge

Forget rescue, we had to get ourselves out of any difficulties we got into.


snow hole Maiktoli

Robin at the entrance to a snow hole at 22,000ft

We spent the first two weeks exploring and getting used to the effects of altitude.

To save weight we left our tent at base camp and slept in dug out snow holes.

Five days into the climb we had reached a point only a few hundred meters from the summit when Colin collapsed with altitude problems. He had trouble seeing and was crippled with a severe headache. Descending was the only option. This time I was directing him as we slid down our ropes and climbed down snow slopes.

Robin exhausted Devtoli

Robin mentally and physically exhausted

Two days later we reached base camp exhausted. A few days later the porters returned to help us carry our gear back along the vertical and almost impassable walls of the Rishi Ganga gorge to the road head at Lata.


Robin Hamer

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